Wednesday, May 14, 2014

#0079: Thomas the Tank Engine miniature playsets

When I was a wee sprat, I went apeshit for playsets. For as much fun as it was to have my toys galavanting about the house and leap from couch to couch, or for them to wander the unknown territory of the backyard (I lost a Bebop figurine out there for a solid year), playsets allowed us to put them right in their element. Fuck you, creativity! For I have the Technodrome.

Rare were the times when you got a full-sized playset, however, because they were overpriced and, at least in my recollection, hard to find. Fortunately however, miniature figurines allowed for compact little locales that you could literally take with you on the go. In retrospect, there was a definite emphasis on the portability of these self-contained little societies. I don't think I ever really looked at a small village and said to myself, 'Man, I wish I could take this with me everywhere'. But to each their own.

Thomas and all his chums made for excellent playset fare (I'm getting sick of using that word...), because years of rich storytelling made for lots of familiar locations like the Tidmouth Sheds that children would love to have for their very own. Also, it was a show about trains - their very purpose is to travel places, so you could literally just stick a railroad track in any random location and it would seem appropriate. One does not simply walk into Mordor, but Thomas would be more than happy to take you there.

Toot-toot! Let's observe the Thomas the Tank Engine miniature p-words...

Well, shit. That's a glum-looking landscape, isn't it? Bare and vacant, like the aftermath of the bomb in Sarah Connor's nightmare. Those flowers held up pretty well, if that was the case. However, fear not! For deep within the bowels of this unassuming little burgh lurks a collection of fantastic autonomous vehicles, just ready to take you home! ...Though honestly, the fare from London to Manchester is absolutely batshit crazy expensive. I'm not even kidding you.

All it takes is a little bit of common sense, working out where to put each little feature - for example, the tree isn't supposed to go right in the middle of the railroad track, you malicious fuck - and voila! Your masterpiece is complete, and you're now a true engineer! I'm half-convinced this is the actual qualification required to drive a train in some third-world countries.

Fear me, for I am a fucking God. I have invented England.

This is, of course, the aforementioned Tidmouth Sheds. It's well-known for housing all of Sodor's colourfully quirky trains, and subsequently, the place where peer pressure and bullying runs most rampant. It's seriously bad news whenever a scene takes place here, because either someone's ass is getting teased, or someone is talking shit, and his comeuppance is imminent. The only thing for sure in this strange, sad little world is, as I've often stressed, Gordon is always the resident asshole. Always.

This particular set came with everyone's pal Thomas, as well as his passenger cars, Annie and Clarabel. You'd have to be particularly ballsy to ride in one of these coaches, considering how frequently the trains crash. To borrow an actual quote, Annie and Clarabel at one point say of Thomas: 'He's dreadfully rude, I feel quite ashamed. I feel quite ashamed, he's dreadfully rude. You mustn't be rude, you make us ashamed'.

Which is no doubt a respectable thing to say. But imagine if you were inside them at the time? You'd freak out like nobody's business.
'Daddy?' says little Wendy, of no more than four, 'Why is our carriage ashamed of the train?'
Her father holds her close, tears in his eyes. 'I'm unsure, Wendy. But you'd best hold tight - we're about to fucking crash.'
Tragic. Still better than Melbourne's public transport system, at least.

The most exciting thing about this playset is of course the fully functional turntable, which meant you could park within the sheds at your delight. Unfortunately, I've actually positioned Thomas in the wrong direction to get inside the shed, plus, all sorts of mayhem would ensue if I planted him on the turntable with Annie and Clarabel in tow. Little Wendy, she deserves better than that, doesn't she?

...Oh screw it, let's give it a try.

And let's never speak of it again.

Next, we turn our attention away from the foulmouthed locomotive, and escape to the peaceful countryside (the first photo in this entry. Damned if I'm going to recycle it and bloat my upload limit), a place where Bertie the bus is known to frequent. His best buddy good friend vaguely known acquaintance Percy often makes his rounds here, and as you'll note, this particular playset is sadly lacking in functional turntables. For this reason, it is infinitely inferior to the previous set. In its defence though, it features a bush which is abnormally large.

You might note, there is in fact a piece missing. I'm fairly certain it was a boom gate or something of that nature, because otherwise, that's a pretty deadly little stretch of road, isn't it?

There really isn't much more to say about this section of the set, unless you want eight paragraphs professing my love for the large bush. There are hinges on the side that suggest that there were four different parts to create your own perfect vision of Sodor. My world is therefore tragically incomplete, but it still has everything I would ever want.

...Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to playing.