Mattel is changing up Thomas & Friends, partnering with Toronto-based Nelvana on two new seasons that will be animated in 2D. It marks a departure for the series, which has previously been produced in 3D by Canadian studio Jam Filled.
Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Studio will handle animation on seasons 25 and 26 (104 x 11 minutes) and two 60-minute specials, which are set to begin delivery in fall 2021. Seasons 23 and 24 are already available on Netflix in the US, but there’s no confirmation on where the upcoming 25th and 26th seasons will air. The partnership expands an existing relationship between Mattel and Corus, which already handles licensing and broadcasting for Thomas & Friends in Canada.
Season 25 will be executive produced by Mattel’s Fred Soulie, Adam Bonnett and Christopher Keenan, alongside Colin Bohm and Pam Westman at Corus.
“Bringing Thomas & Friends to life in 2D allows us to create a show that is fast, funny and full of colorful action, catering to contemporary audiences’ sensibilities,” Keenan says. “It will also enable us to introduce more physicality and expressiveness.”
First created in 1945, Thomas has since spawned the long-running TV series, plus toys, books, apps, live events and more. This isn’t the first evolution of the brand—in 2017, Thomas went off of the island of Sodor for the first time, and the series was revamped to have a more modernized look with additional characters.
This studio and style shift comes as Mattel begins work on a Thomas & Friends feature film that will be co-produced with LA-based prodco 2Dux2.