January 19, 2020

Enough Kids' Movies About Toys

“The marketing circle of life, wherein toys beget films that beget toys, continues to mow its way through every bit of plastic in the playroom. This week, it’s Playmobil’s turn, with the unimaginatively titled “Playmobil: The Movie.” Like the title, this an uncreative endeavor which attempts to take everything that worked about other toy movies and mash it all together in a Frankenstein’s monster of a film that is also monstrously boring.

It was perhaps inevitable that Playmobil toys would eventually have a movie. Production studios have already used up the A-list level toys that kids love, pumping out “The LEGO Movie,” “Trolls,” “Battleship,” “G.I. Joe,” and a slew of animated toys optioned by Disney to appear in the “Toy Story” franchise. With “He-Man” set for a 2021 reboot, and a “My Little Pony” sequel on the way as well — announced at the 2019 New York Toy Fair, natch — it was all but assured someone would think it was time the “klickies” of the German Playmobil sets should get their own time to shine, too.

Invented in the early 1970s, these nearly three-inch tall figurines with molded hair and distinctive hi-lo tunic outfits were a staple of the 1980s, but without the cultural cachet of so many other play sets of the same era. They are Fisher-Price’s Little People, without the memorable finger-pop bottoms; they’re oversized Lego minifigs, without the detachable parts. They are a European’s sensibility of what an American market would want, which also makes them just a little tone deaf. (One of the very first sets featured Native Americans, complete with feather headdresses.) Certainly, they have a collector base — every toy does. But when it comes to nostalgia, trying to claim these toys are something Gen X has an affinity for, or something worth pushing to the next generation of children, is a stretch”

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