Playmobil To Go: Pirate Island, SWAT Member and Firefighter carring case
with Mr. Stinkhead
I think they've got it. I've long regarded playmobil toys as very intelligent, and complete. They think of everything. Every thing you could put into a toy, they do. The problem is, that they have a hard time making headway in the US toy market. I've travelled to European toy stores, and they have a strong playmobil section, but most American toy stores don't give enough shelf space to playmobil. So playmobil is upping the ante. Now they're looking at packaging and innovation. One of the complaints that parents have about playmobil is that all the little tiny pieces and accessories are prone to getting lost, so playmobil has been developing storage scenarios. Several years ago at Toy Fair they premiered a Pirate Treasure chest that opened up into a play scape for the pirates included. Brilliant! You get a cool play space for your pirates, you get a carrying case to keep them organized, and take them to Grandma's house a little easier, and on top of that, you get a "lifesized" treasure chest that the child can role-play being a pirate.
So it's been a few years, and playmobil is still creating different carrying cases to help organize your playmobil and take it on the go. I've found some hard-to-find gems have been included in these relatively inexpensive sets.
SWAT Police Officer
Playmobil just released a bunch of these collector cases. I hadn't seen these before, so I was quite surprised when I found a variety at Target. There are some available at Target, and some others available at playmobil.com. At Target I found this police set, the firefighter set (featured below), a knight, and a pirate. On the playmobil online store (and then presumably at your local playmobil retailer), the knight, fireman, a farmer and a grocery shopper. One could then assume that the SWAT set and pirates may be Target exclusives? That's only my speculation.
I was thrilled with all the different types of law enforcement you could put together with this set. You get a SWAT team guy (I've never gotten a clear plastic SWAT shield in any of the sets I had picked up before, so this was a nice treat) helmet, and baton, surveillance equipment like a long-range listening dish, a laptop, and a comm head set; and some field equipment like a ball cap, flashlight, machete, map, and sniper rifle (!). The CSI team would be proud.
You also get a motorcycle. I like how you can snap on the two SWAT cases. You can sling them over the officer's shoulder, or clip both of them to the bike. Now compare this bike to the older police motorcyle. I'll point out one thing I miss. I think they should have included the motorcycle helmet. I'm assuming you could use the SWAT helmet as a motorcycle helmet, but it is it that hard to pop that piece in there? Anyway, I like having a different type of bike to add to my fleet.
The case itself is very durable. You could easily toss this case down a flight of stairs and it would remain intact. I also like that there is plenty of space to add more figures. I easily stuck in the the Cop n Crook two-pack (also available at Target). If I were to make one more humble suggestion, I would have included decals for the case (like a big star or SWAT logo) to make the case look like official police gear.
I had to pick up the firefighter next. I'm a sucker for playmobil gas masks, but what's this?! OMG!!!1! They've included the classic style gas mask from the original playmobil firefighter. If you think a playmobil man wearing the contemporary gas mask is creepy, you haven't seen pics of the old style gas mask. I once purchased a vintage firefigther on eBay just to get that little yellow cannister mask. And here it is in all its glory. So you get both the current gasmask (which connects via little rubber hose to the oxygen tank, and the scary yellow mask. Hooray!
I haven't bought any other large firefigther sets (I only have the fire chief, the HazMat crew and the firefighters that came with a flaming barrel) so this is also my first Jaws of Life sweet! [Ed note: For some other time, I have a true story that includes Jaws of Life, Times Square New York, and a gentlemen's club] I am unaware if this is the first time there's been a Jaws of Life, or if it comes with other firefighting playsets.
If you didn't know this, this is quite impressive, I told you earlier that playmobil thinks of everything. Within the firefigthing theme, all of the hoses really work. You can purchase a pump that connects to the hoses and will actually squirt water out the end. The firehydrant (included with this set) has pipes inside so you could connect the pump to the hydrant and then connect that to the fire hoses. This added realism is sweet.
In addition to the standard firefigthing gear (hoses, hooks, axe, shovel, gloves) you also get first responder/rescuer equipment such as a ball cap, bullhorn, barricade, traffic cones, and radio. I also have never had this clip on vest before either. Nice! I wonder if they could have included the HazMat hood and clip-on jumpsuit? But the number of pieces seems fair, and the added gas mask is a true gem.
My mother in law was smart and grabbed me a playmobil set for Christmas. This set is awesome. I don't have any landscape for the pirates, only their large pirate ship. This take-along case quickly unclips and becomes a great pirate cove. You have a rock formation shaped like a skull, and a good bit of beach. There are pier-shaped structures that you can pop in, a bit of tropical shrub, and a tall palm tree also quickly pop into place. One of my favorite parts of the playmobil experience is putting the playsets together. It's fun that I get to do that each time, but in the same respect, I'm glad that it's quick, or I could see others getting frustrated with constantly assembling and dissassembling the set each time. (No dissassemble Stephanie!)
You get three great pirates. I have several pirate sets, and don't have these particular pirates yet. It's also nice to get another (glow-in-the-dark) skeleton. You really can't have too many of these. (Little note, you can easily pop off the skull to use in pirate lair decorating). I'm also digging the treasure chest [Ed note: That was limp] and assorted treasure. You get some gold coins to put in the chest, and a golden chalice. I also like the large green gem for added measure. These pirates are into everything.
One minor complaint. There's a great hiding spot in the side of the cave mountain that is covered (and easily revealed) by one of the rotating piers. However it's just a tad too small to accomodate the treasure chest. Why? It is the perfect size to conceal the pirate arsenal. I love that there is a plethora of weapons beyond just a sword or pistol for each pirate. There is a variety of swords (as if they were pillaged from multiple sources/battles) and pistols and a net.
I love the row boat. This is just what they need to get back to their large pirate ship. It has oars and lantern to help them get there intact. You also get a fire and firing cannon. That's right, they've included a "Big Bertha" style cannon that shoots ping-pong ball sized cannon balls. Nice! Here's another side note. The smaller pirate cannons are spring-loaded and fire the marble-sized cannon balls (quite far), but only over-seas. In order to fit American safety standards, the springs are removed so that you can only "flick" the cannon balls out. One of my favorite playmobil treasures is the European cannon I picked up in France, spring intact. Anyway, if the cannon balls are bigger (thus no longer choking or eye gouging hazards, they can restore the firing action. Enter "Big Bertha."
This set has plenty to play with for lots of pirate adventures. The fact that it closes up and stores all the teeny tiny pieces should make it more attractive to parents. If you're digging the carry-along feature, check out the Knight's Take Along Castle. It opens up as a great castle and then closes up again to store all the pieces. I will be passing on this set however because the castle pieces are not compatible with the original "Steck" connecting system.
All in all I think playmobil, the company, is adding quite a bit of perceived (and actual!) value to their playsets with this feature. I've loved playmobil for years, but have to keep a careful eye on all the pieces. This isn't the first year that playmobil has offered carry-along cases, but they're becoming more prevalent, especially at mass-retail, like Target. We'll have pictures of the upcoming playmobil line (including the second round of dinosaurs) in our coverage of next month's Toy Fair in New York City.
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All images and article ©2008 MillionairePlayboy.com.