Hornby Railways produces a series of 00 gauge model railway engines, track, accessories and box sets based on the characters and locations of Thomas and Friends. The track and couplers are Hornby's standard; therefore the range is compatible with their main range.
Hornby launched its range in 1985, shortly after the debut of the television series. It mainly utilises modified versions of existing Hornby engines. In 2014, the range was discontinued, although Hornby released a statement saying that it was 'under review'. In 2015, Hornby reintroduced the Thomas line with selected models, rolling stock and sets to be released in December 2015. The reintroduced models will retain their original toolings and faces, while the tender engines will have improved tender drive motors.
Engines, rolling stock and scenery
- 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 likely to be 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)
- Gordon - made using the Triang LNER A1 class tooling with a six-wheeled tender
- Duck - made using the old Triang 57xx class tooling with a modified cab (retired)
- The Fat Controller, Driver and Fireman (cancelled)
- Gordon's composite and brake coaches - made using GWR coaches in a green and cream livery
- Diesel - made using an inaccurate Triang Diesel shunter mould (retired)
- 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.
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.
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.
James' composite and brake coaches were also reintroduced.
- Henry - made using Hornby's old Black Five tooling
- Fuel tanker
- Troublesome Trucks 1 and 2
- Sodor Scrap Co. truck
- Country Station (retired)
- Water Tower and Signal Box pack (retired)
- Radio-Controlled Sound System (discontinued)
Diesel was also reintroduced.
- 'Arry and Bert - made using the inaccurate Triang Diesel shunter mould (retired)
- The Diesel - made with Hornby's class 37 tooling. (discontinued)
- S. C. Ruffey
- 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
- 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.
- Edward - made using a repainted Shire class, minus cylinders and valve gear
- 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)
- Emily - a repainted GWR Dean Achilles Class model (discontinued)
Note: Emily was supposed to be released in 2006, but her release was delayed until January 29th, 2007.
- 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.
- Murdoch (discontinued)
- Dart (discontinued)
- 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.
- 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. Bear was also briefly reintroduced.
- Thomas (reintroduction)
- Edward (reintroduction)
- Henry (reintroduction)
- Gordon (reintroduction)
- James (reintroduction)
- Percy (reintroduction)
- Old Slow Coach (reintroduction)
- Gordon's Composite Coach (reintroduction)
- Gordon's Brake Coach (reintroduction)
- James' Composite Coach (reintroduction)
- James' Brake Coach (reintroduction)
- Annie and Clarabel (reintroduction)
- Tanker Triple Pack (reintroduction)
- Troublesome Trucks (reintroduction)
- Wagon Triple Pack A
- Wagon Triple Pack B
- 70th anniversary Thomas
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.
- Thomas Set (retired)
- Percy Set (retired)
- Gordon Set (retired)
- Duck Set (retired)
- Diesel Set (retired)
- James Set (retired)
- Thomas and Bertie battery powered set (retired)
- Thomas' Musical Ride battery powered set (retired)
- Thomas and Percy Set (retired)
- Thomas & Station battery powered set (retired)
- Radio-Controlled Thomas (retired)
- Radio-Controlled Thomas and Percy (retired)
- Radio-Controlled Toby (retired)
- Thomas Passenger Set (retired)
- James Passenger Set (retired)
- Percy at the Circus Set (retired)
- Thomas and Bill Set (retired)
- Thomas and the Great Discovery set (retired)
- Thomas Set
- Thomas and Percy (cancelled)
- Thomas and Friends Passenger and Goods
- Percy and the Mail Train Set
- Thomas and the Breakdown Train Set
- Percy and the Mail Train Set (reintroduction)
- Thomas the Tank Engine Train Set (reintroduction)
- Thomas Passenger and Goods Train Set (reintroduction)
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.
- 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.
This year was when the clockwork models of Thomas and Percy were available separately.
The clockwork playtrain sets now had the normal Hornby logo rather than the Playtrains logo. There were no new models that year.
More clockwork models were available on their own. The models are as follows:
- Bertie (cancelled)
This year saw a revamp in the clockwork Thomas system. The system was now only available as clockwork 'Playtrains'. Thomas' chassis 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:
- 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.
- Bill and Ben's prototype models had yellow wheels.
- Emily is a repainted GWR Dean Achilles Class model.
- To date, Percy is the only engine to have their tooling created from scratch.
- 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. It also came with weathered versions of the red open wagon and the light blue open wagon. They also came with loads.
- 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. There were only 500 models released.
- 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 separately 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 moulds.
- Toby is too tall to fit under most shed doors.
- The Wind-up models of Bill, Ben, and Toby were released in 1998 before their electric counterparts came out in 2001. Also Thomas' clockwork model was remodelled to an 0-6-0 chassis rather than an 0-4-0 previously used.
- The Thomas model originally came fitted with traction tyres 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 used the same tooling. The same 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 illustrate the Thomas and Friends range since its debut in 1985; those being 1997, 1998 and 1999. The range was however still listed in the price lists and published as separate catalogues.
- Several models were featured 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. The promotional photo of the Thomas model is used in a recurring gag on The NRL Footy Show in Australia, with Paul Gallen's face edited over Thomas'. A model of Thomas made a cameo on a 2003 Comic Relief parody of Harry Potter. A model of Percy along with a Tar Tanker were seen briefly in James May's Top Toys.
- Toad is brown, when he should be grey.
- The Diesel is labelled as just 'Diesel'.
- Stepney and The Diesel's buffers are black instead of silver.
- Hornby also made toys for Britt Allcroft's other major production, Magic Adventures of Mumfie.
- The original 2008 Spencer model had silver handrails while the 2012 version had black handrails.
- Flying Scotsman, Bear, Spencer and Murdoch have sprung buffers. This is likely due to them being made using fairly recent toolings.
- Emily's coal load is removable.
- Some models of Oliver and Stepney state 2004 despite not being released until 2005.
- The stickers on Bertie's 2005 model are different from those on his 1988 model.
- In 2014, when artist Jenny Bell decided to paint a mural of the nativity at Nottingham railway station for Christmas, she added a golden model of Thomas into the picture, using the wind-up model of him as a guide.
- The prototype models of Spencer's Coaches were Gresley coaches painted red.
- Duck's handrails are painted gold.
- Percy's model originally had a green running board, but since 2015, it has been repainted to the correct white colour.
- Thomas' model originally had a blue running board, but since 2015, it has been repainted to the correct white colour.