Sunday, 15 October 2017

NWR Editorial: Big World Big Adventure Part II (UPDATE: 24/10/17)



MIPJunior in Cannes, France had started and with it came the sneak peak of 'Big World! Big Adventures!' the upcoming new movie and series in 2018. Along with a new character who is another new female engine that will join the 'steam team'. Along with it came footage of the upcoming series and what it had to offer. This here is a second part of my previous post which you can read here:


Along with Nia the African engine in the upcoming movie, we have another female engine to join in the 'steam team' in the new series and of course according to source, she will be one of the replacements for Henry and Edward, I will mention those two later on in this post. One thing that I like about Rebecca is that she's a new British tender engine based on the Southern Railway's 'West Country' class locomotive, a class of loco that I had the obligation of riding on when I visited the UK in 2012. It was 'Wadebridge' on the Mid-Hants Watercress Line. Despite the locos being in BR Brunswick Green in reality, it's quite understandable on why she is given the colour yellow. It makes her stand out! Yes she may look like a yellow banana on wheels but the colour yellow is good for young children as the bright colour is good for their early developed eye sight. Things like Pikachu from 'Pokemon' and of course the Minions from 'Despicable Me' are successful because of it. Plus we have other engines with unrealistic liveries. I mean have you ever seen a blue E2? 

The only known personality of her that we got from news articles is that she's not afraid to stand up for herself and not intimated by the older engines. While I do like that, I hope see more sides of her and if her purpose is to pull the express with Gordon, then it just proves that there can be more than one engine to pull express trains. I look forward to be seeing her in the series. 

Edward & Henry:
So yes those rumours are true, Edward and Henry are officially leaving the 'steam team' most likely because they aren't marketable enough. To be honest, I'm quite sadden that this is actually happening but it's also quite reassuring that they will have the spotlight from time to time, so Mattel and of course the production team do understand that they are important. What I'm hoping for them is that they'll be part of something special. After all in three years time the brand will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2020 and these two characters are very important as they started the Railway Series books and the brand, Edward was the first engine that the Reverend came up with in his mind for his son, Christopher, who was sick with measles. Henry applies as well. 

'A Shed for Edward' was a good send off to Edward and it make sense to have him working on his branch line at Wellsworth and I hope in this new series we see more of it and of course with being paired up with Philip it could bring more of his character and maybe it might make kids see some relations between them and Edward with him looking after Philip, maybe he'll remind them of their grandfather and of course we have him saying, 'I'm sure we'll see each other again.' In the episode as well. 

For Henry it's quite hard to know what his future might be. I know they won't be kicking him off the series since we'll see him sharing a bit of the spotlight. I hope the episode we see would be a good send off and I think what it should be is an adaptation of 'Super Rescue' and maybe change up the story maybe have him being repaired at the Steamworks for his broken regulator and decided to stay at Vicarstown sheds to teach Bear their ways on the North Western Railway. But whatever it is, I hope it's a good sendoff. Plus notice how Nia and Rebecca don't have their numbers? I think that might be Mattel saying that Henry and Edward are still important despite them not being marketable. 

Fast Paced Animation and More Jokes and Fantasy Sequences:

With the jokes I hope they are something good and not something that are on the line of poo jokes or anything below that line. Thomas the Tank Engine is better than that. Maybe have a bit of banter and teasing that would be good. While I don't mind fast paced animation it can be quite exhausting and that happened once when I bought a 'Chuggington' DVD. The animation's movement just happens quickly and it can get quite exhausting. With fantasy sequences, I'm fine with some unrealistic stuff to be like that, a fantasy. According to MIPJunior's twitter feed they said that Thomas imagines himself as a rocket ship and him being chased by a dragon. I hope for the latter it's the Chinese dragon. The fantasy sequences is a bit like 'The Great Race' when during the song Thomas imagines himself as Harvey or Stephen or in that trailer back in 2014 when his Macy balloon was to make its debut on Thanksgiving 2014 in US where he imagines himself as Cranky, Hiro, Big Ben and a New York Taxi cab. They are silly but I would rather them being fantasy sequences then actually happening in the show.

I will say from the clip of Nia and her trucks leaning from the side, it was a bit cringeworthy to see that. I can take the bouncing as it was subtle. But I hope I get use to this cartoony behaviour and I hope the production team would find the right balance.

More Merchandise Focused Towards Girls:

To me this is one thing that I love hearing. Outside of the toys and books in the brand, there's hardly any merchandise focused towards girls. There had been plenty of female characters in the past that were never given any shirts or bedding or anything aside from toys and books. The only time I saw something for girls is t-shirts at 'Thomas Land' at Drayton Manor in the UK back in 2012 with a picture of Rosie when she was pink and they are only sold there. Plus this had been an issue in the past, in the 'Daily Mail', although it's a bad clickbait site, a mum from the UK was annoyed that there isn't any girl clothing of Thomas for her daughter. But a woman from Melbourne, Australia made one for her and given it to her to give for daughter for Christmas. So seeing this happening is great thanks to the increase viewership of girls. 

Sodor Will Be Safe:

This was a fearing thing when this revamped series was announced. But after hearing that half of the series will be focused on Sodor this is a big relief. My guess that the first half will be us following on Thomas' world tour and the second half will be Sodor centric and I think next season might be all centred on Sodor. While we know that the Island of Sodor will be safe, I'm quite looking forward to se be seeing other countries in CGI. 

The Animation:

Judging from the clips from news sources, the animation still has some of the flat grounding and textures like in 'Journey Beyond Sodor' and they feel more like dream sequences. I hope these are unfinished animation but I won't be holding my breath for it. 

Climate Change and other UN Teaching Methods:

I will say, I was surprised by Mattel are having help from the United Nations (UN) with teaching methods from them. They even came up with the idea of Nia's name which is Swahili for fun and adventure and the African patterns on her side tanks. One of the things that I find confusing is Climate Change. To be honest when I heard that I thought it was pretty dumb to do that considering kids are learning about it with a steam locomotive that can cause damage to the O-zone layer. It's hard to think how they're going to challenge that to the young viewers. I see other things working like zero hunger. You could have Thomas or an international engine working together to bring food to villagers or something. 

Thomas being 'Stodgy' & Down Toy Sales:

While I don't agree that Thomas is 'boring' according to Mattel, there can be some quite exciting stuff on a railway. But with the toy sales going down, maybe that's because over the years there had been Thomas play sets from the likes of Wooden Railway (Wood), Adventures and Trackmaster is because most of them have sets with only Thomas in them? This had been happening even before Mattel took over Thomas. Maybe kids are bored that all the new play sets they see always have Thomas in them and that they have no variety other than Thomas maybe meeting a dinosaur or a shark. Now yes there had been other sets too with other characters like Luke for example but I hardly see their sets at shops and most of the sets are Thomas'. Mattel should also know that parents would most likely buy Thomas and the other steam team characters separately at a cheaper price and that they would save money on buying a play set with the same character in it! 

Yes I know he's a big seller because he's the titular character but maybe kids just want to see more characters. How about having characters like Daisy or Glynn as exclusives to play sets? You can only buy them with this set and maybe that might sell? You could have sets based on particular episodes like how about a Thomas Wood 'Duck & the Slip Coaches' play set where the slip coaches are the exclusive toys in that set with Duck. Yes Duck may have a Wooden Railway toy but it's rare to find him now unlike in 2013. 

Netflix & Hulu Exclusive:

This is only in the US but I think this is better for Thomas. When I was in the US back in June, I remember Thomas was the first PBS Kids show at 6:00 am in the morning and to me it was bad to put it at that hour as kids are still asleep. Now that it'll be up for streaming purposes only, this could be better. It can be watched at certain hours, plenty of parents nowadays would at least have a Netflix account and most content that are brand new are on Netflix. Dreamworks for example have plenty and I remember reading once that there TV content is doing more better than their movies. 

If HIT and Mattel decided to do this for a worldwide audience, I will be OK with it but they should also think about the people who can't afford a subscription too and maybe let be on TV or have it on YouTube and they, the company, put adsense on it as most shows like 'Postman Pat' are uploading hour  long videos of their episodes. 


While these new changes are happening I'm still going to be cautiously optimistic. There had been times when we doubt things from this era such as 'King of the Railway' when the trailer was released and when the movie came out we praised it to no end. I remember the reaction to the episode titles on the 'Railway Mischief' DVD when it was released in the US and in the end we praised them and I remember people were saying that 'Tale of the Brave' was 'Percy and the Monster of Brendam' but longer and once again it was praised. Sometimes we can be proven wrong over many things and to me I admit that I can be wrong on many things so that's why I'm in the cautiously optimistic crowd. Yes these new changes can be worrying and I can understand the frustration on dealing with them. I don't think the autistic fans will respond well considering they have a hard time dealing with change and I hope Mattel and the production team haven't forgotten about them. After all they made Theo with them in mind! 

I will say, I'm kind of seeing 'Journey Beyond Sodor' as filler now. With the way S21 is playing out to be with the continuity such as Edward leaving the sheds. I felt like it's just there to fill in time, I digress. I'm going to wait and see what the outcome is. It might be good or it might be bad I don't know.