LEGO

Playmobil Pirate Dinghy, (4444). Target Exclusive!!!

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As far as we know, this is a Target exclusive. (It may also be available at Toys R Us or Wal*Mart.) For under $20, this set is an amazing value. When you think playmobil, you think quality, detail, imagination. With this set, the first thing I think is Wow! This is some great value!. For the price, you’re getting a nice playmobil pirate ship, a cannon, two pirates, some treasure, and loads of play time. I don’t typically think of playmobil as being a value purchase, because I love it so much, I can justify the cost, (you’re also paying for a quality that lasts forever, and probably multiple kids, yeah, the kids…)

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Taking a note from the large pirate ship below, there is some stealth play involved. The pirate flag is on a simple rope loop, so you can have it resting at the bottom of the mass, approach a port or other ship, and then raise the pirate flag, letting your intentions be known. It looks complicated, but actually is two simple knots. I love how this simple addition adds a nice level of imagination to the set, and raises the quality of the ship a few notches in the process.

I also like the included pirates, (not nearly as beat up as the raft pirates, this dinghy must have offered a little bit more protection.) I like the green tri-corner hat, and his little buckle shoes. These are original pirates and not simple reissues of earlier pirates (as far as I know). The other pirate, with the mutton chops, seems a bit fancier, but not something I would point out if I were to face him in a duel.

The treasure is nice, it’s really shiny gold, unlike the gold or silver colored plastic dubloons, these have a great quality to them. I wish some of the other sets had come with these. The included treasure chest is almost too small to hold them all, but it does. I would have removed 2 or 3 of the coins to make the closure a little easier for little fingers.

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Another cool little feature is the cannon mount. There is a clasp molded onto the front of the cannon’s base that can pinch onto three brackets found in the ship. The first is at the bow of the boat, and then there is one on each side. You can clip the cannon to this bracket, to keep the cannon in place. Nice! I also want to point out that I’m fairly impressed with this recent cannon design. Let me give you a little bit of history. The first playmobil cannons (originating in Germany) were spring loaded, and shot pea-sized cannon balls an impressive distance… not too much force, but you could nail a cat at 20 feet away. Well because the pieces are so small, American safety standards had the springs removed, so that one could not shoot the cannon balls into mouths or eyes of other children. Some customizers learned you could easily restore these impotent cannons by adding a pen spring. Or you could do what I did, and pick one up overseas (it’s one of my favorite pieces) But to satisfy the need for firepower, playmobil then introduced the Big Bertha which shot a cannon ball the size of a ping pong ball. Though it was nice to engage in real “firing” battles, the Big Bertha seemed kind of comical. So now we have these originally sized cannons, that shoot a spring-loaded cannon ball, that have quite a tail on them. Now they are rubber tipped, and the tail prevents them from being a choking hazard. I like the compromise.

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There is also a nice amount of accessories. There’s a parrot, some gun powder barrels, a compass with a lenticular needle, and plenty of knives, swords and pistols to really terrorize the high seas. Instead of the clear plastic tabs, this set has several molded octogon tabs that help keep your pirates in place, perfect for display. What I love is that this a great set for collectors, but a perfect set for kids. If you want a nice pirate ship, without all the trappings or cost of the big mamma below, then this is just perfect. As far as we know, this set is only available at Target.


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