THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE
Last year, Thomas Wooden Railway had released Logan as a 'exclusive character' for merchandise across the United States. Now in 2015 we will see another one entering in that canon with the newly revealed Sam. To be honest I'm glad that Fisher Price, who run the Thomas toy brand, didn't over hype him like they did with Logan last July by putting him on the official Thomas website claiming he's a 'new friend' so that fans and parents of the brand might mistaken the new character as a TV series one. So well done to them.
I understand that design won't fit the British loading gauge but design shown in the promos like the picture above looks excellent with the detail. I understand that with Logan getting a CGI render and a possibility of a part in the TV series, which I doubt because I think it ruins the uniqueness of him being exclusive. But as Chris Tomson said on his TTTE Wikia blog that if he's to be in the TV series it seems unlikely considering that we have Hiro and Murdoch introduced as the goods engines as his basis the 2-6-6-6 'Virginian Railway Blue Ridge' haul coal trains. But looking at an earlier promo for Sam I notice that the sign on the book cover was promoting a railway show at a museum so it's more likely we'll see him more as a visitor rather the being an engine for the Fat Controller.
Now onto with the face. To be honest, I'm fine with the face. Yeah it looks too real but compare the facial design towards Logan when they've revealed him. I think Logan's face was poorly designed as you can clearly see the likes of Victor and Salty so it's good that we see a proper design rather then a rushed look of a photoshopped face. I more prefer Logan's face made by Arc Productions and who knows we might see Sam's promo video later on in the coming months or the next year maybe.
As of the 'exclusive character' thing made by Fisher Price and Mattel, the latter who owns HIT Entertainment. I'm fine with it all as started with Logan he was a 'one-off' with purpose and I believe that Sam will have purpose as a 'one-off'. Plus children who purchase the set or the book pack can make up there own personalities for either Sam or Logan or react with the book. Nowadays toys are the lifeblood of the show's existence with such brands like Pokemon for example.
SAM AND THE BIG BELL
WOODEN RAILWAY BOOK WILL BE RELEASED
SOMETIME IN 2015