Playmobil Blind Bag Figures
Series 1 (girls) and 2 (boys)
4” (ish) scale
$2.99 each at Toys R Us and other retailers
I’ve thought of Playmobil as a crappier version of Lego up until very recently. I guess I thought the creators of Playmobil were trying to copy the minifigures in a bigger size and then just completely gave up on the whole “building stuff” concept. Of course, that’s not what Playmobils are meant to be at all. They’re actually very much the predecessors of my precious “Mighty World” figures, that is, stylized and simple toys for young people that make up a varied and detailed world for kids to play in.
I’m pretty sure a fella named Rustin Parr is to blame for my recent interest in these figures. He keeps a record of his toy purchases over at www.oafe.net in their blog section and, since I love to live vicariously through other people’s spending, I’m a faithful reader. A few updates back Rustin talked about a couple of different figures he’d gotten from this series of Playmobil Blind Bags and then, coincidentally, my wife picked up a few of them for me on a lark. I’ve bought several more for myself and my wife since then and the recent sale at TRU certainly didn’t hurt.
Now I’m not usually a fan of Blind Bags. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolute BLAST to open the packs, it’s just the idea of shelling out $3 a pack and then getting the same figure over and over again without ever retrieving the one I want that makes me wanna scream. I blew through a ridiculous amount of money on the Adult Swim figures from Kid Robot just trying for The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend, never mind the Scrooge McDuckian sum that’s lining LEGO’s pockets. So are these Playmobil figures worth dealing with the foolishness attached to random purchases or will they lead to empty pockets, a pile of plastic and a sea of regret?
Click inside to see the verdict!
These figures come in 2 different styles of packaging. There’s “Series 1” which is in a pink packet that’s clearly aimed at buyers of the female persuasion and there’s “Series 2”, aimed at boys, which comes wrapped in blue. The bags are bright and shiny with a definite metallic look to them, they catch your eye nicely from a distance without being garish. My local TRU even has a fabulous rack set up that shows samples of each figure you can snag in a fancy shmancy display case!
Each package shows a group shot of all of the characters that you can get from that particular pack. Series 1 is all females ranging from a few poofy dressed princesses to a red-coated wastrel to a cave woman and her baby! Series 2 is all guys and there’s a rock and roller, an executioner and even Uncle Sam! The variety of characters is not quite on par with what Lego’s offered through their minifigures but it’s still really good.
If you’ve ever seen any Playmobil figure then you pretty much know what to expect from the base bodies of these figures. The guys and gals share the exact same body structure, the only thing that sets them apart from each other is paint and extras. This is one of the qualities that made me link them with Lego for so long, that uniformity of design, and it’s something that you’re either going to love or hate.
Just like Lego, Playmobil has done some really interesting and creative things in making these wildly different looks work on such simple toys. Every figure has painted (I guess technically these are tampoed) details on the chest, legs, arms and face that set a backdrop for the extras to build on, many of the figures even have tattoos! I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on every figure from both series but the one’s I’ve got are really impressive.
The figures in the “Boy” series are mostly understandable selections, from the Black Knight with his huge, horned helmet to the rock-n-roller with his awesome 2-part guitar and rubber strap. There are definitely a couple of odd choices, in particular the Mummy / Full Body Cast fella. I’m really not even sure which one he’s supposed to be, the cast and crutch make me lean towards Cast but then his inhuman white face sends me the other way. Uncle Sam is also a weird but awesome choice from Playmobil and I’m still crossing my fingers for the Pizza Chef in my future purchases.
In the “Pink” series you get a few princesses, some with flocked parts, as well as other generally girlie figures to taunt your Series 2 characters with. My favorite so far is definitely the Cavewoman with her baby bjorn and stone age tools. The fact that you get a whole baby figure for the mother to tote around is fantastic and makes you really feel like you got something special. The aforementioned “Wastrel” (my word, not Playmobil’s) is an odd inclusion since all the rest are very non-confrontational but I think it’s cool that in Playmobil’s world girls want to fight with their toys too!
There’s a really nice, consistent look to these toys that carries over even though none of them originate in the same fantastic or realistic world. This goes back to the similarities with Lego, each figure shares the same basic structure and so, even though they are extremely different, they look great together. This consistency brings a lot of extra play value because you can mix and match parts to get entirely new figures!
Articulation is very limited but what you get works smoothly. Swivel head, arms wrists and legs round out the entire lot with the legs being one solid piece. The figures all come completely disassembled in the bags and it’s actually really interesting to see from square one how all the parts work together to build the completed figure. It’s ever so slightly tricky to assemble the first Playmobil guy, or it was for me, but after that I was snapping them together like a pro.
Every Playmobil Blind Bag figure I’ve received so far has come with at least one accessory that they can hold or use in some way. Some of them even come with a huge amount of removable parts, for example the Black Knight is sporting a sword, shield, crossbow, a helmet and even a silver coif that goes over his head and under the helmet.
It blows me away that almost every single figure has separate hair even when they have a hat, that’s something that even Lego can’t boast.
The accessories all work great, they snap securely into the figures little hands and stay put until you get ready to do something else with them, and even though they have minimal (if any) paint apps on them they look right with the figures.
These guys retail for $2.99 each, the same price as the last 3 series of Lego Minifigures. It’s clear that these figures are trying to capitalize on the ridiculous popularity of the Lego figures and, to me at least, these feel like a whole lot better buy than the sets they’re aping. Now don’t get me wrong, I am still a lot bigger fan of Lego than I am of Playmobil, I’m just saying that based on sheer size alone Playmobil gives you more bang for your buck.
For the same price as the Lego Minifigures you’re getting a bigger figure with generally a lot more individual parts and certainly a lot more accessories on average. The Playmobil stuff is made to to the same high standards of quality and boasts a similar spread of quirky subject matter plus you can even decide to some degree what style of figure you’ll be getting thanks to the 2 Series split.
It makes me wonder just how much profit Lego is raking in on their little minifigures if they’re charging the same price as Playmobil with their bigger and more involved figures. The conspiracy nut in me gets cranking up when I remember that the 1st series of Lego guys were only $2 before Lego realized how popular they were and jacked the price up. But these are 2 different products with 2 different markets and I’m sure there are many factors involved. Either way, these Playmobil figures feel like a bargain!
Summary, or maybe you opened ANOTHER Accessories section!?:
I’m really impressed with these little figures and, at the same time, incredibly frustrated. They’re so incredibly neat that they make me want to get every single one of them (yes, even the girl ones, they’re for my wife!). BUT. I really, really, really don’t want to have to skip feeding my guinea pigs to obtain the whole crew!
Whether or not you should look into these depends on several things. Do you like the Playmobil aesthetic? That’s obviously the main thing to think about, but beyond that, do you have the kind of obsessive personality that will force you to keep spending compulsively to get that DAMN Grim Reaper even if it kills you? You may want to avoid these blind bags like the
hell-spawned plague wonderfully addictive product that they are!
In all seriousness, the product itself is fantastic. Funny, cool, interesting little figures with neato swappable accessories all for an insanely low price. If you’re willing to just pick up 1 or 2 packs and be happy with whatever guys you luck into then there’s no reason not to take the plunge. If you want a whole set or just a couple of specific ones then the better route may be ebay or another online seller. That way you can get the guys (or gals) you want without taking out a 2nd mortgage on your Terror Drome!