THE COMPETITIONApax Partners, HIT Entertainment, announced in 2010 that they were in debt and the only way to get out of it was to sell Thomas and Friends and HIT Entertainment. From the outset, Chorion, producers of The Mr Men Show and Peppa Pig, showed their interest, but soon after THEY fell in to financial problems and they may be the next company to be sold off. Disney and Viacom were also linked with the bidding process. While it was unpopular with the majority of fans (including myself), it was seen by many as the inevitable new home of HIT and Thomas for the simple fact that they could afford it easily.
Saban Brands, who had just bought Power Rangers from Disney after an unsuccessful tenure, were also incolved with the bidding, and they were a popular choice for owners like Chorion. But after an 18-month long struggle, Mattel were announced as the surprising owners of HIT, Thomas and their other brands.
MY OPINIONSTo be honest, I'm on the fence. The only thing I can be sure of is that, with Mattel being one of the world's biggest toy makers - not to mention the fact they own Fisher Price - the revenue from merchandise will be exceptional. But the TV Series, I have my concerns about. Knowing Mattel the way I think I do, the only reason they make a Barbie DVD is when they're releasing more Barbie dolls. And I have this fear that Thomas and Friends will go furthur down that track... However, if they allow more creative freedom for the writers and the animators, they may be on with a winner.
Another concern I have is the future for Hornby and Bachmann. Since, as I said, Mattel are known as one of the world's biggest toy makers, they would want to make their own merchandise, mainly expand on the Trackmaster and Take-n-Play ranges, as well as work with the Wooden Railway system. But what about the HO/OO system? Will Mattel extend the deals with the two? Or will those two ranges hit the buffers when the contract ends? I'm not sure, but I have my doubts.
I'm very disheartened that Thomas has left Britain, but with so many foreign companies bidding for HIT, it was pretty much an inevitabality that the show would leave British shores. But my major disappointment is that EVERYTHING (I'm not just on about the takeover now) revolves around money, NO ONE cares about the legacy and history of brands, first with Cadbury's buy out by Kraft and now Mattel buying HIT. It's sad that a lot of things that were created on this little island of Great Britain and Ireland have been sold internationally. But then, some may argue that the world loves British exports.
Anyway, I'm rambling on a bit :P. Bottom line is that I have my doubts, but if it is treated with the dignity it deserves, and this promise of better writing is delivered, then Thomas and Friends, and their fans, can look forward to an extremely bright future.