Playmobil began life some thirty five years ago in Germany when toy maker Hans Beck decided to make a simple but expandable range of figures and playsets. A reaction to the 1973 oil crisis, Beck switched production form toys that required a large percentage of oil to those that could be produced with very little of this precious resource.
Indeed it seems to be the philosophy of Playmobil that a little can go a long way, as demonstrated by the core of the Playmobil line, the figures. One thing that is immediately noticeable about the Playmobil figures is they have no nose. The designed and style of the Playmobil figure is simplified. They have two dots for eyes and a mouth, with very little variation between different figures’ expressions.
The absence of a nose can be traced back to Hans Beck’s intentions. He wanted to emulate a child’s own creations. When kids draw faced they often simplify the facial features, but can achieve a great degree of emotion even so. Hans Beck obviously saw the elegance of this and extended into his whole design philosophy.
Playmobil toys are simple but eminently expressive. Kids can let their imaginations soar with the toys, regardless how simple the designs may be. Without the baggage of a preconceived story line kids can use Playmobil toys to create just about any scenario their imaginations can conceive.
Playmobil are often considered a major competitor to Lego and that is true in some ways but not others. Both Lego and Playmobil are based around figures that interact with vehicles and playsets. That is where the similarity ends.
Lego is foremost a construction toy and while it does take some assembly to put Playmobil sets together (as any parent on Christmas morning can tell you!) after that there is very little reconstruction involved. Lego also have a number of licensed sets, something which Playmobil is staunchly against for they believe kids should be unencumbered with other people’s worlds and stories and free to make up their own.
There is certainly room for both Lego and Playmobil in any child’s life as both are high