The kids are not happy, Thomas!!!

For years now Thomas and Friends...the stories, the books, the videos, the puzzles, the television episodes, the 1:1 shows/rides in various cities, etc...has been one of the best entries for the very young into this World's Greatest Hobby.

But, apparently, he has been undergoing a transformation at the hands of his new 'owner', Fisher-Price. 

The iconic wooden push trains with magnetic couplings so cherished by legions of kids has recently undergone a complete transformation by F-P.....AND THE KIDS (AND PARENTS!) ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT!

For examples, here's a couple comparisons of the new product line....

New Bertie....

Bertie

Old, beloved Bertie....

Bertie-old

New James...

James

Old beloved James...

James-old

new Rosie...

rosie

Old beloved Rosie...

Rose-old

Well, you might be inclined to say, 'What's the big deal?  So they changed the design somewhat?'
I'll tell you what's a big deal about this....4 out of 4 kids/parents who've come to the store in the past month desperately looking for the old, more colorful characters that more closely resemble their portrayal in the books, the videos, the story episodes on TV, the puzzles, et al, they do not accept the new look!  And for those of you who had kids who grew up with the Thomas tradition, you probably can attest that when it comes to THE representation of a popular toy, the kids know what's correct/acceptable, and what they'll have nothing to do with!

We (LHS) have watched our remaining stock of the old beloved wooden Thomas trains dwindle down to remnants.  We're no longer going to stock the new....apparently unacceptable...line.  Which, BTW, is also a shadow of its former self.....far fewer characters, accessories, etc..  Brio, though compatible, never has caught on as well.  Other less celebrated lines of compatible wooden/magnet push trains, while perhaps at a lower price point, have nowhere near the same level of enchantment with the kids.  In short, we may be losing our kids korner featuring Thomas.

And that, my friends, is NOT how to encourage the very young to capture an interest in this wonderful hobby.

It seems Fisher-Price is not impressed with the problem/crisis.

Anyone else run into this problem??

I know this is not the 'Wooden Push Train' forum.........but it's the best I could choose to air our collective 'crisis'.

KD

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Looks like they went with decals instead of leaded paint.

 In this day and age. Little ones will  still have plenty of fun watching Thomas on their I pods and cellphones.

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

Being a parent and now grandparent that went through the Thomas phase, I understand your issue. The new stuff isn't nearly as nice and fp probably did this as part of a cost reduction.

May I suggest stocking Lego trains? I only say this because, (long story short hopefully).....

Have a son that loved Thomas, we've got bins and bins of the "old" wooden stuff. For some reason we held onto it. Fast forward 20 years, had grandson, loves Thomas, still had our sons setup, bonus. Grandson was out growing Thomas, still had my son's o-gauge set that I had built for him put away in boxes. 

Before I invested more time, money and space in resetting up the o gauge trains I wanted to see if it was "worth it". Decided to spend some money and bought a bunch of Lego trains as an intermediate. Find Lego trains are great, most kids love Lego and they can build their own Lego train creation. 

Once grandson got the idea down of operating the Lego trains, switches, bluetoothish connectivity he loved it. I decided this was a good gauge to determine if it was worth setting up the "real train". 

Best of all, Lego trains are on par,  (generally) with Thomas stuff $ wise and found it to be a great stop-gap measure between "baby" kid toys to o gauge setup. 

And since it's Lego,  the kids can build a Thomas/James/Gordon or Herald the helicopter looking piece.

This may not solve the toddler stage issue for you but........just my 2 cents, (may not be worth that much).

20180720_153701

 

 

 

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Ottawa_Marc posted:

May I suggest stocking Lego trains? 

While Legos are certainly a well recognized toy, the last time we explored having their product line in our store it was essentially an all-or-nothing proposition...ALL of the Lego products, or none of them.  IOW....Sure, we'd like to have their trains products.  But, we'd be obligated to have their entire product line-up, too.  And that's something we have neither space nor inventory budget for in addition to our other product lines....We're a full-line hobby shop: R/C cars, boats, drones, planes, helicopters, static models, games, puzzles, rockets, telescopes, metal detectors, tools, paints, scenery items, etc........and, of course, trains of most gauges.

Our kids korner has had its own 'gravity', though, thanks to Thomas, including the all-important play table.  Kids make a running bee-line there when they come through the door.....regardless of which department the parents are heading to!  A couple years ago we temporarily removed the Thomas play table during the Christmas holiday period...Nov/Dec....to create space for stacking Lionel sets and other large, popular items.  DUMB MOVE!  We had more than a few crying kids over that faux pas.  It had been a shopping treat filled with parent/grandparent promises to stop by our store so the kids could see...and play with...the trains.  No Thomas?!?  Wahhhhhhhhhhh!  Never again....well, until this new conundrum hit.  Of course, we also get a fair amount of blood-curdling screaming/crying when the kids are dragged away from Thomas when the parents/grandparents are ready to leave! (We're proudly the only store department to have this type of departure!)

It will, indeed, be interesting to see how it plays out.....pun intended.

KD

Glad I kept all my son's Thomas stuff cleaned, in great shape and stored in airtight containers.  I have practically every character and accessory and the plan was to save for his kids.  Maybe it will be worth a mint by the that time - he's only 16 now. 

-Greg

Member of the Brotherhood of the Crappy Basement Layout

Associate Member of the NJ Hi-Railers

Image result for nj hirailers logo

 

Either I'm suffering from deja vu or one of the staff at my dialysis clinic mentioned this Thomas problem to me earlier today. I agree, the new stuff looks way too different. Kids know. I saved most of my kid's toys. Both have finished college. No prospect of grandkids anytime soon, but the stuff is there, waiting to get its second life.

dkdkrd posted:
Ottawa_Marc posted:

May I suggest stocking Lego trains? 

While Legos are certainly a well recognized toy, the last time we explored having their product line in our store it was essentially an all-or-nothing proposition...ALL of the Lego products, or none of them.  IOW....Sure, we'd like to have their trains products.  But, we'd be obligated to have their entire product line-up, too.  And that's something we have neither space nor inventory budget for in addition to our other product lines....We're a full-line hobby shop: R/C cars, boats, drones, planes, helicopters, static models, games, puzzles, rockets, telescopes, metal detectors, tools, paints, scenery items, etc........and, of course, trains of most gauges.

Our kids korner has had its own 'gravity', though, thanks to Thomas, including the all-important play table.  Kids make a running bee-line there when they come through the door.....regardless of which department the parents are heading to!  A couple years ago we temporarily removed the Thomas play table during the Christmas holiday period...Nov/Dec....to create space for stacking Lionel sets and other large, popular items.  DUMB MOVE!  We had more than a few crying kids over that faux pas.  It had been a shopping treat filled with parent/grandparent promises to stop by our store so the kids could see...and play with...the trains.  No Thomas?!?  Wahhhhhhhhhhh!  Never again....well, until this new conundrum hit.  Of course, we also get a fair amount of blood-curdling screaming/crying when the kids are dragged away from Thomas when the parents/grandparents are ready to leave! (We're proudly the only store department to have this type of departure!)

It will, indeed, be interesting to see how it plays out.....pun intended.

KD

That would be a lot of Lego to have to stock. Didn't know it was all or nothing, unfortunate.

Marc

Chris Lonero posted:

I don't blame you for being upset they look terrible!  The tender on James is just a square block with decals on it. Definitely looks like FP is trying to cut corners.

Chris, I don't even think it's decals. It looks more like a quick silk screen printing.

  • What's next? Plastic? A shape change that excludes use with past items like Little People of the 70's? I was too old, but these still disappointed me when I saw them. My siblings were going to play with "squares" ?
  • Used; but not approved....IMG_20180720_202902

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





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Wow, the Fisher Price ones do look bad.  I watched Shining Time Station and Thomas with our girls, but they didn’t have toy Thomas’s.  Now they are grown up.  My wife has picked up various Thomas trains at thrift stores in recent years.  I have a whole stash of them in the attic.  It doesn’t help the ongoing sales of new products.

Believe it or not there is a fairly large Thomas wooden railway community (TWRC). It’s mostly people my age, late teens to twenties, you know, the people that grew up playing with the original wooden Thomas models in the late 90s/early 2000s. These people are serious about their TWR, and when the new product line, called Thomas & Friends Wood, was first leaked, the whole community was up in arms. So trust me, it’s not just the kids and parents that aren’t happy. Even the die hard fans of Thomas Wooden Railway are complaining about this lazy move by Mattel/Fisher Price.

Mattel/FP really went the lazy route on the new line. It looks like they did the minimum in shaping and painting. In know when it comes to items like this, Mattel uses a 'parts' rule, that the item can't go beyond a certain number of parts or steps in manufacturing.  I'm not too surprised by the previous poster mentioned staff/cost cutting. I read a recent report that stated the reason why most toy companies, as well as some retailers who cater to kids, are struggling because of the low birth rate in this country, the explosion of tech toys and children involved in so many external activities, they don't really have time to themselves to 'play' as we did when we were kids. ToysRUs was indirectly affected by this phenomenon, although TRU had larger financial issues which shut them down. 

 

My own little slice of happiness in 5' x 9' 

This is something I've seen a lot online, and honestly I don't blame old fans and new ones with their parents alike. I grew up with the original Wooden Railway, Ertl Die Cast, etc., so seeing this is a huge step down. Back when the show was still owned by the original creators Britt Allcroft and the late David Mitton, the merchandise was almost always fantastic. 

It's funny because when the Thomas series was bad (2004-2012), the merchandise was still good. When Mattel/Fisher Price bought the franchise in 2013, the show got better again, but the merchandise slowly turned awful, eventually leading to the above Thomas Wood. I would imagine a company like Mattel, who has made great toys like the Hot Wheels line, would be thinking a bit more logically and ahead with a franchise like Thomas in the palm in their hands - Wooden Railway in particular, which has been around since late 1992, the longest running Thomas merchandise line in history.

But Thomas Wood is actually just the tip of the iceberg of some really perplexing decisions on Mattel's part. Characters like Daisy, Donald & Douglas, who have been used a lot in the current series have not gotten any toys to sell alongside their recent appearances on video and TV, but characters like Ferdinand who has not appeared in years or one off characters still get made by the masses. 

Thomas

Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters

TCA Member11-66911

LCCA 30247

ERR Upgrades and Custom Artwork

I wonder what Ringo Star thinks about all this? Ringo was part owner of the Thomas the Tank franchise, (Shining Time Station) and when ever the full size Thomas locomotives, real of fake, visits various railroad museums and tourist lines around the U.S., the name "Richard Starkey", i.e. Ringo, appeared on the contract.

Mikado 4501 posted:

But Thomas Wood is actually just the tip of the iceberg of some really perplexing decisions on Mattel's part. Characters like Daisy, Donald & Douglas, who have been used a lot in the current series have not gotten any toys to sell alongside their recent appearances on video and TV, but characters like Ferdinand who has not appeared in years or one off characters still get made by the masses. 

I apologize for getting a bit off the topic of wooden trains, but this goes along with what mikado 4501 was saying about questionable marketing decisions by Mattel. The newest Thomas and friends special just premiered in the UK today. Mattel has stated that they have no intentions of releasing it on DVD in the US. Umm, what?!

I bought my son the very first Thomas wooden set I ever saw.  The only name I remember seeing on the white---not blue---box was "Buki".  For years, we called his collection his "wooden Buki Thomas trains".  The nice thing is he's still got it!  It had a loop of track, switch, engine house, Thomas, Annie, Clarabelle, Sir Topham Hat, and a conducter---not Ringo!.  The switch and engine house were later reissued in a cheaper version.  I remember having a lot of trouble trying to find any other wooden Thomas trains at the time.  It wasn't until we went to a store called "Hects" (I think) that we found Thomas & Friends VHS videotapes that included one wooden character in the box.  It took quite awhile before we started seeing the blue-boxed Thomas & Friends with the "Learning Curve" brand.  My son loved playing with his wooden trains along with the original Ertl die-cast (where Thomas had a sticker to change him to a sad face---My son almost cried when he saw the sad Thomas.  I immediately took it off and put it back on the paper!).  We also got him the deluxe Ertl die-cast line of characters which were very nice, but short-lived.

I never knew there was a TWRC!

Does anyone know if there were any complete seasons of either Shining Time Station or the original British Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends TV shows ever released on DVD or Blu-ray?  My son still has all the videotapes in a box, but each one only has a few episodes.  It would be nice to be able to watch entire seasons.  It was kind of disappointing to see the "real" Thomas be replaced by the CGI Thomas, but I can understand why the producers chose to do so.  It allowed each engine to speak, while eliminating the construction of having to actually create the track and scenery.  I'm sure the cost of production went way down after the initial duplication of the real layouts were copied.

Years ago, I searched for a diagram of the original layouts, but I never found any.  I figured there must have been somebody who kept the designs for all of the different areas that were modeled by hand.  Does anyone know if those designs were ever published in a book or posted on-line?  I'd love to see them!

As for the topic of this thread....

I do find the new designs dismaying.  It reminds me of when G. I. Joe was shrunken from his original 12".  Many of the kids who played with the smaller G. I. Joes had fun with them, because many of them never knew what they were missing.  I'm guessing the same thing may happen here.  Today's kids may decide they prefer the plastic Tomy (or whoever is making them now) Thomas trains.  That may end of killing the wooden line altogether.  After all.....how can you take James' golden dome away from him when he's so proud of it?  Kids notice things like that!

phrankenstign posted:

Does anyone know if there were any complete seasons of either Shining Time Station or the original British Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends TV shows ever released on DVD or Blu-ray?

In the UK, every complete season of the original show is available on DVD. Every episode ever made has also been uploaded to YouTube by some person or another (honestly one of the most bootlegged shows of all time). Shining time station however is much harder to come by. As far as I’m aware, there is no easy way to watch it, other than low quality VHS rips on YouTube.

phrankenstign posted:

  After all.....how can you take James' golden dome away from him when he's so proud of it?  Kids notice things like that!

And there ya go!.....The penultimate insult to Thomas' Friends by Fisher-Price..

Removing 'The Golden Dome of Notre James!'

nun scolding

KD

Angry Leprechaun

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