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Hey, guys.

Just now saw this thread and realized that someone mentioned my model of Thomas:

28445994806_57a20df23d_z.jpgThomas by ScotNick1, on Flickr

There was a time when I thought it would be great if Lego produced Thomas, but now I think there just isn't enough demand for it. There is a good number of other Thomas' out there as well (and even other characters). Best thing I can suggest anyone is building your own version as I don|t expect Lego to offer Thomas anytime soon. 

Here are some other good versions by various builders:

34270482254_f1a590bb84_z.jpgLEGO RWS Thomas UPDATE by WideSquareFilms, on Flickr

14593582595_8f0675e1e9_z.jpgThomas by Andrew Walker, on Flickr

830258033_99bfdc821f_z.jpg?zz=1Thomas the Tank Engine by Ben Rogers, on Flickr

16100908529_ddeb8325ea_z.jpgLego Thomas the Tank Engine by JD Graham, on Flickr

Also there's Ryan, who built an entire Sodor Layout with many characters from the TV-series:

Thomas

If anyone is interested in more Thomas related creations take a look at this flickr group of which I'm the admin.

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Hey @ScotNick! Wow, I didn't know you were here on Eurobricks! Your Thomas tank engine is the best, but yes, some of those other creations by other are pretty good also. :thumbup: :sweet:

Now I have not seen that Sodor layout by Ryan before, that is quite something! *oh2* :excited:

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Hey @ScotNick! I was just looking at your expired Ideas project, which is a most excellent model that did have some good headway as far as support goes. Would you ever again consider submitting another project? Particularly, I really think your model of the LBSCR E2 tank engine (Thomas's locomotive inspiration) may be successful on Ideas. 

15797973296_3daaf3fef8_b.jpg

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On 6/25/2017 at 6:09 PM, Digger of Bricks said:

Hey @ScotNick! I was just looking at your expired Ideas project, which is a most excellent model that did have some good headway as far as support goes. Would you ever again consider submitting another project? Particularly, I really think your model of the LBSCR E2 tank engine (Thomas's locomotive inspiration) may be successful on Ideas. 
15797973296_3daaf3fef8_z.jpg

Thanks for your comment!
Well originally I did want to put my 1400 model Lego Ideas again, but really I do think that trains are a niche market, especially with being so different in every country meaning there isn't really a globally appealing engine which has a big market (especially steam engines don't have it easy in that case being even more diverse in the different countries - sleek and colourful in the UK, huge and black in the US, black with red drivers and chassis in Germany, I could go on and on...).

So well, Thomas the Tank engine would actually be globally appealing, but mostly for kids which are too young for a good RC train. I was astonished that my GWR 1400 model made it that far on Lego Ideas without any blog or heritage railway posting about it.
Another problem is that Lego doesn't want you to use 3rd party parts which I actually used on my model (Big Ben Bricks wheels and a cut in half beam). In any case I'd probably opt to build the model in real before I'd put it up on Lego ideas.
From the experience I made (which wasn't very much though) I'd need to put more time into a new Ideas project than I actually have.
Also for the GWR model I had a concept to power it - which is something very important with Lego trains (and trains in general). I don't have any concept here though :sceptic:

I'm sorry to say that, but after considering all these arguments I had refrained from making another Ideas project, that's the sad truth :hmpf_bad: I wonder what you think of this though?!

Cheers,
Nick

 

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20 hours ago, ScotNick said:

Thanks for your comment!
Well originally I did want to put my 1400 model Lego Ideas again, but really I do think that trains are a niche market, especially with being so different in every country meaning there isn't really a globally appealing engine which has a big market (especially steam engines don't have it easy in that case being even more diverse in the different countries - sleek and colourful in the UK, huge and black in the US, black with red drivers and chassis in Germany, I could go on and on...).

So well, Thomas the Tank engine would actually be globally appealing, but mostly for kids which are too young for a good RC train. I was astonished that my GWR 1400 model made it that far on Lego Ideas without any blog or heritage railway posting about it.
Another problem is that Lego doesn't want you to use 3rd party parts which I actually used on my model (Big Ben Bricks wheels and a cut in half beam). In any case I'd probably opt to build the model in real before I'd put it up on Lego ideas.
From the experience I made (which wasn't very much though) I'd need to put more time into a new Ideas project than I actually have.
Also for the GWR model I had a concept to power it - which is something very important with Lego trains (and trains in general). I don't have any concept here though :sceptic:

I'm sorry to say that, but after considering all these arguments I had refrained from making another Ideas project, that's the sad truth :hmpf_bad: I wonder what you think of this though?!

Cheers,
Nick

That's what I had figured regarding Thomas's popularity helping such a train project towards success; but since the franchise is owned by Mattel, I figured a project based upon Thomas's original tank engine inspiration would be a good alternative. The only other licensed train project that hypothetically could be successful based on this premise may be an Expert scale Hogwarts Express project, I think at least.

But as far as train projects not having as much success on Ideas, there is recently this one particular project by Creator_HUN posted June 27 that has already gathered 1300+ supporters.

https://ideas.lego.com/projects/88b93624-a97e-4a64-93e4-097584bd1278

Now I didn't even realize that your creation utilized third party parts, so that really does count that particular MOC as out of the question unfortunately. :sceptic:

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Sorry to necro-bump this topic after more than a year, but this subject has been bugging me again recently, and I was particularly wondering...

If Mattel owns Thomas & Friends as a franchise (media and merchandise, that is), do they really own the characters? More specifically, what ownership rights do Rev. Awdry's family have over his creations?

I know this is a question that seemingly has nothing to do with Lego, but again, it's kinda related to LEGO Ideas once again, as I'm particularly curious as to why staff there are approving of submissions based upon the characters. As many of you may know, project submissions have to be reviewed for IP availability on a daily basis before they can put them up for voting by other users. :def_shrug:

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@Digger of Bricks Maybe it's a signal that the franchise rights may soon become available (to the highest bidder)....? Maybe the original cast of characters that appear in the Rev.'s storybooks are under diferent terms? Anyone or anything created by Britt Alcroft or Mattel are most definitely owned outright by Mattel but.....

hmmmmm

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Would they do an indepth level of IP review for approval to the voting stage?  I don't think it would make business sense from a labour cost perspective.  There are so many submissions and most don't make it to 10,000 votes.  IP specialists/lawyers can get pretty pricy.

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Posted (edited)

Although Mattel own the Thomas Francise, I assume they must still licence other companies to produce toys based on Thomas. Hornby have been making Thomas OO gauge train sets in the UK for over 30 years although sadly I believe this ceased earlier this year. In the US you can get incredible HO and G scale models of the Thomas characters made by Bachmann. So maybe there is a chance that Mattel could potentially make the licence available to Lego. 

Edited by Bricked1980

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On 8/28/2018 at 8:52 AM, M_slug357 said:

Maybe the original cast of characters that appear in the Rev.'s storybooks are under diferent terms? Anyone or anything created by Britt Alcroft or Mattel are most definitely owned outright by Mattel but.....

This is kinda what I'm wondering might be the case. Particularly, it was HIT Entertainment that was acquired by Mattel back in 2011, hence them gaining the rights to both the Britt Alcroft produced TV show and its subsequent merchandising rights. 

Mattel Newsroom - Mattel Announces Acquisition of HIT Entertainment 

So, if that were to indeed be the case, perhaps then Lego could brand any TTTE-themed sets after Rev. Awdry's Railway Series rather than the TV show. :shrug_oh_well:

On 8/28/2018 at 5:29 PM, Bricked1980 said:

Although Mattel own the Thomas Francise, I assume they must still licence other companies to produce toys based on Thomas. Hornby have been making Thomas OO gauge train sets in the UK for over 30 years although sadly I believe this ceased earlier this year. In the US you can get incredible HO and G scale models of the Thomas characters made by Bachmann. So maybe there is a chance that Mattel could potentially make the licence available to Lego. 

The question is, does Mattel really license the franchise out to companies like Bachmann and Hornby, or could that be the decision of some other potential owner of the characters (a.k.a. Awdry's son Christopher and other family members)? If it were still the former possibility, does Mattel consider them to be minor competitors anyway, given that they primarily cater to an older demographic of customers (a.k.a. Model Railroad Hobbyists)? Could Lego perhaps get around their hold on the franchise by making Expert/D2C sets instead (perhaps under the Creator Expert theme)? :shrug_confused:

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1 hour ago, Digger of Bricks said:

So, if that were to indeed be the case, perhaps then Lego could brand any TTTE-themed sets after Rev. Awdry's Railway Series rather than the TV show. :shrug_oh_well:

So you mean, for example, that LEGO could potentially secure the rights to produce a minifig of the Fat Controller as long as they don't call him Sir Topham Hatt?

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12 minutes ago, Pdaitabird said:

So you mean, for example, that LEGO could potentially secure the rights to produce a minifig of the Fat Controller as long as they don't call him Sir Topham Hatt?

Exactly, amongst many other trivial differences the two differ upon. :classic:

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On 8/30/2018 at 1:24 AM, Digger of Bricks said:

 So, if that were to indeed be the case, perhaps then Lego could brand any TTTE-themed sets after Rev. Awdry's Railway Series rather than the TV show. :shrug_oh_well:

Unfortunately I believe that Mattel owns the rights to not only the Thomas and Friends TV series but also everything else connected including The Railway Series and all the publishing and distribution rights.

My son was given a box set of all the Rev Awdry's books which had originally been released in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Thomas the Tank Engine.

The books are preprints of the original Railway Series but there is one big difference. The Hit Entertainment logo and all the copyright ownership stuff is printed on the back cover of each book. So I assume when Mattel swallowed up Hit entertainment that they are now owners of The Railway Series as well as the TV show. :def_shrug:

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3 hours ago, Bricked1980 said:

My son was given a box set of all the Rev Awdry's books which had originally been released in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Thomas the Tank Engine.

The books are preprints of the original Railway Series but there is one big difference. The Hit Entertainment logo and all the copyright ownership stuff is printed on the back cover of each book. So I assume when Mattel swallowed up Hit entertainment that they are now owners of The Railway Series as well as the TV show. :def_shrug:

It's this boxed set, right?

Amazon.co.uk - Thomas Classic 70th Anniversary Collection - 26 Books 

If so, I see the HIT logo at the bottom of the back cover, but none of the mentioned copyright statements. :shrug_confused:

Spoiler

img_2898_1_1_1_1.png?auto=compress,forma

 

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4 hours ago, Digger of Bricks said:

Amazon.co.uk - Thomas Classic 70th Anniversary Collection - 26 Books 

If so, I see the HIT logo at the bottom of the back cover, but none of the mentioned copyright statements. :shrug_confused:

Yes that's the one. On the the inside page of each book in the set is the usual smallprint telling when the book was first published etc. Here's a photo showing the page.

42589738540_be24d4ab62_z_d.jpg

This shows the Hit logo along with references to Britt Allcroft and seems to suggest to me that the rights are owned by Hit Entertainment. 

I might be wrong though and you would think that the authors would retain at least some of the rights to the characters they created. I would like to think that Christopher Awdry still has some control over the brand. It would be sad to think that a 70 year old kids classic is now 100% owned by a large corporate company who's only interest is using it for toy merchandising.

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7 hours ago, Bricked1980 said:

Yes that's the one. On the the inside page of each book in the set is the usual smallprint telling when the book was first published etc. Here's a photo showing the page.

It's strange that it reads that Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends was "Created by Britt Allcroft" yet still acknowledges that it's based off of the Railway Series. From the way I'm reading that, I'm sorta thinking that those statements are only claiming HIT and Allcroft's rights over the usage of the name of the TV show to brand the books, and not necessarily any rights over the entire IP. 

Perhaps I'm just grasping at straws again, but you know... :def_shrug:

7 hours ago, Bricked1980 said:

I might be wrong though and you would think that the authors would retain at least some of the rights to the characters they created. I would like to think that Christopher Awdry still has some control over the brand. It would be sad to think that a 70 year old kids classic is now 100% owned by a large corporate company who's only interest is using it for toy merchandising.

I've tried looking for a few various fan forums dedicated to the franchise to see if anyone was discussing its ownership, but they're either dead, sparsely touched, or only viewable by members of that forum. I'll read YouTube comments from users there on related videos ranting about the quality of the TV show and its tie-in merchandise, and yet still haven't found any discussion pertaining to the ownership rights to the IP. :sad:

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On 9/1/2018 at 7:42 AM, Bricked1980 said:

Yes that's the one. On the the inside page of each book in the set is the usual smallprint telling when the book was first published etc. Here's a photo showing the page.

42589738540_be24d4ab62_z_d.jpg

This shows the Hit logo along with references to Britt Allcroft and seems to suggest to me that the rights are owned by Hit Entertainment. 

I might be wrong though and you would think that the authors would retain at least some of the rights to the characters they created. I would like to think that Christopher Awdry still has some control over the brand. It would be sad to think that a 70 year old kids classic is now 100% owned by a large corporate company who's only interest is using it for toy merchandising.

Unfortunately your hope is about to be dashed.

The rights to the original set of railway series stories (and the locomotives depicted therein) is retained by the publisher of the original books (and their successor companies) which now means the lie totally with Egmont and not with the Awdry family. As can be seen from the date in your photo this deal was done a long time ago - although that book you photographed says 1954, Reverend Awdry had his first book published as early as 1945 when steam locomotives were a everyday sight on the UKs railways, the concept of railway preservation did not exist and nobody could foresee 'Thomas' turning into the massive brand it eventually did. As things stand Christopher Awdry cannot publish anything that is related to the original 'Railway series' unless the owners of the Publishing rights chose to let him, plus agreement would also be needed from Matel if said stories also include any of the characters they use in the TV series (this is why you have Brit Allcroft and HIT Entertainment being mentioned on the rights page along with Egmont).

Brit Allcroft went and bought the television (and movie rights) from Reverend Audry in the early 1980s, having encountered him and his stories while producing a documentary for the BBC about the Bluebell Railway (the first ex-mainline standard gauge railway to be preserved in the UK and a pioneer of the thriving UK Heritage Railway sector). Although she could see the potential in his stories, the fact it took her an awful long time to raise the finance to actually get the series made shows that nobody (probably not even the good reverend) expected the Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends series to be the hit it was - and that was reflected in the deal which gives total control of all aspects of the Thomas 'brand' to the TV rights holder and zero say to the Awdry family.

Therefore when it comes to licencing toys etc - then permission is needed from the owners of the Thomas the Tank Engine series for anything featured in the TV series (regardless of whether it appears in the books or not).

Now, as with many things that start small, while initially Brit Allcroft was fairly tolerant of 'approximations' (fir example the Hornby 00 gauge model of Thomas was created from an existing model of a E2 class locomotive and as such has a number of key visual differences to the TV character) the popularity of the brand caused things to be tightened up with grater fees to be paid and more attention to ensuring the 'look' of the TV series was maintained as much as possible.

The rot really set in when the company Brit Allcroft had set up to produce the Thomas series got swallowed up by HIT Entertainment in 2000. They massively hiked the fees charged and some measure of their mentality can be seen by their legal department sending a 'cease & desist' / "You must stop having an engine named Stepney or pay us a massive fee" letter to the very same Bluebell Railway that had inadvertently caused Brit Allcroft to encounter the Reverend Awdry and his Thomas books! (The Bluebell responded by pointing out that the locomotive in question was named 'Stepney' by the London Brighton & South Coast Railway back in 1882 and had been owned by the Bluebell since 1960 - so if anything it was HIT Entertainment who owed money.....).

As has been noted HIT Entertainment themselves ended up being taken over, etc and the Licence for Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise now solely rests with Matel. As to whether they let other toy companies produce Thomas merchandise - well the answer is it depends on the individual circumstances. For example Matel are not in the business of making 00 / HO gauge model railways so in these cases they are happy to maintain previously negotiated arrangements with Hornby / Bachmann (subject to enough money being paid to Matel of course - which is why Hornby, who are not in the best of financial health, have decided to drop the deal).

The upshot of all this means if you want an official Lego 'Thomas' based product then the only way they can do so is to buy the licence from Matel - who are quite likely to refuse if they already have a Lego style product amongst the brands Matel already own.

The Awdry family have absolutely no say whatsoever over the 'Thomas' brand however sad that fact may be.

 

Edited by Phil-B259

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The upshot of all this means if you want an official Lego 'Thomas' based product then the only way they can do so is to buy the licence from Matel - who are quite likely to refuse if they already have a Lego style product amongst the brands Matel already own. 

Funny you should mention this, because Mattel DOES, in fact own not just A Lego-style brand, but THE Lego-style brand that is well enough known to be used as a substitute swear-word on these here forums.... That's right, Mattel owns Megabloks outright (hence why they have all the Barbie & Monster High sets), and have since they bought them up in 2014....

So, as you said, Mattel IS most likely to outright refuse any license deal with LEGO in regards to Thomas the Tank Engine products, unfortunately....

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13 hours ago, Phil-B259 said:

Unfortunately your hope is about to be dashed.

Thank you @Phil-B259 so very much for joining Eurobricks as so put this inquiry to rest; for as sad as it may be to hear, it is a great peace of mind for me personally. :sad:

Do you have any sources you can cite by the way for further reading?

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I've been reading this thread since the start, being a fan of the classic TV series and having a huge respect for the original style/setting of the Thomas universe. 

Allow me to pose this question: if there were to be a line of "Thomas" INSPIRED merchandise, which could be produced and sold under a third party with generic names to avoid copyright strikes, what would the community expect, what would they want to see available, and anything else? 

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3 hours ago, Glenn Holland said:

I've been reading this thread since the start, being a fan of the classic TV series and having a huge respect for the original style/setting of the Thomas universe. 

Allow me to pose this question: if there were to be a line of "Thomas" INSPIRED merchandise, which could be produced and sold under a third party with generic names to avoid copyright strikes, what would the community expect, what would they want to see available, and anything else? 

I can see it now...All new for 2019, LEGO presents a new theme: Terry the Tank Engine! :laugh:

Really, though, I think TLG's best option would be to produce some smaller steam engines and rolling stock loosely based on the original engine types that inspired the Railway Series. Example: an 0-6-0 "Terrier" tank engine, but with neither a face nor a proper name. (I wonder which of Lego's colors is the best match for Stroudley's Improved Engine Green?)

Edited by Pdaitabird
kant spel

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6 minutes ago, Pdaitabird said:

I can see it now...All new for 2019, LEGO presents a new theme: Terry the Tank Engine! :laugh:

Really, though, I think TLG's best option would be to produce some smaller steam engines and rolling stock loosely based on the original engine types that inspired the Railway Series. Example: an 0-6-0 "Terrier" tank engine, but with neither a face nor a proper name. (I wonder whicn of Lego's colors is the best match for Stroudley's Improved Engine Green?)

Terry... lol! I did read somewhere that Thomas was once represented as a Jinty but haven't seen anything about a terrier.

I guess a better way of asking my question would be the following:

Is there enough interest for a Sodor-esque line of products that could be sold under a name like Brick Model Railroader? I have a few things I'd like to achieve for myself along these lines but if there is enough interest I would be willing to look into selling something, obviously with generic naming.

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3 hours ago, Pdaitabird said:

I can see it now...All new for 2019, LEGO presents a new theme: Terry the Tank Engine! :laugh:

Really, though, I think TLG's best option would be to produce some smaller steam engines and rolling stock loosely based on the original engine types that inspired the Railway Series. Example: an 0-6-0 "Terrier" tank engine, but with neither a face nor a proper name. (I wonder which of Lego's colors is the best match for Stroudley's Improved Engine Green?)

I'm with Pdaitabird on this one:  I would definitely be interested in a model of the types of engines that the characters in Thomas & friends are based on, especially in LEGO green & bright red colors.  (BTW, Hi, Glenn!  Nice to see other people from PennLUG here :classic:)

As for BMR, I think that a tank engine of the type that Thomas himself is based on in dark green would be a nice companion for the Emerald Night.
 

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