BRIO Wooden Railway Blog

Charlotte the Container Ship?

I recently gained access to some old marketing materials from 1999 that BRIO sent out to its U.S. retailers. The most interesting of these was a flyer advertising upcoming releases and it featured an early prototype in the Theodore Tugboat™ lineup for product #32718 called Charlotte the Container Ship:

#32718 Charlotte the Container Ship

As you can see from the footnote, the final character and product name was still not known at the time this was printed. The Theodore Tugboat television series, produced by Cochran Entertainment Inc., was in production from 1993 through 2001 so it's possible that the name wasn't finalized in the series at the time the prototype was created. Or there may just have been some confusion or miscommunication between BRIO and Cochran, and BRIO needed to get the product announcement out before they could get clarification.

Either way, the final toy would come to market as Chester the Container Ship, and would look quite different from the prototype shown in the flyer.

#32718 Cheaster the Container Ship

Major changes between early prototypes and final releases are not uncommon in the toy industry, though having them appear in catalogs is less so. After seeing this flyer, I went back through my catalog collection and noticed that Charlotte shows up in the 1999 wishbook, as well. Though the name is still printed on the side of the boat (or, rather, stuck on with paper...this is an early prototype after all), the official product name is given as just "Container Ship".

#32718 Container Ship

Posted in History.2 comments

Reader Comments

  • fred_pelhay

    This is unrelated, but have you ever seen the Babar the Elephant themed sets? I remember a set from the late 90's as a kid, but when I googled "Brio Babar" I could only find ones they made exclusively for the French market in 2007.
  • John M

    Babar was a few years earlier than that. The Internet Archive puts it on as early as June 2004. It was a product line for the European market but I don't know if it was limited to just France.

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