Friday, April 26, 2013

Fisher Price Upgrades the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway: Post Four - Dramatic Photos!

While my previous photos have shown the improvements by Fisher Price in the Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway refresh, this is the biggest and best improvement so far, in my opinion.

This post is continued from Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Mavis finally gets the detailing, such as vents, hand rails, and a wrap around of the striped areas that she has always lacked when produced by Learning Curve/Tomy. Please note this version is spotted or dusty as it is called "Mavis at the Quarry".

There was no attempt at making Mavis' face look like it does in the TV series at all. Fisher Price has fixed this glaring problem beautifully! I look forward to seeing 'Arry and Bert's larger better faces when they come up around June 1st!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Railway Mischief Mini-Review

So I finally bought Railway Mischief from a local Wal-Mart, and have watched it with my son a number of times. Here are my initial impressions:

Videography: I never have been super-impressed with the quality of the Thomas episodes on video as they appear via DVD on my 56" HD TV, however the choice to zoom in on all the characters for the storytelling is really a bad choice. It looks bad and I think is laziness to not have to show so much background, making less work for the animators.

Animation: While Cranky seems to invoke the look of a live model, and Kevin is rendered very well, most of the faces are not. Thomas looks about the same, but Gordon is one of the worst. His philtrum (the vertical indent from his nose to his mouth) keeps moving from the center of his nose to the left and right, making his face look very wrong. However, Victor may be the worst. His face almost looks a 2-D drawing, instead of 3-D. Scruff's nameplate is unreadable, and Stafford's nameplate is hard to read, which is unacceptable. The human faces all look different, especially the blonde switchman, the shool children, the Express passengers, and Sir Topham Hatt. His eyes seem much darker and it may be due to the realistic shading of his top hat, but it just looks wrong. It seems that shading is exaggerated with this animation, especially around the eyes and at the hairline.

Stories: The stories seem to be good, and now the writer gets credit with the title, which is different. I like that cabooses/brake vans are being used more, but a bright white caboose/brake van  at the back of the mail cars is a bad choice, standing out like a sore thumb in my opinion. However, I loved the choice to use Paxton in multiple stories.

Narrator: I liked all of the previous narrators, except for Pierce Brosnan, who I love as an actor, but thought was a bad choice for narrator. The new narrator, is also very good, and I understand the cost savings choice of only having one English narrator rather than having one for the Queen's (British/Australlian/Canadian) English and another for American English. Thomas and Friends has been doing that with all the new characters recently anyway, and I think that is a good idea. I don't like change for the sake of change, and it is sad that 2 very capable narrators lost their job, but the change makes sense here, in my opinion.

Overall: So far, from this one video, I think it was a mistake to leave Nitrogen Studios and go to Arc Productions. Hopefully, they will improve over time.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How I Would Number the Diesel Engines of Sodor Island

Some of these are based on their BR Class, some are based on their current numbers, and some are based on putting the same types of engines (or engines doing the same types of work) together in numerical order.
  • D1 - Daisy (Formerly D52627, Currently D1) BR Class 101
  • D2 - BoCo (Formerly D5702, Currently D2) BR Class 28
  • D3 - Bear (Formerly D7101, Currently D3) BR Class 35
  • D4 - Mavis (Currently FCQ1) BR Class 04
  • D5 - Rusty (Currently Narrow Gauge 5)
  • D6 - Derek (Currently Unnumbered) BR Class 17
  • D7 - Salty (Currently D2991) BR Class 07
  • D8 - Den (Currently Unnumbered)
  • D9 - Dart (Currently Unnumbered)
  • D10 - Diesel Ten (Currently D10) BR Class 42
  • D11 - Dennis (Currently D11001)
  • D12 - Norman (Currently Unnumbered)
  • D13 - Diesel (Currently Unnumbered) BR Class 08
  • D14 - 'Arry (Currently Unnumbered) BR Class 08
  • D15 - Bert (Currently Unnumbered) BR Class 08
  • D16 - Splatter (Currently Unnumbered) BR Class 08
  • D17 - Dodge (Currently Unnumbered) BR Class 08
  • D18 - Sidney (Currently Unnumbered) BR Class 08
  • D19 - Paxton (Currently Unnumbered) BR Class 08
  • D20 - Bowler/The Diesel (Formerly D4711. Currently D261) BR Class 40
  • D21 - Spamcan/Old Reliable (Currently D199) BR Class 46

Saturday, April 20, 2013

3 Open Questions about Thomas and Friends

As I watch Thomas and Friends, I am struck with questions which there seem to be no answers to. Actually, I have LOTS of questions, but these are the 3 most bothersome ones to me.
  • Why do all engines, but not all trucks, cars, planes, and boats have faces? Shouldn't cars, trucks, planes, and boats all be characters too? For instance, The Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt, has a blue car that is not sentient, but his red rail car/track inspection vehicle, Winston, is. Butch the Tow Truck/Heavy Recovery Unit and Bertie the Bus are sentient, but the vehicles in Blue Mountain Mystery were not. Jeremy the Jet Plane is sentient, but the first planes to land on the Island of Sodor in Calling All Engines are not. All the narrow gauge coaches are sentient  but the Express coaches appear not to be in the animated series.
  • Not all sentient vehicles have face. This is very disturbing. Toby the Steam Tram has a coach named Henrietta (that my son thinks looks like a caboose) but she has no face! If one argues that the Express Coaches are sentient from the books, well they have no faces either!
  • Why are some engines numbered, bit others are not? Most of the steam engines are numbered, but Rosie and Stanley are not. Very few of the Diesels are numbered. The numbers are pointless if all engines do not have them? And shouldn't numbers change when engines relocate to Sodor (i.e. Victor, Salty, Belle et al)?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fisher Price Upgrades the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway: Post Three - More Photos!

I took some more photos recently, to show the differences in the Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway since the recent Fisher-Price refresh. This post is continued from Part One and Part Two.

Emily gets a red buffer in her refresh on the left.
Cranky gets more green and loses the black with a bigger magnet on the left.
The refresh on the left changes from the grey Hatt Street Crossing to a red Wellsworth Crossing. The lights are now red and green instead of just red, and gets the international "no" symbol instead of reading as "STOP". The road also looks more like a road with speckles.
To be continued in Part Four.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Save the date for National Train Day!

Trains are an instrumental part of our national story. On May 11th, attend a National Train Day event near you; celebrate the ways trains connect us all; and share with us and others why trains matter to you and your town.

Every year, communities around the country join together to celebrate the ways trains matter to their towns. Join the movement! Host an event in your community, and help us make National Train Day 2013 a huge nationwide success.

Get on board and show us why trains matter.