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In the [[Series 9|ninth series]] episode, [[Tuneful Toots]] and the twelfth series episode, [[The Man in the Hills]], Rheneas was seen with a lamp. This was powered by a hidden battery pack.<gallery position="center" spacing="small" captionalign="center" bordersize="none">
In the [[Series 9|ninth series]] episode, [[Tuneful Toots]] and the twelfth series episode, [[The Man in the Hills]], Rheneas was seen with a lamp. This was powered by a hidden battery pack.<gallery position="center" spacing="small" captionalign="center" bordersize="none">
TunefulToots76.png|Rheneas with an lamp.
File:TheManintheHills70.png|Rheneas with a lamp

Revision as of 13:25, June 5, 2020

Behind the Scenes

This is a behind the scenes subpage for Rheneas.
This subpage contains all behind the scenes material relating to said article.

Background Information

The Railway Series

Rheneas is a fictional narrow gauge well-tank locomotive created by the Rev. W. Awdry. He is one of the oldest engines on the Island of Sodor. Rheneas lives and works on the Skarloey Railway as their No. 2 engine.

He first appeared in the Railway Series book, Four Little Engines, which was published in 1955. His last appearance was in New Little Engine, published in 1996.

Front of Rheneas:

Rear of Rheneas:

Rheneas is based on the Talyllyn Railway No. 2 locomotive, Dolgoch (briefly named "Pretoria"). Several historical events that occurred with Dolgoch in real life, were mirrored with his fictional counterpart, Rheneas. Dolgoch has also been used by the Talyllyn Railway to represent Rheneas in real life. In the books, Dolgoch is mentioned as being Rheneas' twin, while Skarloey and Talyllyn are mentioned as being his brothers.

Television Series

In 1995, Rheneas was introduced in the fourth series of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. The series placed a great focus on him and the other Narrow Gauge characters, with a number of stories from the original books televised. All the Skarloey Railway steam engines were painted red with blue lining in the Railway Series (bar Duke). However, in order to make it easier for the viewer to identify each engine from one another, Rheneas was painted vermilion with black lining.

In the classic era of Thomas & Friends, Rheneas is portrayed as an old and wise engine, excluding the seventh series. However, when Rheneas returned to the series in 2005 after an absence in the eighth series, he was depicted with a more childlike attitude like in the seventh series under the influence of HiT Entertainment. It should also be noted that Skarloey and Rheneas have never been referred to as brothers in the television series adaptation, but instead, they are called "friends" in more episodes.

When the show transitioned into full CGI in 2009, the narrow gauge engines were absent for three years. Rheneas later returned in the 2012 special, Blue Mountain Mystery, along with Skarloey, Sir Handel, Peter Sam and Rusty. In the CGI series, his classic personality returned and he is seen frequently working at the Blue Mountain Quarry. He last appeared in Journey Beyond Sodor in 2017 to date.

From his return in 2012 until 2014, Rheneas was voiced by Ben Small in both the British English and American English dubs of the series. Since 2016, Rheneas has been voiced by John Hasler, also in both English dubs. Ben Small and John Hasler both gave Rheneas a Welsh accent, reflecting his basis' origins.

Behind the Scenes

Awdry's model

The Reverend Wilbert Awdry built an OO9 scale model of Rheneas. The model was made from a GEM Dolgoch kit. Rheneas' model is now on display at the Narrow Gauge Museum in Tywyn, Wales, UK, located at the Talyllyn Railway along with the other Skarloey Railway engines and rolling stock. [1]

O gauge model (Small scale)

Rheneas' small model was custom built from brass by the model maker, Peter Eves to run on O gauge track to the Gauge 1 Scale Standard during the production of the fourth series. It was painted using glossy car body paint and lined with gold and black Letraline pin-striping tape. The number and nameplates were custom printed foil stickers.[2]

Rheneas' wheels were sourced from Slater's 10 spoke Wantage Tramway wheels. These wheels were used on an O gauge locomotive chassis. All the narrow gauge steam engine side rods were sourced from old OO scale Triang models and modified slightly to fit. These rods did not fit well at all and the engines ran notoriously bad behind the scenes.[2]

Ten different facial expressions were sculpted for Rheneas on screen, although only eight were used onscreen. The faces were first sculpted in clay and from that resin casts were made of a silicone mould. Rheneas' unused laughing face mask is now owned by Twitter user ThomasTankMerch.[2]

The model had a motor to power it mounted inside the chassis as well as an eye mechanism. There was no room to fit a smoke mechanism or the battery and receiver needed for the R/C eyes. Wires connecting to the battery, servo and receiver were usually hidden off-camera or carried in rolling stock behind the engine. The eye mechanism used servos mounted in the cab and the servos were hidden by blacking out the cab doors and windows. Metal rods went from the servos in the cab to a bracket in the smokebox behind the faceplate, one for up and down movement and one for left and right movement. This limited the range of movement of the eyes as well as being cumbersome and jamming often. Although the model did not produce smoke, smoke was released from the set under them and the smoke tended to drift out the funnel to create the illusion as if they do produce smoke for a brief moment.[2]

Nearly all drivers and firemen for the small scale locomotives were cut down the middle and black tacked to the engines' cab because the servos for the eye mechanism would not allow them to stand half in the cabs.[3]

The small scale Rheneas model was predominantly used in the fourth series. It was used in the fifth series for in between shots where they would interact with the gauge 1 scaled characters and sets. The small scale model last appeared via stock-footage in the seventh series episode, Toby's Windmill.

For the production of the fourth series episode, Granpuff, Smudger was repainted and recycled from Rheneas' model. As Smudger shared the same model as Rheneas, the inside of his cab and the front of his cylinders were red. In some promotional images of Smudger, the red from Rheneas' coal bunker and wheel arches can also be seen.

In various promotional material and in the nameboards title sequence, he and Sir Handel have incorrectly worn each other's face-mask. This error also transitioned onto his Wooden Railway and Take Along toys. In the fourth series episode, Gallant Old Engine, Rheneas is seen wearing Smudger's upset face-mask.

O gauge model (Large scale)

For ease of filming and reliability, the fifth series introduced larger-scale versions of the narrow gauge engines and from the sixth to twelfth series, Rheneas' large model was used exclusively. The larger-scale models were built to a larger scale than the gauge 1 engines and ran on O gauge track. They were close to 16mm scale but slightly larger.[3]

Eleven different facial expressions were worn by Rheneas on screen. The faces were first sculpted in clay and from that resin casts were made of a silicone mould.[2]

The model was made from brass. The wheels and chassis were custom machined (CNC). The model was track powered, so pickup contacts were attached to the metal wheels, which ran into the motor to power it. The electricity ran from the track to the wheels/pickup contacts and went into the motor to power him. The model was also fitted with a smoke unit.

The eye mechanism had two servos, one for up and down movement and one for left and right movement. The up/down servo was attached to the body. The left/right servo had a rod attached to the arm, which connected to a bracket. The eyeballs were coupled to the bracket and locked in by the face-plate, so whenever the servos were powered, the eyeballs would move however the crew member desired.

In the ninth series episode, Tuneful Toots and the twelfth series episode, The Man in the Hills, Rheneas was seen with a lamp. This was powered by a hidden battery pack.

The twelfth series marked the beginning of the show's transition into CGI and the characters' faces were animated through CGI with the aid of motion-capture animation. The physical models' moulded faces were replaced by white targets with triangles to fix a computer-animated face in post-production. Rheneas' resin faces were only used in background shots.[4]

Rheneas has been seen mistakenly wearing Skarloey's CGI face in the twelfth series episode, The Party Surprise.

Rheneas' model has had many modifications and changes from its small scale counterpart throughout the television series. These include:

  • Series 5:
    • Silver buffers as opposed to grey ones.
    • Slightly bigger eyes and nose.
  • Series 6:
    • His paint was given a matte finish.
    • Black buffers as opposed to silver ones.
    • His whistle sound changed to Peter Sam's original one.
    • His model is significantly less weathered.
    • He gained slightly thicker eyebrows.
  • Series 9:
    • He gained a permanent tail-lamp.
    • His pupils became slightly larger.

Throughout the HiT Entertainment era, Skarloey and Rheneas were often incorrectly seen wearing each other's face-mask.

Rheneas' model is now currently on display at the Hara Model Railway Museum in Japan. It had previously been on display at Nitrogen Studios. One of Rheneas' nameplates is owned by Twitter user IssacM6991.

Close-up model

Close-up models were required for scenes where engines had to interact with the close-up scale human figures. Rheneas was the only narrow gauge engine from the original seven to not have his own close-up model.

In the fifth series episode, Rusty and the Boulder, a close-up shot of Rheneas' driver was required. As a close-up model did not exist of Rheneas, Rusty's close-up model was reused instead. This was achieved by a close-up shot of Rusty's circular cab porthole which resembles one of Rheneas'.

CGI model

In 2009, the series introduced Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) as a replacement for the show's long-standing live-action models. Rheneas was recreated from scratch in CGI by Nitrogen Studios in 2010 for production of the 2012 special Blue Mountain Mystery. His model was "hand-sculpted" in Maya, a 3D animation and modelling software.[4]

Photographs of Rheneas' large scale model were used for reference. According to Greg Tiernan, every detail of the original television series models for each character is carefully reproduced in the CGI model. The models are subjected to many rounds of review before they are submitted to HiT Entertainment for final input and approval.[4]

In addition, Nitrogen Studios went to the Talyllyn Railway and took measurements of Rheneas' basis, Dolgoch, so that his CGI model would resemble Dolgoch as closely as possible.

Rheneas has had modifications throughout the CGI era. These include:

  • Blue Mountain Mystery:
    • His buffer beam became accurate to his basis.
    • Lining was added to his splashers.
    • A whistle was added to his dome.
    • His windows got glass and brass frames.
    • He got a Talyllyn Railway styled tail lamp.
    • A handrail was added to his boiler.
    • Rivets were added in numerous places.
    • His whistle sound was updated.
  • Series 17:
    • He got a permanent headlamp and lamp irons.

A recoloured version of Rheneas was made for a brief scene in the post-credits scene of Blue Mountain Mystery. He was repainted yellow with blue lining to play a joke on Thomas.

Voice Actors


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