Toy Fair 2014 – Playmobil

My absolute favorite tour at Toy Fair every year is the Playmobil booth. The last several years have shown and overall decline in originality from most toy manufacturers… but not at Playmobil. This year, this was the only booth that only had new stuff to show. All the other tours had 2 and 3 year old items on display with only one or two new things. Also many companies are moving away from internal properties they invented, and simply licensing out popular characters. (Two years ago it was allll Angry Birds, this year, everyone had My Little Pony) That’s why, year after year, Playmobil has consistently thrilled and surprised me. Check out what I got to see this year. Literally everything new from their booth is in the large photo gallery below.

Hitting stores now is the Wild Life series. Each playset comes with an exotic animal (or several species), some landscaping, and a person that interacts with them. There’s an explorer, and park ranger, and a photographer. The mom and baby orangutan are adorable, but I also liked these pandas.

I really liked these pull-back racers. I love how the chassis are unique (not just different colors) and based on classic and modern style race cars. They feature a kinetic motor, as well as a holding gate so press on to release, so you can make sure the racers all go at the same time. I’m particular to the hotrod with mutton-chop’d driver.

Oh my, aren’t we fancy?

Playmobil continues to push the existing boundaries of playmobil play. They’ve been improving their glider that was introduced a few years ago. You can place any playmobil figure (within reason) in the cockpit and throw the plane indoors or out thanks to the lightweight material and soft nose tip. Now check this out, playmobil parachutists!

Hooray! For years I had wanted Playmobil to make a clip-on parachute that would actually let figures fly (fall with style). I was thinking a format like their frame backpack. However this is pretty sweet. It’s a two piece chest piece (closer to medieval armor) and the klicky can hold onto the ropes. I asked, and you could probably get the harness onto your favorite klicky, but it would require popping both heads off. Anyway, there is a parking garage roof adventure in my future. These should be hitting stores right now.

Playmobil is at it’s heart, pretty gender neutral, but some lines are decidedly boys and now there seems to be more emphasis on the new girl lines. There is a new fantasy/princess line coming out. The princess’ faces feature new eyes and lips, making them a bit more feminine. There are unicorns and fairies and other woodland creatures. If you’re from the DC area, you can spot the infamous arctic snow owl. This boat is actually very sweet. There are a variety of playset sizes, and these are coming out in March. There’s a fold and go Take Along playset coming out in May. There’s also a two-sided princess castle that comes with pegasuses (pegasi?) and foil bagged two-packs.

Here is a close-up, you can see the new eye shadow and pink lips. They haven’t all gotten the make-over yet. What’s your opinion on this change? To be fair, it’s similar to the addition of all kinds of painted-on facial hair and eyebrows in other lines.

As a camping family, and a Boy Scout growing up, I really liked the new camping line. There’s a large trailer, full of accessories like a picnic table and charcoal grill. There’s also some new soft and collapsable tents. The keystone playset is the Campground compound. Complete with bath-house stalls and showers, a small market, and the gate at the end end of the driveway. I focused on this one photo, because this shot sums up my feelings after a week in the woods. Unshaven, with a dead eye stare, painted-on smile, and a small child asking me to play. I only wish I had the bottle dangling from my hand. I love it! Make sure to check out all the camping shots in my gallery.

Coming in March are these My Secret Box playsets. There’s a Dragon’s Lair (above), Police station, Princess castle and stable. It starts out as plain looking box, but use the secret key to unlock a multi-layer playset. Not only does it pack up and store all the accessories, but the secret hiding feature is sure to be a hit.

One of the new sets I’m excited about is the Alpine theme coming in May. The flagship piece is the working cable car system. Simply clasp the top portion on a table or counter edge, and spin the wheel on the base to take the cable car back and forth up the mountain. Awesome! There’s an all new two story lodge, and a festival procession. There’s also lots of rescue devices like a helicopter with basket, Mountain Rescue truck, and mountain rescuers with a stretcher. I asked about the St. Bernard with the rum cask under his neck and they said that would not be coming out this year.

In the past, Playmobil offered a line of Specials that were a single figure boxed with a handful of accessories. Many times the Special would accentuate an existing lines, but other times they were used to send out the feelers on upcoming lines (or perhaps whet our appetite). Cleopatra came out a year or two before the Egyptian series. The caveman came out a few years before the Stone Age series, and a year or two ago we saw our first Samurai (and now we have an entire Samurai theme).
They’ve upgraded the concept of the Special to two new offerings. The blind-packed Figures line, where you don’t know which character you’re going to get, and the Special Plus, which is a single figure with a bit more than just a few handheld accessories. So here’s a William Wallace-esque highlands warrior from the upcoming Figures series 6 (coming in March. Does this mean we may get a Scottish warrior playset in a year or two? All I have to say is that I love this figure. Always have.

The all new shopping mall introduces a new feature, snap-on clothes. The clothing boutiques feature all new clothes that can snap on and off the female figures. These new figures are built like the existing swimsuit ladies, which feature a different torso piece. There’s even a bridal boutique! Don’t forget the add-on toy store, and beauty salon.

The cover of the 2014 Playmobil catalog features this Samurai-Dragon theme, and it is gorgeous. This multi-level castle has lots of trap doors, firing missiles, and a cave underneath. I also love the Asian inspired roofs. From a display point of view, this playset is simply gorgeous, but there is too much built-in play value to allow you to simply let it on a shelf. There is a slightly smaller castle that is also available. It can be the opposing samurai’s fort, or you can get a gate/wall from the add-ons catalog and connect them to make a super structure!

The variety of dragons are also fantastic. There are large dragons and dragons that come with snap-on armor. There’s a whole series of foil bagged Samurai/Dragon two packs. You know which one you’re getting, so you can collect them all. I love the amount of ingenuity and inventiveness, but it’s also rooted in real cultural iconography. It’s a great marriage of history and fantasy.

I could talk to you about Playmobil all day. It was the 40th anniversary of Playmobil this year, and they’re celebrating with a series of sets commemorating their most popular lines. Knights, police, fire, and faeries. Each set was especially put together for this milestone. I also partook in the celebration by taking Instagram photos of my Playmobil Inuit figure from the 80s all over NYC during the show. Also check out Playmobil website for more info.

We have tons more Toy Fair 2014 coverage, and always check out our prior Playmobil coverage.

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