Schaper Playmobil 3591 Space Series Astronaut and Robot Figures Schaper, 1983
Day #2,496: January 5, 2023
Astronaut and Robot Figures USA Schaper release
Space Series Action Figure Set
Item No.: No. 3591 Manufacturer:Schaper Includes:Radio, helmet, helmet glass, boots, human, robot, yellow tools Action Feature:n/a Retail:$3.99 Availability:1983 Other:GE5P robot was also sold in blue as XY6, and other international variants/bootlegs also exist
One of at least three companies to put out Playmobil Space (Playmospace) in the 1980s American market was Schaper, and this Astronaut and Robot Figures set was one of them. I've wanted this since it first came out and finally found a pretty good one for sale - the box was open, the bags were sealed, the stickers were unused, but most surprisingly were intact Toys R Us price tags. Finding confirmations of old toy prices is really tough unless you've got physical evidence like old newspaper ads or products with price tags... which don't really seem to be a thing anymore.
This set's box is marked 1983, Mattel's were marked 1984, and I know Playmobil seemed to distribute sets like this to stores that were seemingly direct. If you lived in Arizona, that may have meant Little House Toys or Toys By Roy or Hobby Bench. (You can still buy Playmobil at one of the remaining Hobby Bench stores.) What's kind of funny is this set wasn't super cheap at $3.99 back in the day - but you can still get Playmobil robot and astronaut sets, with new revisions, for $6-$8 today. We've seen multiple renovations of the robot designs as well as recolors and carry-forwards, but the GE5P model vanished in the 1980s. I remember hearing it was because Lucasfilm and/or Kenner felt it was too close to R2-D2 but now I can't find the evidence of that, so let's just say it was a rumor until I can get a citation.
The droid is the reason you want this set. GE5P comes with chrome feet (which are prone to flaking), orange arms and legs, chrome "brains" under a blue dome, and a white canister-shaped body. A sticker sheet is included thatcertainly seems more than a little inspired by R2-D2, with more detailing. It's hard to see, but there are two chrome eyes at the base of the dome and the "disk slot" on the top of the body is a mouth. There are two additional slots near the bottom of the body, plus a bunch of raised panels. At a hair under 2 1/2-inches tall it's not very big, with swivel arms, tilting ankles, swivel hips, and a rotating dome. He can hold most figure weapons and accessories without a problem.
When I opened and assembled the figure, he was probably about 39 years old. What's surprising is that the chrome was still pretty good, the body was still really white, and the blue clear plastic is clean and doesn't show any weird residues or condensation. Playmobil built these things to last, and other than the hands being a bit big (and unable to hold a limited number of accessories) the figure is almost as good as anything you might see today. I actually like it a lot better than some of the modern robot designs, but its "inspiration" makes sure of that. As of yet there are no plans to do Star Wars as an officially licensed Playmobil toy, but Disney did sign up with them to do preschool toys this year. Maybe there's a chance!
The robot is joined by a 3-inch white astronaut. The white is still shiny and mostly bright, with minimal signs of wear. The platforms for his boots are incredibly tight and difficult to get on, and the figure uses the 1974 hand design which lacks swivel wrists. (Mattel's releases would have ungloved swivel hands.) Schaper also left in the chrome backpack, chest plate, greaves, and radio. My radio had some wear on the chrome where the figure had been gripping it, possibly for decades, but the rest of it seems perfectly intact.
Rounding out the set is a sprue of yellow tools I've elected to leave intact so far. There's a claw, a drill, and what I assume is some sort of scanning device. The same sprue was included with lots of Playmospace-era sets, so you'll no doubt see plenty for sale.
Plenty of these sets are around for sale in various states of completeness, especially from Europe with high shipping charges. For $3.99 in 1983, the set would have been about a dollar higher than a Return of the Jedi Kenner action figure give or take a buck. It would also be a little more expensive than a comparable LEGO Space set of that era - Playmobil never really took off in the USA, and unless the licensed lines like Naruto suddenly become a huge hit they probably never will. But I digress - I like this robot design a lot and fans of old 1980s space toys from Kenner and Tomy will find a lot to like here. Should Playmobil ever reissue this design, I'd strongly recommend picking it up - but at secondary market prices, it's expensive. I still love it, though, and it's great to finally have one so many years later. And with this I'll probably stop picking up more old Playmobil and review the ones I've already bought.
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