8 FEB, 2013

HIT Entertainment, one of the world’s leading providers of high-quality children’s entertainment, and Fisher-Price, the leading manufacturer of infant and preschool toys and a subsidiary of Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT), announced today that Thomas & Friends® embarks on a new adventure as Fisher-Price launches its new Thomas Wooden Railway® line at  toy retailers.  The new product line marks a return to Fisher-Price’s heritage in wooden toys.

Thomas Wooden Railway debuts with 108 SKUs launching in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Italy in January 2013 and continues to roll out globally through spring.  Additional products will be released in Fall 2013.

Shari Donnenfeld , Vice President, Global Brands, HIT Entertainment said, “Thomas Wooden Railway is a core Thomas & Friends system and has always been considered one of the first entry points into the brand for children after engaging with content through the television series, books, digital media and home entertainment.   Train play goes hand in hand with the Thomas & Friends stories that kids love, allowing children to re-enact and imagine their own adventures on the Island of Sodor. We are thrilled to be launching the new signature Thomas Wooden Railway line with Fisher-Price. …#157;

Rick Glanker, Vice President, Marketing - Thomas & Friends, Fisher-Price, said, “Fisher-Price is proud to be the steward of Thomas Wooden Railway, and we are committed to creating a line of quality wooden toys that provide children the ability to recreate their favorite Thomas stories as well as imagine new adventures with their engine friends.  We’ve had great success and experiences with our existing lines - Thomas & Friends Take-n-Play die-cast line, the motorized TrackMaster® line, and the Thomas & Friends Preschool toy line - now with Thomas Wooden Railway, we look forward to fans navigate through all of the different Thomas & Friends systems. …#157;

Fisher-Price has taken an innovative approach to the designs for Thomas Wooden Railway that will delight little ones with never-seen-before features.  With a new three-in-one destination, children can turn a knob to change scenery from the Sodor Lumber Co. to Maron Station to the Ice Cream Factory.   There will also be a Farmhouse Pig Parade Set, exclusive to specialty retailers, that features a unique cargo loading feature -- press the silo and pigs that “walk…#157; into Thomas’ cargo car. 

Fisher-Price is committed to support the launch of Thomas Wooden Railway with a multi-platform marketing campaign.   New components of the marketing campaign include an online mom targeted video campaign and a new parent targeted online destination to engage moms and bring new families into the brand.  In addition, Fisher-Price will supply retailers with the classic Thomas Wooden Railway play table, giving children a hands-on in-store experience.

To support the toy line at specialty retailers, a major distribution channel for the line, Fisher-Price has developed exclusive product for that channel, including limited release engines.  Fisher-Price will also provide retailers with premium wood shelving displays and continue to publish and distribute a Thomas Wooden Railway Yearbook, a collector’s staple for both the Thomas Wooden Railway line and the specialty channel. 

Children have long enjoyed the adventures of Thomas & Friends through stories and toys powered by children’s own imagination.  The Thomas story began when the Rev. W. Awdry created The Railway Series, including a story about a cheeky blue engine named ‘Thomas’ on the fictional Island of Sodor.  Rev. Awdry whittled the first wooden Thomas engine to entertain his young son.  The introduction of Thomas Wooden Railway is also a journey that takes Fisher-Price back to its roots—which started 83 years ago with wood toys.  In 1931, in East Aurora, New York, children’s book writer and illustrator Margaret Evans Price, wife of founder Irving Price, designed the first wooden Fisher-Price toys.