Author Topic: Versions of sets  (Read 572 times)

Offline GrahamB

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Versions of sets
« on: April 25, 2017, 18:32:44 »
What are Versions? How do they differ from one another? Are they important?

A few years ago when I started using Axel Hennel’s book Collector, which shows every Playmobil set known from 1974 to 2009, I noticed a number of sets were included twice or more, with the entries described as different versions. Using Collector and other sources, I have found

369 sets with two versions,
  86 with three versions,
  20 with four versions,
   7 sets with five versions,

a total of 483 versions (of which 20 versions were not mentioned in Collector).

Detailed information about different versions of a set can be hard to find and this isn’t helped by the fact that many were released before 1990, so they are now old and hard to come by.

In some cases, the difference between two versions is obvious, involving major differences in the contents of a set
(e.g. 3258 with a mainly white camper van in Version 1

and a blue one in Version 2

In a small number of cases in Collector, the difference between two versions is explained (eg. 4622, 3186, 3199), but in the majority of cases the difference between versions is more obscure.

In fact many version differences are relatively minor. I found that 60% of versions of a set differ from one another only in the packaging, not the contents. Sometimes there is a different picture on the box, but often the difference is more obscure (e.g. whether the dot on the ‘i’ of the ‘Playmobil’ brand name is rounded

or angular
These ‘branding’ differences may be of significance to some collectors of course, which is why Hennel included them in his catalogue.

So, I decided to try to find out which versions are significantly different in content from one another. Using evidence available online (often pictures of contents on the set boxes, sometimes pictures of the set contents laid out on display, sometimes inventories), I analysed the difference between every pair of versions. Here is the breakdown of differences between versions:

For the 97 versions with 1 or more difference in contents (the 3 segments of the chart at the top left), I created a
 photographic summary of the differences between versions
and this is available as a
pdf here

The pictures generally show the differences in content of versions compared side-by side, not the full contents of each version (as in the photos of the two versions of the 3258 camper vans above). I was short of twelve parts so I used Photoshop to change the colours of parts I did have. I also borrowed a few pictures from websites.

The data on which the pdf and charts is based is also  available in this spreadsheet: here.

At least some of the 97 version-pairs illustrated would be worth considering for inclusion in Playmobil Collections or Catalogues, if they are not already there!

I struggled with many sets because I could not find good enough pictures of contents or set boxes, nor lists of set contents. Of particular value was the topic Datenbank Setinhalt at where set contents of two consecutive versions were both shown for 46 sets. There are some sets  where building instructions exist for each version but these are not always available online (I do have the plans for V1, 3 and 4 of 3456, which was very helpful). What I really need is for collectors of MISB sets to open them up and confirm the contents of each version!

I am well aware that I have made quite a few  assumptions in putting this together, especially my heavy reliance on box pictures. I am sure there are errors (I found quite a few I had made as I checked through!). If you can throw any light on the subject, either from detailed knowledge of particular themes, owning MISB sets or building instructions, or having better insight (or eyesight) when squinting at small pictures, please let me know. I have included a list of specific questions at the end of the pdf document, relating to 26 sets I could not decide about (including the 17 shown in the piechart as ‘uncertain or inconsistent differences’.

Finally, here are some set lists which might prove useful…

57 set versions currently in PlaymoDB PlaymoDB set versions (note 3257y is Version 2 of 3257 but there is no 3257x or Version 1 in PlaymoDB, 4287/4287a (these sets dont fit my criterion for being different versions) and 9990x/9990 (Spain exclusives) are not included in the illustrations in the pdf).

71 Version pairs where the difference between versions is believed to be fixed/free wrists only:
V1/V2 Sets where V1 has fixed wrists and V2 free wrists with no other differences
V2/3 Sets where V2 has fixed wrists and V3 free wrists with no other differences
V3/4 Sets where V3 has fixed wrists and V4 free wrists with no other differences

Sets listed in German DS catalogues in non-consecutive years with the second entry described as ‘NEU’ (new), possibly suggesting these might be updated versions of the earlier release. Set 7333 appears in three catalogues as ‘neu.’ DS sets which may exist in two distinct versions

Box picture seems to be the only difference between versions in the following
V1/2:Box picture differs between V1 and V2
V2/3: Box picture differs between V2 and V3
V3/4: Box picture differs between V3 and V4
V4/5: Box picture differs between V4 and V5

Possible additional versions for PlaymoDB (Sets with 4 or more differences between versions).
PlaymoDB Sets where there are versions with 4 or more differences between versions not currently in PlaymoDB (The sets shown currently have only this version included in PlaymoDB).

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 tahra

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Re: Versions of sets
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2017, 20:51:52 »
Wow. That is a LOT of info!

Thank you :wow:

Offline Macruran

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Re: Versions of sets
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2017, 03:05:10 »
"We like things in little." - G. Stein