Sunday, 28 August 2016

DVD Review: Wild Water Rescue & Other Engine Adventures


Wild Water Rescue
Thomas and The Sounds of Sodor
Percy and The Calliope
Happy Birthday Sir!
Percy and the Monster of Brendam
Bust My Buffers!

Special Features
Calling All Engines! 
The Earl's Quiz 
Who's That Engine
Mr. Perkins Storytime
Mr. Perkins Postcard
Guess Who? Puzzle
Fun With Driver Perkins
'Determination' sing-a-long video

Written by
Becky Overton
Gerard Foster
Max Allen
Sharon Miller

Directed by
Greg Tiernan
Don Spencer 

Produced by
Ian McCue (HIT)
Nicole Stinn (Nitrogen)
Jennifer Hill (Arc)

Distributed by

Release Date

I know I reviewed this in my overall DVD post that I make every New Years eve in 2015, but I decided to give its own review since I'd bought the iTunes release at the time and plus I felt I had placed it there for no reason. Released in 2015 as a Target exclusive for a Trackmaster train set focused on Percy, the United States were given another S19 exclusive despite that this is filled with episodes from S16's 'Big Bang Surprise' that was released in the UK alongside with 'Merry Christmas Thomas' in 2013. Was this actually worth it despite one episode from a more recent season? Let's find out!


The DVD consists six episodes. One from Season 19 and the others from the 16th season. To be honest now looking at Wild Water Rescue, it was a pretty bland episode. It was good to see Percy in his naive and cheery personality once again after being developed in 'Tale of The Brave' but the episode does seem to lack some logic into Percy when it comes to Diesel. Diesel had always been depicted as a bad guy towards the engines and you think Percy would be smart enough to know about Diesel's tricks. Yes Percy is naive but he's not stupid.

As for Diesel I do like how develop his character from feeling bad about his trickery but was too proud of who he is and finds it hard to apologise. However the episode lacked some conflict, what could've been better if it were Diesel wanting to be a hero and get in front of the newspaper and lured Percy to the old quarry and Diesel came to his rescue. Then Percy discovered why Diesel did it and was angry because of it. It would bring some conflict towards Diesel and he tried to put it right until he got into trouble and was rescued and apologised to Percy. 

As of the other episodes, they are nothing but from the 'dark era' that older fans label them as. As I said in my Season 16 DVD review, once you see one you seen them all. The episodes suffer the worst writing from a previous team who would've treated Thomas as just another kids show despite its long history. Yes this stuff is aimed at children but children are smarter than you think and they deserve some quality as well. The terrible writing include some rhyming, alliteration, wooden acting from both dubs and a three strike formula that doesn't feel like a story at all. Heck in comparison, 'Wild Water Rescue' has the best quality of all the episodes on this DVD. This was also the first time Michael Brandon was on a Thomas DVD release since his departure towards the series and I think it would be quite distracting now considering that the US has Mark Moraghan from the UK as their narrator now as well as some US voice actor who had either changed roles or left the series.


Some of the segments at the time of its release were brand new for the American audience. Such as 'Calling All Engines!', the segments are still good with the description of the characters for the young audience to understand and to know them and its a good way to introduce them to kids who are being introduced towards the show. Although it is strange that they used Kerry Shale's voice for the Fat Controller considering they now use Keith Wickham. 

The Earl's Quiz is good too for kids for their learning skills too when it comes to the episodes, the episodes that were used were 'Thomas and The Emergency Cable' and 'James to The Rescue'. 

Of course there's also Mr. Perkins' Storytime with the Railway Series story 'Thomas and Gordon' which was featured in the UK's 'Spills and Thrills' DVD and Australia's cinema run with great illustrations by Lorraine Marshall and the Postcard segment about Knapford station. The Guess Who? Puzzle is pretty much the same standard and good for kids and the character was Samson. We were also given a Fun with Driver Perkins segment which I think is the most interesting feature of all considering that they have footage of actual steam locomotives from the UK. The film was nice and the segment are good for kids to understand how an engine works, much better than the 'Down at The Station' segment. 

It's also strange that the DVD feature a model era music video, not a bad thing but you think HIT and Mattel would release a CGI styled music video considering that there is one in their archives and that kids see Thomas in the form now.


This Target exclusive release is just...pointless. Why? Because it's based one episode for a Trackmaster train set. They could've just released 'Big Bang Surprise' instead as that is DVD but with just one Season 19 episode and even that episode wasn't that great but in comparison it's probably the only bearable episode to watch rather then to sit through and watch five terrible Season 16 episodes. But I don't think fans would want to have a whole S16 DVD.

The Wal*Mart releases, despite not one released this year, are far more better than the ones released by Target over in the United States, heck they released 'Animals Aboard' a DVD filled with S13-15 episodes and they released this year as a generic release, it's on Amazon US. I think the better way to promote this DVD would've been with the Trackmaster set with just the one episode that they're aiming at and maybe two special features such as the trailer for the 2015 special and maybe a Guess Who? puzzle. Yeah that's a barebones release but at least it we know what they are promoting.

It's not a terrible release I think it does have some interesting intervals and pretty good segment about how an engine works and the 'Determination' music video can be quite nostalgic for people who grew up with the model era. Plus the animation from the two companies had done a fantastic job at bringing Thomas to life in CGI despite that Nitrogen Studios are in hot water right now over the animator's treatment during the production of 'Sausage Party'. But the whole idea of releasing a DVD for just one episode's trackmaster set was just pointless and not really worth the money.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

NWR Editorial: The Bankruptcy of Arc Productions & The Future (UPDATE: 11/08/16)


Incase if you don't even know yet, Arc Productions, who had been creating the CGI world of Thomas & Friends after taking over from Nitrogen Studios for four years (counting production years), is facing bankruptcy and a liquidation crisis this month. The production company had created five specials, counting 'The Adventure Begins' and four seasons, with S21 in the works. Sadly this may likely cost 500 employees their jobs and it's really sad to see all these talented people out of the work force, I hope the best for all of them if they are reading this. 

I remember back in early 2013 the Thomas fanbase had some doubts over them after the trailer for 'King of The Railway' was leaked back in January of that year and everyone had been claiming them as bad despite the poor quality video that was uploaded and yes I was doubtful too but I gave them a chance. However by the time it was released everyone praised them for their work and they had been improving themselves with the animation and camera work. 

So what went wrong? Well it's all unclear at the moment on why. The information is at its infancy levels so who knows what. Although hearing from comments from 'Cartoon Brew' it was because of bad judging on how much their projects are going to cost and not having enough talent and hiring out 'binges', according to this comment, into meeting their deadlines. Like I said, it's in its infancy at the moment but if what that comment said was true then I can say it was poor management on the CEO of Arc Productions' part. Even with them not notifying their employees beforehand about it and they only know about it by letter at the front door!

So what would this mean for the future of Thomas? Well considering that Nitrogen studios were in production for four years as well, it's likely that HIT Entertainment might've found another animation company to provide the visuals of Thomas, there contract (Nitrogen) went for four years. Some people are claiming its because of deadlines and quota's unlike what Nitrogen did. I think that if HIT Entertainment are looking for another company they should try and get 'Spider Eye Productions' which is based in the UK and they had made previous Thomas videos such as the 'Thomas is Heading for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!' video in 2014 and provided visuals for the World Tour videos last year. However I don't know whether or not the UK are still facing taxation problems for animation considering that David Cameron, now ex-Prime Minister, wants Aardman, the creators of Wallace and Gromit, to stay in the UK despite thinking about basing themselves in America because of tax. Although they got a tax break. 

The animation from Spider Eye was good but the lip movement for Thomas was a bit stiff, but of course it was just one thing that the company had done and think they deserve a chance, that is if HIT had given them the job. Other say it should go back to Nitrogen. While I do like Nitrogen Studio's work and will give them credit for creating their visuals during the 'dark era' of S13-16, I think Nitrogen Studios had done their part and I think it should go towards a different company. Some people are claiming that this could mean the end of Brenner/McCue's production team. Those two are two VERY different things so I'm definitely sure they will stay on continuing such goodness for the world of Thomas and Friends.

Other think that it should return to the live action format. While I do love the model animation, let me be honest, the models were getting really dated and the sets were getting really generic and plain to look at by S10-12. I would love to see CGI locations like the Steamworks, Arlesbrugh or even the China clay pits or Ulfstead castle in live action form, but CGI is cheaper and has lesser limitations unlike what the models had. Plus most models are sold to collectors like Top Props, Coffey Man Preservation or private collectors and even to a model railway museum in Japan, after Nitrogen's use for the rendering process and yes they weren't looked after properly but they do manage to repair them and of course, when it comes to the models, Drayton Manor as well since 2009. Although some are locked in storage by HIT, but money is the important issue here when it comes to creating the episodes and movies and it's most likely Thomas would never return in live action format considering that the show got more popular with the CGI change. So people just have to deal with what's there.

So this could mean that possibly 'The Great Race' and S20 or the 2017 special and S21 might as well be their last one to animate under the Thomas & Friends banner, although for the latter they might be finished by different company, possibly. However being bankrupt doesn't mean the end. So I hope Arc Productions find a way out of this mess for their employees and if not, again, I wish them all the best for their future and they find other work. I'll be honest, it'll be hard to watch 'The Great Race' and S20 knowing that all the animators and VFX staff are out of the job and I know what it's like to be forced redundant as I lost my first job for four years back in 2014 but they weren't in the same water as Arc Productions. It's tough to deal with but in the end you will get a chance.

UPDATE 10/08/16: As many people would know by now that the sole reason for Arc Productions' bankruptcy was because of 'Blazing Samurai' production, the upcoming 2017 film that'll be starring Samuel Jackson, Mel Brooks etc. which was $30million USD in demand and that what was the cause of their bankruptcy, thanks to CalleyFan for the info.

UPDATE 11/08/16: Turns out Arc Productions hopefully to be saved by 'Jam Filled Productions'. This is great news for the Thomas fanbase as Thomas will possibly continue to be animated by the talented team from Arc Productions and of course most importantly the 500-600 employees are saved from unemployment. Nothing been set in stone yet though. Link to the story is here