‘Thomas' Still on the Fast Track7 Mar, 2005 By: Angelique Flores
Thomas the Tank Engine is chugging its way past the 60-year mark.
HIT Entertainment is kicking off the milestone with the DVD release of Thomas' Sodor Celebration March 8. The title ($16.99 DVD, $11.50 VHS) also will be available with a limited-edition gold commemorative train ($19.99 DVD, VHS $13.95).
The disc's bonus features include a read-along book, three DVD games, character bios, songs and more. It features seven adventures from the weekly PBS Kids hit show “Thomas & Friends.”
The first “Thomas & Friends” U.S. video titles — Thomas Gets Tricked and James Learns a Lesson — streeted in July 1990. Both performed well, setting the stage for future growth of the 60-year-old brand. Over the past eight years, the “Thomas & Friends” brand has seen double-digit growth, said Jamie Cygielman, SVP, consumer products in the United States and Latin America, HIT Entertainment. To date, more than 40 million videos have been sold in the United States.
“The heritage of ‘Thomas & Friends' and its universal appeal — the world of trainplay, classic stories and timeless life lessons — is rich and relevant as ever,” Cygielman said.
HIT is moving full-steam ahead to support the 60th anniversary landmark with the largest marketing and promotional campaign for “Thomas & Friends” in HIT's history, she said.
The most significant component of the campaign is the Day Out With Thomas 2005: The Celebration Tour. Expecting to reach more than 1 million fans, HIT has engineered a year's worth of activities featuring a meet-and-greet with Sir Topham Hatt, storytelling, video viewing, live music and more. Having left the station in Miami March 4, the tour will end the year in Strasburg, Penn., stopping in about 40 heritage railroads across the country in nearly 30 states.
In addition to broadcast, online, and event marketing, HIT will run a print campaign in Parenting, Family Fun, Parents, Scholastic Parent & Child, Child and All You publications. Thomas' Sodor Celebration will be cross-trailered on other HIT video releases and supported through a 60th anniversary mini Web site (thomasandfriends.com).
To boost in-store awareness of “Thomas” videos, HIT has created POP displays and will attach the 60th anniversary seal on all new “Thomas” titles throughout the year. The first “Thomas & Friends” feature-length video release, Calling All Engines, streets Sept. 8.
An assortment of “Thomas & Friends” partners have also jumped onboard and will offer limited-edition 60th anniversary products. RC2 will create a commemorative green Henry wooden engine, and Tomy will release a special motorized road and rail set. Random House will mark the occasion by issuing three books.