I always used to think that Playmobil was for preschoolers. But I've had to revise that over the years. There range of toys, designed for imaginative play, are quite simply brilliant. And for children much older. My son is 7 and there's quite a few sets that he particularly enjoys. These are Playmobil's dinosaur, dragon castle and secret agent ranges.
He also really likes splurging his pocket money on the foil wrapped figures you see on those plastic strips in supermarkets and by the counter at news agents. I would have absolutely hated these when I was his age, as you have no idea what figure you're going to get and this means you could get duplicates. That doesn't bother him at all though. And I think that with this review I've finally figured out why.
We got figures from the new Playmobil Figures Series 3 5244 and 5243 ranges. These have an RRP of £1.99, pricing them very competitively against the foil wrapped Lego figures.
The Playmobil Figures Series 3 5243 packs are the boy or male figures. They come in a black and silver foil pack, with pictures of all the figures in the range on the front. When you open the pack up, the figure is in little bits inside. You have to click these together, and some parts are rather difficult to click in place. My son finds these rather frustrating as it means he can't do all the putting together on his own.
Also, there can be some small, fiddly bits that young children simply won't be able to manage on their own. And finally, my last gripe, the instructions are generic. They're the same for all the figures, as the figures do all roughly fit together in the same way. But where say a figure has a cloak or other element to put on, it isn't immediately obvious that you have to put that accessory in place before you click the body part in.
It is hugely annoying to have to try and pull that tiny little head off the body so you can get a collar or necklace on there.
Other than that, I love these figures. I think they're pretty good value for money. They're well built, and I know from experience, they last really well. There is one thing my son really likes doing with them, and this is why it doesn't bother him if he gets duplicates. He will spend hours pulling the figures apart and putting them back together with all the parts and accessories mixed up.
For example, the African or Jamaican (I can't work out which he's meant to be) figure now has a very scary pumpkin head on it. And I have to say that is even more scary given how friendly the rest of the body looks. The head now graces the body of the racing car driver, whose head, along with the hair of the Jamaican figure, now grace the scarecrow/pumpkin head body. A mash up I am reliably informed by my son that is meant to be Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars Clone Wars.
So we got the fairly gender neutral foil wrapped packaging for series 5443, and yet the Playmobil Figures Series 3 5243, which are the female figures, are packaged in pink and silver.
My son was just as pleased to get these, and he has subsequently played with them just as much as the other figures, but in order to get around the packaging he decided that they were 'mine'. Even though he was the one who got to open them, put the figures together and play with them. At this age he has already learned that if something is pink it isn't 'for' him. Sigh.
This series is vaunted for including Playmobil's first pregnant figure. In case you're wondering what that might look like, it is the middle figure shown at the top of the review. Personally I thought the freckles made her look like she needed a shave.
Unfortunately we didn't get one in the four packs we got for review. We did get two of the Princess figures, one of which my son is going to give to his girlfriend. This particular figure was a favourite of both of ours mostly because it comes with a parasol (or umbrella as my son insisted on calling it). This is a fairly sizeable accessory and my son has a fascination with umbrellas!
However, it took me ages to put together because the generic instructions and the photo of the figure just don't give enough clues as to what is meant to go where, and how.
I had a similar problem with the Spanish Dancer figure. It was really fiddly to get the red decoration in her hair, and this came out after about an hour of play. I spent most of the weekend putting it back on before giving up.
We also got figure 10, which I can only assume is meant to be some sort of Lady GaGa figure? I don't know really, it was a bit too strange for me, and definitely too weird for my son. The head has gone on one of the knights from his castle range, so it can be a 'bandit'.
Pros: excellent for creative and imaginative play, well built
Cons: generic instructions
Overall verdict: 9/10