The Origins of Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas the Train originally started out as a children’s book, like many modern day children’s shows.  Thomas the Train is based on The Railway Series by Reverend Wilbur Awdry and his son, Christopher Awdry.  Wilbur Awdry began to tell stories to his son to entertain him when his son had measles.  The Railway Series was the resulting book of his stories.  This book has since became an inspiration to many, and has helped many people through their difficult times just like it helped Christopher when he was young.

Wilbur drew his inspiration from the trains of the Great Western Railway.  At night he would lay awake and hear the sounds of the banking engines helping a freight train up the steep hill.  He imagined the trains were having a conversation and talking with one another, encouraging each other up the hill.  He imagined the freight train saying, “I think I can, I know I can,” while climbing the hill.  The conversation continued, with the two trains encouraging each other up the hill.

The book was later turned into a show which closely followed the book’s storyline, at least at first.  The show details the adventures of Thomas and his anthropomorphized train friends who live on the fictional island of Sodor. Ringo Starr actually helped to narrate the show from 1984-1986. Research reveals that he at first was reluctant to take the part, because he had never read any of the books.  However, he later changed his mind and accepted the part.  He, out of all of the narrators, is the one that is most frequently associated with the show.

Although no new TV episodes are currently being produced, Thomas is still a classic show and piece of children’s literature that is not bound to disappear anytime soon.  If you are a long-devoted fan of Thomas, or enjoy watching the reruns, then don’t hesitate to check out our Thomas the Train Toys. We also have Thomas’s friends Gordon, Edward, Henry, James, Percy, Toby, Emily and many more. For more fun and to play games with Thomas and Friends, click here.

Creating Teddy

Ken Forsse was a pioneer is his day.  Creating new characters was always on his mind while building animatronic characters for other companies.  Ken used to work for many children’s entertainment companies, including Disney and Sid & Marty Krofft Entertainment, before starting his own company, Alchemy II.  Alchemy II was responsible for building the animatronic characters that were found on Dumbo’s Circus and Welcome to Pooh Corner.  Finally Ken dreamed up talking Teddy one day, an animatronic character that you could actually take home with you and have it read to your children.

Ken had named his company Alchemy because he identified with the Middle Age process of turning lead into gold.  He wanted to have the same effect in essence with his stuffed characters, transforming them into lifelike beings.  Ken developed a method for synchronizing the mouths of the stuffed characters with the voices that came out of them.  He placed the directions for the parts movement and the audible soundtrack within the same tape.  Ken persuaded Worlds of Wonder to manufacture the toy in 1985.  For the first year it seemed like his toy had in fact turned into gold-around $2 million, to be exact.  Later on, however, the business experienced financial difficulty and had to file bankruptcy.

Today the new Teddy is available with a digital cartridge.  Visit our online toy store for more information.  The Teddy Ruxpin series that we now sell have a Digital Program Cartridge and cannot be used with the 1980s, cassette driven Teddy Ruxpin. Let Teddy read to your children today!  Little or no adult supervision is required.

Monster Jam Truck “Grave Digger” Celebrates 30th Anniversary

In the late 1970s, people started to modify their trucks.  They also began to compete with one another to see who could build the biggest truck.  Modified pickup trucks soon became popular and so did the sports that were associated with it, including truck pulling and mud bogging.  It is widely believed that the first monster truck show occurred in 1981, when Bob Chandler added 48-inch tires to his truck named “Bigfoot” and drove it over dilapidated cars.  Nowadays, any truck with over-sized tires is generally referred to as a monster truck.

Grave Digger was the first monster truck to gain any recognition following Bigfoot.  This green and black truck became the poster truck for Monster Jam, a live motorsport event that is held year round.  Dennis Anderson helped to increase the sales of Monster Jam tickets with the creation of Grave Digger. He also pioneered what’s known as the “freestyle” version of monster truck competition.

If you are a fan of monster trucks, why not modify your own life with some cool Monster Jam gear?  From kids lunch boxes to clothing which you can personalize to the trucks themselves, we have it all.

CGI Animation

What is CGI animation? CGI Animation is a process of combining 2D animation and live-action.  It is computer generated using 3D software. Films like Toy Story began to make this type of animation popular.  Dinosaur Train is the second show to use CGI animation from the Jim Henson Company, with Sid the Science Kid being the first.

Not only does Dinosaur Train use CGI Animation, but it takes two of the favorite interests of many children, dinosaurs and trains, and places them into one animated series.  The main show centers around Buddy, who is a Tyrannosaurus Rex that was adopted into a Pteranodon (think: flying) family.  Buddy gathers the majority of his information from riding the magic Dinosaur Train. The Dinosaur Train circles the whole world and can even transcend time by visiting dinosaurs in the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous time periods.

The train cars are customized for every type of dinosaur. That is, the Aquacar accommodates sea-dwelling dinosaurs, windows are available for the long-necked Sauropods, and plenty of headroom was available for the Theropods.

If your child is a fan of Dinosaur Train, look no further than the best online toy store for cool stuff for your kids! Our Dinosaur Train stuff includes clothes, live action figures, playsets, and more. Which kind of children’s shows do you prefer? The newer ones created with CGI animation, or the older ones based upon 2D cartoons?

Exploring Your World with Sid

Science was never my thing in school. In fact, I talked my way out of dissecting a worm in the 3rd grade. The teacher let me do some other tasks that counted in place of the dissection.  However, when I watch Sid the Science kid, I am intrigued by the fun and interesting way that they present science. Each episode is loaded with information regarding the scientific experiment and methods for observation and can be categorized according to weeks.

The first week focuses on scientific tools and concepts, including observing, charts, measuring, and estimation.  The second week focuses on transformation and change, including decay and growth, melting and freezing, and the effects of heat. The third week focuses on the senses. The fourth week focuses on health. The fifth week focuses on simple machines. The sixth week focuses on science that you can observe in your backyard. The seventh week focuses on the human body. The eighth week focuses on the weather.

All of these episodes are designed to engage the curiosity in your little ones and to help them figure out why things work the way that they do.  For even more fun ideas and games, click here.  I enjoyed playing “Snow Search” myself, and digging up objects in the snow. Other games include matching up snowflake halves, where kids learn about symmetry. For more cool stuff, see our kid’s online toy store.  You can also check Sid’s page and find some cool pajamas (pictured above) which you can also personalize and keep your child warm at the same time!