Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails app for mobile devices

Once upon a time, the majority of my brain space was occupied with social schedules and words to songs that I sang for choir and scientific knowledge.  Now I have largely lost all of that information, and it's been replaced by lyrics to kids' songs and the ability to recite entire kids' books from memory.  There's also a special section of my brain devoted to all things Thomas the Tank Engine, thanks to my kids, who are huge Thomas fans.

Since my kids are such huge Thomas fans, they were really excited to see a new app on my iPod Touch-  a fun Thomas app for touch screen tablets and mobile devices. Here's the information about this app that I received:
HIT Entertainment AND Callaway Digital Arts LAUNCH NEW
Thomas & Friends™ INTERACTIVE APP BASED ON The THRILLING ADVENTURE
HERO OF THE RAILS

Featured in Apple’s App Store, New App for iPad®, iPhone® and iPod® Touch Brings Children’s Classic to Life With Narration, Animation, Games and Video

New York, NY – May 31, 2011 – HIT Entertainment, one of the world’s leading providers of high-quality children’s entertainment, and Callaway Digital Arts (www.callaway.com), interactive developer of premium children’s and lifestyle applications for touch-screen tablets and mobile devices, are pleased to announce the launch of Thomas & Friends™: Hero of the Rails, the newest app that brings Thomas and his engine friends to life on iPad®, iPhone® and iPod touch®. Now available for download in Apple’s App Store, this visually stimulating app is already a hit with consumers, reaching the #1 spot in the iTunes Store in the Books Category. 

The launch of Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails continues the award-winning collaboration between HIT and Callaway. In December 2010, the companies launched Thomas & Friends: Misty Island Rescue to great acclaim. The app was the winner of Children’s Technology Review’s Editor’s Choice Award as well as one of ten apps selected as “Best in Show” at Kidscreen’s first iKids App Showdown.
                                                                                                                                            
Based on the animated feature-length movie Hero of the Rails, this innovative, interactive app offers children and families a unique Thomas experience. Children can read, watch, and play with Thomas, Hiro and all their favorite engines in this action-packed adventure. With multi-touch animation, CGI video, painting, puzzles, and games, Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails provides an immersive experience the whole family will enjoy.

“Hero is another successful collaboration between HIT and Callaway. The app takes all of the fun and functionality that kids enjoy in the Misty Island Rescue app to a whole new level,” said Natasha Fishman, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Management and Digital Media, HIT Entertainment. “It’s truly a beautiful brand experience and one that we are thrilled to extend to Thomas fans and young readers.”

“We are reinventing the reading experience for the iPad generation by combining HIT’s universally appealing characters with Callaway’s design and technical expertise,” says Callaway Digital Arts Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Callaway. “CDA is delighted to go full steam ahead with HIT on many future interactive apps.”

Features of this app include:

-         Vibrant CGI animation
-         Interactive multimedia surprises
-         Dynamic narration
-         Engine games
-         Animated puzzles
-         Painting activities

With the first Thomas app launched in early 2010, there are now 13 Thomas & Friends apps available in the Apple iTunes App store.  Embraced by families and children around the world, recommended by the Parents’ Choice Foundation, and acclaimed by industry experts, the Thomas apps portfolio has already made a significant impact in the kids’ digital landscape. 

“We are committed to deliver Thomas experiences through emerging technologies and are excited to continue engaging with audiences in new and innovative ways,“ says Fishman.

Hero of the Rails is available for a limited time for $0.99 in the iTunes app Store at www.itunes.com/appstore/

About Callaway Digital Arts
Callaway Digital Arts (CDA) publishes innovative children’s and lifestyle applications for Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices. Funded in August 2010 with an investment from Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, we create meaningful digital experiences that transform the way families connect with media and with each other. With a grant from the Department of Education, CDA is also reinventing learning by creating a platform that builds reading and math skills for children ages two through eight. Our apps have reached the number-one spot in Books and have been featured as App of the Week and among Apple’s Best Interactive Story Apps of 2010.  For more information about CDA, visit www.callaway.com.

About HIT Entertainment
HIT Entertainment is one of the world's leading independent children's entertainment producers and rights-owners. HIT's portfolio includes properties, such as Thomas & Friends™, Barney™, Bob the Builder™, Fireman Sam™, Angelina Ballerina™, Mike the Knight™, Pingu™ and Rainbow Magic™. HIT represents Chapman Entertainment’s Fifi and the Flowertots™ and Roary the Racing Car™ in North America, as well as Wallace & Gromit™, Shaun the Sheep™, Timmy Time™ and Aardman Classics from Aardman Animations.  HIT also acts as representative for The Wiggles® in the UK. Launched in 1989, HIT’s lines of business span television and video production, content distribution, publishing, consumer products licensing and live events and has operations in the UK, US, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan.  HIT is a part-owner of US-based preschool channel, Sprout®. For more information, visit www.hitentertainment.com.
The kids have been having a great time with this app. I love that it has lots of options- you can have it read you a story (and play with the fun animations on each page), watch a movie clip, do a puzzle, play a matching game or paint a picture. It's the type of app that's interesting to my kids now as they are young, and that will grow with them as they get older and understand more about how to work the puzzles and other activities. All the graphics are great and the sound is amazing. I'm really glad to have this app on my iPod for entertaining the kids when we're out and about!
Vivian listens to the story

Graphics from the app
If you're looking for a fun app for the Thomas & Friends fan in your life, definitely check this app out! 

Disclosure: I received a code to download this app for myself for review. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.

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