Thomas the Tank engine owner Mattel is set to give the venerable steam train a 21st century makeover as it looks to put the character on track for international success.
Planned changes will see companion carriages Henry and Edward sent to the scrapyard in favour of Nia, an African engine developed with help from the United Nations, and a female character in the shape of Rebecca.
These dramatic changes dovetail with the release of ‘Thomas & Friends: Big World: Big Adventures!’ which will see Thomas take to the rails in Brazil and the US for an all-new cinematic adventure in summer 2018.
In an effort to engage with modern audiences Mattel is also pushing faster pacing, more humour and action as well as tangential assets such as songs, life lessons and music videos. Thomas himself will also speak out directly to audiences for the first time, engaging with viewers directly.
Christopher Keenan, senior vice president, content and executive producer at Mattel Creations, commented: “The original stories were told at a particular time and in a particular context. The world has changed so dramatically, and what parents want to instill in their children has evolved; being a global citizen is very much on parents’ minds.
"They see their kids as the global citizens of the future, which wasn’t the agenda 70 years ago.”
New additions to the depot already include a Chinese Dragon; Carlos of Mexico, Raul of Brazil and Rajiv of India.