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Please visit the TUGS wiki, based on the sister series of Thomas and Friends.

Tugs was a television series produced by David Mitton and Robert D. Cardona of Clearwater Features. The series had a short run of one season with thirteen episodes and lasted for three months in 1989, from 4 April to 27 June due to Clearwater Features filing for bankruptcy. From the third to twelfth series, some of the models from TUGS were used in Thomas & Friends after the series was cancelled, such as the S.S. Roxstar, Lakesider III, the cranes, the boats and the Fultan Ferry. Some of the Tugs models had made it past the CGI switch-over and were generated in the CGI series. It was filmed at Shepperton Studios.

Big Mickey is the only character to have his name carried over to Thomas & Friends. S.S. Vienna also appeared as S.S. Roxstar. Big Mickey and the S.S. Roxstar are the only vehicles from TUGS to appear in CGI.

Modified Models

  • S.S. Vienna
    • Had red funnels (late third series).
    • Had black and white-striped funnels, a black superstructure and renamed to S.S. Roxstar (fourth series onwards).
  • Big Mickey
    • The megaphone was removed.
    • Had a thinner top rail and walkway more detailed (third to fifth series).
    • Had riveted steel sides, covered hoist ends, square wheelhouse walkway and a new base (sixth series onwards).
    • Gains a face (twenty-first series onwards).
  • Coast Guard
    • Face and hat removed from the wheelhouse.
    • Repainted light grey all over (fourth series).
  • A Shrimper
    • Megaphones removed, had a white superstructure and renamed to Katherine.
  • Mail Boat
    • Had a grey and red-striped funnel.
  • Izzy Gomez
    • Face and hat removed from wheelhouse and had a black and green-striped funnel.
  • O.J.
    • Face and hat removed from the wheelhouse, had a white superstructure, a black and white-striped funnel and renamed to Lakesider III.


  • The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway short trucks that first appeared in the second series of Thomas & Friends were later used as goods trucks pulled by Puffa and the Goods Engine (Little Owl) in TUGS.
  • In December 2012/January 2013, members of SiF purchased many of the original TUGS models and formed The Star Tugs Trust, which aims to restore the models.
  • Unlike Thomas & FriendsTUGS was never exported to North America. However, an American series titled Salty's Lighthouse used the series as a segment, except Salty's Lighthouse used edited footage of TUGS, as well as some TUGS characters having their names and genders edited.
  • Big Mickey and S.S. Vienna are the only two vehicles from TUGS to make it into the CGI series.
  • A few crane models which were used as background items in TUGS were later seen throughout the series and were even generated in CGI.
  • A few of the Japanese cast members would later work for Thomas & Friends after the eighth series, namely Masashi Ebara, Rokurō Naya and Hideyuki Umezu.
  • According to David Axford, early scripts of Thomas and the Magic Railroad proposed that the TUGS models were to be featured in a scene entitled "Thomas' Sea-side run by".
  • Britt Allcroft filed a lawsuit against TUGS, due to the similar grey faces Thomas characters had, being-flat and fit for round eyeballs. To quote Rick Siggelkow, "she was so angry I could hear her screaming from the other side of the world."
  • In some third series episodes, the fanfare cue from TUGS can be heard.
  • A grey building from TUGS appeared at Drayton Manor for a brief time in 2009.
  • The siren from the episode Munitions can be heard in the sixth series episode, Jack Frost, the seventh series episode, Bill, Ben and Fergus, and the twenty-fourth series episode, Emily to the Rescue.
  • A brief recreation of the "Dangerous Rescue Theme" can be heard at start of Down by the Docks.

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