Long before Yong Bao went to the Great Railway Show, he worked in a station yard on his homeland railway, longing to pull passenger trains and was constantly teased by the other engines. One day, a tiger snuck into the yard, with Yong Bao left fascinated by it and searching for it for many days. During the winter, he found it again and followed it along the tracks; leading him to save one of his fellow engines from falling off a cliff with hundreds of passengers on board. With the recognition of his heroic action, Yong Bao was awarded a new coat of Chinese red paint with yellow lining and a tiger emblem on his tender.
Yong Bao was invited to take part in the Great Railway Show's Best Decorated Engine Parade. He, along with the other eleven contenders, accidentally arrived on Sodor after the rail ferry they were on made a wrong stop at Brendam Docks instead of the Mainland. Yong Bao promptly returned to the ferry after realising this.
At the Great Railway Show, Yong Bao participated in the Best Decorated Engines Parade along with Rajiv, Carlos, Emily and James, but ended up losing the event to Rajiv. After the Great Railway show ended, Yong Bao left the Mainland and returned to China.
Later, he encountered Thomas again during his usual passenger runs, recognizing him from seeing him at the Great Railway Show, and wondered why Thomas was in China, a long way from Sodor. When Thomas explained he was looking for a friend from Africa and was told to look for her in Zhangye Danxia by the Chinese Diesel, Yong Bao warned him to have a snowplough fitted as he left for the Rainbow Mountains to find Nia, since the tracks led through the Rainbow Mountains and into the Himalayas. He later caught up with him and helped rescue Nia before both plunged over the side of the mountain. Soon after, just before Thomas and Nia (now on the tracks again) left for home, he gave them directions on how to return to Sodor through the Asian and European continents, and as they departed, he advised them to go safely and said goodbye as they left.
When Thomas was working on the Chinese Railway sometime later, Yong Bao was getting ready for one of his runs when Thomas rushed into the yard in a panic about being late, bumping into him. After Yong Bao told him to calm down from his panicked state and Thomas apologised, Yong Bao then pointed out that Thomas was still in time to take An An and Yin-Long out on the main passenger line, watching as the coaches said hello to Thomas in Chinese, and Thomas struggled a bit to repeat the greeting.
Later on, Thomas woke up one morning with Yong Bao and Hong-Mei to learn that he was going to pay a visit to the local nature reserve to take a film crew there to see the giant pandas that were being cared for in the reserve. As Thomas and Yong Bao made their way to the station where the film crew was waiting to be picked up, Yong Bao explained to Thomas about how the giant pandas were the national symbol of China, and how they were also a very rare species, so Thomas' chances of finding one in the wild were very slim. Once Thomas reached the station, Yong Bao continued on his way to deliver his trucks.
Thomas later learned from Yong Bao the teachings of Tai chi when it came to trying to stop Lei from rolling down the line as a runaway truck after Thomas inadvertently crashed Lei when Yong Bao had a plan to stop him himself one time. Despite some initial trouble learning how to perform it, when Lei was accidentally re-routed onto another track and rolled away into the Himalayas, Thomas went after him and, remembering what Yong Bao said about Tai chi, is able to stop Lei safely around the same area where Yong Bao had tried to stop him previously. Yong Bao congratulated Thomas on mastering Tai chi, but Lei preferred they wait to work on it more until he was properly mended from their earlier training.
Yong Bao is a kind and faithful tender engine from China, who pulls passenger coaches. He may not be the biggest tender engine or the strongest, but he once cleverly diverted an accident saving hundreds of passengers. Yong Bao was decorated for his bravery and painted bright red, which is a colour that symbolises celebration and happiness. Painted on his tender is a tiger which incites a sense of awe and admiration. Like Yong Bao, the tiger is full of life and embodies the spirit of being driven to achieve and make progress. These qualities make Yong Bao a Really Useful Engine. Despite being brave and a good example for many Chinese engines, he isn't above having fun, as on Thomas' visit to China on Chinese New Year, he scared the little blue engine twice.
Yong Bao is based on a Chinese Railways RM class 4-6-2 Pacific, which were built by CSR Sifang Co Ltd between 1958 and 1966. Used in passenger service, these engines were eventually taken out of service by more powerful steam and diesel locomotives on the Chinese rail system by the early 1990s. Three members of this class have been preserved; 1001 is on display at the China Railway Museum in Beijing, 1163 is preserved in Aioi, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan and 1247 is on display at the Shenyang Railway Museum.
Yong Bao was originally painted dark navy blue but after saving the passengers on a derailed train, he was then later repainted in Chinese red with yellow lining and his running board is painted green. His name is written on the sides of his cab in Simplified Chinese, and the design of a tiger is painted on his tender. He also bears a dragon face on the front top of his funnel.
- 2016 - 6-Movie Coloring Collection (cameo), Off to the Races! (cameo), The Great Railway Show (cameo), The Great Race (cameo), The Great Race: Sticker Activity Book, and The Great Race: The Movie Storybook (cameo)
- 2017 - Thomas and the Trains of the World
- 2018 - Character Encyclopedia, and Big World! Big Adventures! Movie Storybook
- 2019 - Engines Around the World and Ten Little Engines
- Dan Li (UK/US; Big World! Big Adventures! onwards)
- Hiroo Sasaki (Japan)
- Grzegorz Kwiecień (Poland)
- Dan Schatzberg (Israel)
- Jörn Linnenbröker (Germany)
- Enrique Galván (Latin America)
- Petri Hanttu (Finland)
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- Yong Bao's name means 'Embrace' in Mandarin. His colour, red, symbolises celebration and happiness while the tiger painted on his tender stands for awe and strength.
- Yong Bao has been partially modified to work on British railways; he has been given buffers.
- Yong Bao has Traditional Chinese characters on his cab, though in China, Simplified Chinese characters are used standardly. Because of this, Yong Bao's name was changed from Traditional to Simplified characters permanently and his merchandise uses it.
- In a behind the scenes photo, Yong Bao was originally going to have flags that open out instead of the dragon face.
- A design sheet for Yong Bao shows that other names considered for him were Jin-Jun and Yong Jie.
- Yong Bao's face is based on Chinese actor, Andy Lau.
- Yong Bao's tender wheels are reused from Marion's wheels, and his bell is reused from Belle's bell.
- Like Hiro and Carlos, Yong Bao has a knuckle coupler on his front and a chain and hook coupler on the back of his tender.
- Yong Bao was one of the last new characters produced in Take-n-Play before the Adventures redesign.
- “To stop the moving truck/car, don't just block it. Move together! Move with the truck/car!”
- ―Yong Bao teaching Thomas how to stop a runaway truck/car, Runaway Truck/Car
- Wood (redesigned in 2019)
- Take-n-Play (discontinued)
- Collectible Railway
- Adventures (discontinued)
- TrackMaster Push Along
- Motor Road and Rail
- Motorized Railway
- Minis (classic and Chinese new years)
- Capsule Plarail
- Railway Pals (cancelled)