Possibly also the 17 most AWESOME Playmobil sets.
January 29, 2010 5:13 PM   Subscribe

17 Least Appropriate Playmobil Sets For Children : Yep. A randomly numbered list on which several items are questionable. But really, whoever approved #1 for production was more than a little bit twisted.
posted by grapefruitmoon (84 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Hazmat set and the executioner figurine are a little weird, but the other choices on the blog post get a "meh" for humour.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:19 PM on January 29, 2010


I must have the hazmat set for my desk.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:21 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Was the article writer only going to get paid if s/he came up with a full 17?
posted by mrnutty at 5:22 PM on January 29, 2010


Oh man, I totally had the Playmobil Cow Carcass when I was a kid. Or some damn plastic cow carcass, anyway. I'm not sure how I'd tell if it was genuine.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:23 PM on January 29, 2010


I desperately want all of these, especially Playmobil Satan. Holy moly are these cool. Fuck inappropriate, every child should have these.
posted by Kattullus at 5:24 PM on January 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Does it seem that the designers at Playmobil are having a lot of fun with their job?

It seems like the least the company could do for all those designers who weren't good enough to work for LEGO.
posted by Balisong at 5:27 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had that vulture one. Playmobil is awesome.
posted by ghharr at 5:27 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, with that construction worker, I can complete my Playmobil Village People set!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:28 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I believe you mean "17 Reasons Why Playmobil is AWESOME".
posted by GuyZero at 5:29 PM on January 29, 2010 [20 favorites]


I was under the impression that in some countries, it's totally acceptable for construction workers to drink beer on lunch break.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:30 PM on January 29, 2010


We had a full-service Playmobil ESSO Station when I was a kid. gas, windowashing, oil changes - everything a child dreams of.
posted by GuyZero at 5:30 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some people ACTUALLY have jobs as a hazmat clean up crew. I'm sure their kids would like to play pretend what mommy does at work.

The executioner, too.
posted by Balisong at 5:30 PM on January 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


I love Playmobil, and this is a big reason why. Thanks for this post.
posted by box at 5:30 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had this set as my wedding cake topper, but if I'd known about the Devil Gnome and Axe Man I SO WOULD HAVE CHOSEN THOSE INSTEAD.
posted by Lucinda at 5:30 PM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Inappropriate? Is this some kind of US vs. everyone else thing? Or is Rob Bricken just the most boring person on the entire Internet?
posted by effbot at 5:30 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


My brother and I saw this made-for-TV movie called "Warning Sign" when we were kids. It was your standard "biowarfare experiment goes horribly wrong" type of thing.

Of course we re-enacted it over and over again using the Playmobil "Operating Room" set shown here. I would have KILLED for the Hazmat one! Actually I still would.
posted by capnsue at 5:30 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eh, make that "Kevin J. Guhl and Brian Heiler".

And that site is run by a publishing company? No wonder the media industry is dying.
posted by effbot at 5:33 PM on January 29, 2010


Whether or not they're completely appropriate these sets have some serious play value. As in igniting the imagination for hours of play.
posted by debbie_ann at 5:33 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"We had a full-service Playmobil ESSO Station when I was a kid. gas, windowashing, oil changes - everything a child dreams of."

Me too! It was so awesome. I think I had the beer loving construction workers, too. They look familiar.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:35 PM on January 29, 2010


We had the operating room! Playmobiles and their little U-shaped hands > Legos.
posted by sallybrown at 5:38 PM on January 29, 2010


I love how they are all smiling no matter what.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:40 PM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


What makes the inappropriate ones even more so are their prices. If ever there was an economic class indicator among elementary school parents, buying Playmobil vs. Lego was it.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2010


These are all great. That blog post writer, however, is not.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:02 PM on January 29, 2010


Personal favorite set they should put out, Santa of the Caribbean.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:03 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the ESSO station was a premium you could get when you had enough points on your gas card, so it may not have been as expensive. But yeah, they cost a mint. And the devilish thing is that a kid can quickly become bored with one set, so you needed to collect more and more to do new things. Lego has at least two different levels of fun: building things and then playing with them.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:04 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe you mean "17 Reasons Why Playmobil is AWESOME".

I see you did not read the title of the post.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:06 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, as a former child, current child care professional, and potential future parent: I would totally let a child play with any and all of these, even if I questioned what weirdo thought an executioner was a good children's toy. I can especially see the toilet being popular with... oh... ALL age groups. Probably more popular than like, pirates, or some crap. Kids love a good toilet.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:08 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see you did not read the title of the post.

I do not appreciate people discussing my title-blindness.
posted by GuyZero at 6:11 PM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I liked the part where Kaiser Wilhelm woke up Aqualung.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:23 PM on January 29, 2010 [14 favorites]


hahahaha but I totally call bullshit on the construction trailer one. There is no Snap-On Tools babe calendar in there
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:28 PM on January 29, 2010


That's no devil gnome, that's Krampus! Hence the festive bow on the box.
posted by mendel at 6:39 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Playmobil. It is my default source for last minute gifts. I have given the Hazmat team, for example, as a graduation gift to a Chemistry grad student. Pity the selection at my current local toy store sucks.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:42 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Playmobil are cool, but Kubrick are super-cool.
posted by Nelson at 6:45 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, brother, guess what your niece is getting for Christmas!
posted by angrycat at 6:49 PM on January 29, 2010


"To illustrate this fact of life, here's a pack of wolves brutally taking down a moose."

No way a few wolves take a down a moose. Those wolves are d.e.d. daiiid.
posted by porpoise at 6:56 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


No way a few wolves take a down a moose.

I dunno, if one bear can do it, a pack of smart, hungry wolves probably can as well.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:04 PM on January 29, 2010


Anyone who thinks Playmobil's obsession with toilets is weird has clearly never met, or been, a four year old.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:18 PM on January 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


I had a bunch of the Esso stations. I think we played price fixing with them.
posted by jeather at 7:26 PM on January 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


Playmobil are simply the best. toys. ever.
posted by Xoebe at 7:27 PM on January 29, 2010


I saw the haz-mat set in a shop a few years ago and loved it, but didn't get it. For a long time I kicked myself for not buying it then, since I never saw it anywhere else. Now I am older and wiser and don't have to buy things just because they're neat and I still appreciate the haz-mat set, even though I'm a full-on Lego fan, not Playmobil.
posted by Legomancer at 7:36 PM on January 29, 2010


Whoops, I meant my niece. Your daughter. What's wrong with me. I blame Playmobil.
posted by angrycat at 7:50 PM on January 29, 2010


I got Mr. Palmcorder the hazmat set for Valentine's Day one year. It was a smashing success.

I still haven't been able to top it, in fact. Maybe this year I'll get him the jewel heist.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:54 PM on January 29, 2010


Playmobil: brilliantly marketed to parents, pretty boring for kids.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:19 PM on January 29, 2010


Man, I need to get a set for my desk at work. I can't decide whether this one would be funny or depressing.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 8:38 PM on January 29, 2010


I'm really fighting with myself over buying this Ghost Pirates Riding a Glow-in-the-Dark Whale Skeleton. On the one hand, I do not need it. On the other hand, it is Ghost Pirates riding a Glow-in-the-Dark Whale Skeleton!

It's like the Hitcher's personal conveyance that we never saw because it was always offscreen! Put one of those hole reinforcers on the one to the right and get it a top hat and you have your own Mighty Boosh playset.
posted by winna at 8:45 PM on January 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


personally, I found the policeman and tramp the weirdest - the cop has a sword and a spike on his helmet! These things are made in germany, aren't they?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:57 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm amazed at the fetishization of these toys apparent here. We used to merely set their little heads afire and watch them melt, imagining their pitiful cries and giggling in that innocent childlike way we had.

Then we'd go torture some grasshoppers and jerk off.

Those were some good times.
posted by metagnathous at 9:08 PM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


But really, I don't think I've seen many of these little figures that didn't look like they'd been through some kind of disaster.
posted by metagnathous at 9:12 PM on January 29, 2010


If ever there was an economic class indicator among elementary school parents, buying Playmobil vs. Lego was it.

These days they both occupy identical price points: fucking expensive (but worth every penny).
posted by KokuRyu at 9:35 PM on January 29, 2010


I was under the impression that in some countries, it's totally acceptable for construction workers to drink beer on lunch break.

Where is this NOT acceptable?
posted by desuetude at 9:36 PM on January 29, 2010


Kids dig having the power to explore the world in their hands. The world is a strange place without neither pity nor grace, when you get right down to it. That's what makes every single one of these absolutely appropriate.

All the other things that may seem "off" are differences in cultural norms between the U.S. and the country of origin.
posted by batmonkey at 9:37 PM on January 29, 2010


The policeman and the tramp came from the "19th Century" Playmobil series.

As someone who played with Meccano, Lego and Playmobil as a kid I preferred Playmobil for what I guess you could call narrative play (I had the class room set with a particularly dated map of Europe). Lego was for building tall, structurally-unsound skyscrapers.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 9:46 PM on January 29, 2010


Playmobile is overpriced and underimaginative. I'd more willingly shell out bucks for a big bucket'o'legos... none of these branded series, mind you, just a huge bucket of legos with a healthy smattering of wheels and people parts, including visored spaceman hemlets! And jet/rocket engine pieces you could convert to space laser pieces with translucent parts, so lots of those, too.

In summation, a beeeeg bucket o' legos beats any damn toy on the planet without even trying very hard.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:58 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


A friend and I found a bunch of Playmobil sets last year at a toy shop in Killington, Vermont- one of those small, we-still-don't-have-corporate-stores towns a drive away from the ski resorts, etc. And the basement was just LOADED with Playmobil sets. Anyway, we saw a bunch of these, and spent about an hour giggling like potheads over the disturbing premises of the sets.

The one that my friend ended up buying, though, isn't featured here and I think tops them all. It was a patient in a hospital room. And I mean, a clearly SICK CHILD in a hospital room. The figures cheeks and eyes were darkened, and the set came with a bedpan and a goddamn IV drip bag. It was a dying child playset.

We nicknamed her "Terminal Susie" because nothing on the box was written in English and we needed a name to reference her.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:46 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, all this talk of Playmobil reminds me of this one set (of the many my brother and I had, we were blessed) I had that I could never figure out. It was given to me as a birthday gift by someone I didn't know, so the motivation behind it is completely unknown.

It was a royal nursery with two parents and a baby. The parents were royalty (you could tell because the clothes had gold print on them). The mom was blonde/white and the dad was...Indian? That's what I always assumed growing up (limited multicultural influences in my area of Georgia), as he was sort of brownish-orange with a beard and wore a turban and a cape. They had a cute little biracial baby.

Anybody have any idea what this was about? It was a purple box, which they used for their oldtimey, Victorian sets, so was it some historical thing? I looked on the Playmobil site, and this one appears to have been discontinued and/or replaced with an all-white royal nursery.

This is really bugging me now. Any clues would be fantastic.

(Also, Playmobil totally rocks and so do Legos, but it's like comparing apples to oranges...you really can't say one is better than the other because they're both so great. So there.)
posted by phunniemee at 10:47 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I had the beer loving construction workers, too. They look familiar.
My five year old son plays with Playmobil. Some of it is 'new' stuff we or grandparents have bought (mainly knights and Romans) some of it is 'old' stuff as he has inherited all of his father's playmobil.* We have that construction worker set I think.

As for people saying it is not as creative or whatever as Lego - they both have their place. My son alternates (we have so much of both types that we put the Legos out of reach before bringing the Playmobil down and vice versa) and loves both. As someone pointed out, kids seem to prefer Playmobil for 'narrative' play, and Lego for construction. And if you think the Playmobil characters are too rigidly fixed in their characters to be 'creative', you haven't seen my kid playing - these guys are never the same thing twice.

*My in-laws are awesome. Not only did they keep all the Playmobil and hand it down, they kept the masses of lego. And all the boxes. And sorted the lego into the boxes before giving it to us. And all the instructions. And all the 1980s paraphernalia like advertising brochures for Lego. We are really lucky.
posted by Megami at 1:15 AM on January 30, 2010


Anyone else take off their "hair" (by accident or otherwise) and discover their brown Playmobil brains?
posted by dunkadunc at 1:22 AM on January 30, 2010


I can't believe the executioner was in there and the utterly awesome gigantic Roman Arena complete with gladiators, a tiger and a lion wasn't.

Come on, people! Your child wants to judge who lives and who dies!
posted by Katemonkey at 2:39 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


How the fuck are most of these inappropriate for children? "Ooooh, let's pretend animals don't eat each other, you might scar them FOR LIFE if you let them see wolves hunting a moose!"
posted by rodgerd at 2:55 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I bet money the moose ends up up as the pet of the local leader while the wolves hunt down the child's enemies. Who uses these sets as they were intended to?
posted by ersatz at 4:38 AM on January 30, 2010 [3 favorites]



Kids dig having the power to explore the world in their hands. The world is a strange place without neither pity nor grace, when you get right down to it. That's what makes every single one of these absolutely appropriate.


To be fair, I don't think Gnome Satan has much real-world applicability.
posted by odinsdream at 5:01 AM on January 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Next time I read an FPP, I'm going to try using the title as a comment and see if I get lots of favorites.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:08 AM on January 30, 2010


Ha ha ha, the airport check-in people are smiling. And the traveler hasn't removed all of her metal jewelery, shoes, tatoos, etc. Hilarious.
posted by tommasz at 6:30 AM on January 30, 2010


Holy god, these are REAL? Clearly I missed out on Playmobil as a kid...

I was under the impression that in some countries, it's totally acceptable for construction workers to drink beer on lunch break.

When I lived in Somerville, MA, the Portuguese work crew renovating the basement of the house I lived in went through a gallon jug of cheap red one every single day at lunch. And there were only 3 of them there, on average...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:57 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


For "cheap red one" please substitute "cheap red wine." I haven't had my coffee yet...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:57 AM on January 30, 2010


Something about the stiff gait of the Playmobiliers reminds me of Josef Lada's illustrations for The Good Soldier Svejk. Now I want a Svejk playset, and I'm not sure that's gonna happen.

(Oh please let this be where someone tells me they're thick on the ground in the Czech republic!)
posted by jtron at 7:10 AM on January 30, 2010


The Playmobile firefighting sets are perfect for Calvin-in-the-sandbox scenarios. "Oh no, toxic waste on fire! The fiery barrels are rolling down the hill toward the elementary school!"
posted by Wuggie Norple at 7:25 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aw, man. $200? I could buy real hazardous waste for that. *pouts*
posted by JoanArkham at 7:30 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was big into both Lego and Playmobil as a kid, and they definitely provided different play experiences. I personally had the operating set from this list (one of my favorites by far), and the vulture/carcass set. The best part about the vultures was you could pop the wings off and have a bizarre wingless bird with articulating head.

24 years ago, where have you been? Oh, that's right - in my parents' basement. Now to bring that awesomeness upstairs to my 10 year old and 4 year old sons - who both want several items off this worst toys list, which I would absolutely buy if they were still available. Who doesn't want to grow up to be a safe cracker?
posted by shinynewnick at 7:32 AM on January 30, 2010


Some people ACTUALLY have jobs as a hazmat clean up crew.

Two hundred dollars, god dammit. They even look like our new suits too.
posted by bonehead at 7:56 AM on January 30, 2010


To be fair, I don't think Gnome Satan has much real-world applicability.

Kids need to learn about Dick Cheney some time, you know.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 9:32 AM on January 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Playmobil: brilliantly marketed to parents, pretty boring for kids.

You don't know many kids, do you? As a kid, Playmobil were pretty high on the list of my favorite toys. All the kids I've ever worked with who have Playmobil sets of any kind have them in rotation just as heavily as Legos, if not more so. Weird as it may look, a kid would totally play Playmobil hazmat. Maybe not in any kind of "intended" way, but put that down in front of a four year old, and it WILL be played with.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:43 AM on January 30, 2010


I had the executioner! Of course, I was 17 when I found him and thought him hilarious. He hung out on my dresser with my twenty bottles of outlandishly-colored nail polish. Later I got a Playmobil robot with little gold inline skates. This blurry photo I took of the executioner-robot chase through the nail polish forest still lives in one of my photo albums, right between pictures of me as a baby and me as my best friend's maid of honor.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:08 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And it's worth noting that, underneath the executioner's hood, he wears that cheerful Playmobil smile like all the rest of the figures.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:12 AM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


For some reason, that reminds me of this song.
posted by box at 10:31 AM on January 30, 2010


Playmobil: brilliantly marketed to parents, pretty boring for kids.

Naw, they're awesome. The weirdly-specific details (well, weird to a kid) are awesome fodder for endless explanations. Y'know, like in the real world, but with smiling plastic figures that you can pose and move and control yourself. Unlike, say, Uncle George when he's sucking up ghosts of roadkill into the barrels on the side of the road or whatever he's doing with that hose and refuses to answer the batphone from the tub where you're waiting to transmit coded instructions on just how to stack the barrels for a fort.

(You want an awesome, made-of-win explanation for something? Ask a five-year-old.)
posted by desuetude at 10:48 AM on January 30, 2010


There was a day almost three years ago that my daughter got up off the floor and walked away from her playmobil stuff for what would be the last time ever as a kid. Of course, parents understand that if we knew that today will be the last day your child ever does X (asks you to sing her to sleep, or lets you kiss her lips, or calls you "daddy") you would be reduced to a puddle every single day, because in a way it's all lasts. The gift and the curse is that you don't know about the lasts until months or years later. But in fact, there was a last day of playmobil. I think I have something in my eye right now.

I will always love playmobil for being the main preoccupation and creative outlet of my daughter for SIX YEARS OF HER LIFE. At least three times a week from about age 5 she and her friends would be up in the playroom doing god-knows-what with what seemed to me like thousands of tiny random plastic things. School we understand, we can talk to the teachers, the other parents, we see the homework. It's got a structure invented by adults, so adults get it. But playmobil was her first completely independent obsession, with enough complexity and layers for her and her friends to fill hundreds of hours of their time, and I HAVE NO IDEA about any of it. Of course kids grow up, and nobody has been up in that playmobil room for a few years now. It's still just like she left it on the day she walked away from it. We haven't yet got around to destroying that universe, literally her life's work up to now. One day her kids will get their mom's playmobil people but I'm not looking forward to boxing them up.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:59 PM on January 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


My son had the Playmobil pirate ship, complete with pirates, bottles of rum and, I think, a skull or two. I cursed my brother, giver of this awesome gift, while I was assembling the damn thing on Christmas Eve but it was so, so worth it. It took up more space in the bathtub - a pirate ship must go in water, of course - than the kid did but I'll never forget how happy it made him. For about two years there he was the cleanest boy in Baltimore and I almost didn't mind stepping on pirates with tiny, menacing cutlasses almost every morning in the shower.
posted by mygothlaundry at 4:18 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's funny because I had the construction worker set and in our innocence my sister and I always imagined those were bottles of water or soda...haha.

Why all the haters? I had years of fun with Playmobil! The diversity of all the sets we had (2 from ancient Egypt, one from the Old West, five from the Victorian Era, three from the hospital world...and so on) meant that our constructions were always pretty creative like Medieval Hospital Boar Ranch or Egyption Moose School.
posted by melissam at 6:25 PM on January 30, 2010


I want the safe crackers! Those are so cool!
posted by streetdreams at 7:32 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


okay hold on stop

"Playmobil gets lumped together with Lego in people's minds and it's easy to see why."

WHAT NO

lego is a fantastic world of creative assembly and engineering and imagination
playmobil is just a bunch of prefabricated figurines in uniforms for kids to walk around and hit with each other and be like yaa we're fighting i kill you

god damnit
posted by tehloki at 7:45 PM on January 30, 2010


Playmobil gets lumped together with Lego (and Brio, and etc.) because they're toys that well-meaning parents buy when they want their kids to be creative/smart (or, if you prefer, because they're class-signifying Veblen goods--though now that you can get a lot of this stuff at Target and Toys'R'Us, and now that Lego has done all those tie-ins from movies and cartoons and stuff, that's not as true as it used to be. My life doesn't include a lot of visits to boutiquey toy stores these days (too bad--they've got some awesome stuff), but I'm sure there are some new exclusive-seeming brands. Hmm--I wonder if there are any hipster parents buying their kids collectible vinyl figures from Kid Robot and places like that). Playmobil and Lego are lumped together, but I don't think it has much to do with their play qualities.

Also and to repeat myself, now that Lego has made all those deals with Lucasfilm and stuff, there are plenty of prefabricated Lego figurines. The generic spacemen of my childhood are still around, but they've got plenty of slick Luke Skywalkers and Harry Potters to kick it with.
posted by box at 6:32 AM on January 31, 2010


I bought #5504 (or one like it -- I think it had been retooled to have a truncheon-wielding 1880s copper instead of a Prussian officer by that time) as a present for a kid some years ago. How could I not?

I so wish I had not given it with the packaging just to see how she would have set it up in her Playmobil town. Would the cop have been drinking? Would the bum have been the one in charge?

Who knows! The mind, she boggles!
posted by clvrmnky at 8:21 AM on January 31, 2010


Maybe I'm misremembering, but being born in 1969, I remember as a young kid having an uncle who traveled to Europe for business coming back with Playmobil toys for me & my sister, and I remember noticing that it was some time before I saw them in American toy shops. They were the "European toys" in my toy-chest. My world-travelling uncle also brought us jumbo-sized Shogun Warriors from Japan long before they hit the US.

I got a lot more out of my Playmobil stuff than I did out of Legos. I didn't want to build stuff, I wanted to tell stories.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:44 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


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