Some had wheels which flipped, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made from tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. trans model with beard
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. In addition to boxed sets containing a train and monitor, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings in addition to a working train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more common 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 as well as load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mostly of plastic.
Prior to the 1950s, there was little distinction 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 that 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 experienced resurgence since the late 1990s due in large part to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads are still considered toy trains even by their 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 produced by Marx in the 1950s to 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 shop than a O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics that exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of course. In the last few years, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad.
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