On April 28, Mattel Inc. kicks off worldwide celebrations for the 75th anniversary of the iconic global preschool brand, Thomas & Friends. The momentous year for the iconic No.1 Blue Tank Engine will include exciting partnerships, engaging apps and e-books, brand-new music, and new episodic content and specials.
The first Thomas & Friends story was created 75 years ago by the Rev. W. Awdry for his son, Christopher. Today, Thomas is just as beloved by children as he was when he first chugged down the tracks in 1945. With constantly evolving content and more ways to reach fans than ever before, Thomas is inviting everyone to celebrate the 75th Anniversary throughout 2020.
“Since the beginning, Thomas & Friends has celebrated friendship and teamwork through storytelling which has cultivated fan love across generations. In this milestone 75th year, we are releasing more storytelling content than ever before to engage the next generation of fans,” said Chuck Scothon, SVP and GM of Infant and Preschool, Mattel. “While families are spending more time at home, we are able to offer new content to enjoy together across videos, books, apps and through music and podcasts and are thrilled that we could partner with leading platforms like Calm and Caribu along with Netflix and Harry, The Duke of Sussex to bring this content home for fans.”
The power of the Thomas & Friends brand is evident across many platforms, but most of all in the hearts of its fans. The worldwide Thomas & Friends 75th anniversary activations include:
- Anniversary year content kicks off on May 1 with a new 1 x 22’ celebratory special, Thomas & Friends: The Royal Engine, which pays homage to the show’s British heritage and features Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales as a child. Thomas travels to London for the first time on a mission to take Sir Topham Hatt to Buckingham Palace. Thomas & Friends: The Royal Engine includes a special introduction from Harry, The Duke of Sussex. Actress Rosamund Pike voices a new character, Duchess of Loughborough, and said it was “an absolute honour” to guest star in the 75th anniversary special.
- Also releasing this year as part of Series 24 are 2 x 22’ specials under the title Thomas & Friends: Marvelous Machinery. The specials have an exciting invention theme, new and unusual characters including a flying car, and a world-class technology fair celebration. In addition, 20 x 11’ new episodes will debut. All of this content will be on Netflix in the US.
- To supplement Series 24 episodes and specials, the brand will release four all-new made-for-YouTube series, with episodes debuting weekly. New YouTube content includes the series Thomas’ Magical Birthday Wishes, a kid-friendly nod to anniversary year celebrations.
- Nitro Circus and Thomas & Friends are teaming up for an epic train adventure. At Nitro Circus, a “train” involves a lot more motorcycles, ATVs, and plenty of gnarly crashes. So the crew brings in some friends to help jump a “train” over a train, and that train is pulled by none other than Thomas the Tank Engine himself. Check out this stunt on Quibi, Life-Size Toys series debuts May 25.
- On May 12, the brand is launching Thomas & Friends Storytime, a new podcast for kids. There will be 46 stories released weekly including origin stories of favorite characters, Thomas versions of fairytales, and adaptations of previous television episodes and books. Each episode ranges from 5-10 minutes in length and will be available on all major podcast platforms.
- Thomas will have his very own birthday album releasing on May 8, including three all new celebration themed songs. The album will be available across all major digital music platforms. The brand is also launching over 50 more new songs throughout the year, with accompanying music videos on YouTube.
- On May 4, Thomas & Friends is kicking off a partnership with Calm, the world’s #1 app for sleep, meditation and relaxation, to introduce young fans to Thomas-themed sleep stories and guided meditations. Calm’s bespoke content will allow families to enjoy a new, immersive way to engage with Thomas & Friends through mindfulness. The content will be available for free for the month of May on the Calm app, with two more new content releases coming later in the year.
- Thomas & Friends started as a story told by a father to his son, and after 75 years of adventure and more than 207 million books sold around the world, the brand continues to release new titles with more than 20 publishing partners globally. In the US, Random House Books for Young Readers is releasing Thomas & Friends: Best Birthday Ever! Fans can celebrate Thomas the Tank Engine’s best birthday ever with this Thomas & Friends storybook featuring stickers, a poster, and a party game. In the UK, Egmont is releasing three titles for fans celebrating the brand’s heritage, Thomas’ birthday and the new Royal Engine Special.
- Thomas & Friends is teaming up with Caribu, the #1 family-activity video-calling app, that allows kids to stay engaged and create special moments with their loved ones and friends by going on a virtual playdate no matter how far apart they are. Caribu allows families to read books from an extensive library of popular children’s titles, play games, color, or even cook from a recipe together in a video-call. To celebrate Thomas & Friend’s 75-year-milestone, Kevin Jonas is collaborating with Caribu to read classic Thomas & Friends books every week in May, starting today.
- Thomas & Friends is celebrating this milestone year with several new birthday themed toys. Birthday Wish Thomas is a push-along Thomas train with a cargo cart and light-up birthday cake candle, and includes music and phrases including “Happy Birthday.” Golden Thomas is decorated with festive balloons and beats a party drum as he moves along the track and Celebration Thomas, Percy and Nia engines have shiny metallic finishes.
For more information on Thomas & Friends 75th anniversary activities, please visit Thomasandfriends.com.