Author Topic: Playmobil verses LEGO  (Read 10961 times)

Offline Donmobil

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Playmobil verses LEGO
« on: June 26, 2008, 19:31:47 »
I believe that Playmobil needs to be more visable in the USA to gain the popularity such as LEGO.  There are 3 to 4 LEGO conventions a year here in the US.  One of the reasons that LEGO is more popular is the availabilty of parts to build with.  I find that the Playmobil US Direct Sales leaves much to be desired.  It would be better if we could go to the site and see a listing of the parts, with numbers in stock and prices.  Then we could click on what we wanted, go to get the shipping charges, click on method of payment, any time of day, seven days a week.  The folks who work there would come in and during business hours, fill the orders without spending hours on the phone needlessly looking up parts and talking fans through what is in stock.

A faster, more effective use of their time would reduce Playmobil's cost of providing this service.

Anyway, I just returned from a LEGO convention and looking at what people have done with the elements to build wonderful creations.  I have posted on BrickShelf the pictures I took at this event, if you are interested, the link is:

I have looked at the Playmobil Western town, the Victorian towns, the Medieval town, all are discontinued sets, I would love to build these towns with Playmobil.  Playmobil makes great sets now, but it is these three themes that appeal to me most.  The current theme with the Romans and the Egyptians need to be expanded with houses and buildings to make a Roman town or and Egyptian one.  Or re-release the Western, Medieval, Victorian sets.  Another idea would to issue the klickies in blister packs to augment sets.  I do not know which is cheaper, the box or the blister, but I would like to see the older klickies such as the Milkmaid and other klickies of these themes re-released in a form (blister or box) so that they would be in stores to pick and buy from.

I was told by one store manager that the current addons are not sellable in plastic bags that cannot be hung or stacked on shelves.  So, for example, the three redcoat soldiers could be issued in blister or box so that the retailer could set them out for the consumer to see and buy.  Also like the new upcoming Egyptian theme, place each new Klicky in its own box or blister with accessories and made them available to stores.

Anyway, my 2 ¢ worth...  Donmobil

Offline Gustavo

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2008, 02:05:09 »
I think we all here agree 100% (or near this) with you, Donmobil.

I find myself thinking, however, about WHAT WE COULD ACTUALLY DO ... Sometimes I have some impression that people here speak in hope that geobra Brandstädt will be listening, but I doubt it, or at least I don't have much faith on it, honestly.

And the "what can we do?" comes even after a "can we do anything?" (besides complaining / dreaming, when we're in better mood ...).

Can we do anything to help Zirndorf, or something like? Do they want any help? DO THEY ACTUALLY HEAR US? ...

I don't know :-\

So, puttin it again, in order:


WHAT COULD WE DO ABOUT IT? (so as to actually help gB -- maybe they need help ...)

DO THEY HEAR US? (as we speak what we would like them to do?)

And maybe
WHY DON'T THEY DO SOME THINGS? some of the things that are appearently basic and expected of a seller (...)? (I really mean that we might try to find out if there is any reason for them to keep such profile of service, because maybe it's a "lifestyle", I don't know ... Maybe there's a deeper reason for this to be so ... Maybe they wish to keep the three ladies of England there, because it's a social work for employing old ladies ... Whatever!

Maybe Hans Beck made a secret agreement that it should be like this ...

Maybe they need better administration ...

Maybe, maybe, maybe, but I mean: there may be a true reason, and I think we may simply not be understanding what's going on or why it's going on like this.)

(That was to put things in their view, not in ours ... It might help us to tell them in a way they could understant that we'd like them to do some things, even if we too had to work so that it'd work out ... Would any of you agree being hired by gB to help in development of such projects? ... It's a kind of an absurd thought, because, maybe -- I don't know -- they think "hey!: we don't want you messing up with OUR work, which is OURS, and we do as WE intend to do". Which, in a way, is their right, I mean, they aren't there to do what we want (...). Fact is that we would like there were a lot of things, but so what about it? There aren't, and if there's no talk with them, there's nothing to do about.

And complaining doesn't help.)

This may come to be a long discussion, or a very short one. As well as, I believe, it's probably a discussion that some here possibly have with them for a long time, in this way, or in others ...

But thanks for bringing this matter (again*, and in a different way), and lets see if any (good and actual) thing comes out of this.


*Martin Milner made, not long ago, a complaint about DS, that brought somewhat of this same protest.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2008, 02:12:41 by Gustavo »

Offline CountBogro

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2008, 06:35:34 »
I've also heard that Lego's not all what it's cracked up to be ...

Let's face it - Neither Playmobil nor Lego will earn big bucks through their customer services. It's always a bit of extra. So, there will be little incentive to improve things. We're just too much for a niche market to be really taken into account.
It's mostly meant to replace broken or lost items. That's all.

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Offline Donmobil

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2008, 10:20:09 »
Actually, LEGO does quite a bit for customer service.  At this convention their were 12 employees from Denmark (where LEGO is made) attending and they not only walked around talking with us, but held two meetings with the con fans getting our input about LEGO and its products.  At the opening session, the overall PR person gave a presentation telling us where the company is and its past and future plans.  This is done each year.

LEGO is coming out with a new train system in 2009 and several AFOL's (Adult Fans of LEGO) who belong to large LEGO train clubs are in on its development.

Three years ago, the CEO of LEGO attended the convention and gave the presentation.  Not to put down Playmobil, as I enjoy it as well as LEGO, but does the top leaders of Playmobil attend Wolfsburg and talk to the Playmobil consumers to get their comments and feedback?  If not, they should.

-- Donmobil

Offline LHAAP

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2008, 11:01:52 »
You wrote, Donmobil, that you would like to see some of the old sets re-released. I'm sure all of us would like to see every set Playmobil has produced re-released, but that's not how you do business. Playmobil has increaesed its operations and turnover every year since 1974 and still does. The consumers want quality toys (LEGO, Playmobil, Siku and so) and I like this new trend.

When it comes to conventions you are quite right. But we must also remember that Playmobil actually attends different markets around Germany (yes it's still a very local company ;)) where they present the new stuff and the children get the opportunity to play with the sets and participate in games. Just wait some years and all countries, where Playmobil is present, will have these events.
That LEGO has representatives attending the conventions has something to do with the fact that LEGO IS more popular all around the world and that we are talking about a significantly older company :lens:

Just wait, in some years you'll see Horst Brandstätter flying to America to take care of the business :lol:

Offline Sylvia

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2008, 11:16:03 »
Hi all :wave:

I received an e-mail from a collector who has a keen interest in this particular topic.
He's a fan of both Playmobil and Lego, though he says he is more heavily slanted towards Lego collecting.

He asked if I would post the following message on his behalf:


Donmobil recently said higher visibility is one reason that Playmobil is more popular than Lego. I how ever would say this is the end result of its popularity. It sells more than Playmobil and thus gets more shelf space.

I should Introduce myself. I'm joe and an avid collector of both playmobil and Lego (or freak of nature for collecting both). Yes believe it or not some of us do collect both. Though I collect both when I decided to build a town despite the appealing draw of system x I built it with Lego. Why?

I can tell you it isn't the visibility of the toy. When I started collect these toys Playmobil had much bigger section than Lego. Thus it was much more visible than the Lego. It wasn't parts, from my perspective at least. Playmobil came with saddles, guns, hats, fire hoses that actually worked. I viewed playmobil to have the greater variety of parts. I have felt drawn to Lego though, because of the creativity inherent in the system. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that playmobil doesn't inspire creativity, just not in the same way as lego. Again playmobil is creative,  the hazmat crew, vending machine, and various direct service items, with their ability to vend a soda or squirt water showcase the creative minds the toy and encourage creative play.

What I do mean is this: When you say,"Gee wish Playmobil would come out with a(n) x (delivery van, building, etc)." What do you then do? Perhaps shoot off a letter to playmobil? Start an on line petition? or perhaps you just wait. However when a lego enthusiast says that, I can guarantee you ten minutes later they have their first version of that built. Lego gives you a power to hammer out  what ever you wish to your specifications. Want a bar? No problem. Want a car? Yeah they have wheels too, not just bricks. With the same bricks you can travel to mars, have an apartment building, or build a tank. Almost anything we want from this single seemingly magical box full of bricks. It stirs something visceral, something ancient inside of us. When Lego enthusiasts build something and we see this creation go from our minds eye to reality, is it a thrill, it is a drug to us. We know all we did was arrange bricks in a certain pattern, but it's our pattern, our vision.

We are drawn to the brick because we can express ourselves through a unique medium. When it is built it doesn't just sit there as so much art does, we get to play with it.

That is just ONE reason enthusiasts are drawn to it.

Others like the engrossing story lines (bionicle, agents, etc) I know some will say by providing any structure to the play it somehow limits creativity. However I would say it encourages creativity. It gives a shared universe from everyone to draw from. It provides a plot line and a rich story from which to draw inspiration.

Still others like the licensed lines (starwars, indiana jones, batman). Some like this because they will buy anything from these lines, from night lite to washcloths. Others are spurred on by the creativity aspect (You mean I can build Batman's car how I LIKE it?).

So no it is not the higher visibility or larger selection of parts, nor is it the ease through which parts are obtained. It is the malleability of the system, the ability to make dreams solid, that attracts the enthusiasts.

Gustavo asked several questions. I can't tell you how eerily familiar this is coming from the Lego side. Not too long ago (1999 / 2000) many lego enthusiasts were asking themselves the same questions. I hate to say it, however, it took the almost crash (bankruptcy) of lego to get them to pay attention to fans. They said, "Hey wait what are we doing wrong?" If this man is to be believed - It also took some one inside the company to face the corporate juggernaut, and change their way of thinking. I must say things recently (past 2 years or so) have greatly improved. We were given cafe corner - very sexy. Also fans were allowed to design models like market street, star justice and space skulls Fan input was asked for the transition from the 9v/RC trains to the new power functions trains. There were multiple communications between the lego group and the fans concerning that switch. They actually took at least some of our feedback into consideration. They sponsor multiple conventions now (there are many more than 4).

This transformation didn't happen overnight and it took the almost complete destruction of the company to wake up.

So my suggestions are:
1) Email / mail the company. Give them suggestions, not necessarily for sets but for improvements in general.
2) Suggest a program similar to the ambassadors that lego has.
3) Let them know you want an ordering system whereby you can order any currently produced parts. Show them there is interest in it. Perhaps through a petition (supposedly a similar push got the current lego ordering system online.)
4) Invite them to look at the message boards. Again supposedly this encouraged the growth of the ambassador program.
5) Invite them to conventions. I can say I don't ever remember a rep a con.
6) Tell your local dealers what you want. It may get back to the company.
7) When you call for DS parts tell the operator this is a pain get an online ordering system.

That being said lego isn't perfect. The DHL service is horrid in the US. I can tell you everyone I know when they order over the phone or web makes sure to mention to lego that dhl sucks. In the past few months its gone from Really? to Yes you aren't the first to say that, to Yes we are aware of the problem and are trying to fix it. My point being is we the fans learned we must consistently and in a nice way constantly remind lego what we are dissatisfied with at the company.

 Remember it won't happen overnight. You must repeatedly do these things. Don't give up. Again if half of what he says in the video is true, it took multiple attempts from many sources to change the company.

Thank you for your time.


Offline Richard

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2008, 14:04:47 »

Thanks for posting Joe's comments, Sylvia ...

What we all must remember is Playmobil's incredible success!

As many of us know, and as Joe said in his email to Sylvia, Lego was in serious financial trouble not too long ago. In fact, Lego had to lay off more than one thousand employees.

LGB (IMHO, the finest toy train company ever) just recently went "belly-up" ...

What do (did) Lego and LGB have (had) in common? They both have (had) a large adult "hobby" market. And, we all know {from experience) that many adults spend lots (and lots) of money on their hobbies.
However, it seems that we spend a lot more on toys for children that we do on children's toys for adults!  BBC says that the average family spends £461 per year on toys for children.

You don't have to be a business whiz or a financial genius to know that there is a lot more money being spent on toys being bought for children than money being spent on children's toys being bought for adults.

So, when adult hobbies are actually children's toys for adults, their financial value to a toy company is relatively quite small.

The owner of Playmobil has apparently known this from the very beginning.

Therefore, we should probably consider ourselves quite fortunate. Playmobil tolerates us and indeed even  somewhat caters to our wants. We probably should stop whining and complaining and instead send a few thank you emails to show our appreciation.

All the best,

Offline Sir Gareth

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2008, 18:38:52 »
Hi Donmobil,

Thanks for the link to your pictures, there are some really amazing creations in your images.

Most of all I liked the 1st image of a sepia portrait photo of a man, and further on the female alian character, nice pieces of art.  8-)

I didn't know you could build such detailed tanks and military aircraft with lego these days. When I had Lego back in the 70's my tanks and aircraft I built for my Airfix soldiers where very basic.

As for your problem with ordering spare parts, I have to agree with you that an automated site would be a lot better.

As for Playmobil taking notice of us adult collectors, I have one thing to say on that, "Red Framed House".
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Offline Timotheos

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2008, 23:59:29 »

That LEGO has representatives attending the conventions has something to do with the fact that LEGO IS more popular all around the world and that we are talking about a significantly older company :lens:

Older?  Heh, Geobra has been around since the 1930s and produced appliances; later hula hoops and big toy trucks kids could ride on.

So, Geobra is actually older than Lego.

Offline Timotheos

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Re: Playmobil verses LEGO
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2008, 00:46:44 »

Therefore, we should probably consider ourselves quite fortunate. Playmobil tolerates us and indeed even  somewhat caters to our wants. We probably should stop whining and complaining and instead send a few thank you emails to show our appreciation.

Today I received in the mail two (this time free) Romans with the correct arms.  Months ago, the parts department must have placed the two figures they didn't send on backorder (even though they didn't explain this--and when I complained back then they worked out a fast solution).

PM is doing some sort of juggling to accomodate us.

Maybe Richard and Bogro are trying to educate me. 

If every accomodation they make for us leads to vocal outrage, the company will either:

1) keep striving like a footsore boyfriend to make us happy
2) write us off as a bunch of cranks and do the minimum to keep us hanging on

In fact, are Playmobil and Lego revolutionaries in the industry considering the extent they let us order parts piecemail?  Does Hasbro accommodate this for Star Wars figures and GI Joe?

(Richard, did you ever order spare parts from Schaper?  As a kid, I got hold of a Schaper spare parts catalog and ordered anything that I didn't know what it was (like a grindstone))--if nobody ever ordered parts from Schaper, I might be the longest-running parts orderer in the USA!)