Some had wheels that turned, but these had to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made from tinplate, like the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., that were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. trans model photoshoots
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years 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 in addition to an operating train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of electricity became more prevalent in 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 direction, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Before the 1950s, there was little differentiation between toy trains and model railroads–model railroads were toys by definition. Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards kids, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading started to catch on. Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has undergone 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 in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy store than an O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics that exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run several remote controller trains on one loop of track. In the last few years, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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