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- “I'm a plain, blunt engine; I speak as I find! Tunnels should be tunnels and not rabbit holes! This railway is no good at all!”
- ―Duncan, Home at Last, fourth season
Bio in the Railway Series
Duncan was built by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. at their Caledonia Works in Kilmarnock, Scotland and worked in a factory in Scotland, which Peter Sam claims is the source of his strong language and volatile temper.
In 1958, Duncan was bought secondhand to Sodor as a spare engine, as the workload was too much for Sir Handel and Peter Sam to manage unassisted. He came soon after Peter Sam's accident with the slate trucks and was re-gauged to 2ft 3in. Duncan was rude and arrogant at first. However, following accidents involving the tunnel and a worn stretch of track south of Cros-ny-Cuirn, he began to see sense and made up his feud with Rusty, whom he had detested for being a diesel.
He was still selfish and prone to temper tantrums and actually stalled on Rheneas Viaduct on the claims that he was overworked and not polished enough. Skarloey, fed up with his careless attitude, finally taught him sense with the story of Rheneas' single handed running of the railway and how passengers are far more important than a polish.
When some boy scouts were camping and volunteering for the Skarloey Railway, they were going to help fix a part of the line that was wet and mushy when it rains. When the scouts became thirsty, the leader stopped Duncan to help them find something for them to drink in fear that they might be dehydrated. Unfortunately, the Refreshment Lady ran out of drinks since business was very busy for her, but Duncan suggested another tea shop near the station by the lake. They managed to pick up enough drinks, and the boys cheered Duncan for helping them. He even replied by saying "It's only fair we should help you too!"
Duncan has visited the Talyllyn Railway in Wales as a tourist attraction. The Talyllyn Railway now has events called Duncan Day when the engines are dressed as their counterparts.
Bio in the Television Series
Duncan has also been very cocky, but this has often fired back at him. His driver and fireman spooked him one evening when fireflies formed the shape of an engine. This put Duncan in his place, thinking he had just seen a ghost. His ego once landed him in a swamp, after being careless working on the incline railway.
Duncan is well known and often teased for his temper. He has met his match before, a passenger who grumbled more than him! He also showed a lack of Christmas spirit and often grumbled about the busy work he has to do during that time of year, even going as far to say "Bah Humbug!" Despite his rough exterior, he heroically helped Luke up a hill around Christmas time, showing his kinder side, and was rewarded with a new coat of paint.
Duncan is a Scottish narrow gauge engine with rough manners and a strong temper. He was prone to boisterous bouncing about, which became known as "rock 'n' roll", whenever the mood took him, which once led to wedging in the north mouth of Rheneas Tunnel (probably caused from keystones knocked down by his funnel) and derailing on a stretch of line near Cros-ny-Cuirn. While Duncan means well, he often grumbles and complains, usually about not being polished or being over-worked, and can be rude, rough, and bad tempered. He claims to be a plain engine who believes in plain speaking, an approach which can cause him to make callous or belligerent remarks. Duncan can be a competitive engine too, particularly with James. He can be careless and make rash decisions which usually leads to his own downfall, (such as getting in arguments or short lived feuds with Rusty) but is not always quick to apologise or realise the error of his ways. However, upon Skarloey recalling Rheneas' gallant act to get his passengers home, Duncan admitted he had the wrong attitude and tried hard to be a more useful, respectable engine in future. In spite of his ways, Duncan can be a little misunderstood as he is focused, confident, resourceful and has a big heart. He is always willing to lend a helping hand whenever he can.
Duncan is based on the Talyllyn Railway's Douglas, an Andrew Barclay "E" or "Light" Class 0-4-0WT. This engine is currently selected to be dressed up as Duncan on special events associated with the "Thomas the Tank Engine" franchise, known as "Duncan Days". Several other engines of this class are also preserved.
In the Railway Series, Duncan is painted in the Skarloey Railway's red livery with blue and yellow lining, and with his name painted on the sides of his boiler in yellow. In the television series, he is painted golden yellow with black lining and gold boiler bands - as of the switch to CGI, however, the lining on his cab is unpainted. He also wears a brass (originally black) nameplate on either side of his boiler, and a black numberplate on each of his coal bunkers.
- Tom Stourton (UK/US; eighteenth season onwards)
- Ryōichi Tanaka (Japan; fourth - seventh seasons)
- Chikara Osaka (Japan; ninth season onwards, excluding the twentieth season)
- Nobuaki Kanemitsu (Japan; twentieth season only)
- Krzysztof Szczerbiński (Poland; eighteenth season onwards, excluding Emily Saves the World)
- Grzegorz Kwiecień (Poland; Emily Saves the World only)
- Stig Henrik Hoff (Norway; eighteenth season onwards)
- Paul Disbergen (The Netherlands)
- Fabrice Trojani (France and French speaking Canada)
- Óscar Flores (Latin America; eighteenth season only)
- Rafael Pacheco (Latin America; twentieh season onwards)
- Cosmin Petruț (Romania)
- The Reverend W. Awdry's model of Duncan is currently on display at the Narrow Gauge Museum in Tywyn.
- Duncan's large scale model is currently on display at the Hara Model Railway Museum in Japan.
- Duncan's tendency to do "Rock-n-Roll" that resulted in incidents such as scraping tunnels with his cab and derailing were inspired from his real life basis Douglas, who was known for being a "Rough Rider" with its short wheelbase.
- When the Skarloey Railway returned in the sixteenth season, Nitrogen Studios went to the Talyllyn Railway to take measurements of the locomotives to make CGI models of the Skarloey engines. Unfortunately, Duncan's basis, Douglas, was having an overhaul and could not be measured, hence why Duncan did not return in Season 16. When Duncan actually did return in Season 18, he is clearly based on his television model, not his basis, unlike the other engines. Because of this, he is the only narrow gauge engine to have brake pipes and not to have a Talyllyn styled tail lamp.
- Duncan is the only narrow gauge engine whose whistle sound has not changed since his debut in the fourth season.
- Duncan's happy face mask for his small scale model (used in the fourth and fifth seasons) is now owned by Twitter user Thomas Merchandise.
- In the Latin American dub, Duncan had a German accent between the ninth and eleventh seasons.
- Duncan has had several modifications over the series. These include:
- Season 5 (large scale model only):
- The wrinkles on his forehead disappeared, his eyes and nose became slightly larger, his eyebrows became slightly thicker and he lost the cleft in his chin.
- His buffers became silver and his buffer housing changed shape from square to round.
- His cab windows became larger.
- His running board becomes thicker.
- Season 6:
- His silver buffers became black.
- He gained a visible whistle.
- His cab windows and running board returned to how they were in the fourth season.
- Season 9:
- Added tail lamp.
- Season 18:
- Smaller in size than both his original model and his basis.
- Red running board.
- Permanent lamp, lamp irons, brakepipes and outlets.
- Slightly thinner funnel.
- Slightly smaller dome and windows.
- Smaller boiler and coal bunkers.
- The brass pipe conecting to his dome became thinner.
- Brass nameplates.
- Shorter and wider sand dome.
- Sanding gear under the cab.
- Riveting under his coal bunker and on his smokebox.
- His coupling hooks gained a grey base with rivets.
- His buffer housings shape changed back to square
- The lining on his cab and bunkers became outdented and unpainted
- His cutout windows gained frames and glass.
- His eyes, eyebrows, nose and chin returned to how they were in the fourth season.
- Season 5 (large scale model only):
- "Who is Duncan?"
- "He came as a spare engine after my accident."
- "Is he useful?"
- "He'll pull anything, and I'm sure he means well, but he's bouncy and rude. He used to work in a factory, and his language is often...strong."
- "I understand," said Skarloey gravely.
- Skarloey and Peter Sam talking about Duncan, "Home at Last", "The Little Old Engine".
- ERTL (normal and metallic; both discontinued)
- Wooden Railway (discontinued)
- Take Along (discontinued)
- Motor Road and Rail (discontinued)
- TrackMaster (normal, Duncan Does it All, and The Runaway Elephant versions; all discontinued)
- My Thomas Story Library (discontinued)
- Thomas Engine Collection Series (discontinued)
- Mini Die Cast Collection (with connected green narrow gauge coach; discontinued)
- Departing Now (discontinued)
- Trading Cards (discontinued)
- De Agostini (discontinued)
- Brio (discontinued)
- Nakayoshi (discontinued)
- Capsule Plarail (normal and metallic)
- Departing Now
- Bachmann (coming soon)