Rustin's Spoils of the Week #62

Look, Oafers - I love Playmobil. You know this, I know this... DOGS know this. I. Love. Playmobil. In fact, my earliest toy memory was receiving the Playmobil Pirate Ship from Santa. Ever since I discovered there was a "Fun Park" (not quite a theme park and not quite a store) in Florida it has been an unattainable dream to go there. Fortunately I recently found myself but a stone's throw from West Palm Beach, FL, and, at last, made the pilgrimage. It has the fully stocked Company Store you would hope for but my dreams were fulfilled when I spied, along the back wall, bin upon bin upon bin of Add-On pieces, much like the Pick-a-Brick wall at Lego Stores. It is thus that I went nuts and loaded up. I present to thee, kind reader, the resultant spree.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Bandit with Horse (7458)
Here is a trend for this week's Spoils - 2012 marks the relaunch of the Western Theme in Europe, meaning we'll get it early next year. Western is one third of my Playmo-Triumverate of collections and thus I am MORE than excited by this news, and thus many things purchased are meant to be added on to that impending expansion. Thus it is that I add yet another Bandit to my collection. In all honesty there is little new or special about this figure but were you devoid of a Bandit he'd fit that niche well. I was most drawn to the gold bag, the 'metal' case, the silver coins and the saddle. The latter is particular fun as it includes a tab at the back onto which a bedroll can be applied and, more cool-ly, has a rifle holster on the front right. So incredibly badass.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Barn Fencing (6208)
Olde Timey fencing has never been easy for me to come by so I was pleased to get this bag. It's six lengths of wooden fence and three each of two kinds of base. One kind is wider, the other more narrow and with a peghole for some small foliage. This will work equally well for Knights or for Western, though the green base means it'll likely go to the former for me. My only complaint is that the fence sections don't actually interlink at the edges, so you have to rely on them being butted up against one another for it to look visually fine. A section with a gate would be nice too. It'd be great to see a yellow base version of this get added to better fit the Western theme.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: British Soldiers (6229)
These guys got added this year to go with the re-boot of Pirates and return the Brits, now in a different kind of red coat, as the foil to piracy. Since most of the sets have Soldiers but usually it's an officer and a soldier, this is a fairly essentially set to build out those ranks. You get three soldiers per bag (clearly I bought two) which come with three hats, three "feathers," three swords, three sword holders, three rifles and three bayonets - not bad! Best of all, and unlike (sadly) most of the armybuilder sets the bodies are identical so some simple hair swaps will help differentiate them up (though one dude has a mustache and another freckles). Skip on the Officer because you'll be getting at least one with any purchase of any set. This is the best of the armybuilder sets and while I'd prefer building up a Spanish armada, one I'd recommend and will probably get more off.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Cannons (7335)
You can never have enough cannons. Especially coming off of the horrible short-changing from Lego on the Queen Anne's Revenge I felt compelled to buy two of these sets. Each set contains two full cannons, two plungers, twelve cannonballs plus a triangle and a square ball-holder. These are the U.S./Canada versions which are identical to the standard version of cannon minus one crucial bit - we get no springs in them. Thus, when you pull on the black plunger nothing happens and no ball is fired. Oh what terrible fun. The balls and plungers have four grooves on them that match the "+" guiderails in the cannon, but that just means they (especially the balls) look terribly inaccurate. Still though, a cannon is a cannon and more is always better than less!

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Classic Car (6240)
When I saw this get added to the catalog I was in lust. While I have the 1900 Victorian Mansion and several of the sets for it I never did get the car, but it looks absolutely stellar and is worth having even without any real place for it in your themes. The tires are rubber and I believe the seats are as well, perhaps a very hard rubber - they feel a bit softer than plastic. The front has a freely spinning Wind-Up crank, then of course we get a turnable steering wheel and neatest of all the shocks for the back two wheels are a separate silver piece so that it will actually do a little bit of bobbing (at least when the car is lifted by hand). The original release came in a cream color while this is a dark green which I think looks better. I believe it runs for about $17 and is just a stellar, stellar piece. A perfect execution of a cool car in the Playmobil style.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: 2 Cows with Calf (Black - 7892; Brown - 7079)
Cows! I need livestock for my themes! Originally I had got these for my Medieval village but now I'm thinking they'll be for the Cowboys. Each bag gets a Bull, a Cow and a Calf and they're available in white and brown or white and black. I got two of each. The coloring is a two-tone plastic affair which is part of the awesome Playmobil aesthetic. They're in the "new" style which I can't really make my mind up about. I think it's heightened realism better fits with the rest of the Playmobil "look" but I am still fairly attached to the old "chess piece" style of horses and cows. The Bulls have wider necks, which is cool, and the Cows get an udder that is cast in separate tan plastic. I quite like these, though honestly I wish there were a version that just offered three cows, as Bulls and Calvss I don't need as much of (perhaps in alternate colors like brown or black with whites spots!).

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Ghosts
The Playmobil Ghost is an absolute classic and this is a nice Gen 2. The adult uses much the same body paint as the Grim Reaper from Fi?ures Series 1 but gets the classic ghost sheet, a lantern and a plastic ball-and-chain. He is accompanied by a child ghost which is a repaint of a Halloween theme set from about a decade ago. The sheet is a nice piece with a bit of a point at the top, but the whole thing fits a little too tightly on the Klicky. The boy gets more green on him that I was expecting or would prefer and has Asian eyes - which seems like an conspicuous choice. Both sheets are glow-in-the-dark and are a bit too green in tint plus they don't seem to glow all that well, but I confess I only checked their powers tangentially.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Green Dragon (7481)
Here we get a repaint of the Red Dragon from one of the Dragon Knight Castles. That was one of the many good-in-theory but not so great new themes. Better than Ghost Pirates it still lacks the reconfigurable perfection and pseudo realism of the classic Steck era. At any rate - this is probably my favorite Playmo-Dragon. Classic Dragon colors and a nice sculpt that fits well within the Playmo-aesthetic. You get effectively a T-crotch with ball-jointed wings, a vertically hinged head with hinged jaw and hinged "fire tongue." The fire actually works overall better than I expected it would and I'm pleased it's there. If I could change one thing, I'd add swivels to the biceps for better wing posing, but whats there is good enough. If you get one Playmo-Dragon, make it this one!

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Horse Shed (7917)
Much like fencing this is a great omni-theme piece that fits a very necessary niche, in fact I wish I had gotten a couple of these. It's a simple five piece construction and, interestingly, the thatch roof sits in place rather than snaps in place. It would be nice if it included a gate for keeping the horses in, but as is it's a fine shelter for the equestrian ilk, and indeed living stocks of all manner.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Knights/Castle Treasure (7371)
Another thing one simply can not have enough of is treasure and thankfully this sets helps to right that. For pure decoration it's a little too pricey, but many of the pieces can be used as accessories since they are proper bits of armor and so on. In fact, this is a set worth getting duplicates of for most every piece is worth having as an accessory as well as treasure room clutter. In fact, the translucent jug and bottle I mean to move in to my Western Saloon, if I'm ever able to aquire one. Plus you get a Spaniard helmet, an Archer helmet and a Viking helmet and an assortment of crowns and scepters. Then, to round out the assortment of gold armor, there are a couple cups, bracelets, and necklaces plus a golden idol and magic lamp!

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Large Barrel (6218)
Oh my god have I coveted this beast. Ever since it's release I've yearned for this centerpiece of any Medieval tableau. Now, available for only $5, I've bought four and feel the compulsive urge to get more. The European Castle, the Medieval Inn, the Modern Wedding; Knights, Pirates, Western, it can all benefit from a giant barrel of ale. It comes in four parts, one being the base (complete with handles so it can be pallbearer-ed into place and tabs to keep the barrel upright), the main body and then identical heads for either end. It also includes three tan tabs and one spigot. There is a hole in the top of the barrel as well in either end, thus you can choose to have the whole thing plugged up, tapped or whatever have you. This is stellar and an awesome reminder of how great Playmobil is. Seriously, name me one other toyline that offers you a man-sized barrel of beer! Do it!!! You can not! Playmobil F.T.W.!!!

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Native American Chief
I hadn't looked at the new Western sets in a while before my visit so I couldn't rightly recall what all Indians we'll be getting so I decided to stock up on some necessaries - though there is definitely at least one Chief coming in the new line. This guy is very classic in his execution, in fact a bit too much so for my tastes. Basically a bit too 80s in color choice and deco. The feather on his spear and on his headdress and single, rubber pieces that fit into place surprisingly well for pieces designed and tooled in the mid '70s. He also gets a classic rifle and four or five black knives. Why? Cause he can, I suppose. It's a nice set but at this point more for the history than the play - just wait for the new sets.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Native American Family
Just like the chief, this one plays a little too "classic" for my more modern tastes. I really dig the shield though and love the doll, so those are almost worth it anyway. Plus, I've always seen but never had the "baby backpack," which actually uses a single rubber piece to both keep the baby in as well as hold the hold thing to her back by simple but effectively placed pegs and holes. The headbands are very simply and definitely dated; the man's can't even stay on his head, so hopefully we'll be getting an updated version in the new waves. I do recall we get at least one Native American Family across the new sets, and while I'm not crazy about this one, I'm very pleased to be able to Community-Build and have more than just warriors populate the camp.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: 3 Pine Trees (7725)
One of the things I love about Playmobil is its in-universe landscaping. I really like the Playmo-aesthetic and indeed at times get upset that the ground pieces they do have edges - I want a whole table top! These trees are great, though big - the tallest one is 12" tall (which is awesome considering a Klicky is just under three). One bag renders three trees and and they're pretty ingeniously constructed. There are nine layers of branches, each numbered underneath and you get numbers 1-9 for the tall tree, 3-9 for the middle tree and 5-9 for the shortest. They slide on the trunk, guided by two grooves, in ascending numerical order, and the trunk is stepped so that each piece can slide lower than it should. This was a far more complex thing than I gave it credit for and the engineering and volume of pieces and plastic certainly justify the price tag, though it does feel high for "just trees." It'd be very nice to get more and build a proper forest.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Pirate Dungeon (7377)
STECK!!!! When fate gives you access to Steck Castle pieces you don't question it, you BUY! "Steck" is the system name for the classic Playmobil construction system using male tabs on wall sections and female grooves on posts and corner pieces. It allows for an excellent amount of customizing and never gets in the way of the aesthetic of the build. System X, introduced in 2000, does a crappy job of imitating Lego while trying to pretend it doesn't. At any rate, this "Dungeon" is the only bit of Steck Castle that's still produced and is thus a must-have for true fans (oh I went there) such as myself, and thus I bought two. You get a lot of nice pieces, though you will have to work hard at finding non-prison uses for them. You also get a ton of accessories including a skeleton, a dog, a barrel/table, two stools, a mug, a plate, a jail bed, handcuffs and chained collar. The latter I'd never seen before but find delightfully twisted and imagination-inspiring. I can now hang skeletons as warning, or double up to create a "don't get too close" level of dangerous prisoner, and so on. It's a great set and a solid reminder of how vastly superior Steck is to System X, which puts the "lame" in "lamentable."

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Rebel Leader (7663)
While we will be getting new US Army Soldiers in the Western relaunch there are no Confederates, so I stocked up on a fair assault force to attack the new Fort. Of course, they'll need a Leader and thus it is that I purchased one. He gets two yellow cuffs, a Winchester rifle, a sword sash, a gold sword and a hat that wont stay on. He's a pleasant style, still of the mid-to-late '90s, so while he's not as paintfully detailed as modern Klickies he's still well enough to fit in.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Rebel Soldiers (7046)
Much like the British Soldiers above, here we get three armybuilders in a bag (again, clearly, I bought two), however they frustratingly lack homogenous uniforms. Two have partially unbuttoned coats and one does not. Sigh. No wonder the South lost with such lack of professionalism. Plus, the collar up guy has his pant legs over his boots while the others are tucked in. I like the unbuttoned variation but it has absolutely no place in a armybuilder set. None. Included are three hats, three rifles, three gun belts (with holster in back) and a "fresh from the machine" mold of five colts, which you get to remove (one of the highlights of Playmobil as a kid, seriously). It's a noble effort but like a lot of things after the mid-90s from Playmobil, the designers just do not understand what they're doing.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Shepherd with Flock of Sheep (6204)
A Shepherd with sheep? Sure, my Medieval village could certainly use one of those! It's a great two birds with one stone kind of set as it contains a full story. Plus, I get a villager and some livestock - huzzah! He gets a dog, with neck and leg articulation as well as a cape, hat and cool shovel/staff thing (the latter three are for the Shepherd, not the dog). Just a fun set for the ol' diorama.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Suspension Bridge
With Western coming back I had to finally pull the trigger and get a bridge, and you know what - it's better than I expected. I've never been too crazy about the Playmo-Rocks nor the unavoidable break-away parts of the bridge, but once in hand it all works together well enough I'm a little sad I didn't have this for childhood playtime. The break away planks are four identical pieces that clip on to four thicker bits of rope and hold in place reasonable well. Plus, the swivel-articulated nature of the rocks add a surprisingly fun level of variability. You also get a bag of little white "rock work connector" pieces and a neon red applicator key, thus you'll be able to add these with ease to any existing rockwork in your collections - and indeed I think I will, and in fact must track down additional rockwork to do so!

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Treasure Chest with Jewels (6216)
More treasure! But sadly far less impressive that the previous set. This is too less-than-impressively colored treasure chests, a couple comically bright and unrealistically colored translucent "jewels" and a bag of actually useful gold vac-metalized coins. Plus a little silver chest and some token gold trinkets. I'm very pleased for the coins, and will happily incorporate the gold pieces, but am not too thrilled about the rest. I wish the neon-red crystal had been done in dark translucent green ala Emeralds and the neon green one as proper tranny red to be rubies. But such is silly modern Playmobil.

Playmobil - Add-Ons: Windmill (6214)
Brand new to the Add-On catalog and just in time for the Western Relaunch is the windmill! Totally appropriate for Western and Farm themes the behemoth is fifteen inches tall! The fan spins and the whole top piece rotates as well. The center shaft sits free and can rotate by hand as well. The only thing I'm unclear on is what it's doing. Pumping water I suppose. Who cares though, it is absolutely classic iconography of the West and a most welcome addition to the collection. Most welcome indeed!

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20 Responses to Rustin's Spoils of the Week #62

  1. AmericanHyena says:

    I don't collect Playmobile any more (I did as a kid) but I could seriously read pages of your enthusiastic reviews of the line.

  2. jestergoblin says:

    Reading this makes me very glad I don't collect Playmobil. I could never afford it AND LEGO.

  3. Monte says:

    I got a Playmobil cowboy in a Happy Meal when I was five. Then some shitty dumbass little kid choked on one of them and they canceled the series, and next time we went to McDonald's and I found out I couldn't get a new toy I cried.

    Thanks for tearing the scab off of my childhood trauma.

  4. Ridureyu says:

    Nothing could be as good as those treasure and barrel sets.

  5. Xenos says:

    I never had Playmobile when I was a kid, but I always lusted after it. I love reading your reviews on it though, and I plan to make sure that my as of yet nonexistent children get more then their fill of these things.

    • Rustin Parr says:

      In "part 2" of my FunPark Haul I'll talk about one of the books that I got there which really articulated wonderfully the strength of Playmobil - that it gives you everything you need to tell a story but it doesn't tell you what the story is.

      Granted, that's gotten muddied somewhat of late in some of the themes, but unlike most other lines there are no clear-cut, well defined characters or plots, thus it's entirely up to the kids/owners/players to create whatever their imagination can proffer. I think that's incredibly true and certainly a big part of why I bonded so strongly with the brand and, like you suggest, the more I think about the more I see the incredible IMPORTANCE of Playmobil in the development of a child!

  6. PrfktTear says:

    If I had room and unlimited resources I think I would want to own just about every Playmobil. Its a good thing I don't, cuz this could be a dangerous path to take myself down ---

  7. myplasticfriend says:

    Yes more playmobil reviews! Im really looking forward to the western line to beef out my native American sets, also the cavemen, do you have any of those yet? They've not appeared in the UK yet.. My current fave set is my falcon knights siege weapon, which I liked much more than i expected I would, every inch brims with fun. Keep up the playmo coverage!

  8. Sean_C says:

    They stil make Steck construction medieval houses for the add-ons. They aren't cheap, but Playmobil usually isn't cheap.

    I agree about Steck's greatness, and think current Playmobil building are lame in comparison to 15 to 20 years ago.

    • Rustin Parr says:

      Very true, but I want Steck CASTLE parts. And indeed, the high price tag has lamentably always kept me away from the framework houses. I'm hoping we get a DS re-release of the old "Museum" set soon, just Europe is, so that'll be plenty of both!

  9. Manny S says:

    How does the Large Barrel look with minimates?

  10. Boot Hill says:

    Will there be SDCC coverage this year? (Also, bring back Spoils of the Week!)

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