Thomas the Tank Engine Cake
Easy Figurine Tutorial

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Thomas the Tank Engine Cake or also known as Thomas the Train, is a character loved by so many preschoolers. They actually go nuts when this program is on CBeebies. Even my children watched this adorable character and yes, it is actually educational. Watch it yourself if you do not believe me.

Thomas the Tank Engine Cake or figurines are not so difficult to make. It's features are basic and even beginners will be able to successfully make the figurine as the one in the Thomas the Tank Engine Cake below. 

If you wonder about how the water in the cake below was made? I played around with gelatin, blue food coloring and some glitter to add sparkle to the water. It came out so real as the water was glistening in natural light. The rest of the cake is self-explanatory but I will however show you how to make the train so you can create your own Thomas the Tank Engine cake.

Thomas the Figurine

What do I need:

  • Red, Black, Blue, Yellow Fondant
  • Square cutters (not compulsory)
  • Circle cutters (but you can use piping nozzles
  • Hobby knife
  • Polystyrene block (not compulsory)
  • Paste extruder (not compulsory)
  • Edible glue
  • Modelling Tools

As you can see, most items is not compulsory. With that I mean that you can use other items to replace their function. These tools just make the job so much easier, but it is doable with basically just fondant, modelling tools, piping nozzles and your extruder and some type of glue (which ever one you chooses, as long as it is edible) LOL, as if you did not know that!

When I make Thomas the Tank Engine Cake, I always make the face first. Reason for that is that the rest of the tank can be made according to the size of the head, as the strongest features will be the face.

So, do not make it too small otherwise you will not be able to form the features nicely and that is key! It needs to look like Thomas the Tank Engine cake. Just roll the fondant into a ball and press slightly down with the palm of your hand.

In this step you are going to create the cheeks. Turn circle around! Use your ball tool and make two round holes at the bottom of the circle. Roll to bigger balls. Slightly bigger than the holes.

Put the balls into the holes and turn around. Now with your index fingers. Press slightly around where the balls are to create the cheeks. You also need to make soft holes where the eyes will be.

Tip and Note of warning: DO NOT get discourage if you do not get the cheeks right the first time. It does take some practice. Also make sure that you add some CMC Powder (also called Tylose) to the fondant to make it more workable, otherwise you might misform the face as you work with it.

O my! Yes, this looks weird, but trust me, it is the only way to make that specific nose. Unless you do not care whether the nose is exactly like the train. I've seen Thomas figurines that are beautiful and they only have a round ball for the nose. 

Use your leaf shaping tool and lift some of the fondant up between the cheeks. Roll a ball and drop into the hole. You will now need to put the flap back over the ball. Smoothing it out with your tool and some whitening on the tool to make it smooth. Shame the rest of the nose with the same tool.

Now it is time to deepen the eyes with your ball tool. You will now also need to cut out a mouth. Make sure the cuts are from cheek to cheek.

In this step, make sure the eyes are deep enough so that it can look sunken. Cut out circles, triangles for eyebrows and add some white for the teeth.

Roll out a thick piece of black fondant and cut a circle the exact size as the face. Glue the circle to the face.

You will also need to roll out:

  1. Long cylinder blue, the same diameter as the face. Measure it by holding it behind the face.
  2. Slightly bigger width and height (rectangle). Measure it by holding it behind the cylinder. Tip: Look at pictures of Thomas to see how big each section should be.
  3. Small rectangle, but the same width.
  4. Black strip - need to fit top of #1 cylinder and another black strip for cylinder #2.

In my picture, the red fondant is slightly too small. Make sure that your bottom piece is slightly bigger than your pieces that are going on the top. I had a problem when I made this later on when I had to add the side pieces, so make sure you do not make the same mistake - learn out of others mistakes.

In this section. It is better to make the side parts by drawing on paper first. It is basically a rectangle where a piece is cut out with a circle cutter. I just did this free hand, but for neatness, do on paper and measure the sizes on the side of the train until you get the right measurements. 

There are different Thomas the tank engine cake figurines out there and they all are different. You can make one long rectangle, without any circle cut out and just use your red string to form the patterns. That will be the easier way, but I did mine this way. Why....I have no idea!

You now need to either use a paste extruder or roll out thin ropes that will cover the tank's middle part and go around the side parts of the train. Roll out to small yellow ovals. One blue and one black cyclinder. Form it slightly so it looks like the picture. Add it to the tank.

Here you can see that I've used some of the ropes for the side panels. I also made a number one and attached it to the panels.

Now this is where  my problem with the red base was. Sidepanels struggle to stick because it had no place to rest on. 

Thomas the train is now starting to look like Thomas. Just remember if your work do not look great yet, persevere as the end result is always better than in the making process.

It is better to use square cutters, that way you know that it will come out perfect, but I  made these without them to show that it is possible to make the squares without all the tools. Obviously, if you measure them, they will be wonky! Ha-Ha-He. It is my Thomas!

Last but not least! Take some polystyrene. If you do not have this - use fondant that is now dry. Make sure you cut it slightly smaller than the red base of the tank, so the tank can rest on it easy! 

It need some height because you will need to cut our 6 x large circles. (O goodie - I totally forgot to take pics of this step) - interrupted by gremlins. Look at the complete Thomas and just add the circles on the side.

Thomas the Tank Engine Cake 
Carved for Perfection

Carving cakes are a skill that needs a bit of patience. I would recommend to start with something easier - such as a handbag so that you can increase your confidence first. Next step is to do something more curvy like a ball, or even a cake for a baby shower (pregnant tummy cake). Keep building your confidence until you feel ready for more complex cakes.

Cakes such as cars; Lightning McQueen and Thomas the Tank Engine cake are all character cakes with certain features that needs to be captured. It is best to work of a picture. You can print it in sections if you do not have access to an A3 printer, but best is to take your blueprint to your local printer and print a few copies as you will need to cut certain pieces to create a proper template - like the side parts.

If you feel it will be a disaster then invest in Debbie's book. Her books are fantastic and is really worth every cent! It gives you all the steps to follow, recipes and templates. I have learned so much from her books.

Enjoy making your own Thomas the Tank Engine Cake. Whether it is a carved cake or a figurine for a cake - your kids will love it!

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