American toy maker, Mattel, has bought Thomas the Tank engine’s parent company, HIT Entertainment.
Mattel which makes Barbie dolls is delighted with the acquisition which includes Bob the Builder and Barney the Dinosaur.
Says Mattel chairman Robert Eckert, ‘Mattel is the right home for Thomas and friends.
‘This powerhouse brand is joining the ranks of such iconic brands as Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price and American Girl.’
Thomas and his friends first appeared in books based on stories the Reverend Wilbert Awdry told his young son, Chris, during the dark days of the Second World War.
As a child Awdry lived 200 yards from the Box Tunnel in Wiltshire.
The gradient meant steam engines had to be helped up by more powerful engines and their imagined conversations gave Awdry the idea for the stories.