The iconic animated series Thomas and Friends: All Engines Go returns for its 26th season with a brand new pal. An actor portrays the character with autism developed in partnership with Autism Self Advocacy Network, Easterseals Southern California, and respected writers and figures with autism.
Bruno, the Brake Car, is a full-fledged series regular, the first Thomas and Friends character with autism.
Charlie Smith, 10, will voice Bruno the Brake Car in the United States, while 9-year-old Elliot Garcia will voice Bruno the Brake Car in the U.K. Bruno will appear in all aspects of the franchise, allowing future generations to grow up with him.
The 26th season of Thomas and Friends: All Engines Go premieres on Cartoonito, Cartoon Network’s preschool programming block, on Monday, Sept. 12th.
Mattel’s director of preschool content, Monica Dennis, said, “Thomas and Friends: All Engines Go is all about friendship and partnership. Whenever stories about collaboration and teamwork are told, difference matters.”
Embroidered with the number 43, Bruno is a firetruck red color with black and yellow accents. Additionally, he has stairs and a lantern that indicate his emotional state. It gives Bruno a unique perspective to roll in reverse. It’s his job to keep the train’s heavy cargo steady, and he plays a vital role.
Mattel says the brake car loves puns and is joyful and playful. The character’s work ethic and fruitful relationships show a neurodivergent role model. It was essential to making his character accurately reflect a child with autism in real life.
Autism diagnoses are growing more frequent each year, making representation in children’s programming more vital than ever.
Dr. Paula Pompa Craven, the chief clinical officer, said, “Our commitment and contributions alongside Mattel have ensured that an honest version of Bruno is what kids and families worldwide will experience.”
Bruno’s introduction will include YouTube videos, music albums, Thomas and Friends storytime podcasts, the upcoming Mystery at Lookout Mountain movie, and consumer products.
Christopher Keenan, senior vice president at Mattel, said, “Bruno’s introduction organically embraces a global audience that is underrepresented and deserves to be celebrated in children’s programming.”