Some had wheels that turned, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made of tinplate, like the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. trains model trains mrc twin power box ah800
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets containing a train and track, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery along with a working train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common from the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electrical trains were marketed towards teenagers, particularly teenaged boys.
Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has experienced resurgence since the late 1990s due in large part to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Today, S gauge and O gauge railroads are still considered toy trains by their own adherents and are often accessorized with semi-scale model buildings by Plasticville or even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings created by Marx from the 1950s to the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy store than a O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment which exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run several remote control trains on one loop of track. In the last few years, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera at the front of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
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