Who We Are



Who We Are


We are a group of people from all over the world who have abilities in different art forms. This started out as a hobby – where we collected trains. We had an idea that we were going to set up a train store on the Internet. What began as a fledgling train store has turned into a full scale project aimed at bringing trains back into the lives of children – right where they belong.

The Producer:

The heart and soul of the project was Tony Moscatelli. The story was his idea from the beginning. Tony wanted a place for fathers to go with their kids where they could explore the joys of owning model trains. He had had this experience with his own father and had hoped to share it with his children – only he never had any children of his own – just other people’s children. Tony was one of those people who was everyone’s father. Everyone talked to him about things they wouldn’t talk to their own parents, husbands, or wives about. He was always ready with a shoulder to cry on or a joke to make people laugh. Tony was the inspiration for Grandpa Joe and narrated the original episodes and the English version of the preview. Unfortunately, Tony died June, 2007, just a few weeks before the movie was completed. We miss his laughter and guidance terribly. This movie is his memorial.


Tony Moscatelli / The original Grandpa Joe
December 4, 1939 – June 15, 2007

The Modelmakers:

Lanin D. Thomasma of Temperance, Michigan created our clay characters. Lanin's major occupation is a drama ministry for Covenant Players. He is a cartoonist and model maker and was recently filmed for a segment of That's Clever which was shown on HDTV. He has a website of his own: www.ntoonz.com. Lanin did the German translation for our preview and movie and is developing a version of the movie that can be used in schools.

Lanin D. Thomasma

Shamus Cleveland graduated from West Virginia University, where he majored in Parks and Recreation. He also earned a filmmaking degree at the Motion Picture Institute of Michigan. Shamus created the vehicles for the movie – the Therminator flown by the villains Boris and Gooch and The Freezoozilator that Nick, the modelmaker, uses to bring the kids back home.

Shamus Cleveland

The Animator:

Roman Romanov came to us from Russia. There, he was a magician and a juggler. He studied tap dance in Russia and came to this country to develop his skills at tap dance and to study Flamenco. In this country, he also began studying graphic arts.  Roman graduated from Art Institutes International of Minnesota in Multimedia Web Design. Roman has been working with the project for the past 2 years. His website is www.romanovo.com.


Roman Romanov

The Sound Engineer:

Shady Tanios comes from Egypt. His family had to leave Egypt to escape persecution because they are Christians. In fact, Shady’s father is a Presbyterian minister. Shady has been living in the U.S. since he was 10 years old. He has been working with us since he was 15 and recently graduated Cum Laude from Brooklyn Polytechnic University with a degree in computer engineering. Shady was our animator for the first version of this movie.

The Art Director:

Brandon Stone is a local, Staten Island artist and contractor. He was an art instructor in NYC at the School of Visual Arts. He is also a network engineer and helps with our computers when Shady isn't available.

You can see some of Brandon’s original art at www.brandonstone-art.com.

Brandon Stone

The Illustrator:

Ian Vincent Limbaga, our illustrator, came to the US from the Philippines. There, he graduated from the University of the Philippines as a Marine Biologist. Here, he works for l’Oréal. Ian spends a great deal of time with his family. He is a part-time photographer, collects comic books, and plays the guitar.

Ian Vincent Limbaga


The Composer:

Helen Maynard used to be my voice teacher at UNLV in Las Vegas,Nevada, when we both taught there back in the 1970’s. Helen is originally from Maine, but has lived and taught in Las Vegas for over forty years. She composes religious music and comic operas and I wasn’t sure she would want to write music for a children’s project. However, she was delighted to do it. We flew her here and she sat down and immediately started writing songs for us. Helen writes music like other people talk.  By the time she left three days later, Helen had written several songs and did more after she got home. Helen is 79 years old and is still teaching voice in Las Vegas and keeps up a full schedule of teaching. As of now, Helen has written 22 songs for us, some of which are on the site for you to hear. Charlie Garcia, Helen’s grandson, worked with Helen on the computer technology to record the music.

 Helen Maynard


Liu Jie, one of our Mandarin translators, comes from Laizhou City, China, a city near the ocean south of Beijing. Liu Jie has been a software developer since 1996. He has a website for people who want to learn Chinese: www.chnlight.com/light/index.htm and another one for space enthusiasts: http://www.SPACE.aero . He will be helping us market the book and video in China. Liu Jie worked on the video and set up the subtitles for us.

Liu Jie

Our other Mandarin translator is lovely Sopie (Wenlin) Pan. Sophie was born in Shanghai, China and came to the U.S. in 1998, where she attended high school and graduated from the United Nations International School. She is a sophomore at NYU, majoring in comparative literature. She has a side business tutoring and translating while she is in school. Sophie worked with Liu Jie and then translated the book into Mandarin. She will be doing the audio book for us.


Sophie (Wenlin) Pan

Our Russian Translator:

Jana Barinova, who originally came from Moscow, has been involved with the project from the beginning. She has done the Russian translation of the movie and will be the voice of Ginger. Jana lives in Staten Island with her husband and brand new son, Henry.


Our TrainsR4Seniors Advisor:

We have had a lot of help from Curtis Mann in New Orleans. Curtis and his wife, Vera, read the book several times as I was writing it and made many helpful suggestions. Curtis is a train buff. He has been involved with railroading and model trains all his life and has a wealth of information to share. Curtis will be working as our senior advisor and forum leader on the TrainsR4Seniors website, where he will answer questions and participate in discussions about train history and model train reviews:


Curtis Mann of New Orleans with his Twin Grandsons
In Their TrainsR4Kids Onesies

About a year and a half ago, I decided that we should have a book. I thought that the web story wasn’t really clear. For example, I wanted to explain why three kids would be friends with an old man. I also wanted to bring in a couple of villains. I had been working as a technical writer and had never done anything creative, so I read a lot of modern novels. This was a big difference for me from my background in 12th century French literature! Luckily, we had lots of kids in our neighborhood that I could use as models for my characters, most nice – some not so nice. Often, they would come over to watch the work in progress.

Writing the book was a lot of fun. I talk to the characters and answer back for them. The most interesting thing is that the situations take off by themselves. I don’t plan them. They grow out of what is happening in the story. This meant that Lanin had to make new characters for me and Tony had to rethink how the movie would develop. My best critics have been the kids. Like I said, I have some great kids who live around here on Railroad Avenue in Staten Island. They have read the book and told me what they wanted. I have also had some great readers and editors like my wonderful sister, Sarah, who owns Paragraph & Punctuation in Phoenix, AZ, Melinda Dickinson, the owner of Proof Positive Editorial Services in Birmingham, AL, Rosalia Ferraro of Brooklyn, and Anna Carbone of the Philippines. They have all helped me enormously and have pushed me to make the book better.

This project has been a lot of fun and we hope you enjoy it. Please go to the forum and sign in. You can talk with Curtis via email and share your experiences about model trains. I hope you enjoy the book and the movie. These are the first of a series that will take the kids all over the world and through different periods of time.

Ashton Laurent