Totally 90s: Thomas the Tank Engine

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at a decade defined by its extremes. Rap versus grunge; mullets versus pixies; Saved by the Bell versus NYPD Blue – the 1990s had it all, and then some. Every other week I’ll be reminiscing about some facet of the 1990s, potentially drowning in some ill-forgotten nostalgia despite my best efforts otherwise. Serving as inspiration is an utterly ridiculous but nonetheless intriguing list created by Huffington Post — 1990 Things from the 90s to End the Nostalgia Once and for All – and I’ll be using a random number generator to pick each week’s “topic.” So don’t have a cow, man, if I ask you to talk to the hand while take this sweet ride through the 90s. Word to your mother. 

Week 9: HuffPost list #117 – Thomas the Tank Engine

This guy, right?

Also, still LOL.

Other than the TV series, which was indeed a thing in the 1990s, and the ubiquitous TTE toys that I recall walking past in the local Sears, and the fact that Thomas was talking locomotive with a big ol’ smiley face front and center, I couldn’t tell you a thing more about him.

Oh wait…no…didn’t the TV show feature, at one time, George Carlin and Alec Baldwin? Actually, I could be wrong about Baldwin, but I’m pretty sure about Carlin, because I have a vague memory of watching one of Carlin’s routines with a bunch of friends in college and someone drunkenly bursting out that Carlin was once in “some shit kids show about trains.” I could be off with the phrasing there, but still, I’m pretty sure that Thomas the Tank Engine was that show.

Now, I’m all here presuming that the decision to include Mr. the Tank Engine on the HuffPost list stemmed from the popular TV show itself. It’s the first thing I thought of, though I’ve never seen a lick of it. I’m also pretty sure that Thomas had his own books series. That I remember from my hazy summer library days in grade school. Though I very well might be thinking about The Little Train that Could.

Well, Thomas could, and he did, because he’s still around today, correct? In animated form and other? I believe one of my nephews received a Thomas the Tank Engine toy once for a recent Christmas…

And welcome to the world’s worst blog post, ever. Really, guys, I ain’t got nothin’ to say about Thomas, tank engine or otherwise.

I do like trains, though. Mind you, I’m no train nerd. I’ve talked to them. People who are into trains are reeeeealy into trains, and they know their stuff. I just think trains are nifty as far as transportation and engineering go. If my life had gone in different direction many years ago and I pursued a PhD, I very well might have specialized in railroad history in some manner, because I do think that the establishment of the railroad in America was one of the most important events of the 19th century.

Here’s a nice shot of Pennsylvania Railroad K4 locomotive. Probably circa 1940.

Y’know what video game has one of the best openings ever? Red Dead Redemption. There’s John Marston, a relic from the past, sitting on a rambling train, a thing seemingly destined to become a relic, what with this gimmicky transport called the “auto-mobile” taking hold, and he’s sitting among folk who seem more than ready to leave all the relic behind in order to welcome the dawn of a new age. Goddamn if it’s something that I couldn’t just watch over and over.

Man, I should really get back to Red Dead Redemption II at some point. Have you read that Film Crit Hulk article over on Polygon? Red Dead Redemption 2: Six Months Later. It’s amazing.

I bet Thomas the Tank Engine was pretty amazing too, for some kids, anyway. And maybe those select few are now on their way to becoming train nerds. I kinda hope so.


    • Hey, I’m down with trains on any piece of clothing, even if that train happens to have a blue, smiling face. Thomas doesn’t seem so bad, so here to many more years of successful chugging! 🚂🚂😎

      Liked by 1 person

  1. George Carlin was indeed a narrator for the series, as well as Alec Baldwin AND (drum roll please) RINGO STARR!

    I know too much about this because Thomas was my oldest son’s favorite (insert thing here) toy, book, VHS tape…. He’s 18 now and about to graduate high school. Thanks for stoking those memories, seems like ages ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wha…Ringo Starr?! Wow, I truly had no idea that a show about a train could muster such star power. (Perhaps everyone was going through their “gotta make something for my kids” moments.)

      Hopefully it’s all good memories with your son! (Congrats to him on graduating!) My nephew, the one who I think got a Thomas toy, has apparently developed a love of any toys on wheels. Guess he’ll be the hot rodder of the family. 🙂


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