The Collection


Acquiring, maintaining and displaying these props is not a cheap business - please consider donating towards the display by clicking on the donate button (right.)

We are the custodians of several artefacts that were previously used in the making of the classic television series, "Thomas & Friends" (formerly "Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends".) For 70 years, this little blue engine and his family have been entertaining the young and old across the world with their escapades. Based the original books by the Reverend W. Awdry, Thomas has become a worldwide sensation and one of the largest pre-school brands around.

With the first episode of the show airing on October 9 1984, the programme has passed through numerous eras. Originally filmed using live-action model trains, the show is now animated digitally.

Our collection includes some of the original props used in the show during its model-based run, which was filmed at Shepperton Studios.


The Props

Sir Topham Hatt (Large Model)


The biggest prop currently in our collection, this model stands an impressive 10 inches tall. Made entirely out of resin, the arms are poseable and the head interchangeable, though we only have the one that you see here. All the detail was hand painted by the prop department for the show.
This model would have been used in close up shots of the character, and appeared on screen between series eight (aired 2004) and series eleven (aired 2011) of the show's pre-CGI run.

Sir Topham Hatt (Small Model)


This small-scale example of the iconic character was used on set for wide shots, when having to appear alongside the engine characters. Like all other figures, he is made out of resin and has a poseable head and arms. This example was made for the show's eleventh series.


Workman (Small Model)


Workmen were often seen on-screen in numerous locations - docks, station platforms, good yards e.t.c. Some were even used for engine crews.
Between the close of production at Shepperton, and acquisition by us, the model lost an arm.


Pre-Series 6 Workmen; Small Models


Very rare and unique items from the model-era's history. For the first few series of the show in 1984, miniature figures were made of solid lead. Lead models varied from one-position models (above left,) and those with poseable arms (above right.) Note the figure that bore similarities to the then narrator Ringo Starr...


Dock Workmen; Small Models

 

Like the figures above, also made from lead. Many of these were seen on screen from series 8 onward, and as with the resin worker, the miniature above left has also lost an arm sometime prior to our acquisition.

Production Face Masks (Harvey)


Perhaps one of the most associated props with the series were the engines and their facial expressions. Each character had numerous masks, with a different expression on each.

Our collection presently has two from the popular character Harvey, a crane engine.
These are at varying stages of production. The first appears to be an early sculpt, with the eye sockets still filled in.

The second shares the same expression. It would appear this was part-way through completion before the model team abandoned it; there are a few blemishes in the surface of the mask which may have led to such action. Alternatively, it could have been a spare being prepared, which they found was no longer required. Nevertheless, it is as equally interesting as its "master" counterpart, and represents the stages the expressions would progress through before appearing on-screen.

Storyboards


Before any filming begins on any media project, there is a whole sequence of pre-production work that must be completed - one such stage is storyboarding, which gives a detailed view of what will be seen on screen at what point. Sadly, almost all of this gets binned - even the copies distributed to studio crew.
We are lucky to have a ten examples. These are, unfortunately, not originals, but examples of copies that would have been distributed amongst the crew when creating the shots. Several of these display the signature of Robert Gauld-Galliers, who is one of just a handful of people to have worked on the entire model-era of the show.


Mr Perkins' Scarf


Mr Perkins began featuring on DVD releases in 2010, in segments between episodes and as extras. In one segment, he becomes a referee for a football match between engine crews. He is seen with a red and white scarf around his neck.
The scarf was hand-knitted by one of the ladies in the prop department at the studio where the segments were shot, and makes for an interesting piece from the more recent era of the show.


Sodor Shilling

 

When production closed at Shepperton Studio, each crew member working on the show received a gift. One of these gifts was a coin, which marked 25 years of production for the show, an example of which is seen here.

Body Warmer



After production on series 6 ceased in 2002, studio crew were gifted several items. One of these is the body warmer seen here. As well as Thomas, the warmer was embroidered with the image of Jack the front loader, a then-newcomer to the show. Jack and his packmates had been build to a much larger scale than the original models, and thus required a lot of work when filming their episodes.

Gullane Yo-Yo


Like the body warmer, the yo-yo was gifted to crew members in 2002. Bearing an image of Thomas on side, and the brand logo on the other, the item was presented in a special Gullane casing, to protect the item from damage.


We will be adding more to our collection throughout 2015! Stay tuned...

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