Not everyone likes Playmobil. The figures aren’t in scale with any other line, and their smiley faces look just too simplified for some. So it’s understandable that readers may be skeptical here, but listen. Their new Back to the Future DeLorean playset isn’t just great for Playmobil. It’s a great Back to the Future toy or collectible, period. Leave the figures aside if necessary. The car, alone, without them for scale, could go on a toy shelf and the casual onlooker would not recognize it as Playmobil. Unless they already knew. In which case, they’d likely congratulate the displayer on a good buy.
Back to the Future toys most often take the form of diecast cars, since actor likenesses never originally came as part of the merchandise rights. So in terms of figures who could climb in and out of a car, the options were limited to either super-expensive Hot Toys (who could afford to pay the actors top dollar), or super-simple LEGO. Playmobil splits the difference — yes, the figures fit the company’s simplified style, and avoid having to pay Michael J. Fox or Christopher Lloyd. But the car? Complete with actual DeLorean logos, it looks fully licensed, and as close to an authorized replica as Playmobil could capably and affordably deliver. The toy company only recently started venturing into third-party licenses, but official car brands were among their first.
The set includes some simple kit-building elements that utilize familiar Playmobil parts, and comes with figures of Marty, Doc, and Einstein. Best of all, they include some highly detailed accessories, from Marty’s skateboard and JVC camcorder to the stolen plutonium case. It can carry the plutonium containers, though the inside has no detail. And one of those plutonium containers can plug directly into the engine in back of the car.
The car itself can adapt to the “future” version as each wheel can rotate into hover mode. However, there is no “Mr. Fusion” to replace the plutonium chamber with, so for nit-pickers, this doesn’t qualify as a full future version. The hook to snag that 1.21 gigawatt electrical charge is here, and removable.
To light the car up, a removable battery compartment plugs into the bottom. When activated, it turns on not only the blue lights on the top and sides, but also the flux capacitor inside. Lights can be set to flashing or static mode.
Extra figures of Doc and Marty based on their 1955 looks can be purchased separately, and include a detailed “save the clock tower” flier with Jennifer’s phone number on the back. In this simple style, one could also note that they almost pass for Rick and Morty — who indeed began life as a pornographic parody of these characters before becoming their own thing. They’re nice bonus figures, but not essential. What’s cool is the DeLorean set comes with everything one needs in terms of key characters and accessories. At a suggested price of $50, it’s a steal.
After the Playmobil movie led to a brief run of figures with slightly more detailed facial expressions, there was some hope that that design would carry forward. Looks like they’re back to straight-up smileys again, though. That style either works for toy fans, or it doesn’t. But even if it doesn’t, this car should.
Among the major geek-property vehicles they’ve made recently, the DeLorean easily tops both Ecto-1 and the Mystery Machine for Playmobil. If they were hoping for a big crossover property, they’ve found it. And judging by what they did with The Real Ghostbusters, and NECA’s recent announcements, they can always expand to animated series designs.
(In memory of the late, lamented Back to the Future ride at Universal.)