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The Ertl Company is an American toy company which formerly produced several Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends toys from 1986[1] to 2004. The most notable of these toy ranges made was a line of 1/64 scale die-cast models and playsets of characters from The Railway Series and Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends


The first Thomas products released by Ertl in 1986 were a die-cast Thomas with a sticker sheet of different facial expressions and a larger, motorised pull-back version of Thomas. He was joined by Henry and James later that year.

The following year, the characters were updated and a die-cast model of Percy was released, followed by the release of coaches Annie and Clarabel. Because the sticker faces peeled off easily, they were soon replaced with fixed plastic faces. The ranges were released in the US in 1989 following the premiere of the series on Shining Time Station.

New vehicles, destinations and playsets were produced for the die-cast range on a near yearly basis, tallying up to over 100 models. Due to the franchise's popularity, other ranges were made such as miniatures, keyrings, larger Gold Rail vehicles, pull backs and wind-up toys. Ertl also produced other non-Thomas ranges, such as TUGS.

Retail of the Thomas ranges ceased in markets outside the UK in 2001. Due to Ertl acquiring Learning Curve International in 2003[2] [3], the Thomas ranges were discontinued in 2004 to avoid conflict with the then existing Take Along Thomas system license held by Learning Curve. Since then, the Ertl toys have become very collectible, some being quite valuable; such as the paper face engines, the metallic engines, the brown Troublesome Trucks, the Silver Millennium Thomas, the 50th anniversary Gold Thomas, Harvey, Salty, Arthur, Murdoch, Emily, Spencer, Bear and Jock being extremely hard to find and when found are often very expensive. Often there have been repeated calls to resurrect the range, but none of these have been successful as of yet.

Although the models were mostly 1/64 scale, the scale was not consistent, with smaller engines being enlarged to make them easier to handle and larger engines scaled down somewhat to remain within size restrictions.

1/64 Scale Die-cast range


1986 - 1993

Original packaging card

The 1/64 Scale Die-cast range launched in the UK in 1986 with a model of Thomas, before releasing Henry and James. They were updated the following year and joined by Percy. Annie and Clarabel and Bertie were then produced the following year. All the engines had sticker faces. The sticker face matched the face of the character's illustration on the packaging card. Thomas' model also came with optional sad/tired decals. The packaging card of these early models was predominately one feature colour, often matching the model, with a white oval in the centre, containing an illustration of the character. Above the illustration was the smoke cloud logo that normally contained "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends", but instead held the full name of the character. Below the illustration was the model in a moulded plastic blister. A blue footer contained the Ertl and Thomas logos. The reverse side of the card listed other available models and commercial details. The models of Thomas, Henry and James originally had white running boards with red applied to the sides, but these were later updated with red running boards in 1985. In 1988 and 1989, the range was expanded to include models of Toby, Edward and Gordon.

Launch US packaging card

In 1989, the range was released outside of the UK. The packaging card used in the US was a similar, but more compact design, removing the illustration of the character from the centre and featuring a consistent blue colour for all models. The blue footer was changed to red to contrast with the rest of the card. The reverse side of the card listed other available models, but also included a feature illustration and a brief description of the character. 1990 saw the release of new models as well as updated versions of previous models. These updated models featured 3D plastic faces, much like those used on the larger motorised models of Thomas and Percy, as the original sticker-face models were prone to losing their faces. The Troublesome Trucks were originally painted brown, but from 1991 onwards, they were released in their normal grey livery.

1993 - 1999

Shining Time Station packaging card

By the beginning of 1993, the packaging had been revamped in the US, now featuring a Shining Time Station theme. Later in the year, the UK and everywhere else received packaging featuring the character's "portrait" as illustrated by Owain Bell. Both card styles included a "collectors card" that could be cut out containing a brief description of the character and a card number.

The Shining Time Station card is an aerial image of countryside with many fields, a few bridges and some village buildings. There is track coming along the left-hand side of the image which turns and comes across the card. The model is located on this track in a moulded plastic blister. Behind the model is a white box that joins to the typical smoke cloud and contains the model's full name. The Shining Time Station logo is situated above the image and uses a frame to encompass most of the image. The collector card on the rear of the card features a large illustration of the character, a small statement beneath about the illustration and the collectors card number to the left of the illustration.

Portrait packaging card, illustrated by Owain Bell

The portrait card was an image of the character towards the right hand side of the card, passing between a bush of flowers on their left and a mound of grass on their right. Between the character and the grass, aspects of a British village can be seen in the background. Depending on the character, there were rails, road or water between the flowers and the grass. The portraits form the front of the collector cards when cut out. The reverse side of the portrait contained a paragraph on the character and a paragraph of historical information; often containing the specifications of the real-life locomotive counterpart and when they were in service. The model was located below the portrait in a moulded plastic blister and the reverse side displayed a numbered list of available characters.

Variations of the Shining Time cards include three packs of Annie and Clarabel with either Thomas or Percy, with the later having a different collectors card number. Culdee, Godred and City of Truro were marked as "Special edition engines", with City of Truro's collector card claiming to be the "Star of Gordon and the Famous Visitor". Also released in 1995 was a limited edition gold-painted Thomas on the portrait card to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Railway Series. This portrait card featured a gold foil ribbon under Thomas' name and the collectors card was numbered "1". George is unique in that two different portraits exist: one where he is similar to the model and one where he is entirely green (as depicted in the Railway Series).

Bulstrode's packaging card, illustrated by Owain Bell

The Shining Time themed card in the US was discontinued in 1996, after that show ended and from 1997, the US would use the same portrait style cards as the UK. Further variations arose in 1998, with Bulstrode's portrait and the first wave of limited edition metallic engines. Bulstrode's portrait is the only exception to the illustrated location on the card. It is set at a dock with him tied to the right-hand side of the dock. There is a cottage, cliff face, lighthouse and fishing charter along the left-hand side and background. Thomas, Percy, Rheneas and Duncan formed the first wave of metallic engines in 1998, featuring metallic paint, their portrait images embossed with coloured foil, a limited edition plaque drawn above their names and no collectors card number. The second and final wave of metallic engines was released in 1999 featuring Duke, Sir Handel, Rusty and Lord Harry. Many collectors cards released in 1999 also featured bilingual (English and French) descriptions and historical information of the character. The portrait style packaging card was discontinued in 2000.

2000 - 2004

New packaging card

With the exception of the Silver Millennium Thomas (which was the last model to feature the "portrait card" and its collector card), the packaging card style was changed again in 2000. Featured artwork was removed and a predominately blue background was made consistent for all models. The revised "Thomas and Friends" logo, featuring the face-on image of Thomas with the smoke cloud beneath, was made more prominent in the top left hand corner, beside the name of the model in a stylised nameplate. The model, in its moulded plastic blister, was located below these, with a yellow rectangle behind and a red border. Down the right had side of the card was a bar of five circular pictograms (a letter "T", a right-hand arrow, a clock, two flags and a number "1"). There were no collector's cards with this change. The Ertl logo was moved to the bottom right hand corner, replacing the Britt Allcroft logo and the Gullane logo took its place in the bottom left hand corner. The reverse side lacked any form of art or information of the model and only displayed bilingual commercial details.

Packaging card to celebrate the release of Thomas and the Magic Railroad

A special packaging variation was also used this year for models of Lady, Diesel 10, Splatter, Dodge, Thomas, Henry, Gordon, James, Percy, Toby, Bertie, Annie and Clarabel and the Troublesome Trucks to celebrate the release of Thomas and the Magic Railroad. The revised "Thomas and Friends" logo was replaced with the logo of Thomas and the Magic Railroad and the nameplate was given a wooden render. Instead of the predominately blue background, a sparkling yellow background was used and the rectangle behind the model was a cloud-like render with a red-sparkle border. The bar on the right used additional pictograms and featured small cartoons of Diesel 10, Thomas, Splatter, Lady, Dodge and James. An image of Thomas appeared in the bottom left corner. There was no variation from the 2000 packaging card on the reverse side.

Model figures of P.T. Boomer (known as Pete Boom) and Mr. Conductor were also supposed to be released at this time. While the Mr. Conductor figure was eventually released, the Boomer figure was officially shelved after the characters' scenes were removed from the film after negative test audience reception.

The range was discontinued outside the UK after 2001.

Cartoon-style packaging card, with rear U-hook model

The packaging card style changed again in 2002. The prominent logo in the top left corner was shrunk, the blue background was replaced with two tone diagonal stripes and the pictogram bar was changed to a footer with additional images. A cartoon illustration of the model was included in the top right-hand corner and rails, a road or a station were drawn under the model in their moulded plastic blister. The collectors card returned to the rear of this style of packaging; with a larger copy of the illustration on the front and a brief paragraph of the character's personality, but not any factual historical information.

This year also introduced a new coupling style, which changed from the basic "hook and eye" style to a U-hook, for the rear coupling on the engines as well as on the rolling stock. This new coupling system was only being trialled that year, as it was only being used on the new releases (with the exception of Falcon) and certain existing models, such as Mavis and Diesel 10. The new coupling system was believed to be sturdier and longer-lasting and allowed for the engines to couple together, however the new coupling system was widely criticised for it's lack of durability, as the couplings were more prone to breakage. This also changed the direction in which the rolling stock with the basic "hook and eye" coupling faced when connected to an engine with the U-hook, as both hooks were incompatible together. Until October 2003, the U-hook on the new releases was originally thin like the original pin couplings, as the engines and rolling stock with these couplings were designed to couple onto narrow eye couplings, including engines and rolling stock that still have the basic "hook and eye" coupling system, however, the few existing models that also received the U-hook had a thicker U-hook and a wider "gap" on eye couplings to accommodate the thicker U-hook more easily. The track was also revamped to look more realistic. Additional details were having a green grass edge, with stickered grey ballast, silver rails and brown sleepers, replacing the previous plain grey moulded track (that still had a grass edge and moulded rails and sleepers).

In October 2003, the U-hook coupling style was applied on all the existing models with the basic "hook and eye" coupling, and used the thicker U-hook and wide gapped eye couplings, already used on a few of the existing models the previous year. The models with the thin U-hooks were also updated to have the thicker U-hook and the wide gapped eye coupling, as the original thin U-hooks were more prone to breakage than the thicker U-hooks and could not stay coupled on most wide gapped eye couplings. The age profile also changed, from 3 years to 2 1/2 years. 2004 was the final year of new released models. These were designed by A. J. Chetwynd.

The tables below list the released models, their first year of release and the number of their collectors card with the appropriate packaging card style, where applicable.

To sort by multiple columns, hold down the shift key while clicking on the column headings or sort individually in the sequence desired.


1/64 Scale Diecast Range
Model Original Release Year Portrait number Shining Time number Cartoon number Notes
Thomas 1986 1 1 1 Updated in 1987.
Henry 1986 3 3 3 Updated in 1987.
James 1986 5 5 5 Updated in 1987.
Percy 1987 6 6 21 Two early variations exist.
Toby 1988 7 7 19
Edward 1989 2 2 2
Gordon 1989 4 4 4
Duck 1990 8 8 8
Diesel 1990 14 16 33
Bill 1991 15 15 23 Also in a Shining Time twin pack.
Ben 1991 16 14 24 Also in a Shining Time twin pack.
Donald 1992 9 9 34 Also in a Shining Time twin pack.
Douglas 1992 10 10 35 Also in a Shining Time twin pack.
Daisy 1993 24 28 40
BoCo 1993 23 26 41
Mavis 1993 26 29 30
Oliver 1994 11 32 32
City of Truro 1994 29 34 15 Marked as a Shining Time Station Special Edition Engine.
199 Diesel 1995 38 38 -
Godred 1995 37 39 - Marked as a Shining Time Station Special Edition Engine.
Culdee 1995 36 40 - Marked as a Shining Time Station Special Edition Engine.
Gold Anniversary Thomas 1995 1 - -
Rheneas 1996 40 48 -
Sir Handel 1996 42 47 46
Peter Sam 1996 43 45 -
Rusty 1996 39 44 -
Duncan 1996 41 46 -
Stepney 1997 49 - -
Skarloey 1997 48 - 18
Duke 1997 47 - 16
Lord Harry 1997 46 - 91
The Diesel 1997 50 - 48
Wilbert 1998 55 - 95
Sixteen 1998 56 - ?
Bluebell 1999 63 - - Repaint of Thomas.
Derek 1999 65 - 60
Iron 'Arry 1999 69 - 78
Iron Bert 1999 70 - 79
Silver Millennium Thomas 2000 1 - -
Lady 2000 - - 62
Diesel 10 2000 - - 63
Splatter 2000 - - -
Dodge 2000 - - -
Bertram 2000 - - -
Smudger 2001 - - ?
Flying Scotsman 2001 - - 71 Repaint of Gordon.
Frank 2002 - - 13
Neil 2002 - - 12
Falcon 2002 - - 9
Harvey 2003 - - 80
Salty 2003 - - 81
Emily 2003 - - 89
Spencer 2003 - - 90
D7101 Diesel 2003 - - 88
Fergus 2004 - - 92
Murdoch 2004 - - 97
Arthur 2004 - - 98
Jock 2004 - - 101 Final Ertl character produced.

Rolling Stock

1/64 Scale Diecast Range
Model Original Release Year Portrait number Shining Time number Cartoon number Notes
Annie and Clarabel 1988 13 11 20 Initially only in a three pack with either Thomas or Percy until 1989.
Troublesome Trucks 1990 12 22 26 Brown coloured in 1990, replaced with grey from 1991. Available in a three pack with James.
Henrietta 1992 17 18 18 Originally available in a twin pack with Toby.
Old Coaches 1992 30 37 ? Only available with Edward or James as a limited edition, in a three pack until 1994.
Tar and Milk Wagons 1993 25 27 29
Fuel Tankers 1994 31 35 ?
The Breakdown Train 1994 28 36 42
Toad 1995 32 42 49
The Sodor Mail Coaches 1995 34 43 93
Express Coaches 1996 44 50 52
The Chinese Dragon 1998 54 - -
S.C. Ruffey 1998 52 - - Paired with a troublesome truck for a limited time.
Henry's Log Car 1998 57 - -
D. Fusit Gunpowder Wagons 1999 59 - 37
Gordon's Special Coaches 2000 - - ?
Old Slow Coach 2000 - - -
Pump Truck 2001 - - -
Slate Trucks 2001 - - - Originally released in 1999 and was only available with the Quarry Loading Accessory Set; one Slate truck was included in each set. Released separately in 2001 and had two Slate Trucks per pack.
Brake Van 2002 - - 11
The Silly Trucks 2002 - - 10 Versions exist with the U-hook couplings at either end.
Isabel 2003 - - 86
Catherine 2003 - - 87


1/64 Scale Diecast Range
Model Original Release Year Portrait number Shining Time number Cartoon number Notes
Bertie 1988 18 13 22
Harold 1991 19 17 27
Trevor 1991 20 21 ? The 2000 packaging had him incorrectly labelled as 'Trevor the Tractor'. This was fixed on his 2001 release.
Terence 1992 21 19 28
Bulgy 1994 27 33 -
George 1995 35 41 44 There are 3 different portrait packaging variations.
Scrap Trevor (on flatbed) 1995 33 - 50
Sir Topham Hatt's Car 1996 45 49 51
Caroline 1997 51 - 94
Bulstrode 1998 53 - -
Canal Boat 1999 58 - -
Soft-side truck 1999 62 - -
Crane 1999 60 - -
The Mail Van 1999 61 - -
Lorry 2 1999 67 - -
Lorry 3 1999 68 - -
Fire Engine 1999 64 - -
Bi-Plane 1999 66 - 61
Cranky 2000 - - 70
Butch 2000 - - 68 Originally released as the Sodor Recovery Unit in 2000, but from 2002 was released as Butch.
Thumper 2000 - - 67
Dyson low-loader 2001 - - ?
Taxi 2001 - - -
Lorry 1 (on flatbed) 2001 - - -
Elizabeth 2003 - - 82
Jack 2004 - - 99
Alfie 2004 - - 100


1/64 Scale Diecast Range
Model Original Release Year Portrait number Shining Time number Cartoon number Notes
Fat Controller and Porter 1990 22 20 38 The Fat Controller is listed as Sir Topham Hatt and the porter is listed as The Engineer on the Shining Time Station packaging.
Sir Topham Hatt and Lady Hatt 2001 - - -
Dowager Hatt and Mrs. Kyndley 2002 - - 14

Shining Time Releases

These were existing models repackaged in the Shining Time Station range (1993-1996) and given a unique Collector Card number.

1/64 Scale Diecast Range - Shining Time
Model Original Release Year Portrait number Shining Time number Cartoon number Notes
Bill & Ben Twin Pack 1993 - 30 -
Donald & Douglas Twin Pack 1993 - 31 -
Annie & Clarabel (with Percy) 1993 - 12 -
Thomas (with Annie & Clarabel) 1993 - 23 -
Percy (with Annie & Clarabel) 1993 - 24 -
Wind up Fat Controller 1990 - 25 -

Special Editions

There have been a few special edition models and variations. These differ from the rest of the range by having unique packing variations, no collector card number and were usually not reissued.

  • Melody and Motion Thomas with a wind-up Fat Controller
  • Musical Thomas
  • Metallic Engines set – Metallic Thomas, James and Henry
  • Released in 1998:
    • Metallic Thomas
    • Metallic Percy
    • Metallic Rheneas
    • Metallic Duncan
    • Metallic Engines set - Metallic Thomas, Percy, Rheneas and Duncan
  • Released in 1999:
    • Metallic Duke
    • Metallic Sir Handel
    • Metallic Rusty
    • Metallic Lord Harry
  • Released in 2000:
  • Christmas themed:
    • Christmas Thomas - Christmas hat Thomas with a snowplough
    • Thomas and the Christmas Tree Gift Set - Thomas with Christmas hat and scarf, flatbed with Christmas tree and the Fat Controller dressed as Santa
    • Santa Thomas - Christmas hat Thomas and brown "Toybox" S.C. Ruffey with presents, presented in a box
    • Santa Thomas - Christmas hat Thomas and red "Santa's Toys" S.C. Ruffey with presents, presented in Christmas cracker shaped packaging.

Both "Santa Thomas" packs were under the "Chad Valley" brand, a UK toy manufacturer. However, the underside of the packaging has a Racing Champions part number.


In addition to the regular range and Special Editions, a portion of packs containing multiple different vehicles were released. Some of these were exclusive to the Shining Time Station range.

  • Five pack of Thomas, Henry, Diesel, Annie and Clarabel
  • First released between 1986 and 1999
    • Three pack of Thomas, The Fat Controller and Porter
    • Three pack of Thomas, Annie and Clarabel
    • Three pack of Percy, Annie and Clarabel
    • Three pack of Thomas, James and Henry
    • Three pack of Edward, Gordon and Percy
    • Three pack of Toby, Henry and Henrietta
    • Three pack of Terence, James and Percy
    • Three pack of Bertie, Harold and Thomas
    • Six pack of Thomas, Toby, Bertie, Terence, Rheneas and Duncan
    • Six pack of Thomas, Toby, Bertie, Percy, Terence and Harold
    • Six pack of Mavis, Edward, Daisy, Duck and two Troublesome Trucks (Shining Time Station)
    • Six pack of Sir Handel, Rusty, D199, two express coaches and the Fat Controller's car (Shining Time Station)
  • First released between 2000 and 2004
    • Gift Set - containing Thomas, Diesel, S.C. Ruffey and a Troublesome Truck (released 2002)
    • Gift Set - containing Thomas, Troublesome Trucks and a Fire Engine
    • Gift Set - containing Thomas, Harold, Sixteen, Toby and two Express Coaches
    • Gift Set - containing Thomas, Lady, George, two Dfusit Gunpowder wagons, Fire Engine and Sodor Recovery Unit
    • Gift Set - containing Thomas, Lady, Sir Topham Hatt, Bertie, express coaches, Annie and Clarabel
    • Gift Set - containing Thomas, S.C. Ruffey, a Troublesome Truck, Percy, Sir Topham Hatt, Harold, James and Bertie
    • Sodor Gift Set - containing Thomas, Percy, James, Skarloey and S.C. Ruffey
    • Sodor Gift Set - containing Thomas, Toby, Harold, Old Slow Coach and Duke
    • Two pack of Percy and S.C. Ruffey
    • Two pack of Thomas and Lady (with one pound of proceeds donated to the National Autistic Society)
    • Three pack of Bertie, James and Henry
    • Five pack of Percy, a milk wagon, a tar wagon, Peter Sam and Toby
    • Five pack of Lady, two Old Coaches, Wilbert and Terence
    • Five pack of Thomas, Annie and Clarabel, Godred and Bluebell
    • Six pack of Thomas, Henry, James, Caroline, Skarloey and Harold
    • Five Piece Value Pack, including Thomas, Terence, Old Slow Coach, Derek and a carry case
    • Ten Piece Value Pack, including Thomas, Gordon, Percy, Bulstrode, Bulgy, Rheneas, Trevor, milk wagon, tar wagon and the breakdown crane

Playsets and Accessories

The earliest playsets used a playmat with illustrations of track. In 1996, a proper track system was made, originally of interlocking grey plastic with rails etched into it. The grey plastic track was updated in 2002 to green plastic with a sticker of rails on top.

  • First released between 1986 and 1997
    • Thomas, Percy, Annie & Clarabel Playset (no track; made from card)
    • Wellsworth Station Carry Along Playset
    • Railyard Carry-Along Playset
    • Seaport Playset
    • Construction Playset
    • Playtrack mat
  • First Released between 1996 and 1999
    • Starter set (including 8 pieces of track, Thomas, Annie & Clarabel)
    • Circle Line set (including Percy and Express Coaches)
    • Real Sounds Playset
    • Branchline Playtrack
    • Turntable Playtrack
    • Deluxe Playtrack (featuring branchline and turntable playtracks and water tower and crane accessories)
    • Water tower Accessory Set
    • Crane Accessory Set
    • Windmill Accessory Set
    • Tunnel Accessory Set
    • Quarry Loading Accessory Set
    • Crossing Accessory Set
    • Stationhouse Accessory Set
    • Diecast Engines with track
  • First released between 2000 and 2004
    • Roundhouse and Carry Case Deluxe Set
    • Sodor Viaduct Bridge Playset (includes Thomas, Sir Topham Hatt's Car and Old Coaches)
    • Sodor Mainline Playtrack (featuring Real Sounds Stationhouse, Road Bridge and Level Crossing Accessories)
    • Sodor Quarry Set (includes Bill and two Slate Trucks)
    • Thomas & Percy Track Playset (featuring a Water Tower and includes Thomas, Percy, Annie and Clarabel)
    • Thomas Playset (includes Thomas, Percy and two Express coaches; released 2001)
    • Peep! Peep! Thomas Set (includes Carrying Case, Thomas, Annie, Clarabel and track)
    • Branch Line Playset - Extra Added Value Pack (includes George, Bertie, Thomas and Wilbert)
    • Turntable and Engine Shed Accessory Set
    • Road Bridge Accessory Set
    • 2x Straight Track
    • 2x Points Track
    • 2x Curved Track
    • Die-cast Engines with track
  • Shining Time Station exclusive playsets
    • Construction Playset
    • Seaport Playset
    • Railyard Carry-Along
    • Wellsworth Station Carry-Along Playset
    • Playmat (3'x5')

Around 1996, additional accessory track assortment sets had been planned and advertised. These were to include Toby and his shed, Percy and a coal hopper, Duck and a signal bridge and Terence with a flatcar. Although advertised in the American Ertl catalogue, they were never released, nor advertised in the UK and Australia.

Gold Rail

This article is about the Ertl Gold Rail range. You may be looking for the Bandai Thomas Engine Collection Series.

The Gold Rail Series was a short-lived line in the 1990s. Designed by Bandai in Japan, the models had magnetic couplings and are a fraction smaller than a HO scale train. The back of the models boxes featured the same illustration and Collector Card number as those on the Shining Time Station collectors cards of the die-cast range.[4]


Gold Rail Series
Model Original Release Year SKU Collector Card Number Notes
Annie 1992 4700 11
Foolish Freight Car 1992 4702 20
Troublesome Truck 1992 4703 22
Thomas 1992 4704 1
Percy 1992 4705 6
Bill 1992 4706 15
Ben 1992 4707 14
Toby 1992 4708 7
Bertie 1992 4709 13
Harold 1992 4710 17
James 1992 4711 5
Edward 1992 4712 2
Gordon 1992 4714 4
Clarabel 1993 4701 12
Henry Cancelled [4] 4713 3
Terence Cancelled [5] 4732 -
Trevor Cancelled [5] 4738 -
Duck Cancelled [5] 4740 -
Donald Cancelled [5] 4743 -
Douglas Cancelled [5] 4744 -
Diesel Cancelled [5] 4771 -
Daisy Cancelled [5] 4772 -
Mavis Cancelled [5] 4773 -



Around 1991, a miniature range was produced. The vehicles had sticker faces and were packaged with a small section of a railway. Once all were collected, the parts formed a playset. In later years all of the models, besides Henry, Mavis, Bertie and Harold were adapted into keyrings. The background imagery of these packs continued the landscape from the die-cast range.


  • Thomas with station
  • Edward with water tower
  • James with Signal Box
  • Percy with sheds
  • Toby with Signals and sidings
  • Duck with watermill
  • Bill with part of a viaduct
  • Ben with viaduct
  • Annie and Clarabel
  • Troublesome Trucks
  • Diesel with tunnel
  • Bertie with level crossing
  • Trevor with windmill
  • Harold with airport
  • Henry
  • Henry with Henry's Tunnel
  • Mavis


Multipacks released for Shining Time Station include:

  • Thomas, Annie and Clarabel
  • Thomas, James and trucks
  • Edward, Bertie and Trevor
  • Edward, James and Percy
  • Diesel, Harold and Toby


  • Four-corner set with Thomas, Annie and Clarabel
  • Six-corner set with Thomas, Trevor and the Troublesome trucks

A re-release of the range introduced Henry and Mavis. The new range had some changes, with 3D faces and "LEGO-like" bases. A LEGO-like set included Toby and Harold.


Wind up

A large walking wind up Fat Controller with large feet was released. This was released individually and later together with the Melody and Motion Thomas.

There was also a range of Wind-up Ertl vehicles. These included:

  • Thomas
  • Henry
  • James
  • Percy
  • Bill
  • Ben
  • Bertie


In 1986 a 1/32 scale model of Thomas was released with motors. A motorised Percy was released later.

Remote and Radio Control

In 1986, two variations of a controlled Thomas were released, one with a corded remote control and one with a wireless radio control.

The remote control Thomas is a large plastic vehicle similar in design to the smaller scale versions. The two rear wheels are the driving wheels and feature rubber tread to improve traction. There is an idle jockey wheel between the two front wheels, which is displaced when in reverse, creating the perception of turning. The cord to the remote runs from under the rear buffer and is approximately 120cm (48in) long. The remote is mostly just a housing for batteries, but features two push buttons at the top, left one for reverse and right for forward and a sticker with directional arrows for the buttons and the Kaye & Ward style logo. The packaging lists four features of the remote control Thomas: Forward, Reverse, Turns in Reverse, Battery Operated (Uses 2 AA batteries - not included). The rear side of the packaging shows illustrations of radio controlled Thomas and the personalised money box. Its product number is #4731.

The radio controlled Thomas' product number is #4688.

Money Box

In 1986 a "Personalised Money Box" Thomas was released. Its product number is #1055.

Pull Back vehicles

The first set of pull back vehicles were large 6-inch die cast models of Thomas and Percy, released in 1986 and 1987 respectively. These could be operated by dragging the model backwards along the floor so their wheels could "wind up" and letting go to "unwind".

After 1993, another set of pull back vehicles were released. 1/64 scale die cast models of Thomas, Percy, Toby and Bertie used the same mechanism. These were under the range of "Pull back & go!" and used the Shining Time Station themed packaging card.

Teaching/Talking Clock

In 1992, a Talking/Teaching Clock version of Thomas was released. Thomas would teach preschoolers different times of the day in a fun way. The function buttons and the time hands introduce children to times with the help of a friendly voice and sound effects. The blinking eyes and portable handle encourage children to keep playing anytime and anywhere. Telling the time wherever you go, the clock also features movable minute and hour hands, and Thomas would announce the time every 5 minutes. The blue button would tell the time, and the red button changes the time. Activity buttons teach different times of the day. Battery operated (uses 4 AA batteries - not included).

Collector Cards

In 1998, a series of numbered Collector Cards were released, featuring Owain Bell's artwork from the 1/64 scale packaging cards. These were manufactured in the UK and sold randomly in foil blind packets of eight cards. 57 cards were produced (matching all the models up to 1998) and featured a quote from Sir Topham Hatt about the character on the reverse side. Three additional cards of Thomas were also produced, coloured Gold, Silver and Bronze and illustrated in an 'etched' style; resulting in a total of 60 cards in the series. Although labelled as "Series 1", a second series was never produced.

  1. Thomas
  2. Edward
  3. Henry
  4. Gordon
  5. James
  6. Percy
  7. Toby
  8. Duck
  9. Donald
  10. Douglas
  11. Oliver
  12. Troublesome Trucks
  13. Annie and Clarabel
  14. Diesel
  15. Bill
  16. Ben
  17. Henrietta
  18. Bertie
  19. Harold
  20. Trevor
  21. Terence
  22. The Fat Controller and Porter
  23. BoCo
  24. Daisy
  25. Tar and Milk Wagons
  26. Mavis
  27. Bulgy
  28. The Breakdown Train
  29. City of Truro
  30. Old Coaches
  31. Sodor Fuel Wagons
  32. Toad
  33. Scrap Trevor
  34. Sodor Mail Coaches
  35. George
  36. Culdee
  37. Godred
  38. 199 Diesel
  39. Rusty
  40. Rheneas
  41. Duncan
  42. Sir Handel
  43. Peter Sam
  44. Express Coaches
  45. The Fat Controller's Car
  46. Lord Harry
  47. Duke
  48. Skarloey
  49. Stepney
  50. The Diesel
  51. Caroline
  52. S.C. Ruffey
  53. Bulstrode
  54. The Chinese Dragon
  55. Wilbert the Forest Engine
  56. Sixteen
  57. Henry's Log Car
  58. Gold Thomas
  59. Silver Thomas
  60. Bronze Thomas

Ertl Collectables

Within the Ertl's "Collectables" range, a red car with white tyres resembling Sir Topham Hatt's Car was released in 2001. The packaging states "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends," "based on The Railway Series by the Rev W Awdry," and bears the Britt Allcroft logo.


In 2001, Ertl produced a plastic Thomas case, containing a copy of One Blue Engine inside.


  • When first released, Thomas, Henry and James were given white running boards painted red on the sides. For unknown reasons, these were later changed to them having red running boards the following year.
  • Despite the basic "hook and eye" coupling system being in use from the range's debut until October 2003, certain models were updated slightly over the years. For example, the depth of the eye couplings on Thomas and Henry were made thicker around 1990 to make them easier to stay coupled onto rolling stock.
  • Thomas and James each have an alternative packaging that is fairly rare and is similar to classic Wooden Railway/Hornby with two openable ends, a diorama backscene and a large viewing window.
  • Some items have been bundled with US VHS and DVDs. They would later be replaced by the Wooden Railway engines.
  • The narrow gauge engines' models (apart from Rusty and Duke) bear a closer resemblance to their Talyllyn Railway and Ffestiniog Railway counterparts than to their television series models. As a result, Peter Sam's funnel is a proper Giesl Ejector like in The Railway Series.
  • Bertie's model has an overly slanted windscreen.
  • The Breakdown Train has stabilisers.
  • The Sodor Fuel Tankers are weathered.
  • Lorry 1 is modelled to how he was after his accident in the sea.
  • The Fat Controller's/Sir Topham Hatt's car is based on a 1936 Ford Coupe. It was also a repaint of the black 1936 Ford Coupe from Ertl's Dick Tracy vehicles range.
  • The Dyson Low Loader is made using a modified Ertl Ford Pickup truck, with the low loader trailer section made using Ertl's Mack Cabover truck's low loader trailer section.
  • Bertram's name is misspelt as "Bertrum". This is also shared with his TrackMaster model.
  • Derek's model has a British Railways crest with the words "Thomas Tank" written instead of "British Railways", most likely to avoid copyright infringement.
  • Despite not having models, Primrose is mentioned on Bluebell's character card, Rex, Bert and Mike are mentioned on Jock's.
  • Diesel 10's grabbing claw; "Pinchy" is cream beige coloured instead of brown. It is also non-poseable unlike many other merchandise lines.
  • The D. Fusit Gunpowder wagons and The Slate Trucks have noticeably shorter pin couplings than the other rolling stock. As a result, it made them tricky for them to stay coupled on some engines and rolling stock.
  • All engines in the Television series were released by Ertl during its lifespan.
  • For Henry's model:
    • He has red side rods instead of grey.
    • Some of his models have a gap under his smoke box behind his face.
    • His model is missing his splashers, similar to his Series 1 post-rebuild model.
    • Some of his models had lime green paint along with Percy.
  • Smudger's model has his nameplates incorrectly placed on the sides of his coal bunkers instead of his boiler and as a result is missing his number 2.
  • BoCo, Flying Scotsman and Fergus's model have black buffer beams instead of red, although BoCo and Fergus's prototypes had red buffer beams.
  • Toad's buffer beams are red instead of black.
  • Daisy's model is the only engine who does not have a front coupling, most likely because her face is too low to accommodate one.
  • The slates on the model of the slate trucks are much too tall than compared to the model and the slates in the television series.
  • Lady's lower funnel section is left gold, instead of being painted dark purple.
  • Emily's driving wheels do not move.
  • Sir Handel's model does not have a coal bunker.
  • Duncan's model has square buffers instead of round ones.
  • Harold's model was used in the prototype of the Lionel Trains Island of Sodor set.
  • Like his Take Along model, Fergus has much wider wheels than all the other engines.
  • The cabs of Rheneas and Smudger have so much die-cast metal built within its construction, that it made them both quite 'back-heavy'.
  • On the pullback versions of the regular sized Ertl Thomas, his overall design and face are different of that on the standard and musical releases.
  • On the pullback versions of the regular sized Ertl Percy, his overall face is different to that on the standard release.
  • Thirteen characters exclusive in The Railway Series were produced, which include; D199, Godred, Culdee, Patrick, Wilbert, Sixteen, Bluebell, Frank, Neil, Bear, Isabel, Catherine and Jock.
  • Some Ertl models of Thomas, Percy, and James were used in a vending machine.
  • An Ertl Percy was shown in advertisements for the motorized railway plates.
  • Some models are reused for multiple characters:
    • Diesel 10 is incorrectly depicted as a 1Co-Co1, this is due to re-using the tooling of D199 just with an added claw.
    • Both the Old Coaches are brake coaches and they use the same models as Annie and Clarabel.
    • Bluebell and Flying Scotsman are modified versions of the Thomas and Gordon models, respectively. Bluebell's first prototype model was accurate to the real-life counterpart and even included a driver in the cab window. The reason why it was changed was likely due to budgetary reasons, while Flying Scotsman's model being modelled after Gordon has a Fowler tender and is missing his second tender.
    • Mr Conductor reuses the Porter's tooling.
    • Interestingly, despite the re-release of Sir Handel as Falcon, there never was one of Peter Sam as Stuart. This was likely because it would require changing his special funnel into a regular one or because the range was discontinued before Ertl had a chance to produce it.
    • Several non-twin characters who share the same basis also reuse moulds, namely: Rheneas/Smudger, Duke/Bertram, Wilbert/Sixteen and Diesel/'Arry and Bert/Splatter and Dodge.
  • Ertl models have appeared in various media:
    • Gary Wilmot was seen playing with an Ertl Pullback Motor Thomas while presenting Children's ITV on 18th November 1985, in which he introduced the return of the first series in single repeats.
    • Several sketches on Fast Forward and one sketch on The Footy Show featured Ertl models.
      • The Fast Forward sketches had an extra Thomas and Percy, sometimes only with custom colours, and most of the models had custom faces as well.
    • An Ertl Wind-up Fat Controller appeared in an episode of The Sooty Show.
    • A sticker face model of Thomas appeared briefly in the Bill Nye the Science Guy episode, "Structures".
    • Models of Thomas and James appeared in the sixth season of Full House in the fifteenth episode, "Be True to Your Preschool".
    • An Ertl Pullback Motor Thomas, Sir Topham Hatt and Porter appears on a flatcar at the Choo Choo Barn in All About Fast Trains.
    • A model of Henry appeared in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.
    • Ertl models also appear in 10 Years of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.
    • An Ertl Percy was used as a toy in one scene of the ninth series episode Flour Power, resembling a G-scale Percy in size.
    • A model of Bulgy appears in the 2014 film Kingsman: The Secret Service.
    • An Ertl Sir Topham Hatt made appears in Lionel Nation 2 on John Potter's Layout.
  • Multiple 1/64 scale models have noticeable differences from their Owain Bell artwork:
    • On D199's promo art, his face takes up space where his buffer beam should be. As a result, his buffers and coupling hook are conjoined to his face. This aspect was also seen in his prototype model, as its front and rear couplings are yellow instead of red in the released model.
    • Neil's Ertl promo art depicts him with a single side rod.
    • Catherine's model has no buffers, but on the packaging she does.
    • Bill and Ben's promos on the packaging depict them with no front couplings.
    • Skarloey, Sir Handel and Peter Sam have the same face design. Additionally, Rheneas and Duncan have faces modelled after Duke's face.
    • City of Truro's smokebox is that of a DRG class 80 while the model has his real life British smokebox.
  • Multiple 1/64 scale models have noticeable discrepancies with their character descriptions:
    • The Brake Van's description card incorrectly refers him as an engine and says that "He does however work very hard with Donald and Douglas to keep the trucks in order", even though in the second series episode Break Van, he was causing trouble for the twins and was actually crushed to pieces by Douglas.
    • Duke's packaging incorrectly states that he was built in 1863 by George England in London, which would have made him a year older than Skarloey. Duke was actually built by Boston Lodge in Minffordd, Wales in 1879.
    • Bluebell's packaging incorrectly states that she is an LBSCR E2, when she is actually an SE&CR P class. However, as the model did reuse Thomas' moulding, the statement is correct for this range.
    • The Silly Trucks have been incorrectly described as being pulled along by James when they become scared and frightened as they reach The Fogman's Station, as it was actually Henry who pulled them.
  • Multiple 1/64 scale models have noteworthy differences from their prototypes:
    • Lady's prototype model used Rheneas' shape.
    • Skarloey's prototype model had black lining, silver buffers and the hand-rail above his smokebox.
    • Sixteen's prototype model had black-and-yellow 'hazard' stripes on his front buffer beam. However, his released model just had yellow buffer beams with no 'hazard' stripes.
    • George's prototype model and his original promo art on the packaging followed his original appearance in The Railway Series, even though his official model was sold in his television series livery. This was eventually changed later on.
    • Butch's Arm is stuck in place and his hook is embedded into his arm, whilst his prototype shows him with the hook not embedded.
    • Jack's prototype had the correct cream coloured rims and cab, but they were painted silver on his final model.
    • City of Truro, Stepney, Flying Scotsman, Bluebell and Wilbert are the only real engines to be produced by Ertl.
    • Early models of the Silly Trucks and the Spiteful Brakevan's prototype model featured the basic "hook and eye" couplings.
    • The Caterpillar Crane's prototype model had a string chain operated arm much like Cranky and the Breakdown Train's models, while its released model had the arm held by teeth below it when moving the arm.
    • Culdee, Godred and Lord Harry's prototype models all had purple rear couplings.
    • D199's prototype model is more accurate to The Railway Series than his released model.
    • Elizabeth's prototype model has yellow lining.
    • The City of Truro's prototype model is more detailed than his released model.
    • Sodor Valley's prototype model has detailing around the steering arm, although it was left white in the released model. It also had a different chimney stack to the one in the released model.
    • The Sodor Mail Van's roof was white in the prototype, but black in the released model.
    • BoCo's first prototype model is noticeably shorter and taller than his second prototype and released models.
    • Bluebell's second prototype model had the sides of its black bufferbeam painted red, had a red and gold stripe between the smokebox and boiler and had the tip of its funnel painted gold. However, these were omitted in the released model.
    • Cranky's prototype model had his name in white lettering.
  • When ERTL discontinued their Thomas & Friends range in 2004, they auctioned off the prototype and production models of Arthur, Jock, Fergus, Jack and Alfie in special presentation tins that year. Murdoch was the only model that ERTL did not put up for auction amongst the final releases as they deemed the prototype to be too badly damaged to be sold.
  • The track pack sets featured a cut-out picture card at the back of the blister pack, much like the cut-out collector cards that the engines had.
  • The range was distributed by Bandai in Germany from 1996 to 1998.
  • An ERTL Arthur was put on display along with Arthur's TV Series model at the 'Clearwater Weekend' event at the Midland Railway.


  1. "ERTL (UK) Ltd. Trade Catalogue 1987. (Exeter: ERTL (UK) Ltd., 1987)."
  2. "RC2 Corporation Racing Champions Ertl To Acquire Learning Curve International"
  3. "[1] 2006 Annual Report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington DC"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Shining Time Station Merchandise with Sodor Island Fansite
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Twitter post by ThomasTankMerch

“There's more where that came from!”
For more information, check out the ERTL Company Wiki.