One hundred and fifty editions of Spoils of the Week, not too shabby for four years worth of toy buying! Being thoroughly sentimental I always want to do something a "special" for these milestones, so I've decided to finally dig into what has unintentionally become an annual, epic Playmobil haul. But this one is extra special, you see...
In 2014 I realized a life-long, bucket-list level dream and was able to visit the Playmobil FunPark outside of Nuremberg, Germany! It's next to Geobra Headquarters, the company that produces Playmobil (as well as a line of self-watering, plastic planters called "Lechuza") which makes that FunPark the effective "Home of Playmobil." The FunPark is a Theme Park but not in the Disney or Universal Studios way we tend to think of in the US. Rather, there are no rides or 4D shows, etc. Instead, taking a cue from the Playmobil product itself, it's all about interactivity and play so imagine a large Tom Sawyer's Island-esque area full of Playmobil toys in themed lands and life-size replicas of some them, all nestled on a hill overlooking a gorgeous, agrarian valley. Needless to say it was epically exciting for me, loads of fun, and afforded plenty of opportunities for Playmo-shopping! So, let's take a look at one half of said purchasing... the Add-Ons and ancillaries!
I mean, come on - it's a toy bison! How could one pass these up!? I've never had any of these guys and seeing how into the Western theme I am I couldn't leave without a couple of these iconic animals. The sculpt and molding are wonderful, a bit simplified as compared to the modern aesthetic but a wonderful bridge between Playmobil's past and present. They have a hinge joint at the neck, a swivel cut at the tail and even a sculpted on... ahem, boy-part. These are pretty much Playmobil as it's best!
I didn't have any of these small dragons so this guy, as a single add-on, seemed like a good fit for me. He's not much taller (to the head) than a Klicky/figure but his hunched-back is designed to seat a one - which is pretty cool. He has swivel cuts at the legs and head with hinged lower jaw and fire-tongue. The fire-tongue is cute, but I'm not terribly crazy about it - he's permanently stuck with a non-threatening burst of fire in his mouth... I wasn't crazy about the colors at first, but they've certainly grown on me plus I kind like the idea of an army having based its colors on the dragon as opposed to a dragon conveniently having the same colors as an army. And, as always, I love that the white of the eyes, horn and claws is injection molded plastic that is part of the same piece at the dark blue - too cool!
First off - they're adorable. Second - they're new/recent sculpts with more detailing (such as an the inclusion of an udder). Third - flowers, aaaaawwww. Fourth - it's a family. Fifth - they work with ANY number of themes. If afforded the opportunity I'll likely nab a second set to beef up a proper herd. Plus, they're just so cute!
Add-Ons: Hunting Perch
I've had my eye on this piece for decades, but never really understood it. In fact, I still don't (beyond just being a semi-conspicuous vantage point) but they are EVERYWHERE in the Bavarian countryside so it felt like it'd be a wonderful souvenir of the trip too. This bundle has a very welcome medium-sized pine tree and a feeding hutch, complete with two batches of hay. The perch itself is a simple and sturdy construction. I do wish I'd found/gotten one of the full sets which tended to include a whole bevy of forest animals, but what are ya gonna do? I think this will fit in nicely with the Alps Theme sets I picked up over there as well.
I love cephalopods and just couldn't say no. This sucker is damn big, almost 10" long, and he works as a squirt toy. The head holds the water and it squirts forth from the forward-most extended arm. It's neat, but I'm not crazy about the water feature but it's the coloring that's always been the big turn off. Were this more realistically colored I would likely LOVE this sucker, but as a black "evil" beast it's just goofy and mediocre.
I've never really understood the Cult of the Penguin. Sure they're cute... but not "loose your s**t" cute. However, this family bundle seemed pretty fun and I dig the new sculpts, particularly the extra splash of color on the adults. I really like the idea, too, that I could reenact mom vomiting food into the baby - now THAT is a toy! However, the adult is either bent too far or the baby is too tall because, alas, their beaks do not line up. Bummer. Still though, this is a cool set overall, and one can never have enough fish or crabs. Well... you can have enough crabs... Ahem.
I'd been fighting the urge to get this battle-pack mainly because I hate the overwhelming and seemingly-unrealistic blue on the one guy but the chance for such a cool female pirate was ultimately too good to pass up. I suppose the blue guy is broadly plausible, but I such prefer the more muted colors of the other two. The girl's outfit is killer and the bald guy may well be the most "realistic" looking pirate they've yet made! So ultimately, I guess I was wrong about this one... it's a pretty good set.
Aaaaaah, I'm in love with this guy!!! As you know, I'm crazy-nuts about the Western theme so this guy obviously appeals to me on that front but moreover he is, in essence, a modern upgrade to a figure from the old '80s Miners set which I not only had but which was instrumental in fostering my utter adoration of Playmobil! So he's a winner on every front! I just... I don't know where to start. The guy himself is wonderful, as is his mule. The donkey comes with an new saddle for carrying stuff which now attaches via rubber straps rather than the original's string. He comes with a barrel and a fabric sleeping bag, not to mention a pistol, pickaxe and awesome lantern. If there was a flaw to this set it would be the lack of a pan for panning through his rock/dirt debris. Actually, it really feels like this guy was pulled from a proper, fuller set and I lament what that set could have been.
Playmobil rockwork was a huge mainstay of the '90s Add-On catalogs but none of the sets ever appealed to me. The lay outs were always so fanciful, so hinged upon arcs and bridges that they seemed pointless. However, that aesthetic does have some broad relevance to the Western theme so, sure, what the hell - I bought a set. This is composed of 10-ish separate rock pieces that interconnect via hinged plugs so that you can have the rocks be ground or as elevated pieces. It's a nice concept but what is missing here are some "rock plugs" to cover up the unused pegholes. Well, that and large, solid pieces that could really pass as mountains. Also, I think this coloring is a bit duller than the recent Western Sets so I'm not sure how well it'll integrate with the Gold Mine, for instance, but it should be fine enough as a stand along environment/theme-ing.
Add-Ons: Water Tower
It's a bulky S.O.B. and a rough thing to fit into internationally traveling luggage but man is it cool! I have no Playmo-train, nor do I expect to ever (unlikely to be re-released and super-expensive on the after-market) BUT this thing is an icon for the Old West and it's being discontinued from the Add-Ons, so here we are. It's a solid foot tall and is sturdy as heck. There is a ladder and catwalk for some diorama fun plus it actually holds water! There's a hinged hatch up top and a rubber hose going from the tank to inside the pipe. The pipe is hinged and connected by a string to a hinged plank that can "lock" into place holding the pipe angled up, and therefore stopping the water flow. It's damn ingenious to do this in the toy and adds a surprising volume of fun, or certainly appreciation at least, to it! This is 110% Playmobil at its best (which is no doubt why it's from last century...). The only downside, aside from not having a train, is that the strings around the tank, though an awesome detail, where REALLY tough to get on since they are exactly the proper length for taught-ness and have no slack.
Add-Ons: Western Family
You get the theme going on here with my collecting. It's kind of a weird set, but it's nice to have none-the-less. The kids are adorable and I love the toy cannon. The Mom is pretty annoying though because she is identical to the Dancer from FI?URES Series 3 - seriously, they couldn't even give her a different color hair let alone a different hair piece (or more motherly outfit)? And Dad is super frustrating too. From the neck-down he's really neat (though I could do without the bullet-belt), but from the neck up he's the lead guy in the Outlaw Gang. I suppose it's kind of neat... the implicit story here, a Bandit and his hooker wife on the run but actually being good parents raising two "normal" kids, but guldarnit this is NOT the only family I want to populate my western town. If only the Dad didn't have the angry eyes or the painted damage to the top-hat he'd be pretty cool, but alas... There you have it.
Add-Ons: Western Fort Wall Extensions
Fort Brave feels pretty small once fully built so I absolutely had to get a set of wall extensions (actually I got two sets but have only opened one so far). We get two "long" wall pieces, one with a cannon/gun port and a number of walkways for the interior side of the walls. And then, of course, it's the AWFUL System X which means you have spent 15+ minutes popping in the stupid connectors (ugh, this system is SO STUPID. Why are those connectors NOT just part of the wall!?). Anyway, this set certainly helps build out the Fort and make it more liveable.
Add-Ons: Viking Tent
Oooooh Viking Theme... you were so almost-great! If only the Long House had actually BEEN a Long House and had there been one more middle price range cool set it definitely could have nailed things. One of the neater sets came with this tent so I'm super jazzed they've re-released it so that one can build up the camp (indeed I got two of these). I love the campfire, and the tree is a nice inclusion but that bear rug is fairly rare and definitely ties the set together! The tent is pretty cool - the Norse horse pattern is excellent and interestingly the tent is plastic that clicks together in a hinge-ish joint. It's kind of an odd choice but it ends creating a pretty sturdy structure!
Near the cafeteria at the HOB Center (a big, glass enclosed, multi level play/dining/meeting area) was this cart full of figure parts, not dissimilar to the FI?URES line or even the "Build A Figure" kiosk in Lego Stores. They had some parts not in the FI?URES line so I went for it and came up with these two blokes. At the end of the cart was this "press" device that you use to apply pressure to the figure and thus "lock" it all place. I kind of assumed the FI?URES were different tooling since they could be disassembled so easily but it turns out there is just some kind of magic PSI number that compresses and locks the pieces together - fascinating.
Funpark: Dino Eggs
At check-out in the FunPark shop were these ADORABLE little eggs with a baby dino in each. Apparently they holdovers from a game or something but who cares, they're cute as heck! The eggs split in half via a "crack" pattern (which annoyingly can only close in a specific but not obvious orientation) and each dino has a swivel neck and dual injected plastic for coloring. It's a bummer there isn't a green one but it's still a novel set as is.
Oooooobsession! The cafeteria had these lenticular cups, so of course I just HAD to have them! Both the "blue" cups have the same Pirate-y graphics featuring their Pirate Mascot guy, Rico. The other, pink, one features the "Fantasy/Fairy" theme. It would be very cool if there were a small cup for every, or at least major, themes but what're ya gonna do? And even though the graphics are lenticular, they don't "move"... they're just double printed. So... neat?
Mind a'blown! Playmobil (beer) mugs!!! Also available from the counter-service cafeteria are these amazing goodies. They're shaped like traditional German beer mugs but cast in the immediately familiar Playmobil plastic that has a sort of wood-grain texture. On the inside lip is a line with a half liter mark, and a similar, smaller one on the exterior. I do REALLY wish that the Playmobil brand and/or logo were more prominent on it (or, indeed, some theme-related sculptural relief) but at least the branding is on the bottom! I love these so much - they are the ultimate memento - only available at the FunPark and so very German!
Funpark: Rico, the Pirate
The Funpark has a sort of mascot in the guise of this generic pirate Klickie. He appears on a lot of the advertising and signage for the park and they even have a big, felt costume that someone wears for photo ops (just like Mickey at Disneyland). After some digging it appears he has the name of Rico, because why not. I was very tickled to find him at the checkout for the big Funpark store, particularly because he has the Funpark logo printed on his back. He comes with a skull'n'crossbones printed on his bandana (a unique feature I believe) plus a blue Macaw and perch. He's simple, almost too much so, but the figure is a very cool, very special memento from my visit to the park!
Inside the park, down near the pirate ship, is a sort of a "splash section" with a couple giant clam shells full of water which spills out. Now for the cool part - they fill those shell-pools up with a myriad of little oceanic Playmobil accessories and kids are free to fill up their hand-sized shells with as many of those goodies as possible! AND, the shells only cost 1 Euro (in the Funpark Store) so it's really a hell of a deal! Fortunately for us adults they also sell the accessories in a single polybag and everything you see here is contained. So, so, so, so, so damn cool of them! Such a great, fun thing for kids!
Funpark: Treasure Chests
Just like the Shells, they also sell these treasure chests for a single Euro and you can take them to the Old West section of the park and pan for "gold" and search for "jewels" to fill the chest with! That stuff is basically just painted pebbles, but still it's novel. There were three types, the black and red ones you see here plus a white with gold one. Since I was only after these as diorama fodder I easily passed on the latter since I already had one back home.
Magazines: 40th Anniversary
So there is an officially licensed Playmobil Magazine in Europe which sort of follows the Eaglemoss format of Magazine + Collectible, in this case an exclusive Klicky. However, since 2014 was the 40th Anniversary for Playmobil they released this double-sized issue with a two-pack of an original style Knight and a modern Knight. If you've been following along for a while here you probably know how I feel about that modern one... It is somewhat ironically humorous that they went for of the 'fantasy' Knights rather than a 'historical' one, but that's Playmobil of late. It is, however, very fun and exciting to get a re-pro of an original Klicky, complete with vac-metallized accessories! What's really cool is that he's the old body as well, with very flat feet and non-articulated, same-colored hands. This is just a super, super fun thing and a stellar memento from my insanely well timed trip to Germany!
I was TOTALLY blown away by how phenomenal the Stone Age theme was so I absolutely had to have this one. This Chief-y figure isn't THAT terribly unique but he's still darn fun. I do wish it'd been a woman since that theme is sorely lacking in that department, but dems dah shakes. I particularly dig the skull hat/crown he's sporting.
And you know I LOVE the Western theme! If I'm being honest here, I'm pretty tired of Playmobil Indian Chiefs (I mean, really, how many can there be?) but this is Europe and I get that that is what's exotic and exciting over there. Plus, this guy is gorgeously painted with loads of pretty details so he certainly is fun to look at!
And my other great passion is Knights (there was a Pirate Magazine but somehow I didn't get it... must have been an unimpressive figure) so here we are. I managed to score the Falcon Knight castle on discount from Toys R Us a few years back so I became semi-dedicated to building up that army. I really, really like the colors and especially that they and the logo could potentially be played as good or evil (though they were clearly the bad guys of that wave). This guy takes all of that fun and adds in the wicked cool horns to the helmet - now THIS is what I'm talking about! Fanciful but historically accurate/plausible. I love him... this guy will be the token badass of that army for me!