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Friday, 30 August 2013

Stephen, Connor and Caitlin star in 'King' minisite clips

Two clips from King of the Railway: The Movie have been added to the Thomas & Friends website.

The previews surfaced on the King of the Railway minisite this week on the Explore Sodor campaign.
The first, set at The Steamworks, shows the moment Stephen is first introduced, much to the interest of Thomas, Percy and James when the newcomer contemplates his elder state.

The scene's soundtrack was used as the music for the Spruce Up Stephen game earlier in the monthAlongside the incumbent, Thomas and The Earl of Sodor, Connor and Caitlin also appear on the Ulfstead Castle portal.

Their clip sees the two Mainland engines' arrival on Sodor, with Hiro, James, Gordon and Spencer astonished at their speedy entrances.

Walmart provided a glimpse to another clip earlier this week with Spencer challenging Gordon to race.


Monday, 26 August 2013

Walmart previews 'King of the Railway' two minute clip

Walmart have teased King of the Railway's US DVD/Blu-ray by previewing a scene from the film.

The retailer's On Demand page for the release shows Spencer passing the Vicarstown Bridge and encountering Hiro on the main line.
It then leads to Spencer's return to Tidmouth Sheds and challenging Gordon to race once more.

The Thomas & Friends website presented a clip of The Earl of Sodor's arrival on Sodor last month.

King of the Railway: The Movie from Lionsgate Entertainment hits US DVD/Blu-ray shelves on September 17th.

Thanks to MrTrainfan1000the2nd for the alert.

'Animals Aboard' DVD set for Target exclusive release

A new DVD is to be available for US fans only to be released in Target stores this September.

Following Walmart's successful Railway Mischief launch, Animals Aboard will exclusively appear in Target stores shortly next month but will not feature previously unseen episodes.

Five episodes ranging from Season 13 to 15 join the animal themed release with two songs added as extras.
Percy's New Friends, Thomas and the Pigs, Henry's Good Deeds, Thomas' Tall Friend and Buzzy Bees star alongside the animated music videos Hear the Engines Coming and Determination.

The summary reads; All aboard as Thomas and his engine friends embark on exciting adventures with some new furry friends!

Percy learns to be gentle when meeting some small forest friends and Thomas goes hog-wild trying to be Really Useful for Farmer Trotter.
Henry performs a sweet deed in returning Sodor’s special songbird and Thomas must fulfill a tall order when he is asked to deliver the newest animal to Sodor’s Wildlife Center.

The engines are busy as bees being Really Useful and helping animals big and small.

Animals Aboard from Lionsgate Entertainment hits US DVD shelves on September 10th only at Target.

Exclusive: 'Jack and the Pack' writer talks snow story

An episode set in the winter was initially planned for the Jack and the Pack spin-off series, Roll Along Thomas can reveal.

American writer Paul Dawson was approached to pen Oliversaurus and Snow Rescue in April and August 2002 respectively during the development of producer Phil Fehrle's construction site series.

Speaking to Roll Along Thomas, Dawson detailed on the scripts' origins; I found two scripts (Oliversaurus/Snow Rescue) from 2002. I had to rev up an old hard drive to find them.
They were written in a weird (nonconventional) script layout dictated by the production company.

Snow Rescue was ultimately never made, however, a brief synopsis was scripted by Paul; Jack is the new excavator in the Sodor Construction yard. What he lacks in enthusiasm he makes up in exuberance.

When the first big snowfall of the year traps a group of schoolkids high in the mountains, Jack is fitted with a shiny new snow plough blade and rumbles into heroic action.

Oliversaurus went on to become A Visit from Thomas unbeknownst to Dawson at the time; It's nice to hear it was made, I didn't even know that much. A further five stories were also written but didn't enter production.

Thanks to SteamTeam.

'King of the Railway' minisite explores Ulfstead Castle

The King of the Railway minisite has opened Ulfstead Castle for Thomas fans to explore Sodor.

Thomas is joined by The Earl of Sodor, Sir Robert Norramby and Stephen the Rocket in the new portal, where colouring activities featuring the latter two are available for printing.
Two games serve as the biggest additions to the page. From Sir Robert, Working Together lets players control the speeds of Percy, James and Thomas while pulling a triple header load.

Gordon and Spencer's race reprise from the film's soundtrack assists the game. Stephen's game, Spruce Up Stephen meanwhile, gives instructions to clean and restore the engine back to his former glory at The Steamworks.

Another piece of soundtrack, quoting Stephen's debut scene, accompanies. Clips of Sir Robert, Thomas and the film's trailer are also available.

More colouring prints and clips of Cranky, Charlie and Salty are accessible via Brendam Docks.


Third Awesome Adventures UK DVD for 'Thrills & Chills'

Hit Entertainment's brands will be back together again for another Awesome Adventures DVD for the UK.

Thrills & Chills is the third to be adapted from one of the US Lionsgate releases, Halloween Thrills & Chills.

Fireman Sam, Thomas & Friends and Mike the Knight are each represented in two spooky themed episodes, the latter replacing Bob the Builder, who is included as a bonus.
Episodes include;
Fireman Sam in
Norman's Ghost and Norman's Halloween Heist.
Thomas & Friends in
Toby and the Whistling Woods and Percy and the Monster of Brendam.
Mike the Knight in
The Scary Noise and The Wizard's Treasure.
Bob the Builder in
Dizzy's Sleepover.

The description reads; Scare up some fun this Halloween with your favourite friends!
Thomas and friends get spooked by some mysterious sounds, while Fireman Sam keeps everyone safe, especially when Norman hatches a trick-or-treating plan.

Mike the Knight battles Cave Monsters with Evie's wizardry help, and Bob the Builder & the machine team go batty with some new night-time pals! Get in the Halloween spirit with a few tricks, lots of treats and plenty of fun for all.

Awesome Adventures: Thrills & Chills from Hit Entertainment hits UK DVD shelves on October 7th.

Thanks to Hawk01 for the alert.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Alec Baldwin in line to be prime-time talk show host

Former narrator Alec Baldwin is reported to carve out a new career as a talk show host in the US.

The Hollywood actor, who became the storyteller for Thomas & Friends' Fifth and Sixth Seasons, is to present a primetime weekly chat show on MSNBC for a 10pm slot on Fridays.
Announced by political blog Mediaite earlier this month, the deal chronicles Baldwin's long association with the NBC owned network.

However, the actor hasn't escaped criticism from the limelight with many commentators lamenting the network's decision to sign up Baldwin.

Their previous show, popular sitcom 30 Rock, ran for seven seasons and ended in January earlier this year.

Thanks to PeterSam1992 for the alert.

Michael Brandon dances for primetime ITV dance show

Michael Brandon is to be a contestant on a primetime dance show this month on UK television.

With wife Glynis Barber, the two will compete together on Stepping Out for ITV, long being touted as a rival to the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.
The show sees six celebrities taking on different styles of dancing with their real-life partners. Both the recently verified Brandon and Barber have been tweeting avidly over their progress.

The two appeared on All Star Mr & Mrs earlier this year on the channel to be quizzed on their relationship and ended up winning £20,000 for The Autism Trust.

Professional boxer Carl Froch and JLS' Ortisé Williams are just some of the other stars who have signed on to be part of the show.

Stepping Out premieres on ITV in the UK on August 31st at 6:30pm.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Season 17 DVD 'Santa's Little Engine' episodes revealed

The upcoming Season 17 DVD for the US, Santa's Little Engine, will receive five episodes when released.

The October release is to hold four episodes from the latest series with another from Season 13 completing the disc.
The much hyped Santa's Little Engines, No Snow for Thomas, Frozen Turntable and The Missing Christmas Decorations will be joined by Snow Tracks.

With Lionsgate Entertainment continuing their pledge to add five stories to each DVD where available, the four new tales are, as of now, the only ones to be set during winter time in the new series.

The game Sir Topham Hatt's Frosty Friend and Guess Who? puzzles are confirmed as the extras.

Santa's Little Engine from Lionsgate Entertainment hits US DVD shelves on October 8th 2013.

Thanks to SteamTeam for the alert.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

'King of the Railway' Spoiler-Free Review: The Verdict

The good people at Hit Entertainment were generous enough to send Roll Along Thomas a copy of King of the Railway: The Movie DVD and allow a review of the film ahead of its cinematic and DVD releases.

While there's so much packed in it, a lot cannot be said here. This is a stark comparison to those many (who know who they are) who were nauseate enough to leak cryptic spoilers across the net following a Polish TV broadcast.

People vouching out to express their excitement even on the Twitter-sphere or on Facebook communities clearly were out of touch with Hit's policy and proved a wreckless disregard of spreading crucial information.

For more on this, please read The SiF Blog's article on why the nature of the fanbase must change.

Now that that's been said in a gut wrenching fashion, let's talk through the seventh feature-length special and the eighth movie overall in the franchise.
The film starts off with a pre-titles sequence in the same vein that Blue Mountain Mystery did, although this time, while it is shorter and less action-packed, its playful and distances itself away from a non-plot sequence to actually establishing what's to come further down the story, immediately taking pace into account rather early on.

What follows is a trek through Sodor type title sequence in the style of a map, lovingly crafted by the dynamic people at Arc Productions, all of whom immediately tease the viewer that so much is to come. This is coupled with the special's theme tune by Robert Hartshorne which is actually quoted in a key scene from Henry's Hero and is majestic enough to give you chills. Its a theme you may not be able to help but hum to.

Mark Moraghan, who lends some vitalised energy to the narration, then talks us through the early days of Sodor's history. This utilises the medieval aspects which is certainly intriguing, but none more so than the mention of a king called Godred. Faith comes to bite back in many ways. The Earl of Sodor's introduction is so comical that it lends perspective to the more authorial figures like The Fat Controller. Sir Robert's humour is used spaciously.

What follows just a few minutes later is Millie's introduction, where her persona is established to Thomas, then, she ends up becoming underused. While she is further explored in greater form in The Switch, it is actually The Steam Team that are used in equally sizeable roles to help drive parts of the plot through, something which has become a problem in previous specials.
The engines get in on the interplay to understand Sir Robert and the special's central newbie, Stephen. Stephen allows viewers to be educated on not only his and his railway's history, but also on the history of how real life railways developed from their inception to comparing to The Fat Controller's engines.

When a scene involving two diesels references the debate between vintage and modern engines, you know that it can be challenged in a future episode. In scenes with Sir Topham and his engines, his attitude is justified so rightly that he is more believable as a railway controller than ever before, something that the early series was able to achieve.

Its no secret that Jack makes a return to the franchise, but in a more, shall we say, proper tractor form. His change of appearance is mostly successful, partly due to the the latter, the way he is utilised in the script and the youthful voice given to him by someone long term fans will be able to recognise.

Spencer and Gordon get to match off against each other in several races, but the rematch is done so sparingly that Spencer is only there for the jealously and the humour. An end to one race may send repercussions of Happy Birthday, Sir! up peoples spines when some risky speeding almost leads to some peril.

Connor and Caitlin's offer to race the two pompous engines is sadly not taken on for full effect until a brief pickup at the end, but one that could leave potential for another outing.

The action shifts to the friendship of Thomas, Percy and James many times so much so that it dominates the plot as much as Stephen's quest to be really useful and Ulftsead Castle's construction. Their bickering and cheeky demeanors towards each other are put to the test in various ways that it harks back to the grounds of the first few series' characterisations, primarily Series One.

Upon finding his new job, trouble arrives for Stephen after the Troublesome Trucks' capers mark a welcome return. This leads to a Searching Everywhere sequence where even the underused Captain and another safety equipped character (who is given a line earlier in the story) play a part in the search alongside Connor and Caitlin et al.

By the time Stephen's trouble is resolved, taking a vital piece of a steam engine into account, it is all cheers and smiles with the grand opening of Ulfstead Castle. Cue the end of special music video. For those who listened to an early version of that song... well, that's the clue.

There is so much packed into King that you just can't help but take into arms and adore it. The strong characterisations, the greater use of characters, the suspense, the workings of railways. There is even some things for older fans that will leave you filled with smiles all round, in particular, references to past episodes. There is even a line of dialogue that puts the prolonged debate of a certain engine's type of function to rest and an explanation for Hiro appearing.

Despite some minor qualms, the story is strong enough that you are attached to embrace the richness of it, more so, Arc Productions' animation. Just don't trust low quality internet clips! There are sublime messages of working together, trusting one another, being sure of yourself, how to get the job done and old vs. new.
Andrew Brenner's pledge to take the series to more grounded territory and back to its roots is filled with promises in this solid special coupled with Rob Silverstri's fast paced direction and sharp angular visuals. It may well be as good as Hero of the Rails or Blue Mountain Mystery whatever's your poison, but King of the Railway stands on its own feet to offer things old, new and exciting.

King of the Railway gets an...

King of the Railway: The Movie arrives in Vue cinemas nationwide across the UK from August 23rd to September 1st, with its DVD to follow a day after on the 2nd.

The US will receive the DVD on September 17th followed by Australia on October 2nd.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Vue plays host to 'King of the Railway' UK VIP premiere

King of the Railway: The Movie held its UK premiere at Vue's Leicester Square cinema today.

Stars from TV land and music turned up with family and friends to attend the annual Thomas & Friends premiere compered by The Fat Controllerwith narrator Mark Moraghan leading the event with his children.

Along with the aforementioned, Thomas alumni was represented by voice actors Glenn Wrage and Jonathan Forbes, series railway consultant Sam Wilkinson and the Rev. W. Awdry's daughter, Veronica Chambers.
Coronation Street's Marcus Dent, Charlie Condou turned up as did Eastenders' Janine Butcher, Charlie Brooks followed by actors John Thomson, Shelley ConnSamantha Spiro and White Heat's Claire Foy.

The Apprentice finalist, Luisa Zissman was also there alongside TV chef Gizzi Erskine of This Morning fame and former Conservative Opposition Leader, Lord Michael Howard. Lulu and Julian Lloyd Webber were also present.

Channel 5's pre-school presenters Jen Pringle, Kemi Majeks, Olivia Birchenough and Derek Moran attended in support of their fellow milkshake! stars.

King of the Railway: The Movie arrives in Vue cinemas nationwide across the UK from August 23rd to September 1st, with its DVD to follow a day after on September 2nd.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Bob Golding appears in cameo role in BBC's Eastenders

Stephen voice actor, Bob Golding made a brief cameo appearance in tonight's Eastenders.

The actor, who voices the Rocket engine in the King of the Railway movie, played Colin in the BBC One serial drama.
The character was among several bachelors who tried to succeed in gaining a date as part of a single's night in Albert Square's R&R club.

Colin's luck soon had him connect with the square's Bianca Butcher who denied having a degree, to which Colin responded with; Neither do I. His fleeting character also interacted with Phaldut Sharma's A.J. Ahmed.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Railway Stories 'Audio Collection' goes Down Under

The Railway Stories' Audio Collection will be available for release in Australia next month.

The six CD boxset of the modern Railway Series audiobooks will arrive in stores simultaneously with the UK's at the start of September.
Former TV series narrator, Michael Angelis narrates the 18 so far adapted books with music provided by Ed Welch, Mike O' Donnell and Junior Campbell's songs from the show.

AudioGO spoke with Roll Along Thomas in July over the possibilities of a seventh volume being produced.

Audio Collection from AudioGO hits Australian CD shelves on September 1st.

Thanks to SteamTeam for the alert.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Thomas & Friends Mag previews 'The Lost Puff' images

New images have been released concerning an upcoming episode from the 17th Series.

Issue 667 of Thomas & Friends Magazine published stills from The Lost Puff today, to be broadcast in the UK and the US in October.
Used as the UK magazine's featured story, its lead, Paxton will star with Toby and Thomas while Stephen will serve in a small role.

Last week saw PBS reveal details on the next set of episodes from the latest series, including a synopsis for The Lost Puff.

Series 17 of Thomas & Friends returns on Channel 5 milkshake! in the UK in October coinciding with the US launch on PBS Kids on October 7th.

Thanks to SteamTeam for the alert.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Railway Series exhibition in Kotyo houses TV models

It has been revealed that more of the TV series models are currently on display in Japan.

A collection of the former engines' models join the Jack and the Pack versions of Thomas and Percy at the Railway Series Painting Exhibition in Kyoto.
The showcase of the books' origins opened in July that not only boasts digitally remastered artworks of The Railway Series but also relative guides on its history, specially created merchandise and rare memorabilia.

In a special area of the exhibition presenting the TV series models, one glass cabinet houses Gordon, Donald and Douglas with a station house accompanying.

Another prized display contains five of the narrow gauge engines in the forms of Rheneas in between Sir Handel, Peter Sam, Duncan and Rusty.

Thomas, EdwardHenry and James are also noted for exhibition purposes as are Toby, Oliver, Bill, Ben, Mavis and more. Nitrogen Studios' facilities and Drayton Manor's Thomas Land also display some more of the models.

Thanks to TheIronEngine, Thomas Stansfield and Puff Puff Thomas for the alerts.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

PBS confirms more new episodes for Season 17 in US

PBS have confirmed the next set of episodes from the 17th Series on their website.

The US broadcaster's newly revamped Thomas site, which houses full length episodes, lists the ten half-hour blocks due to air on their channel in October.

More so are the synopsis for ten new stories included in the shows, starting off with Paxton in the lead role for The Lost Puff, which is to gain a Thomas Story Time book adaptation.
The popularities of Flynn and Belle are put to the test in Too Many Fire Engines. After his celebrated brief comeback in Henry's Hero, Duck will re-appear in a supporting role alongside Thomas and Harold in The Thomas Way.

The Phantom Express and Percy's Lucky Day incorporate both Percy and King of the Railway's Stephen, the latter story featuring the returning Bill and Ben who also face-off with Connor in Bill or Ben?.

Fans have speculated that Bill or Ben? is based off of the magazine story, Diesel's Race, which shares a similar plotline, both of which are thought to be written by current script editor, Andrew Brenner.
The winter tales, No Snow for Thomas and The Frozen Turntable follow while the No Wheels for Sidney plotline is used for The Missing Christmas Decorations.

The latter will mark Diesel 10's first regular episode, breaking the tradition of the diesel's roles as a movie-only character.

Rounding off the run is Santa's Little Engine which is to headline a DVD release in the US later this year.

Series 17 of Thomas & Friends premieres on US television on PBS Kids and local public stations from October 7th.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Long-serving US narrator Michael Brandon joins Twitter

Ex-storyteller of Thomas & Friends in America, Michael Brandon, has joined Twitter.

The Brooklyn born actor based in London, created his own account on the social networking website last week under the guidance of his wife, actress Glynis Barber.
Barber, whom he met on the set of 80's cop show Dempsey and Makepeace, tweets sporadically about her husband, often referred to as Hwmnbn (He who must not be named).

He became associated with Thomas as US narrator in 2004 and remained with the show for nine seasons until 2012's Blue Mountain Mystery, becoming the country's longest-serving narrator.

Since then, Brandon has gone to appear in television roles in Mr. Selfridge, Episodes, Death in Paradise and starred with his wife in Dundee Rep's production of Love Letters.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Licensing nominates Thomas for Preschool Property

The Thomas & Friends brand is up for a major award at this year's Licensing Awards show.

The ceremony, which is to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, credits brands' successes in the industry.

Going up against Fireman Sam, Tree Fu Tom, Mike the Knight and others, Thomas has been nominated for the Best Preschool Licensed Property, following on from its involvement in the category back in 2012.

Marvel's Avengers, The Simpsons, Doctor Who and Paddington Bear are all up for similar awards.

The Licensing Awards 2013 arrives at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on September 10th.

Classic Thomas 'Treat Size' DVDs continue in Poundland

The UK's Poundland have released more Thomas & Friends DVDs in their Treat Size Introduces... range.

May saw the arrival of the first four titles hitting the bargain store, with the majority spotlighting the First Series.

With a handful of episodes thrown in to complete the latter, the Second Series takes priority of the new quartet.

Edward & Gordon, Thomas, Percy & the Coal, Percy Takes the Plunge and A Close Shave each contain six episodes.

Treat Size Introduces... Thomas & Friends from Walk Investments Ltd. are available to buy on DVD in Poundland stores across the UK for £1 each.

Thanks to Hawk01 for the alert.

Australian 'King of the Railway' DVD release delayed

King of the Railway's Australian DVD release date has been pushed back for a month, it has been confirmed.

The country was to be second in line to receive the disc a mere two days after the UK's September 2nd date.

However, ABC Shop's Twitter account have subsequently responded to a tweet concerning a release date projected by EZYDVD.

The original release date has been rescheduled to the 2nd of October. Hoyts hosted the cinematic world premiere of the special in July.

King of the Railway: The Movie from ABC for Kids hits Australian DVD shelves at the new date of October 2nd.

Thanks to Thomas Stansfield for the alert.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Season 17 half-hour show titles revealed for US by KET

Season 17's half-hour programs for the US have had their titles revealed by television station, KET.

Ten shows of the latest series' episodes will be broadcast on networks across the country in October.

Look & Listen, Fire & Water, Just Be Yourself, Someone to Look Up to and Peace & Quiet serve as the first five blocks.

Taking Turns, Spooky Charms, Tricks and Tales, Snow Stops Play and Tinsel & Train will subsequently follow.

PBS announced in May that the new shows will form as part of a weekday slot owing to an improvement in ratings.

The seventeenth series of Thomas & Friends begins airing on PBS Kids on October 7th 2013 and on local television stations across America.

Thanks to MrTrainfan1000 for the alert.

Second 'Movie Pack' DVD collection for US in October

The US is to receive a second Movie Pack edition, holding three feature-length specials in October.

Serving as a continuation to its predecessor, 3-Movie Pack will bring together Misty Island Rescue, Day of the Diesels and Blue Mountain Mystery.

Although said to be a fullscreen presentation, the discs' original widescreen formats are a certainty.

The first collection included Calling All Engines!, The Great Discovery and Hero of the Rails.

3-Movie Pack from Lionsgate Entertainment hits US DVD shelves on October 15th 2013.

Thanks to SteamTeam for the alert.