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End of the line for Allan and friends.

Byline: By ROSIE LUNT

A WARWICKSHIRE man has come to the end of the line after making Thomas the Tank Engine prototypes for more than 20 years.

Allan Chetwynd, aged 57, has designed and made all the model prototypes for the Ertl Thomas the Tank Engine diecast model range for the past 23 years from a room in his home in Witherley, north Warwickshire.

He is now moving on to other projects, as a new global toy range, Take Along Thomas, is being introduced to mark the famous tank engine's 60th anniversary.

Allan, who played professionally in a band before his design career began, says that he got into the industry through the help of a friend who was working at the company RC2. The company was about to bring out the Ertl range of Thomas models, and needed a designer.

Allan said: "I have always had a special interest in railways.

"But I have also designed other models, such as cars and characters such as the Flintstones and Popeye".

Allan creates the initial designs for the Thomas models, and then produces 3D prototypes made out of materials such as clay, wood or plastic.

A big part of Allan's design process involves getting to know the characters of the engines he is producing. He visited film studios at Shepperton, London, and photographed Thomas the Tank Engine characters there, in order to make his creations as accurate as possible.

Allan says that his wife Christine loves the job he does. He has no plans for his retirement, and is "waiting for the next challenge".

Since the Thomas model range was launched in 1985, more than 200 train prototypes have been single-handedly produced by Allan.

But asked which engine was his favourite, the designer admits he has a special soft spot for Thomas himself.

Now, to mark the end of the line for Allan's models, signed prototypes of the last six engines to be made will be put on eBay on November 22 by RC2.

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MODEL CREATIONS: Allan Chetwynd with some of his prototype models
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 21, 2004
Words:345
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