List of minor Tugs characters
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The following is a list of fictional characters in the children's television series Tugs. All of these characters played supporting roles to the series' main characters' in the fictional harbour of Bigg City Port.
- 1 Tugboats
- 2 Ocean liners
- 3 Tramp Steamers
- 4 Dockside & Floating Cranes
- 5 Barges
- 6 Other characters
- 7 References
- 8 See also
Sea Rogue is also known as "The Pirate" - his only appearance is in the episode of the same name. In darker times he stole barges for two mysterious green-eyed tugs, who had captured Sea Rogue's Uncle, and threatened to scuttle him unless Sea Rogue stole more barges for them; similar then, to Zebedee's relationship with the tramper Johnny Cuba in the episode "High Winds". The Green-Eyed Pirates were later caught out by Ten Cents, Sunshine, Grampus, and Sea Rogue himself, who devised a plan to capture the two fiends. Sea Rogue had been previously mistaken for the pirate himself, hence his nickname and he later forgave the Star Tugs for ever thinking that about him. He then returned to a peaceful life with his uncle. He is voiced by Nigel Anthony.
Sea Rogue's appearance was intimidating, especially his eye patch, a typical pirate trademark. He was a completely black tug in colour, and didn't seem to work for any particular fleet, although the "Mi" symbol on his stack suggests that he worked for the munitions company, as the same symbol is seen on the factory and warehouse doors.
His model was later repainted and modified to be used for Bluenose.
Bluenose is an obnoxious navy tug, whom both the Star Tugs and Z-Stacks despise. He plays precisely by the rules and acts as a kind of stereotypical army drill sergeant towards the other tugs. He is annoying, pompous, and self-centered, and despite appearing in only two episodes of the series - "Munitions" and "Regatta"- he caused a major impact, and is often referred to as a major character. He speaks with a regimented Army English accent.
His major story line was involved with blowing up the midget submarine Grampus who was saved at the last minute and later became a member of the Star Fleet. After the episode "Munitions", Bluenose was left a nervous wreck, after a terrible night at the docks involving the death of the naval tramp steamer Kraka-Toa. He is towed away by Grampus.
The term 'bluenose' was a nickname for people who came from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia - in the context of the show it may also have been a pun on the term 'Brown-nose', or suck-up - given Bluenose's orders-following mentality it can be said that he is a 'naval brown-nose', hence, possibly, 'Bluenose'.
The Fire Chief, also referred to as the Fire Launch, was in his own right, quite a significant character. Although he did not have his own individual name, and only appeared briefly in four episodes, in one of which he had no dialogue, he had a major role in the health, safety and well-being of Bigg City Port and its inhabitants. He is seen as an authoritarian figure and was often around when chaos was stirring in the Port.
The Fire Tug is level headed and down-to-earth, he is usually bright eyed, although his stubble makes him appear quite rough, however he is alert and keen to get to work. He speaks with a Cockney accent. He is painted white and red.
Like Billy Shoepack, the Fire Tug could move his head and eyes rather than immobile features.
In Salty's Lighthouse, he became Red Fin. This could be a result of a misinterpretation on the editor's parts: in the TUGS episode, "Munitions", Bluenose arrogantly calls him a "red thing", and seeing as Bluenose's heavy accent can be indistinguishable at times, the editors of Salty's Lighthouse could have heard the name as Red Fin. He is voiced by Paul Dobson.
Boomer was found floating adrift in the episode "Jinxed", the only episode in which he has a speaking part, by the Star tugs Ten Cents and Sunshine where he revealed he was a jinx, which Ten Cents was very sceptical about. After many incidents including almost sinking and his engine failing then catching fire, Ten Cents finally believed that he had a bad luck streak. After he was repaired at Lucky's Yard, Captain Star decided that Boomer was to become a house boat, and he now resides at an upriver jetty, "Dun Tuggin" where he can relax all day, and the jinx has finally left him.
Boomer was originally called Captain Harry, and he says that he became jinxed when his name was changed to Boomer. Boomer was the only tug except from the initial seven to become a Star Tug during the series, even if it was only for a very short period. He was also briefly a Z-Stack, when he helped Zip and Zug pull some munitions, but after the barge exploded Captain Zero got rid of him. He can be seen towing barges in the background of the episode 'Up River' with this exception he was never featured in the series again.
Boomer speaks with an Irish accent. According to sources, Boomer is voiced by British actor Lee Cornes, who starred in Grange Hill for many years who also provided the voices of Grampus, Billy Shoepack and The Coast Guard.
In Salty's Lighthouse, he appears in two episodes, in which he experienced two very different adventures; in one episode he lost his 'bad luck' by successfully towing the schooner, and in the other one, he failed as in the original TUGS, and then became a 'vacation boat' in a story Ten Cents told to Zug. During these episodes he is voiced by both Scott McNeil and Brad Swaile.
Boomer's history reflects the naval superstition that changing the name of a ship invokes bad-luck. His name in naval and military slang is the nickname for submarines armed with ballistic missiles/nuclear ICBMs - though it is highly improbable that Boomer has any connection to nuclear weapons (having predated their invention by two decades) it can safely be said that he had a similarly intense impact on the tugs of Bigg City Port.
Billy Shoepack is an alligator tug; just like an alligator, he sits incredibly low in the water. And in Billy's case, he's just as dangerous as an alligator; he carries supplies such as fuses and dynamite to the Upriver towns. Billy has a particular fixation with his dynamite, and loves using it to create 'lovely big bangs' and 'blast someone out of trouble,' as he manages to do in the episodes "Up River" and "Trapped". Billy has been ridiculed by the other tugs, for his unusual appearance and seeming lack of common sense, but his great courage and spirit has helped them get out of trouble, and changed their minds for the better.
Sea Rogue's Uncle
Sea Rogue's Uncle was never named, although he was referred to as "Old Man" by his nephew Sea Rogue. He was an elderly tug with a brownish colour scheme, appearing only in "Pirate". He was kidnapped by the "Green-Eyed" tugs, who held him as ransom in order to make his nephew steal barges. He was later rescued by Grampus.
Shaun Prendergast voices him.
His body was reused as Boomer.
Burke and Blair
Burke and Blair were notorious scrap dealers, and scavengers. Burke was the one with a moustache, and Blair wore the glasses. They were always seen together, and had small appearances in many episodes across the series. The only episode in which they speak is "Quarantine", when they try- and almost succeed in- convincing Captain Star to sell O.J. for scrap.
They were often seen in the background of the series, most notably at the end of the episode 'Ghosts'. Their names come from the Edinburgh corpse sellers: Burke and Hare and they are sort of tugboat alternatives to their human counterparts, in that they deal in dead boats - not people.
John Baddeley voices Burke and Sean Barrett voices Blair.
A pair of villainous tugboats who slipped into Bigg City Port with the intention of stealing loaded barges that could be sold off illegally for trade. To increase their security, they used Sea Rogue as their decoy, and to make sure that he performed their bidding, they took his uncle hostage and threatened to sink him if Sea Rogue disobeyed them. With the unexpected help of Zip and Zug, the Star Fleet and Sea Rouge were able to capture the pirate tugs and hand them into the authorities. The pirate tugs were mysterious-looking vessels with black paint and a distinguishable pair of green-tinted spotlights. They are known among fans as 'The Green-Eyed Things'. The pirate tugs are among the few speaking tugboats among the cast that do not have faces.
They are both voiced by Sean Barrett.
The White Fleet
A fleet of tugboats who came to Bigg City Port during the midst of winter. They came from 'northern waters' in search of an iceberg, and travelled about the harbour at night with engines 'off', listening for cracking ice. They were mistaken by the Star Fleet, Zorran and Izzy Gomez for being the phantoms of a tug fleet that sank in the great storm of 1912. After an eventful night, Hercules revealed the truth behind the White Fleet. Since then, the Star Tugs found they could laugh it off, but never forgot the night when fog nearly drove them crazy. The white fleet may have been used as the pirates.
The Coast Guard
He is a small vessel who acts as customs officer for the port. He often stands at the entrance to the estuary ready to question and check incoming shipping before clearance. On other occasions he stands by and over-looks large-scale operations, such as demolition and quarry work. He also doubled as a 'one-man' police-force. Despite his size, he has heavy influence and authority over the vessels of the port. He has made numerous cameo appearances, but had minor speaking roles in High Winds, Warrior and Quarantine. He speaks in a posh English accent.
Coast Guard's Messenger
A small motor boat with a shrill whistle, he appeared only briefly in Regatta to inform the Star Fleet of Lillie Lightship's predicament, having been sent by the Coast Guard to deliver the message. The same small vessel doubled as the 'mad' speed boat that caused the accident in Quarantine. He was in this form before 4th Of July, as he appears in the liner scene of Warrior in Sunshine. He is located beside the Fire Launch. He is voiced by John Baddeley.
The Duchess appears in "Sunshine", the very first episode, making her the first ocean liner we encounter in the series. She only appeared in two scenes in the whole of that episode: first when the Star's were towing her in - and again in the nighttime firework celebrations following a successful journey. In appearance she looked a lot like Princess Alice - and it is possible she was the same model - only with modified funnels and ventilators. She is the TUGS liner character to make the most cameos.
In Salty's Lighthouse she is called Queen Victoria.
The Duchess seems to be based on the Hamburg America Line ship SS Imperator, which was given to the Cunard Line after World War I, and renamed Berengaria after the 12th century English queen of the same name. Like the "Imperator/Berengaria," she has three funnels, an open promenade, and is about 919 feet (280 m) long. When Captain Star calls her "one of the biggest liners around," it implies that she's not the largest ocean liner in the world, seemingly also a reference to how Imperator was surpassed by her younger sisters SS Vaterland and SS Bismarck. If looked at closely the creators could have been attempting to make a story line involving a Cunard liner as the smoke stack livery holds the same colors suggesting they'll give her a full name from The Duchess to RMS Cunard Duchess but was changed before filming to avoid angering Cunard by involving what looks like a former flagship in a children's story.
Her name in Salty's Lighthouse is a reference to the Berengaria's successor as Cunard's flagship RMS Queen Mary who is also named after a queen. Like Berengaria she is also a three stacker, has an open promenade and is also overshadowed in size by her younger sister the RMS Queen Elizabeth.
Her profile card in the TUGS board game gave her nationality as British.
Princess Alice was the most prominent of the three Liners - she appeared in three episodes ("High Winds", "High Tide", and "4th of July"), in High Winds she was in need of repair and the Stars (and Zebedee) all fought against the heavy winds to bring her safely into port. When she appeared in the 12th episode 4th of July, she was fully repaired - and was celebrating Independence Day heartily with the other vessels whilst being loaded by Big Mickey,She makes a brief cameo in High Tide.
In Salty's Lighthouse, she is called Princess Anne.
The Princess Alice is based on a ship built in 1900 for the Hamburg American Line named in honor of the daughter of Queen Victoria. After the first world war however she was moved to the United States Line (which explains her nationality in the show) but her name was changed to USS Princess Matoika in post war service, then SS President Arthur in 1922, and finally SS City of Honolulu in 1927. In 1933 she was scrapped. She however shows off a livery similar to the Duchess in contrast to the real ship's livery.
Her profile card in the TUGS board game gives her nationality as American.
S.S. Vienna appeared in the episode Bigg Freeze, in which the Star Tugs and Z-Stacks alike were eagerly awaiting her return. In some videos she appears in the opening credits, and she makes a cameo in Sunshine.
The Vienna is based on the RMS Aquitania and RMS Mauretania but with German style funnels. The Vienna has a similar Cruise Ship livery to what the Mauretania carried from the Great Depression to her 1942 fate of scrapping in Scotland. She has a top-heavy appearance much like the Aquitania and her staggered pairs of funnels look similar to the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.
There is talk of a ship built by the John Brown & Company in Scotland in the year 1929 also called Vienna and only one image of her has survived to the present day; it is noticeably different in shape.
The model used for S.S. Vienna was later reused for Thomas and Friends, which can be seen at Brendam Docks. It is renamed "S.S. Roxstar" in a Season 10 episode - "Seeing the Sights". However she shows off the Inman Line livery.
Vienna was given her name solely to create an excuse for the characters to say "Goodnight, Vienna" at the end of "Bigg Freeze" - in a further in-joke, Goodnight Vienna was the fourth solo album of Thomas storyteller Ringo Starr.
Johnny Cuba is a notorious and violent tramp steamer gangster. His strong accent and dialect indicate that he is from Australia. He made his first appearance in Sunshine and his main appearance in High Winds. He is voiced by Sean Barrett.
Cuba had arrived at Bigg City Port to make plans with fellow criminal friends during a period of strong and troublesome tempest weather. He threatened Zebedee and manipulated him into helping him into the port.
Cuba sent Zebedee on an errand to steal a barge of coal, and threatened to sink him if he landed either of them in trouble. Due to a feud between Cuba and Captain Zero that occurred in the past, Zebedee was placed in an awkward and dangerous situation, until Hercules discovered Cuba's hide-out in an abandoned dock. Zebedee plucked up the courage to trap Cuba and have him arrested, and was forgiven. Despite Cuba's claim that "they can't hold Johnny Cuba!", they did. Johnny Cuba first appeared in High Winds, but his model made five more cameos in Sunshine, Quarantine, Ghosts, Munitions and Regatta. In Regatta it sank in Dender Rocks after colliding with Lillie Lightship.
He made a second appearance in the annual story "The Lost Barge" where he is still doing crime but no one wants to go near him.
A dirty old tramper and a notorious villain, whom the Tugs call Dirt Bucket. His only appearance was in Quarantine, in which he attempted to trick Sunshine into taking him into port by pulling down the yellow "waiting for clearance" flag. After his plan was foiled, he was sentenced by the Coast Guard to a further forty days in quarantine along with Zorran, who had fallen for the trick and pulled alongside him.. He speaks with a Lancastrian accent provided by Sean Barrett.
His hull was later used for Old Rusty. He appeared as the tramper Billy Shopack blew up in Trapped.
In Salty's Lighthouse, Nantucket's name constantly changed and sometimes could not even speak (in which a foghorn sound effect was used instead).
This naval tramp steamer made her first appearance in "Ghosts" and her final appearance in Munitions. Due to a fuel drum falling onto some explosives after Bluenose hit Zorran's barge, the dock caught fire, thus setting off the explosives and fuel loaded in her at the time. Since she was nearly full, the contents did indeed "rip her apart" as Zorran predicted, and she sank into the bay. She never spoke.
Old Rusty is possibly a naval tramp steamer, who made only one brief appearance, at the end of the episode Warrior, anchored out in the estuary. Warrior dozed off and bumped into him, and told him to look where he was going, but Old Rusty said that he had been anchored there for two years. He obviously had a sense of humour, as he dissolved into laughter after Warrior had left, and exclaimed that "It wouldn't half be boring without him."
He is voiced by David Mitton. He made 2 appearances in Salty's Lighthouse; first, getting bumped by Warrior and telling him to watch where he's going, and then in a flashback while Warrior, Top Hat and Otis were reminiscing. He is voiced by Ian James Corlett.
Dockside & Floating Cranes
Big Mickey is described as 'the Port's biggest crane', he was once stationed at the steel works quay for loading and unloading operations when the Star and Zero fleets were competing for the steel company contract. He was later transferred to the naval dock for the loading of the naval tramper Kraka-Toa. He has two note-worthy appearances in 'High Tide' and 'Munitions'. Even Zorran said that "nobody tells Big Mickey what to do."
There is some debate as to the fate of Big Mickey. In the television release of 'Munitions', it is stated that Big Mickey had fallen into shallow water and survived. However this narration was deleted in the video release. According to the tugboats' reactions he perished to save them, although this may simply mean he took a big fall for them.
The model used for the Big Mickey character has enjoyed a new lease on life in the series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, where it is used in the dockside scenes, although the megaphone has been taken off. In fact, he still appears in the show to this very day, even becoming one of only 2 TUGS characters (the other being the S.S. Vienna) ever made in CGI.
He is Bigg City Port's largest floating crane, well known for his booming voice. He is used for many salvage operations, in which he usually takes charge. Appeared for the first time in Jinxed, in which his hawser jammed whilst lifting Boomer out of the water. He appeared in other episodes like High Tide and Regatta a.k.a. 4 July.
Little Ditcher is a small dirty A-frame crane, and is therefore, one of the smaller floating cranes to be found in the port. He is sometimes used dredging up-river at Mittsville or for oyster fishing in the estuary, as well as various other jobs. His size makes him unsuitable for rescue operations. He is good friends with the Star Tugs.
He is voiced by actor Timothy Bateson (See TV.com's Trivia on the episode: Up River). He appeared for the first time in Trapped, and has made numerous appearances in various episodes. In Salty's Lighthouse, he became a female along with Captain Star and Sunshine, and is voiced by Lenore Zann.
Scuttle Butt Pete
Although he can be grumpy, he is a friend to the Star Tugs. However, dredger detail is an unpopular task with the tugs, and is often given out by the Captains as punishment. He speaks with an exaggerated Dublin accent.
Jack the Grappler
Jack the Grappler is a garbage scooper who works at the "Municipal Garbage Corporation" quay for garbage barges, particularly Lord Stinker. He assisted in the organisation of the Municipal Garbage Corporation float for the annual regatta. He only appears three times in the series, first in the episode Munitions as a cameo, once in the episode 'Regatta' (in which he briefly wore an Uncle Sam-style top hat) and once in the episode Bigg Freeze, in which he had a cold. In the series, the narrator refers to him as "Jack the Grapper", possibly indicating a pun on Jack the Ripper (if only in name). He is the only crane with a face.
Lord Stinker is an aged garbage barge, widely known for carrying a heavy stench, and notably wears a peg on his nose to avoid his own strong odor.
He works mostly with Warrior. He is a quick thinker and saved a train from disaster in "High Tide", which gained him a newfound respect from Top Hat. He has made numerous appearances, notably "High Tide", "Warrior", "Munitions" and "Regatta/4th of July". He is also mentioned briefly in "Bigg Freeze".
Frank & Eddie
Frank and Eddie are a pair of twin railway barges (also known as Car floats) who work mostly with Top Hat the railway tug. They are used for the transportation of railway stock across the port. They are very quick-witted and are among the few that can deal with Top Hat's superiority. Both of the twins speak with Cockney accents.
Pearl is an oyster barge, she made her only brief appearance in "Warrior", working with Sunshine and Little Ditcher out in the estuary.
She was voiced by Sue Glover.
The Fultan Ferry
The Fultan Ferry is a paddle-driven ferry boat used for freighting vehicles and goods across the harbour. It appeared in various episodes, but was finally named in Quarantine, when it was temporarily sunk in the middle of the port after hitting a fire barge towed by O.J.. It was later salvaged by Mighty Moe.
Although the Ferry doesn't speak in the original show, it is voiced by Scott McNeil in Salty's Lighthouse, in which he lost a part of his paddle wheel and he sank to the bottom of the sea. He happens to be referred to by the name, Fultan, by Grampus.
Since Tugs ceased production, the Fultan Ferry has had many cameos in Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, if you look closely, in episodes that feature ports and other sea related sets, you can be sure the Fultan Ferry will be around somewhere and has a Fultan Ferry Sign on it.
The Shrimpers appear in various episodes, they had a note-worthy role in Ghosts, when a group of four or five were accidentally led into a mud-bank whilst following Warrior back to port, using him as a guide through the fog.
They also were in "Warrior" when Warrior nearly ran into them. They are all voiced by John Baddeley.
Municipal Garbage Corporation
The owner of the Municipal Garbage Corporation yard. Organises the 'Municipal Garbage Corporation' float for the annual regatta. He appears in a famous scene from Regatta.
The owner of the rock quarry. Appears briefly in Warrior. He is voiced by John Baddeley.
In Salty's Lighthouse, his voice actor is unknown.
The Fuel Depot
The owner of the Fuel Depot. He appears briefly in Bigg Freeze having to put up with Zorran's impatience. He is voiced by Lee Cornes.
Sally is a seaplane, friend of the Star Fleet who have the contract to provide her fuel. Sunshine appears to have a slight crush on her. She appears only briefly in a selected number of episodes and spoke only in Sunshine.
Sally's technical definition is a 'Flying Boat' because her main source of buoyancy, like a ship, comes from her hull/fuselage with small floats on each wing to stabilise her, unlike the other form of seaplane - the 'floatplane' which uses a normal aircraft fuselage with large floats slung underneath to support it on water. If we expand on this she can be termed an 'Amphibious Flying Boat' because she has fold-up landing gear on her fuslage, allowing her to land on runways as well as water.
Sally's tail-number is S-ALLY, a fictional sequence that would not be assigned to a real plane - any civil aircraft registered in the United States has a tail-number beginning with the letter 'N'.
Puffa is a steam locomotive who works on the dockside railway at Bigg City Port. Used for a variety of tasks within the port and at the docks up river, he is a trusted friend of the Star Fleet and Warrior in particular. He has two named appearances in Up River and Munitions, and an unnamed cameo in High Tide. Other trains seen around Bigg City have the same whistle-sound and feature similar styling as Puffa. In Munitions, the character was warned by Ten Cents, OJ, Zorran, Zak and Zebedee to escape from a dockside fire. In the episode Up River, he raced down river from the logging camps inland to warn Top Hat, Warrior & OJ that a broken log jam was headed toward them, propelled by an explosion of dynamite, kudos to Billy Shoepack. He is voiced by John Baddeley.
Puffa is seemingly based on no particular prototype but has characteristics common to many switcher/shunter locomotives including a short wheelbase and over sized cylinders for his diminutive size - he also features many US features including an American-style whistle, oil-burning headlight, diamond smokestack and a cowcatcher. He, like cranes, speaks through loudhailers. His other features however suggest he was modified from a model locomotive of German outline, which seems likely as the German model makers Marklin supplied components for the model locomotives in TUGS sister show, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.
The Goods Engine
A locomotive other than Puffa appeared in Tugs was a tank engine which made several cameo appearances, most notably in 'High Tide' where it was identified as 'the goods engine'. Like Puffa, its parts were later recycled to serve as props for rusty, old steam engines seen at scrap yards in Thomas and Friends.
The goods engine superficially resembles an 0-6-0 US Army tank engine, but is actually a model made from 'splicing' together various parts from other locomotives and scratchbuilding a few parts (most notably, the side tanks). The model has many un-American features such as buffers and stovepipe chimney, which were not modified as was Puffa to disguise the Goods Engines as a machine of American pattern. Recent information shows that the goods engine is based on the New York Dock Railway #6 and 7.
There are several bell buoy's to be found across Bigg City Port, most of them yellow. Notably, one appeared very briefly in Pirate, having been 'silenced' by the pirates in order to make their escape. He was voiced by Shaun Prendergast. Also, in the episode Jinxed, a "Wreck" Buoy appeared very briefly, as well as when Ten Cents hoots his whistle to test the Jinx, a nearby marker buoy ("Dem-Dem") sinks. This was the only appearance of these two buoys.
- "Crewmember Spotlight on: Jeremy King - Modelmaker Series 2-3, 6 & TUGS". sodor-island.net. Retrieved 2011-05-27.