Last Spring, when my kids were 2-and-a-half, nearly everyone I talked to with an older child said, "Oh! They're almost eady for Playmobil!" Then their eyes would get all misty and they'd sigh a heavy, heartfelt sigh. Playmobil.
A year later, I see the appeal. Even though it's all made out of plastic, the pieces are smartly made, the sets have lots of moving parts, there are witty details and they require just enough assembly to make you feel committed to, but not burdened by, the toy. At least that's how I feel about the sets, I'm not sure how my kids feel.
Don't get me wrong, they were excited when the Noah's Ark I won on eBay showed up at our door. They were really into some of the pieces -- the "fire," the vegetables, the macaws -- and they played for a little bit. Then they sat at the table and played with play dough for, oh, a half an hour. They did eventually circle back to the ark, and I suspect it will get a lot of play, but it wasn't an instant love thing for them, the way it was for me.
In that way Playmobil reminds me of the zsi zsi toy conundrum. You can spend a lot of money on a beautiful rubber wood toy, a lovely organic cotton doll, a tasteful, streamlined whatever for your kid. And they'll still go for the cheap-o plastic alternative. I'm sure I'm not the first to notice this. Kids today!
I hear Playmobil sets get a lot of play over the years. And I guess, even though it still holds nothing on play dough, I'm optimistic. It might be kind of fancy, but it's still plastic, after all.
Update: 5 minutes later. Guess what they're playing with? The ark!