Author Topic: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker  (Read 1722 times)

Offline Macruran

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"The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« on: October 12, 2015, 08:31:54 »
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-playmobil-conundrum

Mixture of provocative thought and cliche. Tahra will be enraged by the mention of cargo pants.

Worth reading.
"We like things in little." - G. Stein  
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Offline Bolingbroke

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2015, 09:33:01 »
very good article. ultimately it's a question of the zeitgeist. playmobil is out of touch with everything these days. lego is not.

but beyond brand cheerleading, there are some points in this article that rarely get mentioned. for eg the 70s ethos of maximising on plastic. it's a very differt situation nowadays, with supersets and such featuring useless plastic bases that only srve to increase the price. it's one of the reasons i stopped buying the newer sets. too much plastic to store.

modularity, among other things, ought to be the way forward, but im not counting on it.
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Offline Klickteryx

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2015, 09:40:08 »
Which is why the fi?ures range should be expanded. Good price, good size, no cumbersome box, perfect for swapping with friends.
Fi?ures should be the gateway concept to the rest of Playmobil.
I picked some playmobil up once from a house a couple of years ago and the boys that lived there commented that they preferred lego, especially the mini figs. I didn't ask why, I can see it offers more versatility just looking at the lego section of the local toystore.
I've been told by staff that no toyshop could function without lego.
Kids love to be able to mix their toys up, compatibility is preferred and with such a large stake in the market, lego is a safe toy to buy because most kids are likely to have it. It's also a lot easier to blend in sets with compatible parts than with the large moulded parts of todays playmobil.
On an unrelated note, it's nice to see a comeback for meccano so there are other construction toys still out, just a shame that playmobil decided to get out of that market.

Offline Klickteryx

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2015, 09:48:18 »
very good article. ultimately it's a question of the zeitgeist. playmobil is out of touch with everything these days. lego is not.
Super 4 and the fi?ures are headed in the right direction and they do have some RC stuff.

Quote
...supersets and such featuring useless plastic bases that only srve to increase the price. it's one of the reasons i stopped buying the newer sets. too much plastic to store.
Couldn't agree more. The large single piece buildings are difficult to compress for storage too.

Offline Bolingbroke

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New York
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2015, 10:02:00 »
the fi?ures yes, but the blind bag concept is stupid. i bought a couple from the first wave but then stopped.
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Offline Ismene

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2015, 11:09:15 »
Playmobil will kill itself off if it focuses too much on the competition and the modern pop culture brainwashed child. There are thousands of licensed toys and battery-operated toys out there, and a European-made toy cannot compete price-wise. 

Playmobil's strengths are historical details, European styling, being made in Europe, open-ended storylines, and the lack of electronics (for the most part). They should focus on those areas, rather than trying to be like everyone else. There very much is a market for these types of toys, even if it's not mainstream. It may be "bourgeois", but hey, the bourgeoisie spends a lot of money on their children.

They should play up the educational and open-ended play aspects - more well-researched specialty historical/cultural sets (museum sets, historical figures sets, sets that show every day life in a particular time period, figures in traditional costumes from around the world), cut down on gender stereotypes (have male fairies and dragon-fighting women, back off a bit on the pink and purple), cut down on items that increase price without increasing play (base plates, carry boxes, and excessive electronics), go back to modular buildings, cut down on depictions of modern violence, etc.

My generation (the age around which people have young children) is full of well-read, well-educated people who are disillusioned with mainstream toys.

Offline sunflower

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2015, 11:25:46 »
Nice article!

The comparison between Lego and Playmobil is not really fair. To me the fun in both toys is different. At least this is what I see with my children and their friends.

When you love to build and do a lot of searching for the right pieces (like making a puzzle) Lego is very nice. But it is hard to play with the thing you built, because it easily falls apart. Next to that there are so many unique parts nowadays that you must be really carefull to keep your pieces so you can rebuilt the bigger expensive sets again. Which makes building them once and put them on display catching dust a very often seen phenomenon.

Playmobil is very easy to set up (except for some system X buildings) and is quickly ready to play. You can create any kind of story you like: camping pirates, prisoners locked up in a zoo with tigers and policemen kidnapping baby Jezus from his manger. I've seen it all including the dialogues between all these characters. They also love to play with it in bath.
I was told by a speech therapist that she recommends her clients to play with Playmobil for their mastery of language.
(As a fan I can't think of any disadventages besides the tiny parts that easily get lost)

I think Playmobil is still doing a great job to serve the kids with a lot of verbal fantasy as Lego is to the ones that are great builders.

Compared to other toys Playmobil's quality is so much better. We have had several RC cars that never lasted more than a few weeks. The Playmobil ones are still going strong after a year. To me that is worth paying more.

life in plastic it's fantastic

Offline Klickteryx

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2015, 11:27:08 »
Lego is made in Europe.

Offline Ismene

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2015, 11:47:04 »
Lego is made in Europe.

True, which is great because it shows that toys don't have to be dirt cheap to sell

Offline Rhalius

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Re: "The Playmobil Conundrum" - The New Yorker
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2015, 12:20:16 »
To me Lego has always been the inferiour toy, even in its prime of the early ninetees.

I loved to play with my playmobil pirates, the speedboat harbour and my knights, but they lacked character. I cant remember a single name of any minifigure I had. But I remember plenty from Playmobil.

Since Lego sold out to licenses, they are nothing at all anymore to me. Licensed sets offer very little for their rediculous price and the standard stuff they put in stores tends to be horribly unimaginative and seems made to be used in very specific ways. They stopped having baseplats for the lego which is a huge let down. Where are kids supposed to build on then if they want to make it different than the standard design?

Best thing for Playmobil to do is keep walking the high road and keep their toys educational and full of detail.
They went the lego route with its newest pirate batch and see where it got them. Hardly any accesoires, gold thrown in oddly colored piles that look fake, and the ship and island are both the worst they ever made.