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Thomas the Tank Engine Ertl Trains

Collecting Thomas the Tank Engine Ertl Trains

Any true Thomas the Tank Engine fan will eventually learn about the older Ertl trains that may be collected.  They can be found as die cast and plastic models.  Unfortunately, the Thomas the Tank Engine Ertl trains don't always have the names of the trains written on them, as the wooden trains do.  To help make this easier for collectors, my son and I have compiled a slideshow of some of the more common Ertl trains to help you identify them.  In addition, information regarding many of characters is also provided below.

Types of Ertl Train Collectibles

One of the reasons toy train collectors or Thomas the Tank Engine collectors may have an interest in the Ertl trains is that the manufacturer discontinued the Thomas line of trains in 2004. The price of these trains continues to climb as they become more scarce, especially the trains that are anniversary or special edition models.

The Ertl trains, first manufactured in 1984, are made either of plastic or die cast metal, and there are three different series of Ertl trains to collect.

The first die cast Thomas the Tank Engine trains had sticker faces so that the owners could change the expressions from happy to sad. The plastic faces eventually replaced these sticker models.

In the 1990s, Ertl produced the Gold Rail series of Thomas trains with the main characters, all of which have magnetic couplings. There was no track for these trains.

Finally, they produced a miniature line of the trains in 1991, which have sticker faces.

A complete list of all of the trains, and their release dates from Ertl, may be found at

Where to Find Ertl Trains

If you're interested in collecting the Thomas the Tank Engine Ertl trains, there are several places where you may locate them.

First, if you love surfing the Internet, you'll find many of the trains to complete your set on eBay as well as from reputable retailers.  The quantities are usually limited, and many toy train stores have very few Ertl trains left.  The prices are still reasonable for these new die cast trains, and if you're lucky, you'll also find a few of the Ertl destinations and track from time to time.

Second, try flea markets and garage sales.  While not everyone is a train collector, these little trains and their accessories may find their way into one of these sales. 

Finally, don't forget your local Salvation Army.  Since these trains were built to last, especially the die cast models, they can survive being in a bin full of odds and ends in the toy section of these thrift stores.  If you have the time to dig through these bins, it may well be worth your while, and at prices that can't be beat.

Ertl Accessories

Don't forget to round out your collection with the Ertl accessories. These can be hard to find, but I've managed to find quite a few on eBay. The accessories are usually plastic, which include the following destinations:

  • Level Crossing
  • Station and Siding
  • Windmill
  • Airport
  • Train Sheds
  • Train Yard
  • Tracks
  • Ramps

The Gold Rail Series offered the following sets to use with trains from this same series:

  • Engine Sheds
  • Ffarquhar Station
  • Lower Suddery Station
  • The Docks

Other accessories for the Ertls include a blue plastic carrying case (with Thomas on the lid), which opens and will hold quite a few trains of varying lengths inside and the Wellsworth Station playset, which opens up to reveal a flat play surface on thick cardboard that features track and scenery on the sides, as well as three plastic buildings (including Wellsworth Station) to stow the trains in. (See the photos of this in my slideshow above).

Ertl Accessories

Ertl Carrying Case

Ertl Carrying Case

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Wellsworth Station Playset- has three different colored roofs for the buildings in which to store the trains.  A blue (shown), red and green roof are included with the set.

Wellsworth Station Playset- has three different colored roofs for the buildings in which to store the trains. A blue (shown), red and green roof are included with the set.


Sir Topham Hatt c/o Strand VCI Entertainment on March 28, 2012:

Thomas gets Tricked and Other Stories 1990 VHS

Our Story Stops Are:

*Thomas Gets Tricked

*Edward Helps Out

*Come Out Henry

*Henry to the Rescue

*A Big Day Out for Thomas

*Trouble for Thomas

*Thomas Saves the Day

Opening Previews:

*Strand VCI Tracking Control

*Strand VCI FBI Warning

*Strand VCI Entertainment 1990 Logo

*Britt Allcroft 1990 Logo

*Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Season 1 Intro

Opening Credits:


Based on the Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry


Told by Ringo Starr

Directed by David Mitton

Closing Previews:

*Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Season 1 outro

*1990 Strand VCI Sir Topham Hatt promo

JackJonno94 on January 29, 2012:

Hi. I have a limited edition set of ERTL Thomas the Tank Engine trains. They have been in a box up opened. I think that the set was purchased in around 1997. I don't really know much about it other than the fact that is is ERTL and that all four trains inside are metallic. I have tried looking on eBay, but there seems to be nothing alike it. I was just wondering if anyone had any idea of the value of this set?



Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on January 13, 2012:

Hi Emma McGhee - the GWR #8 train is known as "Duck" the Pannier Tank Engine. One of the episodes in the series that he appears in is "A Close Shave for Duck." The wooden train is now retired, though some can still be found for sale on the Internet for under $20 at the time of this writing.

emma mcghee on January 04, 2012:

hello was wondering if u can help i have two thomas and friends train one in which i see on your pic the other is green with thomas the tank engine and friends @britt allcroft (thomas)limited 1990 it also has a number which is "1968zd" like i said its green with gwr onside and number 8 can u tell me any think about it please thanks

gazmacuk on December 15, 2011:

If anyone is interested i have approx 45 characters/trains if anyone wants to make me an offer


Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on September 13, 2011:

Hi Katrina, I would go on eBay first to do a search and see what the going price for the turntable, if any, is. I would then double the price because 1)you have the original box, and 2)it is in "great" condition. (I paid $50 for my set about 5 years ago, and it wasn't in mint condition). If the trains are also in great or mint condition, you could sell them separately, or include them in the auction. You could probably get $5-$10 (USD) for limited edition Thomas ertl trains that have little or no chips on them. And, depending on demand, may even get more per train. If selling on eBay, set a reserve, which means there is a minimum that you're willing to sell the set for. Alternatively, if you have an auction house nearby, ask them if they know of any train collectors in your area that would be interested in the set.

Katrina on September 08, 2011:

Hi there, I have the turntable and about 20 of the limited edition ertl trains that I am looking to sell. The Turntalble has the original box and in great condition. What do you think would be a reasonable asking price?

Boston AL on August 19, 2011:

Fred, I have a set from the early 90's when my son was into the Thomas trains in a big way. I have nearly all of the full set sold at at time and some accessory pieces all in their original retail packaging containers (60 plus pieces). Every time i bought my son a piece a bought a second as as a collectable. What do you estimate the US dollar value of this might be worth today? on April 06, 2011:

thanks for the info, will keep my eyes open at garage sales etc.i was in contact with "goldie" she informed me it was listed in the 1995 ertl catalog but did not know prices. maybe you can find something out some other way. if you find out any thing let me no,and i will let you know if i find out any thing. fred

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on March 28, 2011:

Hi Fred, I have the tunnel/ramp/roundabout, but it didn't really work for the photos I used for this article. I bought this set on eBay about 2 years ago. I've seen it a few times over the past year.

I don't really know the actual value of this set, but one way to gauge it is to watch the auctions on eBay. I bought my set (along with a large set of Ertl trains) for about $50 USD. My set was in very good condition, so I felt the price was worth it. I think this set will continue to increase in value, since it seems rare to find one on eBay, or at any auctions I've been to here in NY. on March 27, 2011:

my previous coment stated my wife would not let me sell the trains, but she did not say i could not sell the station.any way if you would like to see my set check out my facebook photos. and do you have any idea what they are worth so i know how rough my grandson can get with them. email me with your answer, thanks fred. on March 25, 2011:

i have the wellsworth station play set and 14 ertl trains, i have been trying to find out about this set for about 4 months now, i have been i touch with ertl and hit entertainment with little success. a friend who new i have been looking found this and i thank you. my grandson loves them, so my wife wont let me sell them. i noticed in the picture ther is no tunel/ramp/roundabout.

Charlotte Gerber (author) from upstate New York on August 27, 2010:

Hi Wooden Trains, It doesn't seem to matter how old you are- these trains hold seem to hold everyone's fascination, and in the process, is creating a lot of collectors! Our family started with just the one wooden train - Thomas- and now our collection is in the hundreds!

wooden trains on August 26, 2010:

It never ceases to amaze me how enduring Thomas the Tank Engine is as a toy and as a collectable. I can remember having some of the original style hardback books as a child some 30 odd years ago. These books use to fascinate me back then and now my own kids have their own Thomas books, train set and watch many of the animated series that are on TV now. Nice hub!

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