When I go on vacations or business trips, I tend to be on the lookout for record stores and places that sell Playmobil - interestingly, the numbers of those have swapped in recent years. In the early 2000s, I could find educational toy stores - chains or mom & pops - everywhere. Today? It's a challenge - and the remaining stores don't carry Playmobil here in Arizona as much because (they tell me) it's all in the mass market stores and as a frequent denizen of said mass market stores - no it ain't. I found the Space Ranger on a vacation at a slightly inflated price, but I'll keep a store in business if I can.
Playmobil doesn't do a lot of sci-fi, and what they do is clearly not of its time. There are more Roman sets than Space sets, and the Space sets had a three decade head start. This 2009 release looks like a pastiche of what may have been sold alongside Star Wars before people got its design aesthetic - which I would argue makes it neat. The figure sports the classic triangular jagged hair in silver, with a typical head swapping out the face for a series of green squares. It's almost Cylon-esque. Its helmet is similar to others you've seen, and it snaps on the chest gear. I don't know if it's a breathing thing or a computer or both or what. It's awful bulky with armored arms, so I suppose you can see what you want here.
The figure's blaster is nifty - it feels like a tribute to every annoying laser gun I've ever seen in a Kay-Bee Toys mashed up with 1950s ray gun props. A clear red bit with rings on the tip that would go well with your The Outer Space Men toys is inserted in a grey blaster, which the figure has no problems gripping. This is because the Germans seem to understand the basic need of "a figure must be able to fit in vehicles and hold all accessories."
The figure is a smidgen taller than the usual 3-inches tall, thanks in part to big rocket boots that slide in grooves on its feet. You've probably seen these in other sets - it's a good, tight fit and enhances the look. You've still got six points of articulation, but its neck won't turn unless you remove the helmet.
I'd also like to note that the figure doesn't have a lot of paint on it - there's some on the head, and possibly a bit on the chest plate. I'm unsure if it's paint or molded in color - but the figure itself and all accessories are completely unpainted. Playmobil designers are sort of brilliant when it comes to finding ways to inject multiple colors of plastic in a single mold to achieve things like the brown eyes on most figures, or the horns in a Triceratops. Which, I should add, also adds a rubbery texture - so you can't pull them out. It's nothing if not impressive, and helps the figures hold up to the ravages of age when there's no paint to scrape down.
Playmobil is one of those really extensive figure lines that seems to have it all - wedding toppers, dinosaurs, guinea pigs, Martin Luther, soccer, basketball, Joan of Arc, Jesus, Sherlock Holmes, dolphins, penguins, pyramids, robots, ninjas, vikings, NHL hockey, and soon Ghostbusters and How to Train Your Dragon. There's also an astonishing amount of almost-but-not-quite famous faces in it - you'll see figures inspired by Lady Gaga, Elvis, Aeon Flux, Jack Sparrow, Lara Croft, and Baywatch. This figure fits in as a more original creation, but along with LEGO, Playmobil offers dang near everything. Obviously not everything, but it's certainly one of the most diverse and certainly durable concepts to come out of the toy aisles, well, ever. The Space Ranger is a decent figure - I'd recommend it at the right price, just because it's another fine weird entry in the ongoing grand tradition of bizarre and great toys.
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