We had already tried Shaun the Sheep. We’d done Peppa Pig, and yet, we were brave enough to attempt another Family Day, this time in the company of an old classic: Thomas the Tank Engine.

I’ll be honest, I was skeptical. Not so much because we had tested these type of venues before, but more so because I was doubtful whether Thomas and his train friends, 70 years on, still have what it takes to attract kids of today.

My son was a big Thomas fan from one to three years old and now being almost six, the friendly, yet arrogant tank engine stands no chance against Lego’s Ninjago, Minecraft and Avenger characters. So, I brought my three-year-old Barbie-MyLittlePony-Frozen-loving daughter who hasn’t been exposed much to Thomas & Friends, and well, hoped for the best.

The Thomas & Friends Family Day on Saturday, August 29, turned out to be a larger set-up at GV Grand in Great World City. And as we walked in, my initial doubt on whether Thomas & Friends still attracted young fans, immediately turned to shame. The dedicated family room was full of kids, mainly boys, aged two to seven, and as we walked in five minutes late, the room was already bursting with creative kids around the activity tables.

Getting busy!

Getting busy!

Busy focusing on decorating key chains and colouring at Thomas & Friends Family Day.

Busy focusing on decorating key chains and colouring at Thomas & Friends Family Day.

One activity was colouring your own Thomas key chain, made of wood. My daughter quickly skipped the red, blue and black and went straight for the glittery pink, purple and yellows. Who said Thomas didn’t like dressing up once in a while?

Do you still recognise Thomas when he's covered in glitter?

Do you still recognise Thomas when he’s covered in glitter?

Keeping with the original theme.

Keeping with the original theme.

Most kids found their own colour patterns for their key chain, and when finished, they would carry on working on the Thomas & Friends colouring-in work sheets.

That look of concentration...

That look of concentration…

Then main attraction definitely seemed to be the making of these keychains, something for the kids to take home – along with the karaoke DVD we’d already been given as a gift at the entrance. And if you, or your child, felt lucky, there was, of course, a lucky draw with the chance to win various Thomas & Friends items as well.

What seemed to work best was when the kids had to prove how big a fan they were and were tested on their knowledge and creativity. The main event speaker would ask tricky questions about the world of Sodor and their characters, and with a correct answer, they’d receive a gift.

Also, the five best Thomas outfits were rewarded with toys. One particularly creative was four-year-old Aidan Ho, who was dressed up as the conductor, wearing a papier-mâché Thomas the Tank Engine. But the other winners, Hariz, Gan, Ashton and Nan had also made a big effort when deciding what to wear that morning.

What a clever costume!

What a clever costume, Aidan Ho!

Props for effort!

Props for effort!

The actual display of Thomas on the tracks worked as a great entertainment for the kids. Many of them loved trying to push Thomas down the hill without a fall.

Kids were mesmerised with this display set.

Kids were mesmerised with this display set.

And finally, to prove this was a true family event, a photographer was at the site, taking family photos with Thomas & Friends gadgets. The gift was a photo to bring back in the Thomas goody bag.

What's a family photo without Thomas and his friends?

What’s a family photo without Thomas and his friends?

My daughter had been slightly abandoned while I was checking out the various sites. She’d insisted on only wanting to hang out by the drawing table and this alone got boring after an hour. I think you needed to be be a fan to dress up, get excited about the train tracks or have photos taken with the Sodor family. I wasn’t that surprised to see that my daughter wasn’t a major fan, only of the glitter pens. So the real test was now, the movie.

The author's daughter busy applying glitter to her Thomas the Tank Engine keychain.

The author’s daughter busy applying glitter to her Thomas the Tank Engine keychain.

A very good beginning to this film were the included popcorn and juice. Ready in the bumper seat, I think my daughter would have loved any film that was about to show. Going to the cinema, just you and one parent, is always magical. The wait was long, getting into the cinema and with the adverts and previews dragging on. The popcorn was nearly gone, when the blue and black train finally appeared, just as I remember it, from the DVDs my son used to watch.

Sodors Legend of the Lost Treasure – the Movie was under way. But again, I felt skeptical. With other old-time cartoons-turned-movies such as Postman Pat, Spongebob or the coming Peanuts film, they usually present a new, more modern look than that of the old TV series. Of course it should be recognisable, but also give you a feeling that you didn’t just pay to see a double episode that you could have watched at home. A slow start, very traditional Thomas & Friends, but then the storyline finally picked up and had both me and my daughter engaged. The full hour gave Thomas a chance to experience a real adventure, with pirates and treasures, villains and heroes and gave us a chance to get more involved with the characters than what the shorter TV-episodes allow.

Thomas looks unusually large in this picture...

Thomas looks unusually large in this picture…

Phew, my daughter was happy and she can be critical. It showed, that although the world of trains would generally attract a more masculine audience, it can appeal to everyone (adults also), if the story is good enough.

My daughter loved painting Shaun the Sheep heads, because she loves Shaun the Sheep. My daughter loved creating Peppa Pig houses, because she loves Peppa Pig. My daughter loved painting with glitter, but although it probably made her slightly more excited about the film, she didn’t fall in love with the world of Thomas & Friends. I did, however, discover that the old trains are still very much alive 70 years on, but also that the family events work best, when the kids themselves are fans already. That’s not to say that you can’t watch the films on their own, and get a good experience, like we did. And of course, bringing back a glitter Thomas the Tank Engine, isn’t bad either.

Catch the latest Thomas & Friends movie exclusively at GV cinemas now!

Catch the latest Thomas & Friends movie exclusively at GV cinemas now!

This post was contributed by guest writer Mathilde Juul Moyell, a Danish journalist who moved to Singapore with her young family. Check out her blog at singpaws.dk and catch Thomas & Friends: Sodor’s Legend Of The Lost Treasure – The Movie at Golden Village cinemas. Stay tuned to The Popping Post for the next Family Day event!