Gentlemen and a lady or two, I hope,
Let us not dismiss Thomas too lightly.
I worked as a weekend volunteer in the RR museum in El Paso. Parents brought in youngsters in approximately the 4 to 10 age range who were slobbering Thomas fanatics. In most cases the interest in Thomas was easily directed towards the real thing. That applied not only to children but their mothers in a number of cases as well. No fathers, just mothers.
Thomas may deliver the next generation of modelers.