Temple Guardian Figure |
The yellow one
Treasure Hunters Playmobil Set
Item No.: No. 4848
Includes: Green light accessory
Action Feature: n/a
Availability: 2010 (USA)
Other: There's a darker, black one too
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For the longest time, European toy lines like LEGO and Playmobil lacked things like characters and a clear narrative. You got a mechanic and some tools, a knight with his horse, or a drunk guy, a bench, and a cop, and were left to your own devices. Imagination and free play is important, but what drives sales in the USA are character and what can be loosely considered story. The Temple Guardian definitely feels like a step forward in Playmobil telling a story, but unlike Top Agents I'm not sure what to make of it.
Slightly taller than a normal figure due to unique, large, rocky legs the Temple Guardian is built off the standard figure template. The head, arms, and torso are standard stuff, with snap-on rocky arm coverings and a large removable mask to complete the outfit. There's no paint thanks to the dual injection molding of the head, and all the detail comes form the figure's texture. It's quite neat in that respect, but the engineering leaves something to be desired.
A yellow rock "bib" around the figure's neck is not easily removed, at least, not without popping off his head. (This is easier said than done on most older figures.) My biggest beef may be specific to my sample, but the leg joint is a little loose and the figure sags forward a bit. If you hand him his weapon with his arm outstretched, he will topple over-- gravity isn't kind to this figure. It seems a lot like Playmobil experimenting with "action figures" as the theme, but not quite working out.
Electronic parts have been around for a while in higher-dollar sets and vehicles, seeing a blinking LED in a set of this size seems a little gimmicky=. The item-- a weapon, a tool, I certainly don't know and the box and web site don't say-- has two handles and can be gripped in any figure's hand. However, it has to be at his side, or he's going to fall over. I'm not sure if this is a design flaw or another example of a German toy company trying to downplay the war and violence angle-- if he aims this thing at someone, he falls. If it's not a metaphor, well, just call me a jerky toy snob. The green element looks something like a butterfly as it blinks, while the rest of it seems to be forged by some ancient metallurgy lost to the ages. The amount of sculpted detail for Playmobil is quite high here, even though I can't tell you what it is that I'm looking at.
As long as you don't have him holding his weapon like that, he'll stand up-- again, he'll be tipped forward a bit, but that may be unique to my sample. Its colorful appearance is a strange cross between a statue and one of the monsters from a Rankin-Bass Christmas special. The strange horns plus the funky "teeth" are abstract enough that you can tell your own story, however with Playmobil the designs are largely derived from real-world stuff. Heck, the line's basic look-and-feel is often described as being derived from a child's drawings, so I'm not quite sure whose imagination this guy sprang from or his role in the Treasure Hunters line. I guess a villain, a guardian statue? The rest of the line is packed with temples, vehicles, maps, and giant reptiles so the play pattern is very Indiana Jones-ey, but this guy... I don't get this guy. I guess the mask and the neck bit can be taken to be a slightly-open monster mouth, but why is there a plain white guy inside? Is this a Scooby-Doo style villain to scare off treasure hunters?
I actually am interested in other sets of the line, but haven't yet picked them up. I got this guy at a closing Toys R Us near Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix for like a buck and change, as I have a standing collector rule that I will buy any Playmobil set if the price is an average of $2 per figure in that set-- so at under $2, it made the cut. I do admire something a little more fantastical or action-oriented, but the unique design prevents him from stealing or driving a vehicle. He can just blink at you. I guess that's something, maybe he can capture your soul with that green LED.
Since you read this site, I assume you own one or more Playmobil figures or at least have an idea of what they feel like. To you, I'd say get this one only if he's super-cheap, or if you just generally love the design. I've got boxes of dinosaurs, ninjas, hobos, schoolchildren, cowboys, whales, a whale skeleton, fish, divers, and who knows what else-- including one damned creepy clown-- and this is probably the only one that I can honestly look at and say "You know, I'm not sure why I need this." This isn't so much me condemning it for being a bad product, so much as my not being entirely sure that I recognize its right to exist. If this is just an example of the Germans showing me that I have no imagination... mission accomplished.
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