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Hornby

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Hornby Railways produced a series of 00 gauge model engines, track, accessories and box sets based on the characters of Thomas and Friends. The track and couplers were Hornby's standard; therefore the range was compatible with their main range. This range was designed for somewhat older children than most Thomas toys. Young children are likely to find Hornby trains quite fiddly and the higher price and higher level of detail than on cheaper plastic toys make rough handling of the toys by young children inadvisable.

Hornby launched its range in 1985, shortly after the debut of the television series. It mainly utilised modified versions of existing Hornby engines. In 2014, following the release of the 2014 catalogue, the range looks to have been discontinued. Hornby has released a statement confirming that the range is "under review".

Engines, rolling stock and scenery. 

1985

  • Thomas - made using a modified version of a London, Brighton and South Coast Railway E2 tank engine
  • Percy - a brand new moulding utilising the standard Hornby 0-4-0 chassis
  • Annie and Clarabel - produced using Hornby's standard four-wheeled coaches
  • Open wagon
  • Closed van (retired)
  • Brakevan - made using a BR standard brakevan (retired)
  • Milk tanker - made using a standard four-wheeled tanker. Although the tanker usually carried blue lettering, several have been made with red lettering; these are extremely rare and are possibly factory errors.
  • Cattle truck - made using the Triang moulding (only available in Percy set until 1986)

Oddly, the cattle truck carried the words "TO BE RETURNED TO LEWES".

Also a range of Thomas branded trackside buildings were released. They included:

  • Station and platform (retired)
  • Water tower and crane (retired)
  • Signals (retired)
  • Signal Box (retired)
  • Platform with canopy (retired)
  • Footbridge (retired)
  • Tunnel (retired)
  • Engine shed (retired)
  • Goods shed (retired)

1986

  • Gordon - made using the Triang LNER A1 class tooling with a six-wheeled tender
  • Duck - made using the old Triang 57xx class tooling (retired)
  • The Fat Controller, Driver and Fireman (cancelled)
  • Gordon's composite and brake coaches - made using GWR coaches in a green and cream livery

1987

  • Diesel - made using the inaccurate Triang Diesel shunter mold (retired)

1988

  • James - made using a Triang LMS 3F with altered moulding around the smokebox and extended frames
  • James' composite and brake coaches

A battery-powered set including Thomas, Annie, Clarabel, Bertie, and a copy of Thomas and Bertie and Thomas Down the Mine was also released, which allowed children to recreate the story Thomas and Bertie. Thomas was unpowered, being pushed along by a motor in Annie. The track for this set was double sided; one side for Thomas and one side for Bertie.

1989

Throughout the 1990's, Duck, Gordon, Diesel, the crane, the closed van, the cattle truck, the tar wagon and James' coaches were quietly retired. It was not until 1995 that Gordon and Duck were brought back into production and 1998 when the tar tanker was brought back into production.

1995

A musical set was introduced with an 0-4-0 Thomas, Annie, Clarabel, and a battery powered station. Whilst Thomas moved around the track, the theme music would play.

2001

Diesel was also reintroduced along with James' coaches.

2002

  • Henry - made using Hornby's old Black Five tooling (retired)
  • Fuel tanker
  • Sodor Scrap Co. truck
  • Country Station (retired)
  • Water Tower and Signal Box pack (retired)
  • Radio-Controlled Sound System (discontinued)

2005

The range got a huge revamp because of the 60th Anniversary so characters from the Railway Series were made and other items were based on Season 8.

  • Oliver (retired)
  • Stepney (retired)
  • Bear (labelled as "7101 Diesel"; retired)
  • Flying Scotsman (retired)
  • Bertie (reintroduced from Thomas and Bertie Set; retired)
  • Toad (retired)
  • Old Slow Coach (retired)
  • Weathered brakevan (retired)
  • The circus train, with twelve wagons (retired)
  • Cream Tanker (retired)
  • Raspberry Syrup Tanker (retired)
  • Ice Cream Van (retired)
  • Maithwaite Station (retired)
  • Water Tower (retired)
  • Signal Box (retired)
  • Double Engine Shed (retired)
  • Tunnel (retired)
  • Goods Yard Crane (retired)

Reworked versions of the cattle truck and crane were introduced.

2006

  • Edward - a repainted Shire class, minus cylinders and valve gear (discontinued)
  • Red open wagon (retired)
  • Light blue open wagon
  • Oil tanker (retired)
  • Red oxide vent van
  • Light grey vent van
  • Cream utility wagon (retired)
  • Sodor mail coach (retired)
  • Three circus tents and three circus stalls (retired)
  • Dryaw Station (retired)
  • Windmill (retired)
  • Another Signal Box (retired)

2007

  • Emily - a repainted GWR Dean Achilles Class model (discontinued)

Emily was meant to be released in 2006, but her release was delayed until January 29th, 2007.

2008

  • Spencer (retired)
  • Great Waterton Station (retired)
  • Stanley's Shed (retired)
  • Waterton Butchers (retired)
  • Blacksmiths (retired)
  • Post Office (retired)
  • Ben's Books (retired)
  • Ed's Garage (retired)
  • Great Waterton station platform (retired)

500 limited-edition tired Thomas models were also released.

2011

  • Murdoch
  • Dart
  • The Breakdown Train
  • Works Unit van
  • Two lime wagons
  • Station and platform (cancelled)
  • Engine shed (cancelled)
  • Goods shed (cancelled)
  • Signal box (cancelled)
  • Water tower and crane (cancelled)
  • Footbridge (cancelled)
  • Platform with canopy (cancelled)

1000 models each of Thomas, Percy and James were released, celebrating 100 years of the birth of the Rev W Awdry which include a Royal Mail covered envelope with a stamp of a character and a certificate. Also this year, a great number of items were retired from the range.

2012

  • Spencer's Composite Coach
  • Spencer's Brake Coach
  • Tank Wagon Pack
  • Open Wagon Pack
  • Closed Van Wagon Pack

Spencer and Stepney were reintroduced with a limited release of 1,000 models each.

Electric sets

The newer sets are supplied with a "Midi-Mat" with printed scenery and track layout, enough track to create a basic oval, an engine and rolling stock, a transformer and a power clip. Customers were encouraged to purchase further Thomas-branded "track packs", "building packs" and other models to complete the layout printed on the mat. The older sets had cut out figures (ie; The Fat Controller) and tunnel and the sets also advertised the buildings and accessories within the range.

1985

  • Thomas Set (retired)
  • Percy Set (retired)

1987

  • Gordon Set (retired)
  • Duck Set (retired)
  • Diesel Set (retired)

1988

  • James Set (retired)
  • Thomas and Bertie battery powered set (retired)

1995

  • Thomas' Musical Ride battery powered set (retired)

1997

  • Thomas and Percy Set (retired)
  • Thomas & Station battery powered set (retired)

2002

  • Radio-Controlled Thomas (retired)
  • Radio-Controlled Thomas and Percy (r​etired)
  • Radio-Controlled Toby (retired)

2005

  • Thomas Passenger Set (retired)
  • James Passenger Set (retired)
  • Percy at the Circus Set (retired)
  • Thomas and Bill Set (retired)

2008

2009

  • Thomas Set
  • Thomas and Percy (cancelled)
  • Thomas and Friends Passenger and Goods

2011

  • Percy and the Mail Train Set

2012

  • Thomas and the Breakdown Train Set

Clockwork Thomas engines, sets and accessories

Hornby also produced Thomas and some of his friends in clockwork form. The sets were available as 'Playtrains' (plastic track) or as standard Hornby track. The playtrain coaches and wagons had simple up and down couplings and plastic playtrain wheels which meant that they were not compatible on normal Hornby track. The rolling stock on the normal Hornby 00 gauge track clockwork sets were exactly the same as the electric versions. 

1985

  • Thomas passenger set - plastic track
  • Thomas passenger set - metal track
  • Thomas goods set - plastic track
  • Thomas goods set - metal track
  • Percy goods set - plastic track
  • Percy goods set - metal track

Additional sections of playtrain track including points and buffers were available.

1990

This year was when the clockwork models of Thomas and Percy were available separately.

1995

The clockwork playtrain sets now had the normal Hornby logo rather than the Playtrains logo. There were no new models that year.

1997

More clockwork models were available on their own. The models are as follows:

  • Annie
  • Clarabel
  • Bertie (cancelled)

1998

This year saw a revamp in the clockwork Thomas system. The system was now only available as clockwork 'Playtrains'. Thomas' chasis was remodelled to an 0-6-0 chassis rather than the 0-4-0 previously carried. Also, the plastic track had a totally new design, similar to the track used in the Thomas and Bertie set. The models, accessories and sets are as follows:

  • Toby
  • Bill
  • Ben 
  • Troublesome Truck 1
  • Troublesome Truck 2
  • Thomas wind-up train set (listed as Thomas No.1 set)
  • Thomas and Ben wind-up train set (listed as Thomas No.2 set)
  • Signal Box/Water Tower pack
  • Thomas Station
  • Turntable pack

In 2003, the clockwork system was dropped from the Thomas line.

Trivia

  • Bill and Ben's prototype models had yellow wheels.
  • Emily is a repainted GWR Dean Achilles Class model. This has been highly criticized by modelers, as it is very inaccurate to Emily's true basis.
  • To date, Percy, Toby, Bill and Ben are the only engines to have been built from scratch. All other models use existing bodies from previous Hornby models.
  • To date, Bertie is the only non-rail Thomas character to be released by Hornby.
  • Spencer's wheels and tender door are black, and his tender buffer beam is red.
  • Edward is a repainted Shire class, minus cylinders and valve gear. This also accounts for his out-side steam pipes protruding from his smokebox.
  • The Great Discovery set came with an exclusive tired and weathered Thomas and weathered versions of Annie and Clarabel.
  • The Thomas model from the Great Discovery set was later released individually with the tired face but weathering removed as a limited run exclusive to UK retailer ModelZone. 
  • Flying Scotsman appears in Thomas and Friends with two tenders, but the Hornby model only has one.
  • For an unknown reason, 'Arry and Bert's faces look like Splatter and Dodge's.
  • Bertie was first released in 1988 in a Thomas and Bertie set as a battery powered model. He was later released seperately in 2005. His clockwork counterpart was first advertised in 1997, but was never released.
  • The mail coaches originally had four wheels; now, they have eight.
  • Flying Scotsman has a modified version of Gordon's face.
  • Gordon had his prototype face when he was featured in the 1986 catalogue.
  • Duck and Diesel had prototype faces when they were featured in the 1987 catalogue.
  • The Thomas and Bertie set was later reused as a Fireman Sam set.
  • Dart's model has side rods.
  • Murdoch's name is written in black on his nameplates.
  • Diesel, 'Arry, and Bert were made using Triang Diesel Shunter molds.
  • Toby is too tall to fit under most shed doors.
  • The Wind-up models of Bill, Ben, Toby and The Troublesome Trucks were released in 1998 before their electric counterparts came out in 2001. Also Thomas' clockwork model was remoddeled to an 0-6-0 chassis rather than an 0-4-0 previously used.
  • The Thomas model originally came fitted with traction tires on the centre wheels which helps give the model grip on the rails. However, for unknown reasons, these have been omitted from Thomas models produced in recent years. 
  • Duck's wheel arches are green.
  • Murdoch's centre driving wheels do not have flanges, allowing him to turn sharper corners more easily.
  • The Hornby Percy prototype was originally going to be a modified Caledonian Pug, but it was decided to use his actual shape.
  • The close up pictures on the prototype box cover of the musical Thomas set showed pictures from Hornby's station master train set, as it did use the same tooling. This battery powered set was also used as the my first Hornby set.
  • The Thomas and Bertie set, when first released in 1988, originally came with a ladybird book of Thomas and Bertie and Thomas Down the Mine. However when it was reintroduced in 1995, the book was omitted from the set.
  • The electric Thomas sets from 1995 to 1997 had an 0-4-0 model of Thomas, rather than the normal electric E2 0-6-0 model of Thomas.
  • To date, only three Hornby catalogues did not illustarate the Thomas and friends range since it's debut in 1985; those being 1997, 1998 and 1999 The range was however still listed in the price lists and published as seperate catalogues.
  • For some odd reason Hornby released Stanley's Shed, but never released Stanley
  • Several models were feature in a sketch on Bobby Davro's TV Weekly. An Annie or Clarabel model along with the early cattle wagon appear briefly on Last of the Summer Wine.
  • Toby, Bill, Ben and the two Troublesome Trucks' electric body shells come from the clockwork versions of the models, which were released before the electric models.
  • Toad is brown, when he should be grey.
  • The Diesel is labeled as just 'Diesel'.
  • Stepney and The Diesel's buffers are black instead of silver.

Goofs

  • In the Hornby 1987 catalogue, Annie's model was mislabelled Clarabel and Clarabel's model was mislabeled Annie.
  • The Gordon train set when first introduced in 1987 has the word Gordon misprinted 'Gorden'. This was also the case in the 1997 price lists, despite the engines not being featured in the catalogue.
  • In the Hornby 1995 catalogue, in a close up photo of the Thomas and Bertie set, the end of the track can be seen behind Thomas. 
  • In the Hornby 1995 price list, James was misprinted as new instead of Gordon when Gordon and Duck were reintroduced into the range.
  • In the Hornby 1996 catalogue, illustrating the musical Thomas set in the intro pages, one of the photos has the pale yellow background accidentally covering Thomas' face.
  • In the Hornby 1999 and 2000 price lists, the title is still printed as 'NEW CLOCKWORK SETS' when the clockwork Thomas sets no.1 and no. 2 were released in 1998.

Gallery

External link

Hornby Trains

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