Playmobil is a German toy produced by Geobra Brandstätter. It began with the creation of its recognizable figures, which were designed to be simple and to inspire creativity. Since its creation, Playmobil has been running since 1975, and still produces toys today. Most sets are scenery-based, and themes are designed so that the sets can integrate with each other in a scene.
The first system Playmobil used for assembling buildings was called the Steck system, which used tabs and slots that allowed for a wide range of customization and expansion. Later, it switched everything to "System X", which uses square holes and connectors, limiting customization and proving unpopular with the fanbase. Playmobil is notable for its enduring "Knights", "Pirates", "Western", and "Princess" themes, and it introduces other themes every few years. While it does create new pieces for figures, the majority of Playmobil pieces have been available since the early days of the toy.
Playmobil has often been compared to LEGO, but there are some key differences. Playmobil is not a construction toy, although assembly is required for most of the sets. Until 2016, Playmobil did not license, either. The target age group for Playmobil is also generally regarded as younger than for LEGO.
For their line of collectible mystery figures ("Fi?ures") go here.
Tropes used by Playmobil include:
- Amazing Technicolor Population: The alien figures have been made in light green, yellow, light blue, and medium green.
- Ambiguously Brown: Playmobil has three main skin tones for non-fantasy human figures (not counting whitefaced geisha figures): a light peach color to indicate Caucasian/white, a dark brown to indicate African/Black, and an orange color that has been used for everything from Native American to Indian.
- A "tan" skin tone has also been added, which is not as orange but not the standard peach.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: The four seasons are represented as fairy princesses, and the Sun and Moon are represented by Princesses Sunny and Luna. The Queen of the Night in the Fi?ures theme also counts.
- Artifact Title: The fandom term for the figures is "klickies", which came from the company itself in the early days. These days, they're officially called figures.
- The "Special PLUS" theme. The "Special" theme was a long-running series of sets that contained one themed figure. Toward the end of its run, the Special Plus sets were released, which contained one figure and some external accessories (or two child figures). Now that it has permanently replaced the "Special" theme, the "PLUS" added on doesn't make much sense.
- Bedsheet Ghost: There is a ghost shroud that covers most of a figure's body to achieve this look. The light-up ghost figure made in 2015 retains the amorphous look, but has more detailed "robes" and does not have a standard figure inside.
- Classical Movie Vampire: This is a frequent feature in their spooky sets and Fi?ures series, with a few female examples as well.
- Chained by Fashion: A few ghosts wear a ball-and-chain.
- Ethnic Magician: The "Special Plus" theme has an Asian-looking magician with a genie.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Several pirate figures come with monkeys that clip onto their arms. Chimp figures with poseable heads and limbs also come with some sets.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies:
- Playmobil has made several green undead-corpse figures since the first in the Haunted House Play Box, and they tend to blur the line between zombie and Frankenstein's Monster (or in one case, a zombie/mummy blur).
- The "Ghost Pirates" theme focused on spirit buccaneers who took the form of rotting corpses.
- Evil Sorcerer: These appear in a few sets.
- The Fair Folk: Probably the closest they've come is the evil mermaid queen in the "Mermaids" theme. Otherwise, Playmobil fairies are whimsical, colorful, and benevolent.
- Firehouse Dalmatian: The extensive Rescue Line includes two toy packs where Dalmatian accessories accompany the firemen figures:
- Genie in a Bottle: There is a large smoky genie piece that fits into a bar-sized hole (or a figure's hand). It glows in the dark, and is a translucent greenish-white color.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: The Evil Queen in the "Special" theme, the Evil Queen in the "Snow White" set, and the "Magical Ocean Queen" in the "Mermaids" theme.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: One "Special Plus" set contains a child-size angel and devil, which invokes this trope.
- High Collar of Doom: There is a high collar piece that clips onto a figure's neck. Unsurprisingly, it's been worn almost exclusively by evil characters. There is also a cape piece with a molded high collar which is often used to the same effect.
- Humanoid Aliens: There are alien figures with different head molds and exclusive hairpieces. The heads are angular at the back, and they have more horizontal eyes and a smaller smile. The alien hairpiece is slightly triangular and provides a connection for hats and other headgear.
- In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Almost all of the astronauts. This is averted by the astronaut in the Moon Buggy "add-on" set, which uses an opaque golden visor.
- LEGO Body Parts: Mostly averted. Figures in sets cannot be taken apart, and as such, only hair, hats, and accessories can be switched with other figures. The Fi?ures line, however, sells the figures taken apart (made possible by a different head and skeleton that can separate), and they can swap all of their parts with other figures from the theme.
- Magic Staff: Used by several characters, and there are three types.
- A two-pronged metal staff that holds an orb, used mostly by evil sorcerers.
- A twisted tree branch with a jewel inside, used mostly by fairies and forest spirits.
- A colorful staff with ivory-like decorations on the end and around the orb, used by fairies and similar magic females.
- Magic Wand: Used by various wizards and magicians.
- Minor Injury Overreaction: This set◊. A child has fallen off his bike, but a whole team comes from the hospital. The kid is given bandages and an IV, and a rescue helicopter is coming in.
- No Name Given: All of the figures, to enhance creativity.
- Non-Ironic Clown: Every single clown in a Playmobil product is friendly, cheerful, and fun.
- Obviously Evil: It's pretty easy to tell which characters are nice and which are bad if you look at their colors and outfits.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The "Knights" theme has introduced some dwarf characters, using the shorter adult legs debuting in the Fi?ures theme.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The first vampire had a white face and purple hair, and a gentleman's outfit. The Fi?ures Series 2 vampiress has the normal peach skin tone, and the standard face as an alternative to a more realistic vampire face. There later came a two-pack of a classical vampire and vampiress, with the lady having bat wings. Finally, Fi?ures Series 10 includes a more modern-looking vampiress with the standard peach skin but red eyes.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: This one seems to be in the early stages of transformation, or retains some wolfish characteristics in his human form.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Some female figures have wider hips to allow these to be worn. (The dresses are two halves that snap around the waist, and are hoop-shaped or a flowy bell shape.)
- Public Domain Character: Three "Fairy Tale" sets were made, which are based on "Snow White", "Cinderella", and "Hansel and Gretel". The Evil Queen in the "Special" theme seems to be part of the Snow White story as well, since she has a mirror. A duo pack set includes a Princess and Maid, both based on Cinderella.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Used a few times, notably in the Red Dragon Knights in the "Dragons" theme, and the Executioner in the "Fi?ures" theme.
- Scary Scarecrows: A freaky Western scarecrow has been made, and a pumpkin-headed scarecrow appears in the "Fi?ures" theme.
- Wicked Witch: Appears in several sets, with a hooked-nose glasses accessory and hunched cape to complete the effect.
- Wizard Classic: A few of their wizards are, although there's quite a bit of variety.