When Ian McCue of Mattel approached Kong Studio in 2020 to create another motion comic YouTube series for Thomas & Friends, the team’s boilers were fired. Having worked with Thomas & Friends before, Kong knew they would be in for a fun journey. Being offered the opportunity to develop a series of train-themed nursery rhymes was just the loco-motivation Kong’s troop needed.
Thomas & Friends allowed room to reimagine the brand in a new visual style. Previously Kong had developed three online series using a motion comic technique (bringing together aspects of print comic books and animation), initially developed in partnership with DC Comics in 2016. Kong’s latest production has now refined into a more painterly and illustrative design, still brought to life as an animated comic. The addition of the 3D animation storybook opening at the start helps set the scene for Thomas & Friends’ take on these classic rhymes. We think the results are just the ticket for young Thomas & Friends fans across the world!
Kong Co-founder Bill Elliott said;
“Kong Studio was born off the back of a Thomas & Friends web series commission, so it’s always a pleasure to collaborate on any new Sodor projects with Ian McCue and Mattel.
One of the joys of Thomas & Friends is that it’s a rare example of a famous brand that is open to new takes on the established theme. We have taken the Sodor engines on illustrative adventures around the world, had Thomas play Australian rules football, even fought crime as a superhero in Gotham city! This time we developed the nursery rhymes as a painterly pop-up book. The result looks (and of course, sounds!) fantastic.”
Ian McCue, Creative Producer for Thomas and Friends, said;
“When the opportunity to create some visuals for a selection of Thomas & Friends Nursery Rhymes arose, I immediately knew I wanted to work with Kong studios. Bill Elliott and I worked together many times before, and he once shared a small pop-up book test with me. That small test would become the inspiration for the Nursery Rhymes’ visual look.
As always, we had to find clever ways to work within a tight schedule and with a small budget. The initial pre-production is part of the process where Kong Studios excel. They have the experience and understanding of what can and can’t be done. They will always push hard and give you the best result within any constraints.
The production went very smoothly, and the result was excellent. Combined with the lovely songs, the final music videos give you the sense of opening up a children’s book of Nursery Rhyme’s. I hope the young fans of Thomas & Friends enjoy them as much as I do.”