General > Brainstorming For Playmobil

Racial diversity in historical sets

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drbatesy:
Having reviewed a 'black' pirate on our blog on Monday, I shared some thoughts on Playmobil and its relationship with race today. As part of this article, I suggested that if Brandstätter had put non-'white' klickies into their historical context, they would have had a much more diverse and interesting catalogue. These might have included:

- Romans with olive and North African skin tones
- Knights based on medieval Moors and early modern Ottomans
- Afro-Caribbean pirates supplementing the exisitng (predominantly 'white') crews
- Barbary pirates with a galley, who could be set against an American navy brig as well as exisiting Spanish, French and British navies
- Indian pirates with a dhow
- Chinese pirates with a junk
- Chinese-American engineers and prospectors in the Western theme
- African-American cowboys in the Western theme

Would you agree? What would you add? Given that Brandstätter didn't do any of this, what chance they might do some if it in the future?

Oh, and if you want to read the whole article, this is the link.
Steve.

Tiermann:
There is an African American cowboy in Figures Series 15 from 2019.
http://animobil.info/figures/text/5d0863aa-figures-1328.html
The Colorado Springs train station included an African American family with it.
There have been Mexican vaquero included since nearly the beginning, just not with a different skin tone.
The last couple of pirate themes have included more varied skin tones as well.
In general they have been doing much beter with diverse skin tones the last few years. Enough that collectors now complain at times about being able to match figure parts when making customs.

Oliver:

--- Quote from: drbatesy on June 17, 2021, 20:27:49 ---
Would you agree? What would you add? Given that Brandstätter didn't do any of this, what chance they might do some if it in the future?


--- End quote ---

I think, given that the focus is very much on modern life/fantasy ranges now they're not very likely to. But of course that could change, and hopefully they would.

It's an interesting question, because of course the historical ranges were always about a vague interpretation rather than a detailed and historically accurate reflection. So I suppose you say 'should they seek to educate kids' or 'do they reflect the idea we have of history'. There was recently a fuss from the Usual Suspects when the BBC featured a black Roman Soldier - because people imagine the Roman Empire to be all-white. But we know there were black Roman soldiers as far north as Hadrian's Wall. The Vikings took slaves from northern Africa, but we picture their society as all red-haired Northern Europeans.

It should also be noted that when the historical ranges were the biggest, Playmobil only did 2/3 skin tones - I don't think the 'Olive' skintone was introduced until recently (and I think it started as a 'tan' ?! )

From your longer article, it should probably be noted that in Early-Modern Britain they used 'Moor' as a broad term (Othello being simply described as a 'Moor') - based on the probable image of him, John Blanke was black (sub-saharan African). It seems to have been relatively common in early-modern courts to have black musicians. Maybe we can dream that one day Historic Royal Palaces will commission some Playmobil for the Hampton Court Gift Shop, and then we can have John Blanke and his trumpet, Henry VIII and his 6 wives (imagine 6 different female civilians  :lol: )

I was slightly surprised from your article that you had to ask for a black police officer - I would have assumed there would always be one available in the shops - much like I would always expect there to be female police in the range.

drbatesy:
Oliver, I actually wrote to Customer Services to say, can you sell me a single 'black' klicky because I don't need any more 'white' officers. We were risking becoming a police state! The set they were doing at the time was #6501. They said, we can't do that but we have one knocking about the office and you can have it, which cemented my positive impression of them.

They probably regret that kindness now as I've come back to them with a lot of other stuff since!  :lol:

Oliver:

--- Quote from: drbatesy on June 19, 2021, 10:28:00 ---Oliver, I actually wrote to Customer Services to say, can you sell me a single 'black' klicky because I don't need any more 'white' officers. We were risking becoming a police state! The set they were doing at the time was #6501. T

--- End quote ---

 :lol: :lol: Oh I see! Well that was kind of them, regardless

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