Playmobil Scooby-Doo! 70361 Adventure in the Mystery Mansion Playset Playmobil, 2020
Day #2,243: October 29, 2020
Adventure in the Mystery Mansion Playset Redundant heroes but plenty of playset
Item No.: No. 70361 Manufacturer:Playmobil Includes:Fred, Daphne, Vampire, Scooby-Doo, cat (mine had 2), bones, mice, spiders, bear rug, pizza box, money, gold bars, spider web, electronic coffin, hot dog on a stick, bats, luggage, book, bookends, flashlight, chandelier, table, ladder, chair, newspaper, grandfather clock, and lots of other stuff Retail:$99.99 Availability: August 2020 Other: Coffin battery box acts as a monster projector and sound effects box, there's also a smart phone projector
When I was a kid watching reruns of the then-aging Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? I didn't see many toys. I'm pretty sure I didn't notice any Scooby toys until the late 1990s or early 2000s, when action figures started to pop up on the regular as toymakers started realizing parents would buy things for their kids if that meant they could also force their own childhood obsessions on the new generation. We've since seen multiple toy lines in a variety of formats - before Playmobil we had stuff from Mattel, LEGO, Funko, Equity Marketing, Character, and others I am no doubt forgetting.
I've always wanted a Playmobil haunted house, and a Scooby-Doo playset of some sort, and this scratches both itches. Despite decades of ghosts and monsters, Playmobil's only haunted houses were a tiny play box and a slightly bigger take-along house - I wanted something more like the Victorian dollhouse, but spooky. Same molds would've been fine - but it never happened. Instead, we got this pretty sizable mostly-seemingly-new toy house with a few play mechanisms. Most of them work quite well, but some elements just aren't a ton of fun - Playmobil environments are usually more "doll house" and less "action playset." This one sports trap doors, hidden compartments, rotating wall passages, an electronic sound box/flashlight, and stairs that turn into a slide. It's ambitious.
The set seems to be a pastiche of elements from the series - the Mansion itself looks vaguely like the house in the intro to the original cartoon, and this Dracula looks a bit like the one in the original series. Both are different enough that they may not be inspired by anything in particular, Dracula's colors don't quite match the episodes I spot-checked with eyes and a slightly more rumpled costume that don't seem to be a match. It's still a neat set to have your own adventures, or maybe even to shoot a film with your phone.
The house requires a fair amount of assembly with difficult-to-place labels. Normally Playmobil's stickers are a snap to position - the places are clearly marked on the toy and there's a flat spot with very obvious and clear directions. Here, there are tons of grime stickers that seem to have a specific place, but there's no way to figure out exactly which slat the instructions are directing. No two of these will be alike. I opted to keep off the grime stickers because it was making my eyes implode.
The house itself is nice and big, like the old Western buildings - or bigger, since it has three levels. It's dark inside and, sadly, there's no internal LED lighting so you can see. As far as buildings go I think you get your money's worth, with cartoony green trim and purple walls for maximum spookiness. Some of the windows are boarded up with messages like "KEEP OUT!" that are very on-brand for the series. Some elements are shared with other buildings like the big Spirit house, but the colors and a few walls were tweaked so it's very clearly its own thing.
On the whole, it's a house that meets Playmobil expectations - but the windows are too tight or too loose, and the front door on mine requires some real effort to open. As I can just put the figure in through the other side it's no huge deal, but very rarely do I every knock a Playmobil toy for part tolerance issues - these things are usually like LEGO and everything is perfect. Here, it's mostly good, but some are a little off.
It wouldn't be Scooby-Doo without traps. Upstairs you'll find a trap door activated by straightening the crooked portrait of Dracula, which dumps the unlucky figure outside the front door. It works very well.
A stairway can turn into a slide, and this doesn't work so well in practice - the figures are somewhat top-heavy, so upon retracting the stairs they just fall head-first forward and topple over. It's not much of a slide. As an unfortunate added bonus, the switch to activate it is a little sticky and can be pulled off with little effort, possibly making this useless for children with even the most careful of play and storage. It's a great idea - it just doesn't feel like it was tested.
The revolving door works well - but only for classic and male-style legs. Daphne's feet won't lock on, but you can place her next to the grooves and she can probably stay upright when you rotate the wheel.
A chimney and fireplace seem like they were meant to be a feature, but they don't work too well. There's a grate you can pull out and a cap over the blue bricks, and anything you put in there slides into the fireplace down below. It's too small for a figure, but small animals and accessories fly right through - just like Kenner's old Ewok Village. It would've been nice if it were a bit larger, so your figures (or Santa Claus) could use it.
As I do not have a smart device, I was not able to test the ghost projector - but it looks cool!
A heavy green coffin does not serve as a home for Dracula - instead, the entire house's electronics compliment are all stored in this. There are eight sound effects buttons and a flashlight/projector that can put those clear monster slides on the wall. I expected to dislike this - but it's very well made. The sound effect choices are inspired. The first one I heard was a high-pitched sad trombone of "wah wah wah wahhhhh." Other sounds seem like they came straight from classic TV - a bone xylophone, a run/dash sound, a spooky bell, a ghost, a knock at the creaky door, a witch's laugh (with no included witch), and ravens. I applaud their choices! The light is nice and bright, and you can store two spare slides inside the coffin. Sadly there's no room to store figures inside of it, which is something of a disappointment.
I would also recommend playing with a UV flashlight if you have one - the ghostly curtains glow in the dark, plus the painted footprints dazzle when hit by black light.
The figures are decent, but not a selling point. Fred and Daphne are repeats from the Mystery Machine van set, while Scooby-Doo himself is in several other sets. The two humans are consistent with other figures, but Daphne's feet don't quite fit the bill. There's a spot in a rotating passageway and her feet can't quite click onto it like Fred or the Dracula, but all the figures can stand and sit with the clothing caveats - Daphne's dress has to come off for her to sit, and Drac's cape can get in the way.
Drac's got big cartoony eyes and a silly smile, with a suit that reads more "Frankenstein's Monster" than "Vampire." It's sort of baggy, with snap-on cuffs and a cape you can plug on the collar. It makes it look like he has a turtleneck, plus there's a reversible face to "unmask" him. It's clever. I've got other vampire figures I like better, but this one is good.
Scooby's the same, but with an upgraded head. A rubber hat adapter is included so he can wear a Sherlock Holmes hat, and adapters are included so his "hands" can hold certain accessories. If you've got another Scooby figure, this one doesn't do anything different - the jaw opens, the tail moves, it even has a display stand so he can walk upright.
The accessory dump impresses. Cat, mice, spiders, fishbones, bats, and a bear skin rug are a great start. A wine glass has a plug-in red piece to add wine - or blood - take your pick. It's jam-packed with bones, a hot dog on a stick, a trash can, an empty pizza box, a ketchup bottle, and so much stuff I can't understand why it's there. You've got a magnifying glass, a broken mirror, and for some reason European currency. I guess they were too lazy to print US bills for a very US property - it's kind of bizarre, but so are the plastic gold bars. In the old days, we'd get metal ones.
It's kind of expensive for what you get, but so are most sizable Playmobil buildings. With the added electronics and a likely upcharge due to the license, you may find more joy in other playsets - but there are no other Scooby-Doo Haunted Houses. While I find the plastic non-chain chain for the chandelier disappointing, other elements like the false floor, the trapdoor, and so many other features are a lot of fun. And for some reason there's a gun in here, which is oddly unsettling given the reduction in guns for most American-focused toddler toys. I wouldn't recommend it to everybody - but if you like Playmobil or think you could use a good haunted house to display your figures, give this a look. Also the box is packed with air, so don't expect it to be as huge as the packaging may promise.
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