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Play BIG: nice accessories, shame about the figures

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Love it or hate it, it is worth knowing what PlayBIG looks like, so you can decide what to do with it. If you have any PlayBIG parts (especially accessories) in your collection, why not post pictures of them here? I have started the ball rolling.

But first… what IS PlayBIG? (Skip this if you want, it’s a bit of history).

A little information about PlayBIG:

PlayBIG logo from 1998

Between 1975 and 1998 (when large parts of the factory were destroyed by fire) the German toy firm BIG, based in Fürth (right next door to Nürnberg where Playmobil was -and still is- made) manufactured Play BIG. The range consisted of figures a bit like klickies, accessories, vehicles, etc. No doubt it was popular with some children at the time and it still seems to have a small following of adult collectors. As a Playmobil collector, I find the Play BIG figures frankly ugly and unappealing. But many of the accessories are nice, as are some of the vehicles.

PlayBIG was in competition with Playmobil. The similarities between the two toys led to the accusation that PlayBIG was copying geobra’s designs, but a federal court in Germany found that PlayBIG figures differed so much from Playmobil figures (as any child could have told them!) that there were insufficient grounds for regarding them as imitations (although regional and appeal courts had found in geobra’s favour before this). The oft-quoted judgement included the statement

“that PlayBIG figures have the look of a self-confident, athletic and aggressive young man, whereas Playmobil men have the appearance of a child- sweet and unsteady on his feet”

THEY clearly hadn’t played with the figures for long! The PlayBIG themes included modern soldiers, complete with weapons, something which geobra would never allow. In fact, many PlayBIG parts and themes pre-dated Playmobil ideas, so who copied whom?

Very often, PlayBIG parts and figures can be found in secondhand lots on eBay, often mixed in with Playmobil, sometimes even described as Playmobil. And not just on German eBay either, since Play BIG was marketed in the UK under the brand Busy Bodies by Mettoy Playcraft Ltd. (whose HQ was in Swansea, coincidentally only a stone’s throw from Marx Toys who marketed Playpeople under License from geobra from 1975-1980). Later, the moulds were sold to a South American or Mexican company, so examples may be found there too. And there were other brands which copied PlayBIG (e.g. Play Well in Hong Kong).

Having bought quite a lot of second-hand Playmobil over the last few years, I have acquired a lot of ‘non-PM’ items, most of which I kept. Some of these items later turned out to be PM (see here for example) whilst others are obviously Lego, or from other manufacturers. ‘Made in China’ on a plastic part is a good clue that something isn’t PM (even though we know some PM is made in China). But many parts have remained unidentified.

I had my suspicions that some of my non-PM parts were PlayBIG parts (see here), but it was not until recently that I did a thorough search online of pictures of PlayBIG sets and identified many of my parts as being from such sets. Although PlayBIG figures are distinctive (and IMO horrid!), some of their accessories are quite like PM.

There is very little on the net showing PlayBIG parts in close-up and what I have identified as PlayBIG has mainly been from PlayBIG box pictures and eBay listing photos.

Two useful websites which show box pictures of PlayBIG are:

As it turned out, I have quite a lot of PlayBIG parts:

I thought it might be helpful to other PM collectors to post pictures of PlayBIG parts alongside the PM parts they resemble, to help with identifying them more easily. If you are a purist, you can then exclude PlayBIG parts from your collection. If, like me, you like some of the parts, you can at least understand their origin.

First, the figures.

PlayBIG figures are superficially like Playmobil figures, but taller..

(that Playmobil figure never existed in a geobra set, by the way: feet in a different colour from the legs were never found with fixed-wrist arms)

…with separate legs…

…and different internal construction, with no ‘skeleton’, separate feet and a long neck which holds the figure together…

Detached feet are quite common

Some figures had reversible heads (not seen on PM figures until this one  in 2012.

One PlayBIG catalogue shows 36 different facial expressions. Here are seven of them:

PlayBIG figures have a hole in the top of their head to which hairpieces can fit.

Hair pieces

In 1977, BIG brought out the PlayBIG2000 range. These figures had curved arms and a different torso (with holes to which clothes could be attached). My example has two right arms unfortunately.


edit: 2 more pictures added


Clothes in place



Most PlayBIG hats have a ‘pin’ or prong underneath which fits into a hole in the top of the hairpiece.

Left; PlayBIG hats. Morion grey, Morion chrome, bandana green, cap, cap with peak white, cap with peak black, safety helmet yellow.

Right; ‘equivalent’ Playmobil hats: Helmet, morion (Spanish) from 2007, Chrome Morion helmet from e.g. set 3291 of 1977, Headscarf, green  (this style in blue first appeared  in 1976 in set 3315x), cap, cap with peak white, cap with peak bue, safety helmet yellow

Other clothes

Cloak (unlike anything from PM) Shirt and tie (also available in blue) (white shirt front, black tie, red cloak from PM)
Indian neckwear (nothing similar in PM: two white lapel/collars and a red Indian neckpiece from PM))
Neck ruff (quite similar to the PM version)


Arm greaves

PlayBIG2000 on left, PM on right



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