Thursday, November 29, 2012

Toy Trains For Christmas

The earliest toy trains date from the 19th century and were often made of cast iron. Motorized units running on track soon followed, powered by a steam or clockwork engine. Some of these trains used clever methods to whistle and smoke. Above, "Val Ease East" turntable and yard scene showing a 2-6-0 "Mogul" steam locomotive being turned. A scratch-built Russell snow plow sits on a turntable spur. Scene shot on the Val Ease Central Railroad (VECRR) layout in Z-scale (1:220).
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets containing a train and track, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery in addition to an operating train. Left, A simple Märklin model. Center, Märklin model 33190.10, from set 2881; model of KPEV S10 nr. 1008, later DB 17 008; Schwartzkopff factory number 4760. Left, Märklin Mobile Vision (digital camera mounted on a locomotive.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more common in the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling sound, 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 often made of lithographed tin similar to the A No. 42 Trolley and Trailer in the permanent collection of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis pictured above. The trolley was made between 1904-1909. Later,  Carlisle & Finch made trains were often 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 children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, 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. Left, Thomas the Tank EngineThomas & Friends season 1 story: Thomas & Gordon. Center, Thomas was designed after The E2 0-6-0T. Right, Life sized Thomas the Tank Engine at Ropley station on the Watercress Line
Today, 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 K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx from the 1950s to the 1970s). Ironically, however, due to their high cost, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than an O scale set. Above, An O gauge Marx toy train set made in the late 1940s or early 1950s
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronics that emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of track. In recent years, many toy train operators will operate a train with a TV camera in the front of the engine and hooked up to an screen, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad. Above, The Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg/Germany - the largest model railway in the world.
Our family visited a Christmas tree farm last weekend to cut a small tree for our home.
At this farm there is a small train for children to ride up into the woods with their parents.
Inside the farm's store was a marvelous model train and display.
An elderly gentleman told me that the small village had been built with discarded lumber from an old barn nearby.
 A larger picture of the entire display is included forth from the top in this series of photographs.
I snapped a few photos of the buildings. This is the log cabin was nestled by the tunnel.
One of many small, Western figures in the display, a cowboy, his wagon and horse, and his Christmas tree of course!
The cowboy drives past the barber shop on the far right.
A train engineer shovels snow near the old wooden water tower.
Santa waves to the train is it leaves to deliver toys and gifts to all the visitors at the station.
Links To Toy Trains:
 Lemax Osdorp 2012

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