Playmobil Back to the Future Advent Calendar with Figures Playmobil, 2020
Day #2,255: December 10, 2020
Advent Calendar with 3 Marty figures, 2 Doc figures, 1 Jennifer figure, 1 Biff figure
Back to the Future Set
Item No.: No. 70317 Manufacturer:Playmobil Includes:7 human figures, cardboard clock tower, cardboard road with lights and sidewalk, bench, speaker, guitar, backpack, purse, book, Twin Pines/Lone Pine Mall sign, skateboard, lenticular photo, Fish under the Sea Dance sign, radiation suit helmets, license plat, plutonium, camcorder, more Action Feature:The big upsell Retail:$34.99-$39.99 Availability: October 2020 Other: A very late addition
I am at a loss as to why this Advent Calendar from Back to the Future exists - Ghostbusters or Scooby-Doo would have made more sense. I'm not complaining - I love these movies, they're weirdly timely, and it's basically an entire action figure assortment in a box. Focusing almost exclusively on the first film, this set adds to a small line in a big way. If you got the DeLorean [FOTD #2,205] and the Doc and Marty set [FOTD #2,231], this calendar covers almost all of the major bases. The only thing missing is a George McFly figure or maybe Lorraine Baines before you start getting into real collector territory, like Biff's goons or Goldie Wilson or the many classic cars which would have made this the most amazing line to date. Instead, you'll have to settle for it being merely very good.
While the set does have it's own cardboard playset, it's somewhat flimsy - or I'm a klutz. It's a big building that effectively recreates the Universal backlot used for filming the movie (and other movies) over 35 years ago, standing an impressive 9 1/2-inches tall. I wish it were a plastic facade. Playmobil has done extremely cheap plastic buildings in the past, particularly for mass retailers in the USA, but this is undoubtedly cheaper to make.
A secondary piece of scenery ties in to the DeLorean, with a cable connecting a couple of poles which you can also connect to the Clock Tower to re-create the moment they send Marty McFly back to 1985. It's a great idea, and a simple way to represent an iconic film moment. Maybe it's not particularly sturdy, but I can't imagine any parent hates their kid so much as to buy them an advent calendar based on a 35-year old movie with some very adult themes in it. This is for mom and/or dad.
Toy lines for kids based on movies that may not be ideal for kids were a hallmark of the 1980s, and this probably fits that sort of ideal. The car itself is very good with a lot of features, and is priced similarly to Diamond Select Toys' excellent effort from over a decade ago - but it's smaller, and has no sounds. The front wheels don't roll as freely as the back due to seeming clearance issues, but there's a feature that makes me overlook this fault. The wheels can turn 90 degrees down for "hover conversion mode." You can also plug in the cable to grab the power line from the end of the movie to get the jolt of lightning, and it has seating for up to 2 figures - adult figures can drive, and kids or adult figures can sit in the passenger seat. The detail is excellent, with lots of snap-on cables, light-up elements, and details like the "DMC" logo so often missing from other collectibles based on this movie.
The electronics are impressive, but not robust - there's no sound effect. You get three modes of lighting - blinking, on, or off. The Flux Capacitor inside the car glows brightly and has the added benefit of making the dashboard look like it will glow. The blue cables also light up brightly, and if you're a parent you can also remove the electronic battery box completely if you prefer. It's not an option I often see on these toys.
What's missing? I would have loved more room to store the accessories inside. It's not really set for multiple passengers, a real DeLorean can seat four. Compromises have to be made for toys, though so unless Playmobil does a version 2.0 later you're not going to fit Einstein or Jennifer in the back. It assembles fairly quickly, and snapping on all the car bits is pretty easy.
From 1985, you get Marty McFly in his teen gear and radiation suit plus Jennifer Parker and Dr. Emmet "Doc" Brown, sure to be commended. The Jennifer & Marty pairing is the two of them in their "after school" wear, looking like the height of 1985 mall fashion. Big hair, big purse, denim jacket, and far too many shirts on one person. Marty's jeans have painted stitching on them, while Jennifer's vest and undershirt are loaded with details - plus her blazer has painted buttons, too. There's a lot going on here.
Radiation Suit Doc and Marty would have been great pack-ins with the DeLorean, but are just fine here. The helmets are the same ones we've seen used for years in various radiation suit sets, but without the clip-on suit bulk enhancements. Doc has clip-on watches to monitor time, while Marty has clip-on "glove" parts complete with radiation symbols. Articulation is standard Playmobil fare, with each figure standing 3-inches tall with 6 moving elements.
1985 accessories include a giant amp, Marty's guitar, Jennifer's school gear, Marty's school gear, the "Save the Clock Tower" flyer with note on the back, camcorder, tool bag, plutonium, license plate, watches, and camcorder. There's a lot going on here. There's also a reversible sign for "Twin Pines Mall" and "Lone Pines Mall," which seems to be increasingly kitschy now that malls are closing at a fast clip along with other retail on the edge of success in recent years. For a movie made in 1985 to be about 1955, it's kind of amazing just how much of a 1985 time capsule it is today.
1955 versions of Biff, Doc, and Marty are also included. Biff's in his jacket with clip-on collar and cuffs, while Marty has the skateboard he made out of a broken scooter. Doc can slide down the included rope, and he also has gloves and the letter Marty wrote to prevent his murder earlier in the film. the deco is exceptional on all of these, but Doc is very similar to the previously released two-pack version. The woodgrain printed on the skateboard impresses, as does the label on the "Enchantment Under the Sea" sign. There's some more gear here, all of which is the usual level of quality you'd expect from Playmobil.
The big speaker is a shelving unit with a sticker on it, which was clever until I remembered that they already made fully-molded speakers in other sets. The street lamps are good, the power cable is nice, and the lightning bolt is a repurposed piece from Ghostbusters - clever!
I have zero patience so I just popped the whole thing open on day one. There's an advent calendar box inside the retail box, with most of the pieces in bags (some of which in the wrong slots) that you're supposed to open daily. The big city street pieces are separate, so you can start on those whenever you like - this is typical Playmobil Advent Calendar procedure, with some big pop-up diorama. This one is unusually intricate.
My Playmobil metric of "is this a good deal?" is if a big set costs $2 per figure or less - that's the "I'll buy anything" price. Since this is a new, full-price set my "good deal"-o-meter is $3-$4 per figure if the gear is good. 7 figures at $4 each would be $28, so it's on the expensive side for a set without much new tooling. The props and accessories are so good that I can't complain about what I got for the money - this is the set that you buy after picking up a DeLorean unless all you want are figures. At press time, this brings you every character from the movie currently available in the Playmobil format - but not every outfit. Rumor has it Back to the Future Part III trains and western sets are in the works, which pushes all my buttons if true. Playmobil cranked out a surprisingly good children's line for a movie kids shouldn't be allowed to see, and this set is an admiral grand finale were it to end here. But if it keeps going with 2015 future figures and hoverboards, 1885 stage coaches and nerdy teachers, alternate 1985 casinos, Western Union Count Floyd, and who-knows-from-when time trains? This could be an amazing toy line.
If it weren't obvious, I'd say get this set - at a discount, buy two. Someone you know will want one later.
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