I have written previously about PLAYMOBIL figures, and how they played a large part in my childhood, back in the mid 70’s. This was in the days before minifigures, so I dont feel like I was being disloyal. That said, my parents have continued to make the ocassional purchase to ensure fresh play experiences for visiting friends. (They also have custodianship of my brother’s and my childhood LEGO® collection)
I was a little surprised earlier in the year, to discover that PLAYMOBIL were expanding on their blind bag experiences, by adding 12 villains from the Scooby Doo to the lineup. There are 12 Scooby Doo Blind Bag sets, containing various classic viallains, as well as several sets containing the Scooby Gang.
I have my loyalties. But my curiosity was piqued: I picked up a few of the collectable figures, as well as two sets: Scooby, Shaggy and the Ghost, as well as the Mystery Machine, which comes with Fred, Velma and Daphne figures. Both of these sets come with a variety of accessories.
I opened the figures to start: I got three different ones, from three: The Headless Horseman, The Black Knight and the Indian Chief. Each figure comes with a sticker, accessories, and, underneath their mask. a blank, soulless face!
Interestingly, in these packs, you are required to assemble the figures.
Scooby Doo and Shaggy, in 70287, come with a ghost, – specifically played by the BlueStone the Great, in the episode ‘Hassle in the Castle’ – S1E3. The figures come preassembled in this set. The Bluestone figure looks suitably hip and cool, in a mid 1960’s kind of way, and Shaggy has a burber to assemble, while Scooby Doo has a packet of scooby snacks. LEGO Fans will be glad to know that the stickers on the packet or Scooby Snacks are amongst the most frustrating that I have ever had to apply.
Finally, we come to the Mystery Machine. With this set, we get the vehicle, with a collection of accessories, as well as Fred, Thelma and Daphne. Fred and the girls are all assembled, but there are collars to add to each of them, and the girls dresses need to be added. Slight;y disturbing is the way that Daphne and Thelma’s skirts fly off when they go to sit down!
The Mystery machine actually requires a bit of assemble, to fitout the interior of the vehicle. Ultimately, the roof comes off.
Honestly, I was surprised at how much work was required, to get the vehicle ready to play with. At least with LEGO, I expect assembly to be part of the fun, but I do that, in the knowledge that I can rebuild whatever the set is in a different way.
To myself, however, brought up on the original series of Scooby Doo, Where AreYou?, this vehicle doesn’t look quite right: being more related to the one seen in the 2001 Movie, rather than the original cartoon version. Sure, it opens up, and seats four. Sure, its the right colour (more or less). Despite all of this, it just doesn’t feel like it has the distinctive curves. Frankly, it looks like someone suck in and gave the A-Team’s van a psychedelic paint job while Mr T was not watching!
In fact, I have my reservations obout the whole series. Most of this is based on the PLAYMOBIL aesthetic, rather than the theme itself, so why dont we have a look at the Scooby Doo sets that we have seen today, and compare them with the 2015 LEGO theme of the same name.
One thing I will say, it is easier to source the entire Scooby Gang in PLAYMOBIL, rather than LEGO: In the 2015 LEGO range, every set came with Shaggy and Scooby. Fred was only to be found in 75902 The Mystery Machine, Velma was only to be found in 75904 the Mystery Mansion. Daphne was also in 75904, but also 75903 Haunted Lighthouse. Shaggy was available with several face prints, and Scooby Doo came in several different molds. In PLAYMOBIL, Scooby is present in every other set apart from the Mystery machine, and there are several options for sourcing all of the characters. In some sets, the characters are in disguise.
But what of the figures themselves: we shall compare them all one on one., and then apply some general comments.
Fred Jones: PLAYMOBIL Fred features a very similar printed cravat, but his blue colllar is clip on. Otherwise, he features brown shoes. This hair does not show the same level of detail as the LEGO version. There is a simple part torch, with a painted light.
Daphne Blake. there is something abot Daphne, that make her look like she is standing tall and proud. Her hair is not as curly as the LEGO version. While the LEGO Skirt is just printed on, the PLAYMOBIL version is in 2 clip on parts. Daphne has a camera, in the both PLAYMOBIL and LEGO versions.
Shaggy has a couple of expressions across the range of LEGO Scooby Doo sets, but in PLAYMOBIL he is limited to the one expression. His legs have changed from dark red to a more brown pair. Snacks abound for Shaggy and Scooby in both LEGO and PLAYMOBIL forms.
Velma Dinkley. Velma takes advantage of her ‘LEGOness’ to ensure that she has a curious face, as well as a startled one. This is not so readily achieved when your wig cannot turn around to reveal an addition face. The LEGO Magnifying glass is significantly more funtional that its PLAYMOBIL counterpart. Her turtleneck look is achieved by adding a clip in the PLAYMOBIL version..
Scooby Doo: Scooby is available in a wide variety of of sets, with novelty headware . In the LEGO sets, he is in a variety of postures. In the forthcoming playmobil sets Scooby appears with novelty hats!
With our villains, the PLAYMOBIL versions tend to be a little more consistent. To do a comparison, I got out my copy of the the Haunted Mansion. – where I could find Bluestone the Great (the ghost) and the Black Knight – waiting to be unmasked. I also dug out 79501, Mystery Plane Adventures for the Headless Horseman.
At the end of this exercise, I find myself reminded of why I appreciate the LEGO aesthetic. While sometime, a greater level of detail can be seen in the PLAYMOBIL Figures, this is inconsistent. I find the straightened arms seen in these figures endearing, up until the moment you attempt to get them to do something. Try to pose the characters for an everyday event, such as holding a cup or eating, and you discover the limitations of their form. Also, the ability to turn the LEGO Minifigure’s head around, to reveal an alternative expression is extremely useful – but something that playmobile are only just starting to experiment with:
Overall I don’t begrudge this foré into subject material previously coverned in LEGO sets. I feel the Scooby Doo Range, in particular, seems to be making an effort to produce a little variety compared to the LEGO figures and locations available. Compare this with the ‘Mission to Mars’ CITY theme of 2019: there is a higher level of crossover with similar sets in PLAYMOBIL, as you might find in LEGO, with many sets having parallels. Perhaps not all, but the space station and rocket both seem to share a common design DNA.
I will not even consider their current ‘Galaxy Police’ subtheme.
I thoght I would close this article with a few more pictures comparing the LEGO and Playmobil Scooby Doo ranges, as wellas some straight LEGO images. I hope you enjoy them.
Do you collect PLAYMOBIL? How do you think LEGO and PLAYMOBIL sets with a common theme compare, why not leave your comments below; have a happy Halloween and