October 27th saw the final UK DVD release of this year: Santa's Little Engine. It's also the third to feature episodes from the seventeenth series.
Unlike the previous DVDs released this year, this one only features four episodes on the core programme. These are:
- Santa's Little Engine
- No Snow for Thomas
- The Frozen Turntable
- The Missing Christmas Decorations
I would say that it's disappointing, but there were only four festive episodes. Adding more to the core programme would have ruined the Christmas feeling they were going for. However, this doesn't automatically mean that the DVD is poor value. On the whole, the episodes are far superior than other releases with four episodes. Not only that, there is more to the DVD than these four episodes.
For the first time since 2003, a DVD release has bonus episodes added as a separate feature. Luckily, they're all from Thomas & Friends, and not Rubbadubbers (does anyone remember that show?). These episodes are:
- Too Many Fire Engines
- Henry's Hero
- The Phantom Express
In the US, these three episodes were released as part of a bonus DVD with Tale of the Brave at Walmart. I'm glad that they released some of the episodes here in this way. Not only does it raise the value for money, but it would have been confusing to consumers having two Engines to the Rescue releases on shelves (even if the one from 2003 isn't around any more)
Yep, there's more! Who's That Engine returned, and this time, Percy was the engine in the spotlight. After which, clips from Percy the Snowman aired. As I've said, I love that the animators are creating new footage for these segments, and I'm glad that HiT are allowing them to do so as well. The last animation studio that produced interactive learning segments (2004-2008) was terrible. As for the episode featured? It was bad, but it fit the theme of the DVD, so I can't complain too much.
The Mr Perkins Postcard segment... annoyed me. Don't get me wrong, it was brilliantly done, and hearing the lore of Ulfstead Castle again (as well as the Stephenson's Rocket reference) were fantastic. What annoyed me was that they specifically mentioned the recipient's residence was Japan. If they can mention that a one off, unseen person comes from that country, why can't they do the same for Hiro?
Mr Perkins Story Time tells of Henry's story with The Flying Kipper. And it taunted me by showing Henry as an LMS Black 5, which would have suited him so much more than what he actually became in the TV series, but I digress. Loraine Marshall's additional illustrations were wonderful as well, but it seemed like she couldn't quite nail Henry's rod design, only really focusing on the main coupling rods, which is a shame.
The Earl's Memory Game was, again, OK. It's a nice way to get kids involved, and while I don't like Toby's New Whistle at all, I really liked the inclusion of Tickled Pink. On a tangent, I'd love for the new team to dabble with the undercoat idea. Or maybe adapt the whole of the Railway Series book Henry and the Express to make him a proper Black 5..?
And finally, when the disc loads, there are two trailers: one for Tale of the Brave and one for Dinos and Discoveries. I've already left my thoughts on the trailer, which you can view here, so all I'll say on this post was that it was a nice surprise that showed off what to expect really well.
On the whole, the content on the DVD looks superb. There are no issues as far as sharpness is concerned and I love the how amazing the animation looks on disc.
The RRP is, as usual, £12.99. However, the cheapest price (from Asda) stands at £7, which is £2 more than the last release to feature new episodes. Is this DVD worth that price jump? Not particularly, especially when you consider that Spills and Thrills, which had 6 episodes that were never seen on TV up to that point, was £2 less and is currently at £3 (at Asda).
I wouldn't go so far as to say this was a "rip-off", as the content quality is pretty high, but at the price it's at, I wouldn't really recommend it. It's a nice Christmas DVD, but if you're after a DVD gift for the kids, get Tale of the Brave. It may be the same price as this, but it's definitely worth it more than Santa's Little Engine is.
DVD Rating: 7.5/10