The AFL is pleased to announce a collaboration with Thomas & Friends in an international first for the two brands.
The collaboration will see four short episodes produced, centred around the AFL and following Thomas and his friends on their Australian adventures with the first episode to be released today, Wednesday July 12.
Two AFL superstars will voice two characters in the four short episodes, with former Richmond Tiger Matthew Richardson starring as Shane the Train, an Australian character introduced in the last Thomas & Friends movie ‘The Great Race’ and Brisbane Lions AFLW player Sabrina Frederick-Traub as Tracy the Melbourne Tram.
In the first episode, Thomas arrives at the historical Flinders Street Station where he is met by his friend Shane the Train, who needs Thomas to help him transport some stranded Western Bulldog players from Footscray Station to the iconic MCG for a match.
Thomas quickly learns the local lingo and gets immersed into the AFL way of life.
AFL General Manager of Digital, Growth and Audience Darren Birch said this collaboration was the first of its kind for the AFL as it embarked on content creation with a high-profile international pre-school brand.
“Thomas is as popular today as it was twenty years ago, and it’s so pleasing that Thomas and his friends will embark on adventures with Australian Football over four specially produced episodes,” Mr Birch said.
“The creative development of the episodes with Mattel has truly been collaborative and we were so excited to have the opportunity to add two of our own voices, in Matthew Richardson and Sabrina Frederick-Traub, to characters,” he said.
Mattel/Thomas & Friends Director of Marketing in Australia, Chedney Rodgers said the collaboration was an exciting one for the brand.
“We are incredibly excited about the multiyear partnership we are embarking on with AFL,” Ms Rodgers said.
“It is undoubtedly a fun opportunity to bring Thomas to Australia while partnering with an iconic brand sharing the same values of friendship, teamwork and participation,” she said.
Richmond great Matthew Richardson said he was surprised but delighted to be asked to voice the Shane the Train character.
“It wasn’t your every day request, but Thomas and Friends is iconic and I couldn’t be more thrilled to add some Aussie charm into these episodes,” Mr Richardson said.
“With a baby on the way, this has been great preparation for what I’ll be watching for the next few years,” he said.
Brisbane Lions AFL Women’s star Sabrina Frederick-Traub was born in England and raised on Thomas and Friends.
“Obviously having being born and living in England until I was seven, I watched a lot of Thomas growing up,” Ms Frederick-Traub said.
“When the AFL asked if I would be interested in voicing a new friend of Thomas, in something so cool as Tracy the Melbourne tram, I jumped at the chance to be involved in something I loved so much as a kid,” she said.
The first episode in the series will be released today, Wednesday July 12, on YouTube and across AFL and Thomas & Friends channels.
The other three episodes will be released one at a time in August and September 2017.
Families have the opportunity to have a Day out with Thomas at Queenscliff Station with the Bellarine Railway on October 7 and 8. Unlimited rides with Thomas and the Troublesome Trucks, meeting Sir Topham Hatt and heaps of other fun activities are available. Bellarine Railway’s Thomas is seen in the launch photos. For more information, visit bellarinerailway.com.au
About Thomas & Friends™
Thomas the Tank Engine™ was created over 70 years ago by a British clergyman, the Rev W Awdry, as a storybook for his son. That story quickly grew to become the award-winning global brand franchise it is today, enjoyed by families in more than 150 territories and in over 40 languages across multiple touch-points and formats, including: 400+ original TV shows; 11 feature-length films; 14 websites in nine languages; apps; toys (ranked number one property in the pre-school toys category in the UK and Australia and number two in the US); consumer products; publishing; live attractions and much more. Thomas & Friends has scooped prestigious accolades including a Parent’s Choice Award, a Webby and a Licensing Award for Best Classic Licensed Property. The famous and cheeky No.1 blue engine and his friends invite children to enter a world of imagination through the tracks of a train. Together, the children and engines embark on timeless adventures while experiencing valuable yet fun life lessons of discovery, friendship and cooperation. Thomas & Friends™ is viewable on more than 30 world-class broadcasters including PBS KIDS® in the US, Super RTL in Germany, and on Five’s Milkshake! and Nick Jr. in the UK. Downloadable episodes are available through iTunes and on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/thomasandfriends.