The Jasper Chronicles

The Journal of a Cynical Dad

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Voice of a New Generation

He's not all that new, but he is The Boy's favourite thing at the moment, so it's new to him. I'm talking about Thomas the Tank Engine.

At The Boy's birthday party on the weekend (full debrief to come) the one common theme seemed to be Thomas, at least amongst the boys. Even the shyest would drop all inhibitions as soon as he saw the little blue train.

And as much as I reject the commercialization of childhood, I'm actually okay with Thomas. If you consider the landscape of characters aimed at toddlers - Barney, Teletubbies, Smurfs, Raffi, Doodlebops, Wiggles, Mickey Mouse - Thomas is easily the best of the lot. Here's why:

  • Thomas doesn't sing. The show is non-musical. The stories revolve around trains and a fat guy in a top-hat. All Thomas does is roll along the floor and make Choo Choo noises.That's reason enough to get my endorsement.

  • Thomas doesn't talk. The story is narrated, so technically all the characters speak via the voice-over. This means when you get a Thomas toy, it keeps its mouth shut.

  • Thomas isn't extendable. Aside from a few items - Thomas bed, backpacks. stickers, etc. - there are no Thomas brand extensions like Baby Thomas, Disco Thomas, Feed and Poop Thomas or Pirate Thomas. Thomas only comes in one flavour - train.

The only downside I can see is Thomas can't help The Boy toilet train. That would be very untrain-like for Thomas to sit up on a toilet. "Look son, Thomas dumps his lumps of "coal" into the potty. Maybe you can too." Excellent visual, but I really can't see Potty Training Thomas catching on.