Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Playmobil..where to go from here

A long time ago ....

Playmobil has introduced several new themes for 2008 but one of the most amazing is the EGYPTIAN theme, playmoblog has an incredible post but I wanted to expand more on the what goes into making it as a theme for playmobil.

Playmobil rarely uses a licensed property, I only know of 4-BMW, DHL, AIR LUFTHANSA(sp?)and a German store that had the Victorian truck 5640 re-issued.

How to choose from which period in History? Which in fantasy? Is the issue more marketability or originality?

These questions plague me more than I care to realize. I have compared the line to FISHER PRICE ADVENTURE PEOPLE-the first 3 3/4 action figure line that came out around 1975, great variety, small vehicles and figure packs that were essential to pick up and go anywhere. That company has long since changed to larger more round-edged figures called Rescue Heroes but the similarities to playmobil are in that there were no licensed vehicles or figures, they were all generic. That saves companies alot of money not paying for a license, but then thier products must stand alone and hope to garner a mother or child's attention thru packaging and marketing.

Playmobil has a presence here in the US, but unfortunately it isnt as popular as I would have hoped. I have seen my children create entire dialogues and story themes with their generic playmobil and it thrills me to no end. Im sure they would love to see Disney Princesses in playmobil form but I doubt that will happen. Playmobil has long been an advocate of a no license product, but one has to wonder, is it hurting them or helping them? I dont doubt the underlying foundation for such a philosophy but when your marketing is not up to snuff and only a few big brick and mortar stores carry only some of your toy line, one does wonder? I cannot understand the tradionalists that are ardent and hard lining against taking ANY license, times change, philosophies change. Playmobil is higher priced than some cheaper lines, but then there is a solid quality to the toy that one expects whenever you touch a playmobil toy. The toys are meant for the 4 y/o and up crowd and there is a toy line for the under 4 age group called Playmobil 1-2-3. Yes there are small pieces, but should a parent be truly concerned they can always pack up the possibly ER visit items until thier offspring are a bit matured. If you have any thoughts on the subject please post.


Playmobil has been an amazing toy since it's creation. To add to that there are no licenses that really pollute the many generic themes that run thru the Playmobil toy line. Needless to say, there are those that wish Playmobil would make its' version of some very incredible themes like 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY. I have long been a fan of this movie as have many us. Stanley Kubrick made sure that any and all models were destroyed after filming so as not to be commercialized--why he didnt lean the other way, I have yet to discover, but the amazing thing about 2001 is that its vehicles were based on real engineering and the function was first not the form.

My first attempt at making a 2001 toy was to figure out which one to do first. I chose the ARIES 1-b lunar transporter. It is mainly a sphere with 4 retractable legs and large rockets underneath, but it is similar enough to the Lunar lander that many common folk were still amazed by it. It is not sleek by any means, but the toy vehicle I have designed should follow in the spirit of Kubrick and in the spirit of Playmobil as well.

The ship actually had a passenger deck at the equator of the sphere, it had seats all around the deck, this ship/playset will have the same. I am adding landing skids under each pylon, I dont know if I can make them retractable, but the effect should be pretty impressive...at least to me.
I intend on making the cocpit from an old helicopter cockpt and making a display board to the sides and above the cockpit area. Granted it is not perfectly made, but the spirit of SPACE is there and that is what I am hoping to achieve. It looks more like it belongs in an oil refinery diorama but I am sure it will look close enough to 2001 that you will enjoy looking at it.