Author Topic: Can you tell a Playpeople klicky from a Playmobil one?  (Read 3202 times)

Offline GrahamB

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Can you tell a Playpeople klicky from a Playmobil one?
« on: April 18, 2013, 21:21:01 »
The answer is yes, sometimes.

Playpeople was the name used for Playmobil sets marketed by Marx Toys in the UK between 1975 and 1980, under an agreement with geobra Brandstatter. It seems likely that the klicky parts (and perhaps the accessories) were manufactured in Germany, then shipped to the Marx factory in Swansea for assembly and packaging. I have started another topic to piece together the history of Playpeople and would welcome any contributions there: http://www.playmofriends.com/forum/index.php?topic=12750.0

After a careful study of pictures of Playpeople sets and a comparison of this with Playmobil sets from the same era, I am fairly confident in stating that there were 18 Playpeople klickies which never appeared in Playmobil sets. By this I mean that there are 18 combinations of torso colour, arm colour and leg colour which are unique to Playpeople. I have ignored hair colour for two reasons: (a). Hair is easily swapped around between klickies (b). Playpeople set boxes often state 'colour of contents may vary' and even Playmobil sets from this era did not always have the same colour hair inside as shown on the outside of the box.

The pictures below show the 18 'unique' Playpeople: 12 males and 6 females. (Most of these I made with parts from other klickies). The hair colours shown are all plausible, and 8 of the klickies shown were also shown in box pics with a different colour of hair. Note that the very dark male and female klickies are dark navy blue (not black) and on the two males and two females with dark legs these are black. More pictures of the very dark blue klickies here; http://www.playmofriends.com/forum/index.php?topic=12712.msg237481#msg237481

There are a further 40 Playpeople klickies which have the same combination of colours as Playmobil klickies (and may therefore be inseperable).

So. if a load of fixed-wrist klickies (especially if they came from the UK) contains any of the 18 types shown here, you can be reasonably confident you are dealing with Playpeople (or a mixture of Playpeople and Playmobil). Either that or someone has swapped arms, legs and torsos around (but see 'other facts' below). Or they are Famobil, Schafer, etc. maybe (I haven't looked into that possibility!)

Some other facts about Playpeople klickies:

1. All Playpeople klickies have 'fixed' wrists (as do all Playmobil figures from this era)
2. No Playpeople klicky has a beard (this may mean the head is always of the type without the grooves needed to secure a beard) (Playmobil first had beards in 1980)
3. All but 5 Playpeople Klickies have light skintone heads (the other 5 -found in 3 sets- have brown skintone and black curly hair)
4. All but 5 Playpeople klickies have 'classic' hair (male or female) in black, brown or blond (yellow).
5. Torso colour can be black, blue, dark navy blue, green, silver (males only), red, white or yellow
6. Arm colour can be blue, dark navy blue, green, red, white or yellow. Playmobil klickies never had dark navy blue fixed-wrist arms.
7. Leg colour can be black, blue, dark navy blue, green, light blue (males only), red, white or yellow

The next three 'facts' I am less certain of, but seem to be true for the small selection of Playpeople klickies I have examined:

8. All Playpeople klickies have printed-on faces (to check this, remove the hair and look inside the head- it is the same colour as the face. In later klickies the eyes and mouth were moulded in brown plastic showing through from inside the head)
9. All Playpeople klickies have a notch in the back of the hair (see photo) rather than a small flat area
10. All Playpeople klickies have an internal skeleton the same colour as the legs (see photo)

Well thanks for reading all this. If you wish to dispute any of the above please do. It would be great to see pics if you have them- especially scans of catalogues, boxes, etc. I may post my spreadsheet of Playpeople klickies if anyone is interested in tallying klickies and sets.

Graham
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Offline GrahamB

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Re: Can you tell a Playpeople klicky from a Playmobil one?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2013, 21:22:13 »
Note also that there are two versions of the female klicky (nurse) with white torso, blue arms and black legs; one with a red cross on the left chest and one without. The red cross is 'printed on'; it looks on my example to have been 'melted into' the torso then hand-coloured (see close-up) so this was perhaps a Swansea-addition to a German-manufactured torso?
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Offline flatcat

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Re: Can you tell a Playpeople klicky from a Playmobil one?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2013, 21:40:10 »
A lot of those facts also apply to regular Playmobil figures as well, so it might not always be so easy
 

Offline GrahamB

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Re: Can you tell a Playpeople klicky from a Playmobil one?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2013, 16:06:00 »
Fact 10 needs some qualification; the internal skeleton (on the Playpeople klickies I have) can be black, blue, green, red, white or yellow. It is black on the 'dark navy blue' klickies, blue on those with light blue legs, white on the nurse-with -red-cross (at least on my one!) and matches the leg colour on all the others. This may not be consistent across all klickies or all years of production, of course.
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Offline GrahamB

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Re: Can you tell a Playpeople klicky from a Playmobil one?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2020, 15:16:00 »
Update: The answer to the question in the title is "Yes, nearly always."

Between 1975 and 1980, Marx Toys marketed ‘Playpeople’ sets in the UK. I suspect the klickies in these sets were assembled in the UK, from parts manufactured in Germany or Malta. Perhaps the face-printing was carried out in the Marx factory, because many of the faces are inferior to German-manufactured klickies of the same era.

Having looked at the variation present in fixed-wrist klickies from German sources, I went back to look at klickies from British sources, which I suspected were Marx Toys Playpeople klickies. I found all but a few (5%) had one or more features not found in German/Maltese-manufactured klickies.
 
It is mere speculation, but perhaps Geobra wanted Playmobil toys which were marketed by Licensee companies like Marx Toys to be distinguishable from the ‘mainstream’ German toys. Maybe this was to ensure any legal challenges were addressed to the appropriate company, rather than Geobra (perhaps prophesizing the US Macdonalds problems of 1983). Some of the licensees’ klickies had the company name on the base of the foot; I have examples of Trol, Famobil and Lyra fixed-wrist klickies where this is the case. But Playpeople never had different feet, the soles bearing the ©geobra imprint exactly like German klickies throughout the Playpeople lifespan. So perhaps geobra created parts for Playpeople which had more subtle distinguishing features?

The features which only Marx Toys Playpeople klickies possess include:

•   Style of face printing and shape of mouth (easily observed)
•   Position of skeleton mould number on the back of the skeleton ‘tongue’ *
•   Style and position of mould number at top of legs (on the ‘bottom’) (easily observed)
•   Shape of the skeleton (notch between the two neck-holders) *
•   Combination of colours of the arms, legs and torso (easily observed)
•   A black skeleton when neither the torso nor legs are black (easily observed)

Two of these features (marked *) are not visible without dismantling the klicky (removing only the legs will allow the skeleton mould number to be seen, but not the skeleton shape).

Here is what I found when I examined 222 British klickies:

•   61% had the face ‘melted into’ or ‘embossed’ onto the head (the edges can be felt as ridges with your finger) and the mouth shape was different from German klickies (the other 39% have molded or normally-printed heads.
Here are two examples:


And a German klicky face for comparison:


•   57% had a single skeleton mould number (1, 2, 3 or 4) at the top in the centre of the tongue (you need to remove the legs or disassemble the whole klicky to see this). The other 43% and all German klickies have one or two skeleton numbers in the top left, top right, bottom left or bottom right of the skeleton tongue. Two examples:


•   50% had a wide central number in the range 1 to 16 on the bottom (I call this pattern oNo). Some German klickies have a central number, but this is small and narrow (ono) and in the range 1 to 32. The other 50% of Marx klickies had no numbers on the bottom.

‘ono’ tall narrow number for comparison:


•   24% have a type ‘c’ skeleton (you need to dismantle the klicky to see this). Of the 12 skeleton types (see photo) I have found on fixed-wrist klickies, only Marx klickies have type ‘c’, with the triangular- based ‘notch’ at the top between the ‘prongs’ which grip the neck:


Other skeleton shapes found on Marx klickies include ‘a’ (54%), ‘b’ (18%), and ‘d’ (4%)

•   22% had a particular combination of colours for torso/arms/legs not found on German klickies. I am fairly confident these colour combinations are unique to Marx klickies and are not found on any other klickies, from Germany or any of the other licensee companies (Antex, Trol, Lyra, Famobil, Schaper, etc.). (In the pictures below, the two figures which look all black are actually very dark blue, with black skeletons).



•   14% had a black skeleton, not matching either torso or legs. All of these were type ‘c’ skeletons.


The colour of the skeleton matched the torso or leg colour (or both) in 83% and was Off-white in 3%

Percentages are based on a sample of 222 klickies I obtained from UK sources.11 (5%) showed none of these features and they may in fact have been German klickies.

How often do Marx klickies show more than one of these features?

18 (8%) showed only one feature (3 showed only skeleton numbering features, 7 wide number on bottom, 4 Marx colour combinations, 4 poorly printed head)
79 (36%) showed two features
69 (31%) showed three features
38 (17%) showed four features
6 (3%) showed five features
1 showed six features
In other words, 87% of Marx klickies showed at least two of the distinctive features.
Ignoring skeleton features which cannot be seen without dismantling the klicky, 63 (28%) had one feature and 139 (63%) had two or more features, but 20 (9%) had none.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2020, 08:16:19 by GrahamB »
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)

Online Tiermann

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Re: Can you tell a Playpeople klicky from a Playmobil one?
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2020, 18:35:58 »
Graham, your work is amazing as always.  Your level of Playmo-Geekiness puts mine to shame. I have a few of these older Klickies that are from the UK and to me the most obvious difference is the face. The different smile is very noticeable to someone who has many Klickies and spends a fair amount of time with them one way or another.