A Thomas and Friends Birthday Party!

Your son is a few months away from turning five and you haven’t finalized plans for his first official “friend party.” What can you plan to insure that he and his friends never forget this birthday? Invite his favorite character, Thomas the Train!

If you are handy in the kitchen, you can impress everyone with a creative Thomas the Train cake. If baking’s not your strong suit, most large bakeries can make a cake for you. For the rest of the food, keep it simple. Kids are really only interested in the cake, aren’t they? And what about party favors? Instead of buying disposable party supplies, consider buying a brand new Thomas and Friends dinnerware set for each party guest. They can use them for food or just take them home to keep!

Keep things fun for everyone by keeping the kids busy and moving. Visit the Thomas and Friends website for a few great games and activities like a version of “Simon Says” featuring Sir Topham Hatt and, for older kids, a Thomas-themed game of Twenty Questions.

If you haven’t yet found the perfect gift, there are about a million Thomas toys to choose from. You might take this opportunity to add a few more train cars to his toy train set or go for something new with a Thomas and Friends Dieselworks Playset.

No matter what you plan for the party, your birthday boy and his guests are sure to have fun because one of their favorite characters will be there!

 

Thomas: From Supporting Role to Star!

Thomas the Train may be a star in the hearts and minds of young people around the world, but Thomas has not always been in the spotlight. In fact, it took Thomas almost fifty years to reach star status!

In the minds of many parents today, Thomas began as a character in the 90’s television show Shining Time Station. In this live action show, we follow the lives of the people who work at and travel through a small train station somewhere along the fictional Indian Valley Railroad. In this station, children are regularly entertained by a small, magical man named Mr. Conductor. During every episode, Mr. Conductor tells them stories about a very special train—Thomas—and his friends on the Island of Sodor. Through these stories, Shining Time Station made Thomas a star. But, Thomas was created long before this memorable television show.

Those who know Thomas’s whole story know that he was a storybook character long before he appeared on television. He was one of many trains introduced to the world through the books in The Railway Series, a collection of stories written in the middle of the 20th Century by a father, for his son. After being told word-of-mouth from father to son, these stories were written down, illustrated, and first published in 1945. But, not only was Thomas not the star of these stories, but he didn’t even appear in the first book! It’s clear, though, that Thomas has proven himself as the stand-out character. He has gone from supporting role to star!

The Railway Series paved the way for the British television show Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, which spawned Shining Time Station. After that, Thomas took off as the star of spin-off Thomas & Friends  movies, books, and toys. He is now a star in his own right and is recognized by young children from coast to coast, perhaps even worldwide.

The LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer

Leapfrog Leappad Explorer
The LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer, also known as “The Tot Tablet,” is hard to compete with, especially because it has educational games, e-books, a video recorder and camera all built into it. It has won several awards, including the 2012 Preschool Toy of the Year. It was the number one requested gift on the list for young children this past Christmas. LeapFrog Enterprises continues to grow while other toy companies, such as Mattel and Hasbro, are experiencing declining sales.
This toy is very similar to the iPad. However, the LeapFrog tablet is specifically designed for 4-9 year olds–and therefore is much less dangerous to drop!   TheLeapFrog LeapPad Explorer comes with a few apps pre-installed. Others, like Thomas the Train apps, can be purchased separately. Although the LeapFrog apps may be more expensive to download than apps for the iPad, they are of high quality and educational, just like all of LeapFrog’s products.

The recent trends that we are seeing beg the question, are young children beginning to ditch their Barbies and Mr. Potato Heads for more technological toys? It would definitely appear that way.

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.