Playmobil Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine Vehicle with Figures Playmobil, 2019
Day #2,205: June 18, 2020
DeLorean Time Machine with Marty, Doc, and Einstein
Back to the Future Set
Item No.: No. 70317 Manufacturer:Playmobil Includes:Car, 2 human figures, 1 dog, plutonium, case, battery pack/electronics, remote control, skateboard, camcorder, watches, and a lot more Action Feature:Hover conversion wheels, electronic lights, opening gull wing doors Retail:$49.99 Availability: May 2020 Other: Lots of new toys from Back to the Future this year
35 years on, the DeLorean Time Machine remains one of the quintessential automotive icons in cinema. The word "iconic" gets thrown around like it's going out of style, which it is, because it's so watered down that you hear it used referencing things nobody knows about. The representation of this car in this movie superseded the sordid tales of John DeLorean's own car company - and swept some of the dirt under the rug. Now the aluminum car is primarily known from being part of what may be the period piece of its decade. If you want to distill the 1980s down into a single movie, Back to the Future and its first sequel do a great job of showcasing our hopes, dreams, fears, fashion, entertainment, and disappointments.
Much like Ghostbusters Playmobil, this line is a bizarre choice for a preschool line. Designed for ages 6 and up, this "dadvertising" shows Playmobil following LEGO's lead on continuing to license things that appeal to the parents - and may inspire family movie nights where the kids can see the movie... warts and all. Pulling the car out of the movie is kind of brilliant - you can use it in your existing Playmobil cities, and it's compatible with nearly five decades of existing toys. Unlike some other manufacturer's excellent takes on the time machine, this one has "DMC" on the front grille and "DeLorean" stamped in the rear bumper!
It goes without saying that you should probably get one.
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.
My one big complaint comes from the Plutonium Case - a fine accessory, but the stickers don't quite fit. This is almost unthinkable given Playmobil's labels have been the gold standard of being easy to apply straight and exactly the right size for decades. In this case, the yellow label is sickly translucent and not cut properly to fit the case on top. The side ones are fine - but again, the quality of these labels in particularly is poor given Playmobil's generally top-notch opaque sticker quality. The box itself is perfectly fine, with room to store some gear.
You also get a remote control for Doc, Marty's camcorder and skateboard, and a ton of Doc's other gear. Both figures have snap-on elements like Marty McFly's shirt sleeves and Doc's multiple watches. I love that you can plug in the plutonium can in the back of the car, but sadly the antenna from the movie's climactic trip back to the future has no storage space. It's just going to float around toy boxes and get lost unless you've got some fastidious young toy collector.
As always, the accessories always work - Doc has a bag to clip to his belt, Marty can film with his camera while on his skateboard, and there are a lot of parts and pieces to enjoy and/or lose here. For a few extra dollars it might have been interesting to see the set tricked out with Biff or George or a few other characters to make it even more complete. At this time, other than the 1950s Marty & Doc figure set, no other sets from the series are known to be planned for release - no Cafe 80s, no Clock Tower, no Time Train.
Both figures are mostly good and use a lot of preexisting parts. I admit, I'm unsure of Doc Brown's hair and head are new or reused - and it's one of the weaker elements in the set. Doc's hair doesn't quite fit on my sample, with a visible gap between the white hair and the head. I can't seem to wiggle it off or move it in a better position, so either it's just kind of weird or I got a strange one. The deco is on point, but it doesn't quite match his Twin Pines Mall look in 1985 - the pants are good, and you get to see hints of Doc's shirt under the radiation suit in the movie. It might not be exactly perfect as the figure's sleeves are partially rolled up and his pocket understates the orange stripe, but it is there!
Meanwhile, Marty McFly is perfect. He has the piffy vest, the blue shirt even has the blue triangles on the shoulders. The stripes shirt is here, the cuffs on his sleeves are here, and the shoes are as good as Playmobil gets. It's quite a feat that Playmobil pulled off such a good figure using existing tooling with some new paint. You couldn't ask for a better Marty figure.
It's by no means perfect, but Playmobil's "worst" is usually beyond other manufacturer's best. Other than the plutonium case stickers, Doc's hair, and the front wheel clearance in the car, everything is exactly as it should be. I would advise going back and picking up the other licensed sets while they're cheap, now that Hasbro has the Ghostbusters license the Playmobil sets won't be long for this world. It's a good collection, it's sturdy, and they're all compatible with decades of figures. This is a great set - and if Playmobil makes more in the future, you'll be glad you have this, clearly the most important one, in your hands from the get-go.
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