There have been models of trains for almost as long as the real things, and the Marklin Company in Germany are accredited with having produced the first toy trains in 1891. At the time they were sold mainly to adults, but by the middle of the twentieth century there were many firms producing trains in many scales to appeal to all ages. Hornby are one of the best known makers and are still producing an electric system in the popular “OO” scale. Many adults will speak fondly of their first train set, which may well have been Hornby’s clockwork system in the bigger “O” Gauge.
Technological advances in manufacturing means that toy trains can now be produced in incredible detail and realism. Locos, rolling stock and coaches painted in the liveries of modern railway companies are sold alongside those of the early days of the real railways. Locos can now be fitted with electronic chips so that a computerised controller can now run several trains on the same piece of track!
Most children are first introduced to toy trains when they watch TV programmes like Thomas & Friends or Chuggington, and with a huge range of toy trains to choose from, kids can collect all of their favourite characters. Countless very young children will also have fun from an early age just pushing a simple plastic model train along the floor, and as they get slightly older a wooden railway track system is the perfect answer. Brio, Bigjigs and Learning Curve all make superb versions of these simple to use wooden toy train systems, and with a massive choice of engines, wagons, buildings and track systems to choose from, really big layouts can quickly be collected.
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