From 'Thomas the Tank Engine' to 'King of the Railway': Mattel plans global push for franchise

Marketing push will see a range of new toys created and the release of a one-hour film as it attempts to make inroads in Asia and Latin America

Thomas the Tank Engine will undergo a major rebranding in 2013 in an attempt to get children in Asia and Latin America on board.

Following its $680 million acquisition last year, toy giant Mattel plans to overhaul Thomas the Tank Engine to bring the cheery locomotive and his friends in-line with its lucrative Hot Wheels and Barbie brands.

The New York Times reports that, although Thomas’ retail sales currently bring in around $1 billion every year, Barbie brings in double that, while Hot Wheels is also a better seller in toy shops.

David Allmark, executive vice president of Mattel’s Fisher-Price brands said: “It’s been a brand that has been pretty bereft of investment… We really believe that we can grow this on a worldwide basis, particularly in Latin America and Asia.”

The marketing push will see a range of new toys created, including an expanded and enhanced collection of wooden trains, and the release of a one-hour, straight-to-DVD film entitled ‘King of the Railway’.

The DVD release will be accompanied by ‘blue carpet’ premieres in the United States and Europe and a three series extension of the Thomas and Friends television show on US stations PBS and Sprout.

A multi-million advertising campaign entitled ‘Anytime is Thomas time’ is also set for launch. 

Mr Allmark insisted Thomas will continue to espouse “innocent, sweet life lessons”, but said elements like faster story-telling would ‘liven up’ the franchise and help it keep up with modern brands.

Shari Donnenfeld, head of Hit Global Brandssaid: “When you are successful for as long as Thomas has been, you can become part of the woodwork…We need to reinforce the brand by reminding people why they love it and introducing new content.”

Over the last three years the Thomas the Tank Engine brand has been steadily updating.

In 2009, the old-fashioned animation style was dropped in favour of computer-generated images and the trains themselves began talking to each directly, rather than using a narrator to tell the audience what was being said.

The New York Times reports that these changes have increased Thomas the Tank Engine ratings by around 30 per cent.

The computerised graphics also enabled the creation of a range of popular Thomas ‘apps’, with 15 already available and another four on the way.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory