What You Should Know About Toy Trains



While most model train enthusiasts elect to model in the more prominent and popular scales such as the HO, N, S, and O as well as some of the smaller scales such as the Z or TT, there are also modelers who are just as devoted in their modeling efforts to toy trains. In fact, in Canada and the United States alone there are more than a half million enthusiasts who have devoted their layouts to toy trains.

The very first of the scale model trains which most hobbyist are familiar with became available in the early part of the 1800s, and it wasn’t until much later that the toy train entered the scene. The first of these were manufactured using wood or metal and made in Europe around 1860.

Continuing with a brief history of the toy train, Lionel, one of the more prominent model train companies, introduced the toy train to the public in 1901, and these were manufactured exclusively as displays in store fronts.

Most likely, the thinking behind this was to not only to promote interest in the hobby, as well as to draw consumers into the stores they were displayed in. These toy trains of the time were known as tinplate trains because they were primarily made of a type of thin stamped metal.

In addition to promoting the hobby to the masses the trains were not constructed with the same exacting detail the scales that hobbyist work with today are familiar with. That said, we can look to the generation which are known as “baby boomers” currently as the main proponents of the toy model train.

Their layouts can be found in the same places that modelers of the well known scales build their layouts. However, the toy train enjoys many of the same improvements in technology as does their counterpart, such as realistic sound, electronic control features, and digital technology.

Pricing for toy trains can range from very inexpensive to very pricey depending on your wants as is the case with the more popular scales. Toy trains also have the same availability as do other model trains. They can be purchased at most hobby and model train hobby shops as well as online.

Frequently, the toy train is the first choice by parents for a starter model train set for their children. There are however, some suggested dos and dont’s that parents should be aware of before making that first purchase for their children and they are as follows:

1. Before beginning this new venture insure that you and your child are familiar with the various model train scales and the difference in gauge and scale.

2. If you decide to purchase an electric train set make sure that you work with your son or daughter with this set. There are complexities which exist with electricity that must be monitored and explained to children.

3. Setting up a track design which is only oval will quickly lead to boredom with most every child. Therefore, invest some time in developing a well though out track plan.

More than likely, in having done this, the set that you purchased will not have enough track, and will require that you make an additional trip to the hobby store to buy more track if you didn’t consider this when you bought the set.

Remember, you do not have to buy the most expensive track, and it doesn’t have to be completely bought all at once. As your child gains more experience with railroading they will naturally come to you and ask to expand their layout.

Try to avoid completing all of the scenicking that you may have in mind. This will make expanding the layout with more track much easier in the future.

4. Also, make sure that you become involved in the educational aspects of model railroading with your children. This also includes giving them tasks which relate to running their railroad. You may even want to consider upgrading how the trains are powered to a Digital Command Control system.