In 2014 I had the extreme good fortune to go to Germany, during which I made darn sure to swing by Nurnberg to visit the home of Playmobil in nearby Zirndorff. A while back we took a look all the cool park exclusive and Add-On sets I got from the FunPark out there, so now lets us take a gander at the sets-proper and Specials I got while over there. And, in the interest of honesty, I'll just point out that only about half or two-thirds came from the FunPark, the rest I snagged along the whole trip over there!
I fell in love with the Alpine theme the moment I saw it. They nailed the aesthetic perfectly and the series feels so well rounded and rich. I hadn't planned on picking this up over there, BUT (a) these non-core themes get such limited releases in the US, (b) I found it on a bit of a discount at a department store over there and (c) I love the novelty of buying a very German theme while in Germany. We get a cow, a goat, a cat and 5 Klickies: a family of Hikers and a Bavarian couple who maintain this home/pub/Inn. The inside is two stories with bedding and bathroom upstairs and space for entertaining downstairs, complete with fireplace. One of the key selling points here is... a bar! And not just any bar, one with the first-ever Playmobil Beer Tap! There's also six "glass" steins with the signature dimpled circles you see all over the place there. The only thing missing is some translucent amber plastic to fill them with, or those awesome suds-caps from that one Knights set from the '90s... but I suppose that might be too controversial for a "kids toy." This bar piece will very likely find a home in my Saloon!
One of the things I love about Playmobil are the 'environments' they make so this mini-mountain is pretty exciting to me! It comes with a hiker and two rock climbers plus just a whole damn bevy of forest critters! There's a bunch of little flowers to pretty the piece up plus a bag of rocks and a 'break-away' boulder to avalanche your nature-defilers to death. It's a neat set and I'd love to see them re-release it in Western colors! The only annoying thing here is that the "mountain" and the "grass" don't connect too firmly so you can't really move the set as a single piece. And fun fact, when first revealed the mountain had a cross on top, as many Alpine trails do, but there was enough of a public outcry that they changed it to something non-denominational.
Alpine: Watering Trough
Another fun bit of "environment" for the collection, this will probably end up in my Medieval village or something. There's really nothing all that exciting here, just a family out for a hike who are so parched they much subside on log-water. The play feature is pretty novel. Under the rock is a water reservoir which, once you fill, you can pump into the trough. The trough has a hole in one where excess water can drain out, it then drips into a groove in the "grass" which drains back into the reservoir. Clever and novel, to be sure, but the pump button on top of the rock is fairly conspicuous and hurts the realism of the rest of the set (but at least it's brown so you can kind of pretend its a stump). Not an especially great set, but it's a cute one I suppose.
You know me - I love me some toys of toys plus this had the added novelty of recreating the actual Playmobil delivery trucks they have over there (I saw one near the Funpark!) so I just had to have it. We get a single, caged palette filled with mini cardboard boxes which duplicate the actual box art for some older sets which is pretty fun, though sparse contents for the container. The actual container is remarkably neat with rotating "locks" on the doors kind of like classic safes. The graphics on the sides are just stickers, but the thickest, firmest stickers I've ever had the pleasure of applying. There's also two circular hatches on the top of the container, and the whole container is removable from the trailer (which, in turn, is removable from the cab). It's a big set, and not something I'd normally get but it's a very cool memento of my trip to the FunPark!
Come the hell on, guys... why doesn't every person on the planet have one of these!? It's a toy of a Port-o-Potty/Port-o-John/whatever-your-local-term-for-it-is!!! We get two construction works to fight over whose turn it is, plus a couple safety cones, a shovel and a "Men at Work" sign depicting some shoveling - all of which lets you create your own hilarious scenarios in, on and around the Port-o-Potty! The s**t-shack itself is simple and sturdy, and comes complete not only with a seat-lid but, yes, a roll of toilet paper!!! Now your very own toys can re-enact the age-old "over/under" debate. This is the very definition of novelty (the english term Playmobil uses to refer to it's products, actually) and is an absolute must have!
Easter Egg: Pirate
The Easter Egg sets are a fun concept but can tend to be a little hit-or-miss. This set is certainly closer to "hit" with a neat, though un-exciting, Pirate figure and a small row boat. Where it exceeds is the accessories! Two flintlocks, a rifle, a golden chest, small barrel, beige sack (I remain kinda blown away by how much better this tooling looks in "real" colors), an awesome rum bottle a bag full of individual coins! ALL of these are VERY welcome additions to the dioramas!
Lechuza: Backyard Cookout
Playmobil is made by a company called Geobra and about a decade or so ago the owner, Horst Brandstatter, was frustrated in his search for stylish, reliable planters and thus tasked his R&D team to create some. Thus, Lechuza (spanish for "owl") was born - plastic, self-watering planters for your everyday needs. They did a tie-in set earlier whose novelty has always tickled yet eluded me so I was eager to snap this set up once I saw it! We get two of the signature Lechuza planters (which even duplicate the self-watering reservoir in the 'dirt' mold) PLUS a Weber brand barbecue grill - too cool! There's plenty of stuff here to decorate out your modern City backyard but me? I'm just after the super novel cross-promotion!
Knights: Saint Christopher (Golden Knight on Horse)
I must confess that I don't know the story behind this special release but he is too cool looking to pass up. The armor has a very nice gold sheen to it and I can't really tell if it's paint, plastic or a combination. The horse's saddle has some great ribbon-y bits to it as well. One thing I really dig is the inclusion of a clasp which clips on to a peg on the back-armor that allows you to store the shield back there - not bad!
Special: Albrecht Durer
Now this is SUPER COOL! It's a Klickie of famed painter Albrecht Druer and it is only available at the giftshop for the Druer Home museum in Old Town Nuremberg! I wish more places had such unique exclusives, mainly because I love them as souvenirs from my travels (like, why doesn't Lego have a minifigure in a "I [heart] ___" shirt for all it's flagship stores!?). This guy creatively takes some existing tooling and folds in some great paint detailing to make him unique. He comes in the outfit worn in the self portrait, the painting is a sticker we have to apply to the frame, which is darn novel. His curly hair is recreated by using one of the chainmail hood/hair pieces from the Knights theme to clever effect. He also gets a very cool cape that swoops around his neck in front which I've never seen before but needs to be used much more regularly. I love this set - it's a perfect exclusive. Not really something missing from the collection but very special as a stand alone piece!
Special Plus: Pirate with Cannon
Wellllllll... I'm pretty tired of the tattooed pirates but at least this guy has a different color that the previous ones with this pattern. And he comes with a cannon, so that's a plus too. I dig this modern version of the firing cannon, which has the cannon ball as a rubber tip on the firing projectile. But, this isn't a very exciting or unique release unfortunately.
Special Plus: Woman with Calves
Man, how cute are those calves? And they even have little bell-collars so they don't get lost! The girl is nice; a great pan-theme design which may join the Bavarian couple up top or plug in to my Medieval village. She does get a very modern bucket, but everything else about the set does exactly what I need it to!
Special Plus: Angel & Devil
Now THIS is brilliant! I would have LOVED it if devil's skin color was red and I think the cloud would look better in light gray but all-in-all this is a genius use of the Two-Pack format and in retrospect I should have got some extras for around the house and as gifts!
Special Plus: Woman with Swan
This figure immediately brings to mind a classical Southern Belle so no doubt she will fit right in to my Western era sets. Thanks to the FI?URES line the big dress is all-to-familiar but the printing on it helps make it feel more unique and breaks up the pale coloring. Plus, she comes with a dainty parasol! The swan is novel as is his tiny pond. Fun fact: it's Playmobil water like the pond here that has made me obsessed with translucent blue plastic and sculpted water.
Special Plus: Pirate with Gold
Now THAT is a cool pirate! I love the rich dark colors of his outfit and the gray, ribbon-ed beard looks surprisingly excellent against it! I really dig him with the pet monkey and stylish fencing foil. The lantern has always been a favorite piece and one can never have enough treasure chests or treasure!
Special Plus: Tracker with Dog
This guy is neat, sort of feels like a Wilding. Not entirely sure what I'll do with him but he's kind of a perfect set - gives you enough to create your own story without pigeon-holing you too much. Like, is this a good-guy Ranger or a bad-guy Hunter? Only YOU can know for sure!
Special Plus: Wood Chopper
The figure is fun, I like the colors and combinations but I 100% bought this for the stump and pile of wood! The firewood stack comes with two removable bundles which can fit on in a couple places on the top. I do wish there was a bundle that could fill-in the rat-hole, but what're ya gonna do?
Two-Packs: Alpine Mother & Son
Got this for much the same reason as the "Girl with Calves" above - it's nice diorama filler. I'll probably break up this family, but that's okay since the little boy really is just a neighbor who has been following blondie around incessantly of late as his body begins to go through some changes. He'll get kicked up to the Bavarian family and she'll likely end up in the Medieval village; milking pigs there, or whatever we're meant to make of this scenario.
Two-Packs: Sheriff & Outlaw
Two more wonderful, visually striking Western figures, but for the love of GOD - PLEASE cut it out with the "angry eyebrows," PLEASE!!! I'm also getting burnt-the-heck-out of Sheriffs, Deputy's and just anyone wearing a star badge - how much law can one town have!? Aside from those 5 bits of paint, though, this is a perfect set!
Western: Carry-Along Playset
I kept putting off getting this set, but then saw this on a good discount over there and finally picked it up. The idea of it is fun, and I certainly understand why they would include a Sheriff's office but man... they ALWAYS do Sheriff Offices, and indeed have a far better one available through the Add-On catalog. The real reason to get this is the Bank, which hasn't been offered in decades. The carrying case concept is nice but while there is good theme-ing on the outside the insides are flat and bland as hell - LAY-ZEEEEE. But, at least now I have a Bank for my Old West town, I just wish they'd included an alternate sticker for the Sheriff's Office so that we could make it something else, but whatever. At least it has some good accessories to populate the Office in the Add-On catalog (which I still need to get). The three Klickies are simple as heck but painted wonderfully. The Banker is pretty good and I LOVE the Bandit! The Sheriff is good, but I am tired of Western Klickies with badges. Another big frustration is that though the bank comes with with money (and the sacks are yellow rather than the more recent and better beige) the cash is all... Euros!? Laaaaaame. At least they could have just run that tooling in green plastic to allude to US cash.
Western: Indian Superset
I really love the Superset format but alas they don't really make it over to the US so I was ecstatic to score this one while over there. Anything to help pad out my Indian Village is a welcome addition! getting another Teepee is excellent and I appreciate the inclusion of the two Braves, but man I wish one could have been a woman. Well, at least it wasn't a solider or outlaw or something. We also get a canoe, a painted steer skull, drum sticks (but no drum) and, awesomely, a peace-pipe! There's also a painted horse and, YET ANOTHER, Chief. In fact, this Chief is identical to the one that came with the Magazine save but for the headdress, which has less paint here. I guess, looking at it all I can see why this didn't make it over to the US. On top of the complicated relationship with have with depictions of the Old West, it's really just a diorama expander rather than self-contained story. Regardless, I adore it and I'm excited to have it the collection - now if only I could find some of the earlier ones!