- Associated Press - Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mattel is adding two new female characters to its “Thomas & Friends” franchise next year, part of a big makeover for the preschool show. Nia and Rebecca will live in Tidmouth Sheds, where Thomas and the other main characters, known as the Steam Team, also live. Nia and Rebecca will boost the number of females in the shed to three of seven, up from just one.

Here’s a closer look at Nia and Rebecca:



Nia, who is from Kenya, will first meet Thomas in a movie next summer and join the TV series next fall. She is mainly orange and has a stripe of colorful African print running across her. Nia is “adventurous” and “fun,” according to Mattel, and teaches Thomas about friendship. Like the other characters in “Thomas & Friends,” Mattel said Nia is based on a real engine: East African Railway’s ED1 class.



Rebecca, a yellow engine, comes from the Mainland near the fictional island of Sodor. She’ll be first introduced in the TV series next fall. Rebecca is not “afraid to stand up for herself,” Mattel said, and isn’t intimidated by the older engines. Her design it based on a Southern Railway West Country 4-6-2 Pacific engine


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