Author Topic: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?  (Read 886 times)

Offline GrahamB

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If you think the answer to this question is ‘It’s printed on the sole of one foot’ you are in good company (but almost certainly wrong)!



I did a search on eBay.co.uk for ‘Playmobil 1974’ and 62% of the listings contained NO parts which could have come from 1974 (on ebay.de the proportion was 70%). The problem is that klicky feet and some accessories may have a date on them, but this is the year of copyright and often moulds* are used for many years and can even be replaced with quite different moulds, still bearing the date of the original one. So dates on Playmobil parts are unreliable.

* I have used the UK spelling of this word which can also be spelled ‘mold’.
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: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2019, 18:06:43 »
A little challenge.

Can you put these 7 klickies in order of their date of manufacture, based solely on what you can see in the pictures? All 7 klickies are superficially the same, all-blue male klickies with black hair.



The following two pictures may help (they are in the same order left to right as the first picture).




And a close-up of the first picture should also help:

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: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2019, 18:07:25 »
Here they are in their correct age sequence. They are types 0 (PMFo),  2 (PMFb), 3 (PMFs), 4 (PMFd), 5 (PMR), 6 (MMR) and 9 (MOR)- the type numbers and abbreviations will be explained later. G is actually a pre-production prototype and is a slightly lighter blue.




All 7 klickies originate from the period 1974 to 1982 (after 1982, all adult klickies had separate ‘hands’). These earliest klickies are very plain, with ‘fixed wrists’ or ‘non-rotatable hands’. The oldest klickies like this, from the very beginning of Playmobil, are considered by some to be rare and collectable. However, fixed-wrist klickies were manufactured in their millions (320 million by 1980 according to ‘The Story of a Smile’), so they are quite easy to find in used lots over 40 years later. Being able to spot the rare ones might be useful.

Luckily for nerds like me, there are clues which can be used to put an approximate age on a given klicky and I will share what I have discovered. Most of the clues allow you to tell, even from a photograph, if a klicky is a genuinely old, 1974 klicky, or one of the later and commoner ones, without having the figure in your hand.

I only used klickies I got from German sources when working out the details of their evolution. I had to use German klickies because when I started looking into this, I discovered I had a mixture of UK ‘Playpeople’ klickies and German ones (but I couldn’t tell which were which in many cases). The Marx ones don’t show the same patterns of features as the German ones. More recently I have discovered how to tell a Marx klicky from a German one with certainty. That is a subject for another topic, however….

After 1982, the free-wrist klickies showed rather little variety and it was only from 1986 on, when torso- and face-printing began (see set 3382) that klickies started to become more distinctive. But I am restricting myself to 1974 to 1982 fixed-wrist klickies here.
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: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2019, 18:07:54 »
Starting points

I became interested in the possibility of determining the age of fixed-wrist klickies when I read  a post by Littledive on Klickywelt

Later I discovered, also on klickywelt  another helpful topic, by playmorache ,  which describes the very early klickies and even shows some pre-production prototypes, under the heading ‘Certainly one of the best finds since I began collecting’ (so it’s not just me!).

Since viewing either of these links needs Klickywelt membership and some help with translating from German, I have included much of the information from Littledive and playmorache here, but not their photos. The dating of different types after 1975 is based entirely on my own speculations.
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: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2019, 18:09:27 »
What to look for

There are several features worth noting when examining a klicky. I have a system of abbreviations to describe the main combinations of features. For example ‘MMRnon’ (one of the commonest types) indicates a klicky with a Molded head, Matched skeleton, Rounded-edges to the feet and the ‘bottom’ has two numbers with a central space. Here is a guide to all the most useful features. I have also created a pdf showing this information, available here

1.Head

P or M- does it have a Printed face or a Molded one? Remove the hair and look inside the head. If you see brown plastic as well as the “pink” plastic, it is moulded, as in the two centre heads below. If the face is printed, is there a straight slot (Ps) or a v (Pv)at the back of the head? (see below). Does it have ‘ears’? Is it made from brown or white plastic (introduced 1978)?



2.Skeleton

M or O: what colour is it? (Look at the top of the legs) Does the colour Match the torso, the legs or both (as on the left below)? Or is it an Off-white colour (as in centre and right below)?



It can be difficult to decide for klickies with white torso or legs. It may help to take the klicky apart as in the pictures below (Off-white skeleton is on the right in both pictures).



3.Soles of feet


Are they flat or with a lip around the edge? Is the lip Flat or Rounded? Is the central area deep (Fd) or shallow (Fs). What is the impression: a hole on each foot (Fo), a ‘b’ on each foot (Fb) or ‘©1974’ on the right foot and ‘(b) Geobra’; on the left? Is the (b) closed or open? The following pictures show the main types.
 
Fo, flat feet, ‘hole’ on each  Fb, flat feet, ‘b’ on each    Fs, flat edges, shallow centre


Fd, flat edges, deeper centre  R Rounded edges, closed b   R  open ‘b’ on left foot


The shallow Fs and deeper Fd  feet types can be hard to tell apart. I found Fs with oo1 type bottom (in 75 out of 76 klickies) and Fd with oo2 bottom (in 49 out of 49 klickies). I found R  with several different types of bottom.

Close-up of the open b


4.Bottom

(With the klicky bent forward at the hips, the bottom is the panel at the top of the legs): any circles, letters or numbers?
-o-, oo1, oo2, oo3, non, ono, sos; numbers are 1- or 2- digits.

-o-, small central circle             oo1, small circles widely placed oo2 larger circles closer together 

                                            These two can be hard to tell apart, but oo1 is only found                           
                                            with Fb feet or Fs feet. oo2 is found with Fd  or R  feet.


ono narrow central mould no. non two mould numbers        sos F and a number in squares

5.Other details

Torso: Is it Male or Female (‘flip hem’)


Arms: earliest types had a small hole in each wrist.


In 1978 hook-hands and peg-legs were introduced

The bottom on peg-legs has one mould number on the right oon

The earliest klickies had flattened toes (below) The ‘prototype’ klicky (below, left) had slightly shallower ‘holes’ in the feet than the 1974 klicky (below, right)

« Last Edit: April 20, 2019, 08:25:28 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)

Offline GrahamB

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Re: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2019, 18:10:20 »
A Timeline
Using the features described above, I was able to put my 600 fixed-wrist German klickies into 18 groups and work out the sequence in which they were manufactured, as shown in the table below, which is also available to download as a pdf here.


This table has some ‘discontinuities’ in it (the colouring of the cells does not always follow a consistent pattern). For example, moulded heads are found with ‘earlier’ feet types in rows 3a and 4a. From the timespan column, it is apparent that several different types were being made at the same time (e.g. types 3a to 7 were all made between 1976 and 1978 by my reckoning).

Timespans are based to some degree on speculation, but the end date for many types is indicated by looking at known release dates for particular klicky types. For example, male klickies with white torso, white arms and red legs were first issued in 1979. I found 8 of these showing type 8 characteristics (MMRnon), so that type must have been in production at least as late as 1979.

One final point- I made the assumption that the klickies had not been completely disassembled in the last 40 or so years by the children or adults who owned them. Hair is easily removed, so I ignored hair colour.  In other words, I assumed each klicky still had its original combination of parts. Where a colour combination cropped up which never existed in klickies issued (such as green arms and legs and a blue torso) I knew the klicky was a ‘recombinant’ (custom): this only happened in two cases (neither of them included in the 600)! Furthermore, I found a great deal of consistency in the combinations of parts and in several cases (where I thought a combination did not fit the general pattern) it turned out to be a mistake on my part in recording the details!

So that’s it. Have a look at the soles, bottoms and brainboxes of any fixed-wrist klickies you have and see if you can put a date on them!
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 Tiermann

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Re: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2019, 18:29:29 »
Well this is an amazing piece of work Graham. Not exactly a surprise from you, but always a wonder to behold. I was most taken aback by the casual "my 600 fixed-wrist German klickies"  though as a collector myself I understand how these things just sort of happen. Thanks for the hard work on this, I am sure it will come in handy to people.

Offline Macruran

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Re: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2019, 22:49:37 »
Incredible scholarship. I bet Klickywelt has nothing even approaching this.  :(o):
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Offline sbblabotw

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Re: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2019, 16:50:33 »
 :clap: :wow: Graham, we really must talk about getting some of your research on the web. It deserves a wider audience.
PlaymoDB.org has catalogued over FIFTY THOUSAND parts in more than 5700 sets. Come and visit to find any set or part numbers you need to know!

Online tahra

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Re: How do you tell when a (fixed-wrist) klicky was manufactured?
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2019, 20:19:09 »
AWESOME work :wow:

My half educated guess  from the first pics would be:

G E  ( A D F )  C B

The ADF ones I wouldn't be able to sort..  and the C B are obvious, compared to the others, imo...

I am still amazed at the extensive study. :o
Tahra