Last year, I was lucky enough to travel to the middle of Germany to visit the global headquarters of Playmobil, where I met the company’s founder, and also got to spend some time at the Playmobil Fun Park and the Playmobil Hotel. You can keep your Florida theme parks, frankly – give me a life-sized Playmobil pirate ship on a drizzly Wednesday morning, and I was in heaven. We've also been lucky to review loads of Playmobil toys for the Great Toy Guide over the past year or so.
So I was delighted to be asked to become a Playmobil Playologist for 2011, which basically meant Flea and I get sent loads of new Playmobil toys to try out and keep. I know, it’s a hard life.
The first toy we’re reviewing is the Playmobil Wildlife Care Station, which is part of the new safari collection of figures and toys. The set includes a nature reserve building, two park rangers and a selection of animals including giraffes, zebra and rhino. Then there are lots of little accessories – binoculars, guns, camp beds, tiny bandages for the animals legs, that sort of thing.
Building the set is relatively simple for a Playmobil set – it took no more than 20 minutes and I’m fairly inept. Once assembled, it’s very sturdy with the exception of the fences, which do have to be reconnected a lot – but that’s not a big problem because it means Flea was able to move them around and ‘fence in’ different animals depending on what she was playing.
What I liked about the set was that it’s actually nicely compact – we own the Playmobil hospital and school, and those items each take up the entire dining table. With the wildlife station, Flea was able to play at the table and have room to add other toys to extend the imaginative play. After all, what’s the point of a wildlife park if you can’t be attacked by marauding dinosaurs and then bring in an ambulance to ferry away the injured parties?
We do tend to keep the ‘bits’ from this set in a separate basket, though, as the back of the wildlife station is completely open – that’s great during play but means the pieces do tend to fall out when the toy is moved around or put into a cupboard.
Overall, I thought this was fantastic value at around £42 (depending where you buy). It’s the kind of set that can also be easily extended – you can buy additional animals and a watering hole that would match this set. We’ve had this set for a few weeks now, and Flea has kept it out on her play table constantly – it gets a lot of use. Two thumbs up!