Well, now that Dinos and Discoveries is behind us, time to look to the future! So here are my thoughts on the recent announcement that the Hornby range is returning this year!
The opinions in this blog post are SOLELY MY OWN. They do not reflect the opinions of the entire Thomas and Friends fanbase.
For the 70th anniversary of the Thomas & Friends franchise (I'll post an evaluation of the whole year in December), HiT are pulling out all the stops, with The Adventure Begins, a slight revamp of the Railway Series covers, as well as many events worldwide. But for me, the biggest surprise came from Hornby, who announced in the latest Licensing Source Book that they would be announcing a brand new range!
What does this mean? I don't know. But I'm really looking forward to it as, unlike the majority of the fanbase, I love Hornby's models as the majority of them felt like you were controlling miniature version of the engines if they ever came to life (apart from Emily and Edward; they were really bad). But what would I like to see from this new range?
- Return of Old Models - OK, this is a no-brainer. Hornby has created many models for the 30 years it's had the OO scale license here in the UK, so they could start by relaunching a few of them. If I had a preference as to who they'd bring back? Henry. His is the best model I've never owned, and I'd love to get him.
- Original Characters - No, I don't mean them creating their own characters. I mean them creating characters that neither them or Bachmann have created before. There are many to choose from: Arthur, Neville, Daisy, BoCo, STANLEY (...sorry, my personal bias is showing), Den, etc.
- Retooling of Existing Characters - Yes, there are many characters that they made that I didn't like. Edward and Emily, as I've already mentioned, Annie and Clarabel felt far too compressed, Toby's a tall garden shed on wheels and Bill and Ben look far too big, not to mention their faces are pretty much the same.
- Narrow Gauge Models - This might be slightly out there since they'd need to make completely new toolings for every engine, which I'm not sure they'd be willing to do. But since they have an N gauge range, I'd love to see them make some Skarloey Railway engines.
- Diecast Models - Curve ball! I feel that the Take-n-Play range is becoming rather unpopular due to Fisher Price constantly changing things. So this could be Hornby Hobbies' chance to give them a bit of competition so that they wake up and smell the coffee. Besides, if ERTL could create something fantastic using diecast metal, it would be interesting to see how Hornby would do. The only problem would be the gap they leave in the OO scale market.
I'm glad that Hornby are bringing back their Thomas range. Here's hoping they stick around for many years to come, and if it does end eventually, I'm hoping they go out with more of a bang than the old range did.