Hit Entertainment has extended its deal with Tomy as its master toy licensee for pre-school property Thomas & Friends across Europe.
The new agreement reflects Tomy's long history with the brand and sees the company make the transition from its Motor Road and Rail track system to a new play system called Trackmaster. This is due for launch in autumn/winter 2008.
Tomy has licensed Thomas & Friends for nearly 12 years and continues to drive product innovation across the pre-school and track system sectors. In 2005, for example, it launched the Steam Along Thomas set and the Thomas Aquadraw.
Thomas & Friends has enjoyed double digit growth in the first half of 2007, maintaining its number one spot in the pre-school toy licensing charts according to NPD.
Hit also recently announced changes to its production and programming schedule including the signing of Pierce Brosnan as the new narrator. In addition, for the first time, Thomas & Friends will be shot in high-definition.
"We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with Tomy," said Peter Byrne, executive VP of worldwide consumer products at Hit. "The year ahead presents enormous licensing opportunities for our partners on Thomas with new programming, new characters and destinations, and the opening of Europe's first Thomas Land in the UK in early 2008."
Robert Mann, CEO of Tomy, added: "The introduction of Trackmaster and continued innovation across our own Thomas pre-school developed line will continue the strong momentum in building the Thomas business across all territories in Europe."