'Thomas The Tank Engine Fun Machine' extrusion toy

1996 in Swindon
"Thomas the Tank Engine fun machine" play stuff extrusion toy

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"Thomas the Tank Engine fun machine" play stuff extrusion toy
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

"Thomas The Tank Engine Fun Machine" play stuff extrusion toy and box, made by Bluebird Developments, Swindon, United Kingdom, 1996

This Thomas the Tank engine toy was made by Bluebird Toys Plc. Swindon in 1996. Thomas the Tank Engine was a main character in the extremely popular ‘Railway Series’ of children’s books written by the Revered Wilbert V. Awdry and, later, his son Christopher. Awdry grew up right near the Great Western railway line in the village of Box. The sounds of the trains puffing from Swindon and Chippenham through Box to Bath formed the personalities of the engines in his books – first told as stories to his son.

This Thomas the Tank Engine toy was a tie in to the long-running ‘Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends’ series created in 1984 by British director and producer Britt Alcroft after a meeting with Revered Awdry. Play doughs have a long history but this toy is representative of the large number of toys designed to shape and mould play dough in the 1980s and 1990s.

As you squeeze the two halves of Thomas together the dough spades are extruded through his mouth. One set of wheels is removable and can be used as a wavy cutter. Other moulds help you make some of Thomas’s friends: the Fat Controller, James and Clarabel.


Materials Science Gallery
Object Number:
cardboard and plastic (unidentified)
toy - recreational artefact and locomotive
Bluebird Toys (UK) Limited