The UK’s biggest specialist children’s publisher, Egmont Publishing, is celebrating the 30th birthday of Thomas & Friends magazine with licensing partner Mattel.
The title is based on the popular railway stories by Reverend Wilbert Awdry (who I met as a youngster thanks to my father, a fellow priest) and his son, Christopher. Thomas & Friends magazine, has delighted young pre-school readers through the decades.
Thomas & Friends magazine is the oldest single character magazine in the UK market, phenomenal performance that’s testament to the strength of the Thomas & Friends brand, as well as the successful publishing partnership between Egmont and Mattel.
The latest ABC results demonstrate that Thomas & Friends magazine is still delivering sales growth 30 years after it first launched into the UK market. The title was initially published by Marvel UK as Tank Engine Thomas and Friends in 1987, then Redan as Thomas & Friends, the title being celebrated today.
Back in 2015, Oink! comic fan Phil Boyce documented how, as a railway-obsessed youngster, the cheery title captured his imagination from the get go.
“I can still remember innocently walking down to Clark’s newsagents in Whitehead to get my Oink!, I walked in front of the dozens and dozens of comics (remember those days?) to see if it was there and then stopped suddenly. There was a new comic on the shelves and I jumped for joy!
“I grabbed my Oink! from the newsagent who had it behind the counter for me, ran home and told my mum who dutifully gave me 35p and I instantly ran all the way to the shop and back again! As I’ve said before, this was the same price as the thirty-two pages of Oink! at the time, but this was a lot thinner at only twenty pages and on much smaller paper too. But it was full colour, glossy and of course a licensed product so did I really care? No… Though my mum might’ve.”
The title may have seen changes through changes of publishers, but at its core is true to the original stories and Thomas and Friends TV series.
“Thomas & Friends magazine is a joy to work on,” enthuses Kiran Vara, Publisher of Thomas & Friends magazine at Egmont.
“The introduction of new characters and locations keeps our young readers engaged and devoted to the magazine.
“The fun and interactive magazine content deepens their love for the brand and the free toy train cover mounted with every issue adds to their delight!”
Maribel Rivas Le Gelebart, Senior Licensing Manager across UK & EMEA at Mattel said, “To have a children’s magazine celebrating 30 years of existence before a 75th birthday is super exciting. Egmont has been able to convey and capture the spirit of storytelling, which is at the heart of Thomas and Friends, and we look forward to another 30 years.”
• Thomas & Friends magazine is on sale every three weeks, with a cover price of £3.99 | More information on the Egmont Publishing web site at www.egmont.co.uk/magazines/thomas-friends
• Thomas and Friends Official web site: www.thomasandfriends.com