Playmobil Pirates and Soldiers!

Starting Tuesday, I’m kicking off a look at a new toyline here on FigureFan, and by new I mean it’s something I haven’t featured here before, as the line itself is certainly not new. Playmobil and I go way back to when I was a wee lad and my father had to move to Northern France for a few months for business and took the family with him. Naturally, there was plenty of exciting stuff to see, but it also meant being cooped up in a hotel room some of the time and so my parents took me to the store to buy me some toys to keep me busy while he was working. Playmobil was HUGE over there at the time and I came home with a couple of sets, which included some of the toys from the Pirates and Space themes. Back then, the space series was called PlaymoSpace, and it was an amazingly fun collection of toys.

I knew Playmobil was still around, but it wasn’t until I was in a Toy R Us one day perusing the Legos that I really stopped to take a look at these new sets and my Nostalgia Meter went off the charts. They had a ton of these toys, ranging from tiny figure packs to huge elaborate boxed sets. I probably spent a good half hour just picking all of them up and checking them out. I didn’t buy any, but I was thinking about them the whole ride home, and before I knew it, that night I was online ordering a bunch of them. When the box arrived it was like Christmas morning around here.

If you aren’t familiar with Playmobil, it’s a toy line that is often tossed in with Lego, which is odd because it isn’t a line of construction toys in any sense of the word. They do have similar themes, like pirates, knights, and even a line of everyday people and places like Lego’s City line. I think they tend to get compared a lot because, like the Lego Minifigs, the Playmobil figures are more or less all the same base figure, but with different parts and accessories clipped on and some different facial illustrations to make them unique. In many cases, with the right accessories you can turn a versatile Playmobil figure from a businessman to a pirate to an astronaut. Playmobil figures are smaller than most figures, but still about twice as big as Lego’s Minifigs. The sets are also all about accessories, so like Lego, the sets are often ranked by the number of pieces included. Also like Lego, Playmobil sets are usually most often identified by their number.

Everything I picked up fits into the Pirates and Soldiers theme, as that was one of my favorites as a kid. I really wish they had a current version of the PlaymoSpace line out, but all I could find were the vintage sets on Ebay and they are way too expensive for me to collect, so we’ll have to settle for Pirates and Soldiers for now. Next week isn’t going to be exclusively Playmobil, so if this isn’t your thing, I’ll try to get some features on more traditional figures and stuff, but I will be spending a lot of time on this stuff next week.

Thundercats: Deluxe 4-inch Grune the Warrior by Ban Dai

We had a little mix up on the old FigureFan hard drive this morning and I lost the entire feature on Grune, so I was forced to do a quick re-edit on Deluxe Mumm-Ra, remove all the references to this feature, and kick that one out the door to stay on schedule yesterday. So let’s try this again. Today we’re looking at that  dirty Thundercat traitor Grune the Warrior in the Deluxe class 4-inch figure assortment.

As with Mumm-Ra, Grune comes in the somewhat more elaborate half-cylinder mounted on a card with his accessories spread around him. Its decent looking packaging, but like I said yesterday, I think all the writing on the insert makes it look really busy and congested. The tri-lingual card may be in part to blame, but I just think the Basic carded figures look simpler and more attractive. Mumm-Ra also filled out his card a lot better, whereas Grune relies on his passel of accessories arranged around him to tempt would be toyhunters to pick him off the peg for $15.
One of the things I love about this Thundercats line is the way Ban Dai made the figures different sizes, rather than just one uniform body type. Like Mumm-Ra, Grune is a big, beefy and powerful looking figure that really fits his animated counterpart perfectly. The sculpt is a little more simpler than some of the other figures, but I think that’s more to suit the character design than to skimp out on details. Grune’s massive head has a lot of personality, right down to his single mammoth fang. He’s also got huge arms that would make the X-Men’s Juggernaut proud. The armor plates that hang down from his waist are flexible so as not to inhibit his leg articulation, but his bushy black mane of hair renders his neck articulation all but useless.
Grune features a pretty drab paint scheme, especially compared to the colorful Thundercats. His armor is an ugly pea soup green, which is unfortunate, as I think the animated version is more of a coppery color. Otherwise, the paintwork on the figure is very clean and well executed. I’m particularly impressed with the Plundarr emblem on his chest, which is far better than the one painted on Mumm-Ra.
While Mumm-Ra’s ThunderLynx gimmick was on the figure itself, Grune’s is located on his massive battle maul. Pass the weapon across the magnet in his back and it splits open to form three segments. Ok, it isn’t the most exciting gimmick, but it does nicely replicate the way the weapon powered up on the show, and that’s pretty cool. Besides the battle maul, Grune comes with a bow, an arrow, and a quiver, and they’re all pretty much crap. Each one is cast in the same gold plastic and really remind me of the monochromatic accessories that Playmates used to package with their Next Generation figures back in the 90s. I may actually try to paint these some day, because I think it would improve them immeasureably and the bow does actually have holes so you can string it if you have some thread handy.
Grune is certainly a nice figure, but I don’t know that he’s $15 Deluxe assortment kind of nice. Granted, the battle maul is bigger than a lot of the Basic figures and does have a ThunderLynx gimmick built in, but when you consider that Ban Dai is selling a the ThunderRacers with a figure for the same price, Grune comes up a little short in the value department. Nonetheless, he’s a pretty important character in the series, so I’m certainly glad to have a figure of him for my collection.

And that wraps up my first batch of Thundercats toy reviews. I have to say, Ban Dai did a really nice job with this line, despite a few missteps along the way. I had really high expectations and on the whole I haven’t really been disappointed. I should have a 4-inch Cheetara in a couple of days, so be sure to look for that. I’ll eventually be getting to the larger scale figures, both classic and new series, as well as some of the roleplay items.

Thundercats: Deluxe 4-inch Mumm-Ra by Ban Dai

I’ve already taken a look at the shriveled up mummy version of Mumm-Ra in the Basic Assortment of Thundercats figures. Now it’s time to check out his buffed out mega-demon form from the Deluxe line. We haven’t actually seen Mumm-Ra’s powered up form in the new cartoon yet, so this figure is really the first taste of what the character is going to look like. I think that’s pretty cool.

The Deluxe packaging is bigger and beefier than the standard Basic Assortment cards with the figures mounted in a half cylinder. I think this packaging is a little too congested and lacks the charm of the Basic carded figures, but it’s still nice looking and was definitely needed for these larger figures and accessories. What makes the figure a Deluxe? Apparently this assortment includes ThunderLynx gimmicks with the figure, whereas the Basic figures require you to have a vehicle or playset in order to exploit their magnetic gimmicks. Mumm-Ra here carries his extra goodies on the figure himself in the guise of his massive ThunderLynx wings. The wings are mounted so that they appear to be attached and spread, but when you open the package you’ll find that you actually need to assemble the wings onto the figure.
Mumm-Ra is definitely a great looking figure and quite reminiscent of the old school version of the character. Like Grune and Panthro, he’s pretty big compared to the rest of the 4-inch assortment. His head is pretty tiny, and it seems to want to look down all the time, but the sculpt is no less impressive. Strangely enough, Mumm-Ra’s two gold bicep bands are separate pieces and have a tendency to pop off, so you might want to dab a little gorilla glue on those babies before you lose them.
Mumm-Ra’s paint job is fairly simple compared to the other figures in the line. He’s mostly grey with the remnants of his bandages painted white and once again, the pins and hinges in his joints are left unpainted. I still can’t really get worked up about that omission, at least not in figures in this small scale. I am, however, definitely disappointed by how poorly his Plundarr emblem is painted on his chest. It’s neatly done, but looks very oversimplified when compared to the one on Grune’s chest, or the Thundercats emblems on the Cats.
Mumm-Ra’s ThunderLynx gimmick is his huge set of wings on his back. You can fold them in around him and when you pass his gauntlet over his Lynx magnet they spring open as you rotate it toward each wing. The wings look really good on the figure when viewed from the front, but rather boxy and artificial from the back. As for the gimmick, it’s works well and makes for a nice attack move, but I would have been perfectly happy to get a Mumm-Ra figure without it, especially if the wings were removable altogether.
You get two accessories in Mumm-Ra’s package. He has his scimitar and his gauntlet. The scimitar is the powered up version of the blade that came with the Basic Assortment Mumm-Ra and the gauntlet is the attack version of the Basic Mumm-Ra’s shield. I like the gauntlet a lot as the claws are deployed and it makes for a pretty cool weapon. The scimitar looks nice and I like the silvery finish better than what we got with Lion-O’s Sword of Omens, but the plastic is very bendy and it’s hard to keep the scimitar from not looking warped.
All in all, I think Mumm-Ra is a solid figure, but there are definitely areas for improvement. I usually hate gimmicks on figures, so I was kind of surprised to find that I didn’t hate Mumm-Ra’s gimmick, even if I would have preferred it be left out. I do think that Mumm-Ra fits this $15 Deluxe price point a lot better than Grune, which we’ll see tomorrow, but that’s probably because his wings make him a more substantial figure and he doesn’t have a bunch of throw-away accessories like Grune did. In the end, Mumm-Ra might not be a homerun, but he’s still a great looking figure and let’s face it, he’s a “must-have” addition to any Thundercats collection.

Thundercats: ThunderRacer Vehicles with Lion-O and Tygra by Ban Dai

No doubt, the coolest thing about the 4-inch line of Thundercats figures is the potential for vehicles, and so far Ban Dai has been delivering. I’ve already looked at the Thundertank and now it’s time to check out two of the Deluxe scale vehicles: The ThunderRacers. Besides offering up some great vehicle action for your figures, these kitty bikes are also designed to combine with the Thundertank to make it a more formidable fighting machine. Let’s check them out…

The Racers are each packaged and sold separately, one with Lion-O and one with Tygra. I’ve decided to look at them together, since they are basically the same toy, only each one comes with a different figure and weapon pod. The packaging is pretty large and hefty for a toy in this price class. You get a HUGE bubble on a cardback that is flush with the bubble making the packaging look like a straight up box. The figure and vehicle are displayed really well and the back panel of the card has photos showing the gimmicks and other toys in the line. All in all, I think this is some great presentation. But the best thing about the packaging? Nothing is tied down. Just tear it open and everything pops out really easy.

The vehicles themselves are basically Thundercat Lightcycles. They have a wheel in front and back and a big canopy that lifts open to allow access to the cockpit where the figure sits. There’s no real detail inside the cockpit, apart from a pair of control sticks that the figures can grab. There seems to be spot intended for a sticker where the controls would be, but it doesn’t come with any stickers. The seat is sculpted with the socket to plug the figures’ ThunderLynx into and the vehicles will work with the regular carded versions of Lion-O and Tygra too. I’m pretty sure Cheetara would fit as well. The sculpt is solid, and I like the blue speckled paint used for the cat heads, but some extra paint apps or stickers for the outside would have helped a lot. Admittedly, there isn’t a whole lot of substance to the Racers themselves, but they do look great and are fun to play around with.

Each Racer comes with one weapon pod, which can be plugged into either side of the vehicle and works in conjunction with the figures’ ThunderLynx. Lion-O’s comes with a drill that shoots like a missile and Tygra’s has an LED that lights up like its firing a laser. The weapons are activated by pressing a fire button near the canopy, but will only work if a figure is plugged into the ThunderLynx port. The weapons themselves are not all that special, but I do like the customization ability, where you can even plug both weapons into a single bike.

The Lion-O and Tygra figures are a little perplexing to me. I expected them to be simple space holders much like the unarticulated figures Spin Master put in with their Tron vehicles. As it turns out, these are actually great looking figures and loads of fun. On the downside, they aren’t as detailed or as articulated as the single carded versions of these characters, nor do they come with any accessories. They’re also just a smidge smaller than the carded figures, but still passable in the same scale. Even if you get these versions first, you’re still going to want to pick up the regular releases at which point these figures become rather redundant. Each pack-in figure has the same body sculpt and basic outfit, but the arms and legs have unique paintwork. The head sculpts are every bit as good as the regular carded releases in terms of sculpt and paintwork. Articulation consists of seven points: The heads rotate, the arms rotate at the shoulders, the legs rotate at the hips and have hinged elbows. So, the articulation is not bad, but nowhere near as good as the regular versions.

The ThunderRacers plug into the Thundertank in the same way as the little drone bikes that came with it. They add a lot of bulk to the tank and triple its occupancy. I absolutely love the look of this combined mode, although the Thundertanks paws can’t go down all the way with the Racers attached, so be prepared to fold out the claws and put them in attack mode. Also, the combined mode is pretty unstable because of the added weight on the sides. It holds together great if you leave the tank on a flat surface, but if you go to pick it up, you have to be pretty careful in order to keep it form falling apart. The ThunderRacers work with the same launching gimmick as the drone bikes too.

The ThunderRacers retail for fifteen bucks each, which on its own seems like a decent price, but the sense of value really skyrockets when compared to the Deluxe 4-inch figures at the same price point. The vehicles and figures are plenty of fun on their own, but I think the real draw here for most collectors will be to be able to complete the buffed out Thundertank. Again, I really like the figures, and I suppose its good to have extra figures to display in the tank, but as I said earlier, they’re really redundant and I may wind up just giving them to my Nephew.