The History of Toy Electric Trains

Not only do electric toy trains provide allot of fun for the entire family, they have a history that is almost as rich as the one shared by the real railroads.

The very first toy trains first appeared on the market in the 1860’s. These trains were simple designs that were made out of wood and metal. It is doubtful that the designers had any inkling of what there simple floor toys would evolve into.

The Marklin company saw a need for a set of standard gauges for toy trains in 1891. When they first implemented these standard gauges it was for the wind-up (also called clockwork) trains the Marklin Company produced. The same standards are still used for today’s electric trains.

The very first electric toy train was introduced to the world in 1901. The train was a product of the Lionel toy company. At first this train was only intended to be used as a window display. It wasn’t long before consumers were more interested in the window display then in the the merchandise.

It was during the 1920’s that electric toy trains became really popular. At the time all the kids wanted them, but only the rich kids could afford them.

Smaller scaled eclectic toy trains were introduced to the world. These trains were typically O gauge and HO gauge. Most of these trains could only be purchased as kits that were then put together by adults with a great deal of experience.

World War II stopped the production of toy eclectic trains from 1941 through 1945.

When production of toy electric trains resumed after the war, the popularity of the trains took off. By the 1950’s they were the most popular toy among boys in the United States. They had also become more affordable. At this time the biggest toy train manufacturer is Lionel. By the middle of the 1950’s there was a clear division between toy electric trains that were designed by adults and toy eclectic trains that were designed with children in mind.

The N scale train was introduced in 1965. The N scale train was only one half the size of the O trains. Three years later the G scale train was introduced. The G scale train is still a popular choice among garden railroaders. The G scale train was introduced by Germany’s LGB company. The G scale trains allow collectors to add real scenery to their layouts as well as topography. Some people incorporate garden trains directly into their homes landscaping.

Marklin created a train that was even smaller then the N scale train in the 1970’s. This train was called the Z scale. At this time improvements in technology and electronics could be seen in the toy electric trains.

Realistic sounds and digital control systems were added to the electric toy trains in the 1980’s. It is estimated that there are over a half million train collectors in the United States and Canada.