Tuesday, 15 November 2011

When Animation goes AWOL - The Diddleys

Don't you find it annoying, yet ever so curious, when you hear, see or read news of something "Coming Soon" in the animation world...only for it to actually never happen, despite previews and advertisements and the like? How, for whatever reason/s, it goes AWOL (Absent WithOut Leave) as if it was never announced at all?

Several times in this life I have seen this sort of thing happen, and in most cases they're usually within the United Kingdom. Here is a short series of blogs about projects that were stopped before they could begin or releases that never came to fruition:


When Thomas the Tank Engine still ruled the rails (and still in model-form), and long before Chuggington came to be, Silverglint Entertainment tried to get in on the act by what it seems like an attempt to merge two of the most popular interests for boys - namely, steam engines and superheroes - while also trying to match Pixar in terms of CGI animation.
The Diddleys, as the tagline declares, were "steampowered superheroes who live in the magical world of Toostville". Diddley-Dum and Diddley-Dee, with the help of Charlie the Stationmaster, are always on the look-out for anyone in danger whilst they're running the railway.
But when the call does come, all it takes is for the titular characters to be filled up by H2O the Water Tower's "magic stuff" for them to transform into anything necessary for the emergency. A Submarine for an underwater adventure, a Rocket Ship for a space rescue...
...and that's about it, at least that's what was offered from the teaser trailers. Since then, apart from a few measly books that were published, The Diddleys along with their fancy website just vanished into virtual thin air. Nowadays if you're fortunate enough, you might just come across that lonely little book in a charity shop, or see if the Diddley-themed engines are still at work at the Brooksland Miniature Railway in Sussex, which must have been created to help promote the series further...then again, it's been so long, no one seems to know whether the park is still open today.
Mind you, maybe the whole concept of superhero steam engines just wasn't meant to be, especially with creepy character designs as this. Then again, the Diddleys didn't abandon railway realism entirely...they also tried to promote Railway Safety through activity pages et al, probably also to tie-in with the miniature railway one can assume.
Still, it would have been interesting to know more about the show's development - how it came to be, a little chat with the creator/s - or at least wonder why we didn't appreciate it properly when it was first announced back then.

Ah well, that's life - sooner or later, things get derailed, quite literally =P



  1. Early in the morning you will see, Diddly Dum and Diddly Dee, Puffling along quite merrily, on the Tootsville Railway.

    I should see if I still have a copy of the theme song.

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  3. Hello Christopher,
    My name is Robert McCluskey, son of Kevin McCluskey, the creator of The Diddlys.
    I would first like to thank you on your review.
    It makes me very proud to inform you, I have partnered up with my father and am remodelling the Diddlys and bringing it into this new and exciting day technology world we live in today. Tehnology has advanced incredibly fast in the past few years and we intend on keeping up with the times. We are currently re modelling the characters and our view of distributing and bringing the Diddlys back has many new amazing platforms compared to 2003 when the pilot was first launched.
    Thank you again and Keep your eyes out for the 'Steam powered super heroes'