Thomas the Tank Engine is getting two new female characters to help with gender imbalance

The world of Thomas the Tank Engine has mostly been male-dominated, but Mattel wants to change that.

The toymaker is adding two female main characters to the Thomas & Friends TV series next year.

Nia and Rebecca will help fix the gender imbalance at the shed where Thomas and the other characters live.

Three of the seven engines at Tidmouth Sheds will be female, up from just one.

Nia, who is from Kenya, will first meet Thomas in a movie next summer and join the TV series next autumn. She is mainly orange and has a stripe of colourful African print running across her.

Nia is “adventurous” and “fun,” according to Mattel, and teaches Thomas about friendship.

Like the other characters, Nia is based on a real engine: East African Railways’ 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 autumn.

Rebecca is not “afraid to stand up for herself,” Mattel said, and isn’t intimidated by the older engines.

Her design is based on a Southern Railway West Country 4-6-2 Pacific engine.

The new series will also see Thomas visit real countries, such as China and Australia, for the first time.

Other changes include animation moving at a faster pace and a new theme song, while the narrator will be replaced by the voice of Thomas.

And oh, be prepared for more jokes on the show.

More in this Section

German government criticised for ‘stupid and sexist’ bike helmet campaign

Wild elephant wanders around busy Chinese town

In pictures: Dogs wear crowns, tiaras and dresses for Furbabies dog pageant

International Waffle Day: 9 weird flavours to try now


Open your mind to making an entrance

Sleeping next to a loud snorer? Here’s how to finally get some peace at night

Seven blissful places to go on a mother-daughter date this weekend

Appliance of Science: Why do we age?

More From The Irish Examiner