Thomas the Tank Engine debuted in 1946, in a children’s book written by Reverend Wilbert Awdry and his son. Seventy years later, Thomas is a huge business. Acquired by Mattel in 2011 as part of a $680 million deal, the Thomas brand generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually, licensed across hundreds of new toys and products built every year.
Thomas is also very weird. He’s a train with a face. No arms. No legs. But a face.
And toddlers love him.
Here, we go inside the design studio where the creepy magic is made.