Railway enthusiast and children’s author, Reverend W. Awdry was the original creator of character ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ who starred in his series of 42 books titled ‘The Railway Series.’ First published in 1945, the initial titles were based on tales he repeatedly told his son Christopher as he recovered from measles; the latter of whom later also contributed to the series. Located on the fictional Island of Sodor, the engine characters were predominately based on real classes of locomotives and in the mid-80s led to the popular and award-winning children’s television series.
The icon of children’s entertainment has a 70 year heritage that continues to appreciate in value through its multiple global theme parks, movies, inspiring TV series, theatre performances, ‘Days Out’ with Thomas family events, online apps and entry in Guinness Book of World Records for the longest toy train track. In 2014, ‘Thomas and Friends’ was justly awarded the ‘Best Classic Licensed Property’ at the UK Licensing Awards. Retailers can stock toys and baby gear from this popular license, under ownership of Mattel since 2012, from award-winning wholesaler Baby Brands Direct.
Toy giant, Mattel acquired the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ licence from Hit Entertainment in 2012 for a reported $680 million. In previous years Fisher-Price had a licensing agreement with the Company to manufacturer some of it toys and was paying Hit Entertainment royalties on them. The partnership was very successful, soaring its property’s toy sales particularly in the US and becoming the number one toy brand in China. At the time, Mattel reported that the Thomas toy sales exceeded $150m a year and planned to ‘continue to expand and grow the product lines into the foreseeable future.’ Commenting on the purchase, Mattel Chief executive Robert Eckert stated, “Mattel is the right home for Thomas and friends," Baby Brands Direct is a UK Mattel distributor, offering trade prices on the Thomas and Friends range of products to its registered retailers.