The Mattel and Fisher-Price customer service website provides instruction manuals in PDF format for all the Thomas & Friends toys. As of 2015, the instructions database lists 207 Thomas & Friends products divided in five categories. Users may search for a specific Thomas & Friends toy at the Mattel and Fisher-Price customer service website.
The Thomas & Friends train toys are based on the Railway Series books by The Reverend Wilbert Awdry, who wrote the first book in the series in 1945. He also created the original toy prototype of Thomas the Tank Engine, which inspired the character that first appeared in the second book of the series. Thomas the Tank Engine is the most popular character in The Railway Series books.
The popularity of the Railway Series books motivated the creation of a television series on the British ITV Network in 1984, called "Thomas & Friends." After the television series was broadcast in America and Japan, many manufacturers became interested in producing toys inspired by the Thomas & Friends universe.
Fisher-Price is the main manufacturer of Thomas & Friends toys in the United States. The most popular toys are the models of the characters, especially of Thomas the Tank Engine. The Thomas & Friends products are top-selling toys in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Japan and Korea.