Thomas is a blue LB&SCR E2 tank engine, who originates from the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.
He came to Sodor in 1915, as a station pilot at Vicarstown until 1924-5, at which time he was transferred to Wellsworth following an incident with some trucks. Later that year, after rescuing James from his crash, he was given charge of the Ffarquhar branch line and two coaches named Annie and Clarabel. In the Railway Series, additionally he has a special express coach.
According to The Adventure Begins, Thomas arrived on Sodor some time after James. Initially, he was painted teal and numbered 70. He was brought to Sodor to shunt coaches for the Main Line engines, such as Henry and Gordon. The first engine he befriended on Sodor was Edward. He liked to play tricks on Gordon, the biggest and pro6udest engine on the railway. He was taught a lesson when Gordon tricked him into being coupled to him during his express run. Tired out, he vowed never to tease Gordon again, realising he did not have to do so to be important. Soon, he desired to pull his own passenger train too, much to the bemusement of the other engines. He got his chance when Henry became ill, and no one could pull the passenger train. However, Thomas was so excited that he accidentally left his train and his passengers behind, believing he was pulling it easily. He soon realised his mistake and returned to pull the train. The engines laughed at him, though, and soon Thomas wanted to get out of the shunting yards and see the world. Edward offered him a chance to pull trucks, and Thomas excitedly took the job, not realising how troublesome trucks could be. The trucks pushed him down Gordon's Hill into a siding, where the Fat Controller told him to practice so that one day he would become as good as Edward. Thomas soon proved himself to the other engines when he saved James from a crash. James was pulling a train of trucks who were pushing him too fast, and when he tried to stop his brake blocks caught fire. Thomas chased after him and tried to couple to the back of the train to slow James down, but he failed and James and his trucks derailed. After fetching Jerome and Judy, who lifted him back onto the tracks, he was given James' coaches, Annie and Clarabel, and his own branch line, which had previously been run by Glynn the "coffee pot".
Sir Topham Hatt once sent Thomas to the mainland to collect special wood for the new Search and Rescue centre. Traveling via sea, he got lost in a storm and ended up on Misty Island. He befriended three engines there and discovered wood perfect for the search and rescue centre. He eventually found an old tunnel that went to Sodor, but got trapped in it as it collapsed. Percy and Whiff were able to save him by entering the Misty Island Tunnel from Sodor.
Between the eighth season and the fifteenth season, Thomas was given more duties on the Main Line. But as of the sixteenth season, Thomas is working on his branch line again.
He still has the occasional annoyance with wearing his snowplough during wintertime, but always learns his lesson afterwards, such as in the seventeenth season, when he hid it on a siding so he could stay in the shed, but when Emily took Annie and Clarabel out, he tried to go find it and got stuck in the snow, leading to Emily rescuing him and earning another stern reprimand from The Fat Controller.
He once had an accident at Brendam Docks, but instead of owning up to it, he blamed it on a made up engine called Geoffrey, which made everyone curious about who Geoffrey was. He hid in Henry's tunnel and pretended to be Geoffrey in order to trick the Fat Controller, but after Spencer nearly ran into him, Thomas was caught out and apologised. He was also chosen to be the first engine to be inspected by two railway inspectors. After their journey, a gold watch belonging to one of the inspectors was found inside Annie, and Thomas gave it back to him. Later, he became covered in spots after Butch sprayed him with mud by accident, which made Henry think Thomas had chicken pox. When the Sodor United Football Team was playing the Barrow's Red Team, he and James tried to compete to see which color was the best only to end up getting into trouble with the Fat Controller.
In Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, Thomas once again began to get conceited, believing his branch line to be the most important. But after an accident with Gordon's express coaches, he was sent to help with the construction of the Harwick Branch Line as punishment. But he was still being boastful, and accidentally fell into a deep cavern, where he found a pirate ship. Once he returned after having his wheels mended, he found Sailor John and Skiff wandering around the hole he fell into, and befriended them. However he later discovered that Sailor John was only looking for the treasure that Marion had found, claiming it as his own. When John stole the treasure from Knapford, he tried to escape on Skiff while Thomas gave chase. Despite receiving help from Mike, Rex, Bert and Ryan, Thomas couldn't catch them, and John and Skiff made it back to sea with the treasure. However Skiff capsized due to the rough water, and John was arrested. Thomas was later fully repaired and was given the honor of cutting the ribbon, opening the Arlesburgh-Harwick line and leading Duck, Rocky, Oliver, Toad, Ryan, Daisy, Donald and Douglas down the line.
In The Great Race, Thomas became eager to go to the Great Railway Show after meeting Flying Scotsman, Gordon's brother and one of the competitors in the competition, but was never asked by the Fat Controller to participate. Thomas later witnessed the international engines competing in the Great Railway Show accidentally arrive at Sodor, and met Ashima when she was too late to get back on the ferry with the other engines. Thomas was initially jealous of Ashima because she was able to compete in the Great Railway Show, and tried several times to change his looks for the competition, but all his suggestions went to other engines. He eventually befriended Ashima and chose to compete in the shunting competition, but was involved in an accident with Norman when one of Diesel's tricks went wrong. However, Thomas managed to go to the Great Railway Show when it was discovered that Gordon's safety valve had not been fitted on after his streamlined overhaul, but he was too late to warn Gordon. Thomas participated in the shunting competition after Percy dropped out, but during the competition, he had to rescue Philip when he was being pursued by Vinnie, and gave up his chance to win the race when he spotted a derailed flatbed on Ashima's line and ran into it himself, but won the race for his good sportsmanship. Thomas returned to Sodor with the rest of the Sudrian team and Ashima, who was going back to India and he will be fully repaired to run on his own branch line again.
Thomas is a rather cheeky, but good hearted engine and generally behaves well, except when he is getting into mishap. He loves teasing the others, especially the bigger engines, such as Gordon and, on occasion, brags about his superiority, but is always brought down to earth in due course. If Thomas has one major character flaw, it is that he is forgetful, and slightly impatient. However, he is also optimistic and idealistic.
Although their friendship has been turbulent at times, Percy is generally portrayed as Thomas' best friend, especially in the television series.
Thomas is based on the Billington E2-Class 0-6-0T locomotives built for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway between 1913 and 1916. He is apparently one of the last batch built as only these engines featured his distinctive extended side-tanks, projecting forward over the leading wheels and little down sweeps at each end of the footplate. The E2s were introduced in 1915 to replace earlier members of the E1 class, which had been scrapped. The last five in the ten strong class had extended side tanks to give a greater water capacity, but all engines had two inside cylinders and driving wheels 4'6" in diameter.
After many years of service, all of the Billington E2s, both original and modified, spent their last working years at Southampton Docks and they were all scrapped by 1963, the very last pair being numbers 31204 and 31209, the latter being amongst the last batch. There is, however, a campaign with the aim to build a new E2, and number it 110. Do, two E2s of the first batch were tested on passenger trips, as well as given the LB&SCR brown passenger paint, do this was a fail experiment, the reason for it being that the first batch didn't had enought coal & water. So the class was place only for shunting
Thomas has a slight modification of having wheel splashers over his front wheels whereas the original E2s did not. This modification would only be needed in his rebuilt in 1960, the little down sweeps at each end of the footplate were gone after crashing into the stations maters house, and his footplate was straight. This is another modification that the original E2s did not have.
Thomas is painted in the North Western Railway's standard blue livery with red-and-yellow lining and the number "1" painted on his tank sides in yellow with a red border. In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates on the sides of his cab.
When Thomas first arrived on Sodor in The Adventure Begins, he was painted teal-green with white-and-yellow lining. He had LBSC lettering painted on his tanks in yellow with a red border and had the number "70" painted in the same colours on the sides of his bunker. Upon his first visit to the Steamworks for a repaint, his metal frame devoid of paint is seen before being applied with a pink undercoat to keep water out from him, which would cause permanent rust damage.
In the first three seasons of the television series, Thomas had red lining on the back of his bunker. However, during the filming of All at Sea, the lining was removed for unknown reasons. Sam Wilkinson, the current railway consultant was responsible for bringing back the red lining on Thomas' coal bunker as of The Adventure Begins, and it will carry through into future seasons and specials.
Thomas's running-plate was allegedly a source of some contention to the Reverend W. Awdry during the course of the Railway Series. As originally drawn, it had a distinctive dip at the front, but none at the back. The story goes that to Awdry's eyes, this meant that Thomas' buffers would be at different levels, an operational inaccuracy and impossibility. This seems curious on Awdry's part, as all the artists had drawn Thomas as having an extra-deep rear bufferbeam to compensate, thus putting the front and rear buffers at the same level.
Be it a matter of taste or inaccuracy, the issue of the running-plate had to be settled: thus Thomas' excursion into the Stationmaster's house at Ffarquhar was arranged. After his repairs at Crovan's Gate, Thomas returned with a new running plate that was flat and level from smokebox to bunker.
The E2's on which Thomas was based had dipped running-plates at both front and rear and the Hornby Thomas model displays these features, having been retooled from a set of moulds formerly used by Hornby to make E2 models. His television counterpart, however, retains the unique forward-dipped running plate.
Too Much Thomas?
While he may seem innocent enough, poor Thomas created a fair bit of trouble for Christopher Awdry and Egmont Books, publishers of the Railway Series, when the latter started asking for more books about the happy little tank engine. Granted, Thomas was the most popular character in the original Railway Series books, but Egmont went too far and thus the problem continues. With the advent of the television series, Egmont started asking for more Thomas and to this day Thomas has eight Railway Series volumes under his undercarriage. Two of the titles actually have very little to do with Thomas - Thomas Comes Home focuses on the adventures of the branch line engines during Thomas' visit to York, while Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines only featured one story about Thomas, although he did appear in two of the other three stories. As a result of Thomas' fame, classic characters like Oliver and Bear have become largely neglected.
Thomas and the Toddler
When the Reverend W. Awdry created Thomas, he existed only as a wooden toy made for his son, Christopher. This engine looked rather different from the character in the books and television series, and was based on an LNER J50 or a Hudswell Clarke with smaller side tanks and splashers. He was painted teal-green with yellow lining, and carried the number 1 on his bunker on both sides in yellow and also carried the letters "NW" on his side tanks in yellow. Awdry claimed that this stood for "No Where", but later works would identify the railway Thomas and his friends worked on as the North Western Railway.
Oh, the Payne
For the illustrations of Thomas the Tank Engine, Edmund Ward, then-publisher of the Railway Series, hired illustrator Reginald Payne, who decided to base Thomas on the LB&SCR E2 Class. (Awdry was annoyed that Thomas was obviously not the tank engine he had first drawn, but he was satisfied when Payne explained that he was drawn after a real prototype). Unfortunately, Payne did not receive any credit for his work; it is only since the publication of Brian Sibley's The Thomas the Tank Engine Man that he has received recognition.
Thomas on the Big Screen
In 2000, Thomas made it to cinemas in the box-office flop Thomas and the Magic Railroad, in which he was voiced byEdward Glen. He was the only engine from the television series to play a major role in the story, and even left Sodor briefly.
Despite the film's overall failure, Thomas kept on puffing and later featured in straight-to-video features Calling All Engines!, The Great Discovery, Hero of the Rails, Misty Island Rescue, Day of the Diesels, Blue Mountain Mystery, King of the Railway, Tale of the Brave, The Adventure Begins, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure and The Great Race. Soon Thomas will reach the big screen yet again in Journey Beyond Sodor.
It has been revealed that there is an upcoming theatrical film to take place in London during World War II. In April 2013, Josh Klausner stated that he does not know if the movie is still going ahead.
Thomas in Popular Culture
The Nene Valley Railway at Peterborough, England, was the first railway in the world to possess a full-scale replica "Thomas", an industrial tank engine built by Hudswell Clarke so nicknamed for its blue livery and resemblance to the famous tank engine. In 1971 the name was made official by the Reverend W. Awdry. Other tank engines the world over have since been dressed up as Thomas. Some railways have even gone so far as to rebuild locomotives to produce a better replica. Unfortunately this has created a divide between preservationists: some claim it disfigures historic locomotives and trivializes the preservation movement, others say it attracts visitors and can potentially spark an interest in railways amongst young children.
A "real Thomas" (built for The All Aboard Live Tour) was used in a special play staged to celebrate the eightieth birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, starring beloved characters from children's literature. In the play, Thomas was used to convey Sophie Dahl, the granddaughter of the late Roald Dahl, to centre stage, and was greeted by thunderous applause and cheers from the audience of two thousand children and their parents.
Another "Real Thomas" is used during "A Day Out With Thomas" events where people actually ride in his passenger coaches and get their pictures taken with Sir Topham Hatt. Additional attractions include petting zoos, pony rides, story telling, viewing of "Thomas and Friends" videos, temporary tattoos and a gift shop.
There are stage performances called Thomas the Tank Engine Live, where people get to see Thomas and his friends perform on stage. Three different plays have been made - "Thomas Saves the Day", "A Circus Comes to Town", and "Thomas and the Hidden Treasure".
Thomas has also been known to be seen in amusement parks. In America, Thomas was usually found in "Six Flags" parks until 2010 when the licence was not renewed. In Drusilla's Zoo Park near Alfriston, Sussex, England, a special attraction was opened where Thomas carried passengers through the zoo; it also featured James, Diesel, Cranky, and the Fat Controller. At the United Kingdom's Drayton Manor theme park, a special place called "Thomas Land" is dedicated to fans to ride on multiple rides based on Thomas and Friends. The park opened on March 15th, 2008. One of Thomas' models used in the television series is on display there in the "Discover Thomas and Friends" exhibition.Another park opened at the Edaville Railroad in Carver, Massachusetts in the summer of 2015, adopting a phase similar to Drayton Manor.
Thomas Land in Japan was the world's first Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends theme park. It opened in 1998, and located at the Fuji-Q Highland, an amusement park in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan. Like the UK's Thomas Land, it has multiple rides based on the series. A few of the rides, displays, play house areas, and exhibits try to recreate scenes from the television series. Another one of Thomas' models from the television series is on display there.
Thomas and Henry window stickers have been shown to make various appearances in the hospital drama Children's Ward, which aired on ITV (which also aired Thomas and Friends and the classic series).
Thomas' Bachmann HO model (along with HO models of Annie, Clarabel, and Emily's coaches) makes an appearance in the 2015 Marvel movie, Ant-Man. His large scale Bachmann model is also used in some scenes, although the model's face is different.
Thomas also appeared as a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in 2014. He also appeared in the Toronto Santa Claus parade alongside Rosie and Percy on November 15th, 2015.
Thomas was recently mentioned on Disney XD's Lab Rats vs Mighty Med crossover special.
- Martin Sherman (US; Hero of the Rails - eighteenth season)
- Ben Small (UK; Hero of the Rails - eighteenth season)
- Joseph May (US; The Adventure Begins onwards)
- John Hasler (UK; The Adventure Begins onwards)
- Javier Olguín (Latin America; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Jürgen Theuns (The Netherlands; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Christian Stark (Germany; twelfth season onwards)
- Juha Varis (Finland; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Daniel Figueira (Brazil; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- Haris Grigoropoulos (Greece)
- Janusz Zadura (Poland)
- In the Railway Series, Thomas was the first engine to have a number on the NWR. However, in The Adventure Begins, there were five other numbered engines before he was made number 1 to replace Glynn, a "Coffee Pot" engine from Sodor's branch lines.
- According to Brian Sibley, Wilbert used that number because it was the easiest to draw.
- Four Thomas models are currently on display: one at Drayton Manor in the UK, one in Japan at the Hara Railway Museum (previously on display at Nitrogen Studios), the large scale Thomas model used in the spin-off series, The Pack, in Japan at Thomas Land, and one for the touring Thomas and Friends: Explore the Rails exhibit, currently at the Minnesota Children's Museum.
- Thomas appeared in BBC's Children in Need charity single. He was voiced by Ringo Starr.
- Christopher Awdry lost the original Thomas model when he was in the US, although it was recently recreated for a sizzle promo for the 70th Anniversary.
- In Day of the Diesels, it was revealed that Thomas' driver is named Bob.
- Thomas was the first character introduced in the television series, unlike the Railway Series.
- As the series progressed, Thomas' eyebrows became larger and thicker.
- A promotional image of Thomas regularly appears in a photo frame on the children's program "Giggle and Hoot."
- A toy train resembling Thomas (with a grey face and a blue, red and yellow livery) appears in the "Bob the Builder" special, "Scrambler to the Rescue". Its coaches resemble the Express Coaches.
- In 2014, when artist Jenny Bell decided to paint a mural of the nativity at Nottingham railway station for Christmas, she added a golden model of Thomas into the picture. She used a wind-up model of Thomas from Hornby as a guide.
- A Hornby model of Thomas made a cameo in the 2003 Comic Relief.
- A modified Bachmann model of Thomas made a long cameo in the 2015 movie Ant-Man.
- An ERTL model of Thomas made a cameo in GoodTimes Entertainment's home video "All About Fast Moving Trains".
- Thomas' LB&SCR number (No.70) actually belonged to an LB&SCR A1 named Poplar, a member of Stepney's andBoxhill's class. The engine containing this number is currently preserved at the Kent & East Sussex Railway. The number 70 also represents the 70th anniversary of the Thomas & Friends franchise.
- Even after the red lining on the back of Thomas' bunker returned, none of the merchandising companies added the lining on the back of their Thomas models.
- Awdry's original model of Thomas depicts him as an LNER J50 0-6-0T with an extended coal bunker.
- Thomas went through several changes in the television series:
- Season 1:
- He had a real-looking brake pipe.
- Season 2:
- He gained a smaller brake pipe.
- Unlike in the RWS, after the accident with the station masters house, his footplate retains the dip in the front, where in the RWS his footplate becomes flat.
- Season 3:
- His footsteps got smaller.
- After Trust Thomas, the lining on the back of his bunker was removed.
- Season 6:
- His eyebrows became a bit bigger.
- His wheels became bigger.
- Jack and the Sodor Construction Company (Large Scale Model Only)
- His whole model changes from O scale, to G scale.
- His lamp becomes bigger.
- His middle wheel counterweight moves to a real life position.
- His brake pipe and buffers are bigger.
- There is a hole on the left side of his running board.
- His funnel is larger.
- The face masks used in the sixth season were modified.
- Season 7:
- His wheels go back to their original size.
- Season 12:
- His chassis were opened, revealing the mechanisms on the model.
- Hero of the Rails:
- His pistons and valve gear are added.
- His whistle became smaller and is lower to the boiler.
- His cab is open.
- He has the controls in 2D, as a texture.
- The Adventure Begins:
- He gains 3D cab controls.
- The lining on the back of his bunker returned, on both LBSC & NWR livery.
- His side rods become silver.
- Season 1:
- Never Overlook A Little Engine
- Will You Won't You
- You Can Only Be You
- Be Who You Are, And Go Far
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas
- I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside
- ERTL (normal, silver, gold, metallic, remote controlled, motorized, miniature, Gold Rail, in multipacks and Santa hat; all versions discontinued)
- Wooden Railway (normal, gold, motorized, metallic, and in multi-packs)
- Take Along (normal, silver, metallic, talking roll and whistle, and in multi-packs; all versions discontinued)
- My First Thomas (normal, talking, drive-away talking and interactive)
- Motor Road and Rail (normal, gold, metallic, talking, snowplough, Steam Along, and with Annie and Clarabel; discontinued outside Asia)
- TrackMaster (normal, talking, RC, greatest moments, Steam Along, with Annie and Clarabel, in Southern Railway green and streamlined)
- Brio (normal and motorized; both versions discontinued)
- Hornby (discontinued, reintroduced 2015)
- Bachmann (HO and G scale)
- Lionel (G scale (discontinued), O gauge and RC)
- Trading Cards
- My Thomas Story Library (discontinued)
- Thomas Engine Collection Series (several versions; discontinued)
- Mini Die Cast Collection (discontinued)
- Departing Now (discontinued)
- Thomas Town (discontinued)
- Capsule Collection
- Take-n-Play (normal, pull back, talking, push 'n' puff, glow racers and streamlined)
- LEGO (discontinued)
- Mega Bloks
- De Agostini (discontinued)
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