Showcasing the SiF-TRLOTTTE 2005 Contest Entries and Winners! Thanks to all who participated :)

Fan Art

Oliver Escaping Scrap by Liam Ellem, 10 WINNER: DISCRETIONARY PRIZE
Oliver Escaping Scrap

The Trouble with Mud by Thomas Stansfield, 14

The Trouble With Mud

Gordon and Thomas by Chris Sherburn, 20 WINNER: GRAND PRIZE

Gordon and Thomas

Peter Sam by Liam Ellem, 11

Peter Sam

Oliver Sketch Up View By Elizabeth Truitt, 18

Oliver

The First Snowflake By Elizabeth Truitt, 18 WINNER: FAN ART PRIZE

The First Snowflake

That Was Some Snow Storm! by Darcy Edward Ireland, 14

That was some Snow Storm!

Skarloey in Real Life by Anthony Walker, 19

Skaroey in Real Life

Bill by Darcy Edward Ireland, 14

Bill
Ben by Darcy Edward Ireland, 14
Ben
Jock by Darcy Edward Ireland, 14
Jock

Essays

Thomas The Tank Engine Illustration Mistakes book one to twenty two by Joseph Buckle, 11
THE THREE RAILWAY ENGINES :
* C . Reginald Dalby draws two tunnels throughout the story The Sad Story Of Henry . He should have drawn a single tunnel that Henry stopped in until he was bricked up and they built a new tunnel . The previous artist William Middleton started the two tunnel trouble.
THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE:
* In Thomas & The Trucks Thomas has a Box car at the front of his train and in the next picture although he hasn't shunted another truck the box car is second in line . Plus it changes colour throughout the book
*When James is going under the bridge his tender is square .
JAMES THE RED ENGINE :
* In James & The Top Hat when Edward and James are at Elsbridge look at Thomas . He doesn't have a number !
*Throughout the story of James & The Bootlace the numbers of coaches change.
*In Troublesome Trucks James backs onto a box van with a sad face but in the next picture the face has gone .
TANK ENGINE THOMAS AGAIN :
*Henry is drawn like GORDON in Thomas & the Guard.
*Ffarquhar station has changed since Thomas Goes Fishing .
TROUBLESOME ENGINES :
*In Henry and The Elephant some flowers are by the trucks at the tunnel . In other scenes the flowers are gone .
*Edwards tender in Percy Runs Away has a section of light blue.
*Percy has gone further back from the signal box without even moving .
HENRY THE GREEN ENGINE:
* Henry has his 4-6-2 wheel arrangement here ! He shouldn't have ever had 4-6-2 wheels
TOBY THE TRAM ENGINE :
*Toby has no eyebrows in the 3RD last picture of the book.
GORDON THE BIG ENGINE:
* In 'Off The Rails' look at the 1ST and 2ND illustrations . The siding next to Gordon has trucks at the buffers and in the next illustration the trucks have gone with no engine .
* In Leaves look at the bridge below Gordon's Hill and the telegraph pole and lineside hut vanish in a few illustrations.
*In illustration one of Paint Pots & Queens if Henry moves he will smash the engine shed pillar down.
*Look at illustration 4 of Cows! Steam is rising form the hills where the is just field with no buildings.
PERCY THE SMALL ENGINE :
*When it says Percy had wisely disappeared he hasn't ! James can clearly see him.
*The electric pole by the single track shed in Percy and the Signal disappears.
THE EIGHT FAMOUS ENGINES:
*James' wheels change from grey to black in 2 stories
* In Double Header picture 1 Toby has blue sideplates . In Picture 4 he has purple sideplates .
DUCK AND THE DIESEL ENGINE :
*Diesels face changes from grey to white to grey.
THE LITTLE OLD ENGINE:
*James has his old cab roof with a red top again .
THE TWIN ENGINES:
*Duck & Henry have white buffers throughout the book . They never have them again.
* The Signal box name can't be read . Throughout the books you never see names of location .
BRANCH LINE ENGINES:
*There is a strange nameplate on Douglas/Donald's front above his face. If this is a works plate how come this is never seen again?
MAIN LINE ENGINES
* In 'The Diseasel' BoCo has his eyes on the green section with the yellow face underneath .In Buzz-Buzz his eyes are on the yellow face. In the last picture of Edwards Exploits he has his eyes on the green.
SMALL RAILWAY ENGINES:
The Engines faces change colour throughout this book

Season 5 -Underappreciated, or the Beginning of a Downward Spiral? by Clay Halford

The recent seasons of Thomas and Friends have had their fair share of criticism from traditionalist and casual fans alike. Amongst the many sticking points for these critics is the lack of Railway Series stories contained in the later seasons. This is a justified point, as without Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry's creations, there would be no Thomas and Friends. However, when one considers that only 161 Railway Series stories were written by the good Reverend and son Christopher between them, and Thomas and Friends is steaming towards its 9th season of 26 episodes, or its 209th-234th episodes, and the need for new material becomes apparent.

The first season to use completely new material was the 5th, in 1998. Producer Britt Allcroft had claimed that the well of Railway Series stories was running dry, something traditionalist fans protest vehemently, even to this day. Nonetheless, Season 5 was released in 1998 completely shy of Awdry-written material. It must be noted that the 3rd season comprised of 13 stories that were not from an Awdry pen, so new ground had not been completely broken.

One of the features of the 5th season is that of the number of episodes featuring crashes or spookiness. Some used both elements, such as Haunted Henry. The table below shows some elements of episodes, and how many episodes used those elements.

Crash
Cranky Bugs
A Better View For Gordon
James and the Trouble with Trees
Bye George!
Put Upon Percy
Toby and the Flood
Haunted Henry
Something in the Air
Thomas and the Rumours
Oliver's Find
Busy Going Backwards
Snow
Rusty and the Boulder

Spooky
Haunted Henry
Stepney Gets Lost
Toby's Discovery
Duncan Gets Spooked

Humour
Lady Hatt's Birthday Party
Baa!
Sir Topham Hatt's Holiday

Human Characters
Lady Hatt's Birthday Party
Happy Ever After
Sir Topham Hatt's Holiday
Make Someone Happy

Other
Horrid Lorry
Double Teething Troubles
Thomas, Percy and Old Slowcoach
A Surprise for Percy

Now, these evaluations are purely subjective and based on the author's opinion. Some may say that Horrid Lorry belongs in the 'Crash' section, whilst Thomas and The Rumours should not be. I felt that in the case of the former, the lorry's crash was not the focus of the episode, whilst the crash in the latter was the result of the plot build up and necessary to create a satisfactory ending.

Looking at the results, one can see that 13 of the 26 episodes had a crash in it somewhere. This is an attraction for the destructive element in all of us, but ultimately leaves one empty. Some of the crashes are rather unrealistic (such as Bye George!), but on the whole are well done. However, devoting half of one season to crashes leaves little room for good or different stories.

Despite this, several episodes had a rather Awdryesque feel to them, notably Something in the Air and Thomas, Percy and Old Slowcoach. Admittedly, these episodes, like many in the season, had a happy ending to satisfy the audience, unlike in earlier seasons where there would be occasional cliffhangers - notably the Duck/Diesel trilogy. Whilst this is good in that episodes can be viewed separately from each other, it removes a little tension from the show.

Also, the 5th season expanded on several characters. The two episodes Lady Hatt's Birthday Party and Sir Topham Hatt's Holiday showed that the Fat Controller has another side to him as well as ordering the engines about. Make Someone Happy and Happy Ever After give Mrs. Kyndley her first appearances since Season 1's Thomas's Christmas Party. Focus on non-rail characters had not previously been done to such an extent in the TV series, so this could be considered to be breaking new ground.

However, of the episodes that did focus on the engines, several introduced new characters - some with no dialogue and never seen again. The following list shows which characters were introduced and how many episodes they appeared in, or if they are recurring characters.

Cranky Bugs: Cranky (Recurring)
Horrid Lorry: Lorries 1, 2 and 3 (1 episode), Butch (Recurring - cameos only)
Haunted Henry: Old Bailey (1 episode)
Double Teething Troubles: Derek (1 episode)
Stepney Gets Lost: 'Arry and Bert (Recurring)
Toby's Discovery: Bertrum (1 episode)
Thomas, Percy and Old Slowcoach: Old Slowcoach (2 episodes)
Happy Ever After: Mrs. Kyndley's daughter (1 episode)
Rusty and the Boulder: Thumper (1 episode)

A total of 13 new characters, of which only 4 are recurring - and two of those are only ever seen together! It seems that several of the new characters were only introduced to create more merchandise to profit from the Thomas name. It could be argued that without these new characters, some of these episodes would need to be rewritten. But if characters are only seen for so few episodes, there hardly seems any point at all to introducing them!

The problem with some of the characters is that they could be given room for expansion - such as Derek and Bertrum - but are left in the cold. In fact, several people believe that Bertrum is simply a repainted model of Duke, with Smudger's face, showing that some beloved characters could well be unable to return. This is a great shame, especially as Bertrum had approximately 5 seconds of 'airtime'.

Another troubling factor in Season 5 for some fans is the number of unrealistic scenarios. For example, in Rusty and the Boulder, a perfectly spherical boulder chases the engines down the line, and in Toby and the Flood, a railway track is built over a dam - a recipe for disaster. These flaws could be overlooked if they contribute in some way to a good storyline, and in some case they do. However, some errors seem unforgivable.

All things considered, Season 5 was not a fantastic season, but nor was it a travesty. Several of the episodes are quite high in the author's personal opinion, while some are very low. As a final season for Britt Allcroft, it is by no means a failure - more a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. It certainly isn't the worst season of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. It is, however, a fine effort that deserves accolades for being the first to be completely free of the Reverend's work.

Thomas the Tank Engine by Reagan Wolf, 14 - WINNER: ESSAY PRIZE

What does that name make you think about? Does it make you think about the Railway Series stories that a popular television series is based on? Does it make you think about your anger at a company that is being accused of using a franchise to leach money from our pockets? Or does it simply make you think of a famous little blue engine?

I think about all of this when I hear that name. But I also think of one other thing: myself. I'm not sure why, but I feel as though Thomas is one of the most important things in my life, discarding my friends and family, my Tamagotchis, and among other things.

I was born years ago, not saying what year though. I grew up watching Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends via VCR, and I became a little bit addicted. I had, and still have, way too many videos, and tons of ERTL and Learning Curve toys as well. My mom even told me a surprising story once. She said that one day, she thought I was def or had some mental disability because I wouldn't listen to her. So she took me to a child psychologist and he put a Thomas rain on the floor.

"Walk over the train," he said.

I didn't. Instead, I sat on the floor and played with it.

The man was surprised and started scribbling furiously on his clipboard, but my mom simply smiled and took Thomas away. She put a small plush Barney on the floor.

"Walk over the dinosaur," She said.

I did so, and then she gave me little Thomas back.

Following that very day, Thomas became a part of me. Whether I was reading a Thomas book, or watching TV, or playing SEGA, Thomas was there. In Kindergarten, when Season 4 had come out, I started taking paper from class and drew Thomas characters on them, and then I'd cut off the extra parts of the paper with scissors. Then I would take the drawing home and put it on my wall. I even forced my babysitter to watch "Cranky Bugs" with me.

In 1990-something, Mom and Dad were having argument about the computer. Mom was mad because dad wasn't letting her look at what he looks at only, and dad was yelling at mom because she has invading his privacy. In the end, dad got mad and got into his car and drove away. He didn't even tell me where he was going, he just said "Goodbye, be a good boy" and drove away. I was sad, depressed, and I wanted to cry. But instead I closed my red, watering eyes and sung the Island Song. To my astonishment, when I opened my eyes, Dad pulled into the driveway, walked into the house, apologized to mom and they made up. It was at that moment that I couldn't help but make Thomas part of my life. A fictitious character had comforted me when I was lost and depressed, and probably made dad come back.

Almost every summer, I'd go up to Buffalo, NY with my family to visit my grandmother (we caller her Grammy) and my grandfather (we call him Papa) who were both Holocaust survivors. In the middle of the vacation, Grammy would take me to a local hobby store with a nearly life-sized poster of Thomas (located next to a real life caboose) and I was allowed to buy one Thomas train. And it is still a tradition we have kept over many, many years. Also one day before the first day of school, I'd leave my Thomas trains out to see if some magic Thomas fairy would come and leave me a message. It did.

In late 1999, Grammy bought a book called The Railway Series, the Complete Collection. It had all 26 of Wilbert Awdry's books. I had never had the chance to read all 26 books, having only read the first four, and was very eager to read it. The beginning had a letter from Wilbert himself, and one particular part of it, Wilbert stated that he got lots of fanmail, and it said:

"In my study at home I have a thick heavy file which I prize highly. It is full of letters. They are from children, mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts ad uncles who have written to me over the years to say how much they and their children enjoy the books. I prize these highly, of course; but there are some I value even more. They are letters from fathers and grandfathers who are or have been professional railwaymen, saying that they too like the books. To quote one of them: '...your background knowledge of railways is so good that yours are the only books about railways which I can read to my children without squirming inside! I myself know of many odd incidents which have happened just as you describe them in your stories...' That is praise indeed!"

And thus, I continued on with the book. I was surprised on how many stories and characters never hade it to the TV screen, and the fact that Henry was once painted blue, and that Toby has blue side plates. Around the middle of the book, I got a goal in life: to meat the man who wrote these fabulous stories. But by the end of the book, after Book 26, it had 4 pages of a short biography of Wilber Awdry. The very last line of it shocked me beyond anything I could ever remember:

"After a prolonged illness, Wilbert Awdry died peacefully, aged 85, on 21st March, 1997, at his home in Stroud."

I couldn't believe it. My idol, a man that had influenced me and had brought me happiness to my life, who I had always wanted to meet, was dead. I wanted to spend the rest of my life in my room, crying my heart out. That's when I learned that his son, Christopher Awdry, had written 14 other books after his father retired. I was surprised. I tried desperately to find the remaining 14 books, but to no avail. Not even the internet could help. I then decided on a new life goal: meet Wilbert's son, Christopher, the boy that influenced his father to write the fantastic stories that I loved today.

One very faithful day, I went to the movies with my family, and we were just walking out of the theatre when something caught my eye that I had ignored previously. It was a poster of a little blue tank engine puffing over a hill pulling two mail coaches. The bottom the poster read, "THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD. THIS SUMMER, TAKE A MAGICAL JOURNEY."

I was overwhelmed with joy. I eventually saw both trailers and seen both movie posters, as well as used the internet for some awesome info and clips. I saw the movie in Buffalo, along with my mom and brother, the day it came out: Wednesday, July 26, 2000. I really enjoyed it, and Grammy gave me a copy of the VHS, and I recently got a rare copy of the DVD.

Then everything began to change. Around the end of season 7 I decided to go online and see if there were people out there I could talk to about Thomas. That's when I found TVTome, as well as all the Thomas enthusiasts there, such as Jim, Christopher, Kate, Ryan, and others. When season 8 was announced, there was a sudden uproar on TVTome, where people were complaining about what some new company, HIT entertainment, was doing to Thomas. Right before my eyes, everything became so clear to me, and I understood what had happened. Wilbert Awdry was dead, but Thomas was still alive, but being manipulated for money, and was not being used for the reason before...to make people and children happy. I was furious, traumatized...

I was about to write a very angry letter to the company, when this little, unfamiliar voice in my head told me, "Don't do it. Just sit back and let the Awdry's shine through." Although I had no idea what that meant, I agreed. And look what happened. Calling All Engines! Featured the return of several missed characters, and Season 9 will not only introduce new characters, but also more serious storylines.

Which is why I say to you to just relax, and the Awdry's will soon get their way. All the darkness from before will vanish, and he new and old Thomas will be able to exist in perfect harmony.

And the next time you hear the name Thomas the Tank Engine, please think about Thomas the way Wilbert Awdry would want us to remember him; not as a money-making icon, or a famous a tank engine, but for who he truly is... a really useful engine.

fin.

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