Two weeks ago I reviewed the first half of my epic Playmobil FunPark haul - the Add-On purchases - and now it is time for Round 2 - the standard releases! I get a lot of flack for my unadulterated love of Playmobil and it can, admittedly, be a tough argument to make but I'd like to pull a quote from a book I'll review below. 16-year-old Playmo-Fan Trixie said it best: "I want to write down the reasons why your toy has fascinated me so much. On the one hand, it imitates everything truthfully; but at the same time, it is created to appeal to children. It doesn't look too grown up, yet it is not too cute either. Everything is simply picturesque: The colours are so diverse, the details so carefully thought out, the size is not clumsy. And it is these very things that fill the toy with so much life..."
Playmobil - Advent Calendar
Oooooh man, YES. There are a lot of great things about this set, but the bottom line is THRONE!!!! I've been coveting the Owl Throne ever since its release with the Fantasy line about a decade ago, but it runs an obscene $25+! Even at the FunPark it broke my heart with a pricetag in the ballpark of $28. So, what happens as I meander about, bemoaning my throne-less fate but I find not only an advent calendar, but one that include THE throne AND is only $20!!! This is a great set for that reason alone but look at all you get - the throne, 4 Klickies, a table, a stool, a weapons rack, 2 horses, an owl with stand and a slew of accessories. You better believe I debated both long and hard about picking up a second set. My ONLY complaint is that the King has a boring, blank black torso. At the least an Owl logo like his shield would have helped. But that throne, man... so cool. Big, gold and highly ornate with an Owl motif, it's a two-part piece with a gap allowing for the King's cape to hang down. A true Must Have.
Playmobil - Books: Collector Guide
They were selling two books, this being one. Published in 2009 it's the third edition of the Collector's Guide; and what, pray tell, is that? Why, it's a thick paperback with full color photos of practically every item geobra Brandstatter has released (or licensed!) for Playmobil!!! Not only just the standard line, which is broken up chronologically, but with separate sections for Specials, exclusives and so on - it even covers plastic totes, stickers, etc. The only thing I like more than owning toys is looking at them and this is a mesmerizingly stellar tome for doing just that. And did I mention it's all in full color photos? Plus text in both English and German with info on rarity and release years for each item. TOO COOL.
Playmobil - Books: The Story of a Smile
The other book is this volume covering the history of Playmobil, its community and legacy. It's very clearly written for the German market, Playmobil's home country, and was translated fairly directly to English. The bigger issue, though, is that the author is clearly writing for a casual audience, not an invested or impassioned one. As a result, to me, a fan, some passages read a bit condescending and others overly placating and "ass-kissing" to Playmobil, et al. Regardless, some interesting things are learned here - for instance the revolutionary thing about Playmobil was that its release in 1974 was essentially the birth of the Action Figure; everything before it had, at best, been non-articulated window-dressing for toy cars. Amidst the pedantry, too, comes some very well articulated (no pun intended, surprisingly) clarity on what has drawn me to Playmobil for the bast majority of my life - it leaves the "story" entirely to one's own imagination and everything works with everything else. With no truly defined characters they can be whatever we make them, and since everything is in a universal scale it leaves everything wide open to the full imagination. Plus it goes into some very cool anecdotes about specific collectors and the ingenious full worlds and histories they've built with their collections. It's a hard book to recommend, based on its tone, for anyone other than an unfamiliar parent you're trying to turn on to Playmobil, but overall I'm pleased to have it (especially since it was the last/display copy at the FunPark).
Playmobil - Duo-Packs: Pirate & Red Coat
The Duo-Packs started out awesome, but since Target phased out Playmobil they seem to have gotten pretty lamentable. At last we see a return to reasonable pairings, but while it's stellar to get an armybuilder in the Red Coat one can't do much with more than one of this pirate, so it's a pretty narrow appeal. Both figures are nice, at least. I'm guessing this is some sort of Redcoat Leader since his fancy torso and black collar/cuffs are pretty rank-full. He gets a hat, sword-strap and sword. The Pirate is a nice, new, plausible design and he gets a hat, sword and pistol. I'm quite pleased with each figure and happy to add them to the collection (I'm just always in favor of armybuilders for these kinds of releases).
Playmobil - Compact Sets: Apple Harvest
This base could reasonably pass for Medieval plus it gets a bunch of apples, of which I have none, so I decided to buy in. You actually get a TON of stuff with it so it ends up being a steal for the relatively low price point (I think it was circa $20). In addition to base and tree you get 2 Klickies, an adult and a baby goat, an adult and baby hedgehog, a mouse, two squirrels and a bird. Plus a hand-truck (with flip-up bottom), stack of lumber, bucket, ladder, basket, tray and about 20 apples. The two fence sections connect via a single peg and peghole which is surprisingly great because it means you can "pose" the fences however you want. Plus, the adult Klickie has a hat with the Playmobil "P" on it! Super meta-cool!. This is a great set for the dioramist in me, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to parents because it comes with a veritable slew of tiny pieces which are both easy to lose and swallow.
Playmobil - Easter Eggs: Orange Falcon Knight
This is the first "Easter Egg" purchase I'd ever made and it was... well, I bought it more for the novelty of the egg than for the set. It takes the Red Falcon logo and changes it from great red and teal to gray and neon orange.... nope. The Knight gets a torch, flag pole with flags and two swords and scabbards. Using the same torso as the Dragon Knights the scabbard are hung from the pegs originally intended for the bat wings and thus you get a totally bad-ass double-sworded warrior. But in hideous bright orange. Also included is the grody "medieval cannon" of which I am clearly not a fan. It launches little maces via a push-the-spear function ala Hasbro missile launchers, but I've not actually been able to figure out how to make it fire... At least the mace projectiles can also be used as mace accessories. The Egg is a two piece thing that snaps together and apart easily. The top has a tiny hole for air and the bottom, a slot for the cardboard packaging to hold in place. A nice touch is that the bottom slot is exactly the dimensions of a piggy-bank slot so you can use the Egg as one! However... the slot is on the bottom, and thus is kind of a terrible piggy bank as a result.
Playmobil - Fi?ures 2 Boys: Knight 01712 0160; 002111 & 01702
Imagine my shock and utter glee to discover that Fi?ures Series 2 was out! I nabbed two packs from each Boys and Girls assortments with designs on completing the set at standard retail. Unlike Series 1 this wave not only gets just one Knight, but one that is actually worth having! His armor is all silver placing it in the vastly preferred realm of historical plausibility. However, it is pretty conspicuous that he isn't wearing gloves or gauntlets. He gets a shield with a Red Dragon logo which is a bit too flashy for my taste though the serpent is pretty cool (and isn't that the icon of Wales?), and best of all the sticker is already applied! The helmet is new to me but is familiar and thus I think there are no new pieces here. The face surprisingly has big "angry eyebrows" and even a Mike Tyson cheek tattoo. It doesn't matter much as the face is fully covered by the helmet but they seem like interesting, if not odd, choices.
Playmobil - Fi?ures 2 Boys: Pirate 35311 5057; 001781
Next we have The Pirate, who is the unofficial mascot of Series 2, much as the Blue Knight was on the previous release. He's a great Klicky well within the standard Playmo-look of pirates these days. However, he stands out for three specific reasons: first, he gets an all-black version of the new trenchcoat piece (though with gold buttons painted on), a silver and gold fencing foil and most excellently a translucent green "Crystal Skull." I don't understand the accessory but I LOVE IT! It's actually an all-new sculpt with flat sockets in the eyes allows two "bedazzle diamond" stickers to fit into place, though I did not choose that route. Included is a baton which fits perfectly into the socket at the base allowing the skull to be carried about. It's just darned cool and leads the imagination in many great directions! I'll definitely be trying for a second one of these.
Playmobil - Fi?ures 2 Girls: Adventurer 02612 9921; 038323
Whoa... Playmobil is now doing licensed characters? I mean, come on - this is clearly the movie version of Lara Croft/Tomb Raider. And you know what? I'm not too crazy about it. Not only do I ardently never want Playmobil to take on any licenses this is just a boring-as-hell figure. All black? Really? She gets two handguns, a neat double-holster belt and a silly head-lamp. I imagine that this could be cool for all of the no one who collects the Special Agents line, but it's just a conspicuous oddity to me.
Playmobil - Fi?ures 2 Girls: Ballerina 02812 9921; 019787
Now this is a great use of the single release format. A figure that doesn't exactly fit in with any singular set but works very well for the City Life theme and invites some fun stage customizing. Plus, she looks great too! She uses the new bikini bottom waist (which actually has the arm/head sockets molded in place, so that's one less thing you have to construct) and gets new legs with ballerina shoes. The Tutu is a separate piece which fits on during figure assembly (and I should mention that Series 2 now includes directions on how to assemble the figures). Everything is well sculpted and works nicely in the current Playmo-aesthetic. Plus, she's a great battle-builder and even I'm tempted to triple or quadruple up.
Playmobil - Specials: Girl with Baby Goats
I picked this up mainly for the accessories to be absorbed by Ye Olde Medieval Village. The girl is certainly of the 20th/21st century so I'm not too sure what I'll do with her but I dig the kerchief "hat." She comes with a bottle of milk, which is awkwardly squeezed thin in the center so it can be held - a valid design choice but still an odd looking one. Yet, it's the two baby goats, apple, two bits'o'vegetation and basket that drew me in.
Playmobil - Specials: Mongol Warrior
I don't know who they'll fight but I like them! These guys are built entirely out of existing pieces and do a fine job of "feeling" historically accurate while looking like some artistic license was taken. I don't have much else to say about them, actually. If they can build a battle I'll always at least double-up on a figure. This is another Special that really makes one wonder how much longer it will be until we see an Ancient China and/or Japan theme.
Playmobil - Specials: Swan Knight
This Special has the distinct honor of being a one-off Knight that I actually kind of dig. I really like the color choice and the even balance between the silver, red and black. His shield is cool and I really like the black Swan head piece. In fact, I love this figure as the "Black Swan" and it makes me really lament not having the old golden Swan Knight. Cause that battle would be amazing. Looking at it in that context gives this figure a Game of Thrones-y sort of coolness. If you can find it, get it.
Playmobil - Specials: Zulu Warrior
Why get one when you can buy two, twice the price? Once again, not sure where I'll use this guy but I really like the look of him and, as Mama Parr always said, "build them battles, boy!" The spears and feathers come from the Native Americans, around since the '70s, while I believe the shield is unique to this and a previous "Zulu" Special. The surprise was the inclusion of machetes - nice! They fit into back-holsters on the belt. Super cool figure and I probably should have got a couple more.
Playmobil - Specials Plus: Doubleaxe Warrior with Arsenal
So this range was brand new to me when I stumbled upon it at the FunPark store. Since Fi?ures is moving into the "old" Specials range Playmobil is stepping up that format to something more akin to the Easter Egg sets, sans egg - i.e. Klicky with extra accessories. This guy gets a tall double-axe, a shield, a long axe, a sword, a standard axe and a mace plus the old Victorian Broom holder now cast in silver to hold them. He's sporting a red-on-silver color scheme I essentially abhor. I got this for one reason, and it should be obvious - the all-new helmet with awesome bull horns! This guy would OWN the battlefield were is not for his silly red coloring. No dice. Still, some very nice accessories to be had, I just hope this will get reused and recast in a better color down the road.
Playmobil - Pirates: Treasure Transporter with Rowboat
This is the same rowboat recently re-released with Pirates and a Hammerhead shark. It's a pretty bad design because it requires either one off-center rower or two rowers which can only hold an oar with one hand. In essence there's no way for it to look natural. The upshot, though, is Spaniards! Ever since Weta's awesome designs for King Miraz and his army in Prince Caspian I've been hooked on the Spanish helmet and am excited to get some here. I just wish they'd kept that army going longer than one mediocre series of Pirates. You also get two little barrels, a treasure chest and a bottle of rum. Fun fact: the bottle is hollow and its concave hole is exactly the size of a child Klicky's head so it can be worn as a hat.
Playmobil - Rescue: Doctor with Incubator
Ever since the infamous Amazon review of the T.S.A. Airport Checkpoint I've been on the eager look-out for any abnormal Playmobil set, and thus this has been high on my list. Technically part of the Rescue theme this is a Paramedic with an ambulance-ready baby incubator, by which I mean the wheeled legs can fold up under the machine and there are handles on both ends for it to be carried by. While this is a legitimate piece of hospital equipment and fair addition to that theme, it's a bit shocking of a release. See, what we're looking at is a toy "premie" - a baby born too early to survive on its own. Not only does that seem potentially insensitive to families, it has a hint of bad taste to it. Borders on the inappropriate, and that's no doubt why it's been phased out.
Playmobil - Zoo: Animal Handler with Exotic Birds
Hot off the Special Plus find I was eager to continue the trend of Klicky plus extra accessories. Besides, pelicans and flamingos are cool and I didn't have any of those. Well, it turns out I actually did, so while pelicans are perfect for my Pirates display, what can I do with an army of Flamingos? The Handler is solid figure that could work well as a standalone, though there is certainly something Zoo-ish about him. He gets a bucket and fish, too! Imagine! A bucket AND fish!!!