Thomas and Friends Diesel
Personality in the Railway Series
Diesel is known for being deceptive, cunning, and manipulative, making him the quintessential pantomime villain. Upon his first visit to the North Western Region, he claimed to be "revolutionary." He tried to impress the steam engines, but they quickly saw through his facade. He often looks down on steam engines, considering himself and other diesel superior. He enjoys causing trouble and spreading rumors to create conflicts among the engines.
During his initial visit, Diesel's behavior left a lasting negative impression on the Sodor engines. He attempted to undermine Duck's reputation by spreading false rumors and giving the big engines rude nicknames. These actions led to Duck being temporarily sent away, causing tension and mistrust among the engines.
Redemption and Acceptance
However, Diesel's return to Sodor was marked by a surprising act of kindness. When Clarabel derailed, Diesel, realizing that Thomas was blocking his way home, chose to rescue her instead of leaving. This act of selflessness earned him some favor with the engines. Clarabel's testimony on his behalf helped to mend relations between Diesel and steam engines.
Despite being more accepted after rescuing Clarabel, Diesel maintains his devious nature and continues to cause problems for Sodor. He often concocts schemes to take revenge on the steam engines, leading to confrontations and chaos. His antagonistic behavior cements his role as one of the primary troublemakers on the island.
Diesel is based on a real-world British Rail Class 08 diesel-electric shunter. The Class 08 was one of history's most successful shunting engines, with numerous preserved examples in heritage railways and museums. Diesel's basis reflects the typical design of these versatile shunting locomotives.
Diesel is painted in the standard B.R. mixed-traffic black livery, typical for shunting engines during the mid-20th century. Unlike most Class 08s, Diesel has unpainted silver sideroads, indicating that Darlington Works built him.
Diesel's character and mischievous antics have been featured in various stories throughout The Railway Series and other media. From his debut in "Duck and the Diesel Engine" to his appearances in "Thomas and the Great Railway Show" and beyond, Diesel's presence has left a lasting impact on the island of Sodor.
- Diesel was the first diesel engine introduced in The Railway Series, a decision made to modernize the stories.
- He and Mavis are the only standard gauge diesel in The Railway Series with grey faces.
- Unlike in some adaptations, Diesel is depicted with an air whistle in The Railway Series rather than a horn.
Biography of Diesel in "Thomas and Friends" In The Television Series
Diesel is a devious diesel-electric shunting engine that first appeared in the second series of the popular children's television show "Thomas and Friends." He is notorious for causing trouble and stirring up mischief on the Island of Sodor, often earning the nickname "Devious Diesel" from the other engines.
Early Visits to Sodor
Diesel's first encounter with the steam engines on Sodor closely followed the events of "The Railway Series." He attended various events on the island, including the Christmas party at Tidmouth, the celebration of the City of Truro's visit, and shunting trucks at Knapford Yards.
Second Chances and Redemption
Years later, Diesel was called back to Sodor when Duck and Percy needed help at Brendam Docks. Despite initial resistance from the steam engines, Sir Topham Hatt gave him a second chance. However, Diesel's behavior didn't improve, leading to more trouble and disruptions on the railway. After causing significant damage to the tracks and cargo, Sir Topham Hatt sent him away, seemingly for good.
Return to Sodor and Competitions
Diesel mysteriously returned to Sodor, interacting with other engines like Mavis and Gordon. Despite his devious nature, Diesel occasionally showed a good side, helping other engines when needed. He also tried to prove his worth by participating in competitions, but his schemes often resulted in chaos and failure.
Troubles and Schemes
Throughout the series, Diesel continued to cause confusion and delay, leading to further mistrust among the steam engines. He played pranks on other engines, manipulated gullible characters like Paxton and Rebecca, and showed off his competitive streak. Despite his antagonistic behavior, Diesel also demonstrated moments of remorse and kindness, particularly when interacting with children.
Development and Personality
Diesel's character evolved over the series, shifting from a proud and disdainful diesel to a cunning and manipulative troublemaker. Despite his desire to be a "Really Useful Engine," Diesel's devious nature often overshadowed genuine attempts to prove himself.
Basis and Livery
Diesel is based on a British Rail Class 08 diesel-electric shunter. The character is painted in the standard B.R. mixed-traffic black livery, with chipped paint and signs of weathering, reflecting his mischievous and troublesome nature.
The personality of Diesel in "Thomas and Friends."
Diesel is a mischievous and devious diesel-electric shunting engine on the Island of Sodor. He is known for his oily and dishonest nature, always ready to cause trouble and stir up mischief. Diesel often takes pleasure in playing tricks on the other engines and takes pride in being the first diesel engine on Sodor.
Arrogance and Mistrust
Diesel views himself and other diesels as superior to the steam engines, believing they are "revolutionary" and should be "rough and tough." He displays a sense of arrogance and often looks down upon the steam engines, particularly Thomas and Duck. This attitude has led to deep mistrust in the steam engines, and Diesel is often seen as untrustworthy and deceitful.
Bullying and Pranks
Diesel's main objective is to cause confusion and delay on the railway. He takes delight in bullying other engines, especially those friendly to steam engines or genuinely lovely, like Paxton and Sidney. Diesel's schemes involve manipulating gullible engines and playing pranks that often backfire and lead to chaos.
Desire for Redemption
Despite his mischievous nature, Diesel secretly longs to prove himself as a "Really Useful Engine." He wants to be accepted and respected by the other engines, even though his behavior constantly undermines any chances of gaining their trust. Diesel occasionally attempts to demonstrate usefulness, but his tricks and lies often overshadow good intentions.
Softer Side and Guilt
Interestingly, Diesel has shown a softer side on occasion. He cares for cute ducklings, which he hides to maintain his tough exterior. Furthermore, Diesel can feel genuine guilt for causing distress to others, especially children. When he disappoints them or creates trouble, he often owns up to his mistakes and tries to make amends.
Changing Personality over Time
Throughout the series, Diesel's character evolves, becoming more of a typical bully with a lack of forethought. He tends to act impulsively without considering the consequences of his actions, leading to his schemes unraveling and him facing the repercussions. Despite his self-serving nature, Diesel has formed genuine friendships with engines like Daisy and Harvey.
Ambitions and Competitions
Diesel is competitive and often engages in various competitions with steam engines. He seeks recognition and admiration from his peers. Still, his relentless drive to prove himself often leads to mishaps and further mistrust from the other engines.
Despite his many negative traits, Diesel occasionally demonstrates kindness and helpfulness, especially when no one is watching. He may help other engines in need or show concern for the well-being of those around him. Still, these moments of goodness are overshadowed by his troublesome behavior.
Technical Details of Diesel in "Thomas and Friends"
Diesel is based on a real-world British Rail (B.R.) Class 08 diesel-electric shunting engine. The B.R. Class 08 was one of the most successful shunting engines globally, with 996 units built. These versatile engines were primarily used for moving goods and carriages around yards and depots.
In "Thomas and Friends," Diesel is painted in the B.R. mixed-traffic black livery, the standard color scheme for shunting engines from 1948 until the mid-1960s. His side rods were initially painted silver but later changed to black. The livery shows signs of weathering and chipped paint, indicating his age and wear.
Diesel is a diesel-electric engine, meaning it has a diesel engine that powers an electric generator to produce electricity for driving electric traction motors. This setup allows him to operate efficiently and with considerable pulling power. His compact size and agility make him well-suited for shunting and moving goods around Sodor's railway system.
- Diesel is the first diesel engine introduced in the "Thomas and Friends" television series, making him an essential character in the franchise's history.
- Throughout the series, Diesel travels at speeds well above his real-life basis' top speed of 15 miles per hour, showcasing the fictional nature of the show's world.
- Diesel's model is based on a preserved B.R. Class 08 engine, specifically No. 13236 at the Battlefield Line Railway.
- In some merchandise lines, Diesel is referred to as "Devious Diesel," a nickname given to him by the other engines due to his mischievous nature.
- Diesel's character has evolved, gradually replacing his initial sinister portrayal with a more comedic and mischievous persona.
Diesel's basis, livery, and characteristics contribute to his unique presence on the Island of Sodor. His status as the first diesel engine introduced to the series and his complex personality have made him an iconic and memorable character in "Thomas and Friends."
Appearances of Diesel in "Thomas and Friends"
Diesel, the devious diesel engine, has made numerous appearances throughout the "Thomas and Friends" television series and other media. Here is a comprehensive list of his appearances:
- "Percy Takes the Plunge" (cameo)
- "Pop Goes the Diesel"
- "Dirty Work"
- "A Close Shave" (mentioned)
- "Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree" (cameo)
- "Gordon and the Famous Visitor" (cameo)
- "Thomas, Percy and the Dragon" (cameo)
- "Diesel Does It Again"
- "Edward, Trevor, and the Really Useful Party" (deleted scene)
- "Tender Engines"
- "Escape" (cameo)
- "Rock 'n' Roll" (mentioned)
- "Rusty to the Rescue" (not named)
- "Cranky Bugs" (deleted scene cameo)
- "The World's Strongest Engine"
- "Fergus Breaks the Rules"
- "Thomas to the Rescue"
- "Squeak, Rattle and Roll"
- "James Goes Too Far" (does not speak)
- "Respect for Gordon"
- "Bold and Brave"
- "Flour Power"
- "Thomas and the Shooting Star" (mentioned)
- "Emily and the Special Coaches"
- "Don't be Silly, Billy" (does not speak)
- "Thomas and the Stinky Cheese"
- "Thomas and the Billboard"
- "Don't Go Back"
- "Tickled Pink"
- "Percy's Parcel" (cameo)
- "A Blooming Mess" (cameo)
- "Thomas and the Runaway Kite" (cameo)
- "Thomas' Tall Friend" (cameo)
- "James in the Dark" (cameo)
- "Toby and the Whistling Woods" (cameo)
- "Diesel's Special Delivery"
- "Victor Says Yes" (does not speak)
- "Thomas in Charge" (cameo)
- "Thomas' Crazy Day" (cameo)
- "O the Indignity"
- "Jitters and Japes" (cameo)
- "Surprise, Surprise" (cameo)
- "Stuck on You" (cameo)
- "Kevin the Steamie" (cameo)
- "Tree Trouble"
- "Fiery Flynn"
- "Percy and the Monster of Brendam"
- "Thomas and the Rubbish Train"
- "Bust My Buffers!"
- "Percy and the Calliope"
- "Emily's Winter Party Special" (cameo)
- "Henry's Hero" (cameo)
- "The Missing Christmas Decorations"
- "Away From the Sea" (cameo)
- "Gone Fishing" (cameo)
- "No More Mr. Nice Engine"
- "Disappearing Diesels"
- "Thomas the Quarry Engine"
- "Last Train for Christmas"
- "Samson at Your Service"
- "Henry Spots Trouble"
- "Very Important Sheep" (cameo)
- "Reds vs. Blues" (cameo)
- "Philip to the Rescue" (cameo)
- "Diesel's Ghostly Christmas"
- "Goodbye Fat Controller"
- "Wild Water Rescue"
- "Sidney Sings" (stock footage cameo)
- "Diesel and the Ducklings"
- "Saving Time"
- "Pouty James" (cameo)
- "The Railcar and the Coaches"
- "Springtime for Diesel"
- "A Most Singular Engine"
- "Dowager Hatt's Busy Day" (cameo)
- "P.A. Problems" (cameo)
- "The Big Freeze"
- "Daisy's Perfect Christmas"
- "Forever and Ever" (cameo; fantasy)
- "Confusion Without Delay"
- "An Engine of Many Colours" (fantasy)
- "Seeing is Believing" (cameo)
- "Rosie is Red"
- "The Case of the Puzzling Parts" (does not speak)
- "Heart of Gold"
- "Diesel Do Right"
- "Panicky Percy"
- "Diesel Glows Away"
- "Nia and the Unfriendly Elephant" (cameo)
- "Sonny's Second Chance"
- "Gordon and Rebecca"
- "Coming Through!"
- "Thomas' Animal Friends"
- "Thomas and the U.K. Trip" (cameo)
- "Calling All Engines!"
- "The Great Discovery" (cameo)
- "Hero of the Rails" (cameo)
- "Misty Island Rescue"
- "Day of the Diesels"
- "Blue Mountain Mystery" (cameo)
- "The Adventure Begins" (music video cameo)
- "Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure" (cameo)
- "The Great Race"
- "Journey Beyond Sodor" (cameo)
- "Big World! Big Adventures!"
- "Steam Team to the Rescue"
Diesel's appearances in "Thomas and Friends" span multiple series and specials, showcasing his recurring role as a prominent character on the Island of Sodor. His mischievous and cunning personality often leads to adventures and challenges for the other engines, making him a compelling and dynamic addition to the show's ensemble.
Behind the Scenes of Diesel in "Thomas and Friends"
Creation and Development
Diesel is a fictional standard gauge diesel locomotive character in "Thomas and Friends," created by the Rev. W. Awdry. The character's inspiration came from editor Eric Marriott. Diesel appeared in the second series episode, "Percy Takes the Plunge," originally aired in 1986. Initially, Diesel's portrayal in the television series remained faithful to "The Railway Series," with episodes adapted straight from the books.
However, in the third series, Diesel reappears in an original story not featured in "The Railway Series." Throughout the fourth and fifth series, Diesel's role was limited, and he appeared as a background character. Nonetheless, he returned in the following series, becoming a more prominent figure in the show.
Evolution of Diesel's Model
Diesel's physical model was built in gauge one scale and was custom-made for the show. The model's body shell was constructed using plastic, and a Märklin locomotive and various other parts were used as the chassis donor. The model was painted using glossy car body paint to achieve a polished look.
Several elements of Diesel's model, such as his wheels and toolboxes, were sourced from a Märklin gauge one locomotive model (B.R. 80). In contrast, the buffer beam and stepladders were sourced from the DHG 500. The eye mechanism of the model had two servos—one for vertical movement and one for horizontal movement. This allowed for controlled eye movements to convey expressions.
Over time, Diesel's model received some modifications, including changes to his paint finish, side rods, brake pipe orientation, and more. The model went through different phases to accurately portray the character throughout various series.
Transition to CGI
In 2009, "Thomas and Friends" transitioned from physical models to Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI). Diesel's model was recreated from scratch in CGI by Nitrogen Studios. The CGI model was sculpted in Maya, a 3D animation and modeling software, based on photographs of the original gauge 1 model for reference.
The CGI version allowed for more flexibility and detailed facial expressions, achieved through motion capture animation. Instead of having physical resin faces like the earlier models, the CGI version used white targets with triangles, which were replaced in post-production to animate Diesel's facial expressions.
Throughout "Thomas and Friends," Diesel has been voiced by talented voice actors in different language dubs. Here are some notable voice actors for Diesel in different regions:
- Kerry Shale (U.K.; thirteenth - twenty-fourth series)
- Michael Brandon (U.S.; thirteenth - sixteenth series)
- Martin Sherman (U.S.; "King of the Railway" - eighteenth series)
Latin American Spanish:
- Jorge Ornelas (thirteenth - twenty-fourth series)
- Harold Salazar (Learning with Thomas)
- Daisuke Gōri (second - eighth series, excluding the sixth series)
- Hisao Egawa (sixth series only)
- Ken Sanders (Calling All Engines! - twenty-fourth series)
- Shinichi Ishihara (singing voice)
- Martin May (thirteenth series onwards)
- Christian Rudolf (Audio Books only)
- Michel Lasorne (eighth - twelfth series)
- Fabrice Trojani (thirteenth series onwards)
- Jorge Teixeira (thirteenth - seventeenth series)
- Rafael de la Rica (eighteenth and nineteenth series, excluding "Samson at Your Service")
- Miguel Ángel Poison (Spain; "Samson at Your Service" only)
- Adolfo Pastor (Spain; "The Great Race" only)
- Paweł Galia (thirteenth series only)
- Janusz Wituch (Misty Island Rescue onwards; excluding Blue Mountain Mystery (re-dub))
- Krzysztof Korzeniowski (Blue Mountain Mystery (re-dub) only)
- Christoffer Staib (thirteenth - sixteenth series, excluding "Day of the Diesels" and "Blue Mountain Mystery")
- Helge Winther Larsen ("Day of the Diesels" - seventeenth series, excluding the fifteenth and sixteenth series)
- Anibal Munhoz
- Francesco Pezzulli (fourteenth series only)
- Petri Hanttu
- Quổc Tín
- Ole Møller
- Alexander Kotov (thirteenth series - "Diesel's Ghostly Christmas")
- Daniil Eldarov ("The Great Race" only)
- Bohdan Tůma ("Blue Mountain Mystery" onwards)
- Vina Papadopoulou (second - eleventh series)
- Haris Grigoropoulos (thirteenth series onwards)
- Bolla Róbert
Legacy and Display
Diesel's physical model, used during the T.V. series production, is now on display at the Explore the Rails exhibition. The model has become a significant part of the show's history and remains an iconic representation of the character's portrayal in the classic "Thomas and Friends" series. Additionally, some sets and models used in the series were put into storage. In contrast, others were displayed at places like Drayton Manor Theme Park. The transition to CGI marked a new era for the show. It brought a fresh dimension to Diesel's character and others on the Island of Sodor.