The Railways of Crotoonia is an online animated fanseries produced by The MilanToon Channel. Development for the series began in 2013 (with shorts and music videos premiering in 2014/2015), while the series proper was first launched in 2017 with the release of Tillie to the Rescue.
Producing a crossover series combining the likes of Thomas the Tank Engine, The Little Engine That Could, and other fictional characters had been a long-withstanding dream of creator Milan Prsa. An earlier concept (developed when Milan was roughly 10-11, and pitched to be filmed on a homemade backyard theme park/railway) entitled "MilanToonTown Railroad Adventures" established many concepts that would later come to fruition in Crotoonia; characters like Ariel and Salty working together, characters joining forces to work on a railway separate from their homes, and many other ideas. Of course, being a concept that was only slightly realized by Milan through ramshackle tracks and structures made of scrap wood, it never came to fruition.
Following the lack of success with earlier attempts at YouTube reviewing series years later, Milan found himself going into his freshman year of high school with little to nothing to show for YouTube. However, he took up interest in a program called MikuMikuDance, and decided to test around with a concept for a new series. After contacting an early inspiration for his childhood crossover ideas, Soeren Hermansen, and getting a suggestion for a name from his younger sister Stefani, Milan developed The Railways of Crotoonia project.
The very first "proper" video that was released from Crotoonia was an almost last-minute decision by Milan. During his freshman year talent show, a concept for a live "review" session was shot down during auditions. However, upon showing the judges some early test footage, they agreed to permit the production of a three-minute music video. The final result, an earlier cut of "Roll Along", was met with surprising praise from the audience. The following two years saw additional videos screened: "A Brief Tour Along The Railways of Crotoonia" for 2015, and Tracy's Heavy Haul for 2016.
By late 2015, the series was just about ready to finally enter production. The script for the pilot special of the series, Tillie to the Rescue, began being penned in July 2015, during a Croatian holiday with family; it was finished and sent off for recording in September of that year. With potential being seen in raising the channel further, and inspired by producers who were associated with the following, Milan signed an agreement with the Channel Frederator Network in September 2015. To get content going while the series went into production, the first story short was produced and released for Thanksgiving: the very first Meet the Crotoonians episode, Thomas (VS. Bertie).
While the special took considerably longer than expected, the shorts proved a great success as the channel began to grow rapidly and more viewers came in to explore the channel. The crew saw continual growth as the special's production increased and more interest for the series came in. The third Meet the Crotoonians short, Casey Jr's Trick, was the highest viewed debut on the channel at the time, with 1931 viewers tuning in on its premiere date.
2017 was when things truly began to pick up for the channel. With the special finally entering production, Milan made an agreement with Super Bowl Lanes to provide sponsorship for the series; the money earned from the sponsorship was a huge help in not only improving marketing and assets for the series, but also securing the series' first official guest star: Phillipa Alexander. With interest in the series growing considerably, a larger-scale marketing campaign for the Tillie to the Rescue special was launched; the channel took on its first ever live events, beginning with Comic Book Syndicon, where the series (and the special) was heavily promoted, and details on future specials were revealed to attendees. The keystone of the series' launch was a massive live marathon entitled The "Tillie to the Rescue" Feast of Fun on August 19th, 2017 (delayed by one day due to technical difficulties). Despite using a workprint due to technical troubles, the stream proved a MASSIVE success; 852 views came in from the stream, with a peak of 105 concurrent viewers. The final cut of the special premiered August 21st with a roaring success, with a record 4012 views during its first day, and 32,536 views for its first week!
Episodes were intended to continue to follow in November, but due to a conflicting and rough college schedule, the second episode (Casey Jr's Mail Run) wasn't completed until December of that year. To make up for it, the episode premiered in another live marathon entitled MilanToon The Halls, aired on December 22nd, 2017. The stream earned similar results to Feast of Fun, with a peak concurrent viewership of 114, but 684 viewers total.
February 2018 saw the release of the series' first direct-to-video compilation entitled Adventures on the Rail-Road; the one-day exclusive included Casey Jr's Mail Run, along with two premiere episodes of a new sub-series entitled Railside Tales. Including a Friday sale and purchases with the Road Trip Bundle, the exclusive DVD sold 22 copies.
March 2018 saw a mini-event join the channel entitled Crotoonia's Railside Weekend, featuring the three direct-to-video premieres on Adventures on the Rail-Road, and one new Crotoonian Shoots short to conclude the weekend event.