Playmobil Scooby-Doo! 70286 Mystery Machine with Figures Playmobil, 2020
Day #2,332: August 26, 2021
Mystery Machine with Figures The one you have to get
Item No.: No. 70286 Manufacturer:Playmobil Includes:Fred, Velma, Daphne, 2 bags of Scooby Snacks, 2 drink cups, firehose mozzle, map, pizza slice, hot dog, donut, radar, magnifying glass, 2 clear slides, digital camera with rubber strap, flashlight, orange tray, blue slide tray, battery box, stickers Retail:$49.99 Availability: July 2020 (mass release, first-out at Walmart in Spring 2020) Other: Same van as the A-Team, and several other vans. This may be the best deco, even if the mold isn't 100% true to the show.
Appearing in dozens of series since the debut of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? 50 years ago, this Mystery Machine with Figures is one of those weird dream toys - and executed rather well. While Velma and Daphne's skirts pop off if the figures legs swing completely in front of them, everything else here is pretty much perfect. Good Scooby toy figures were in short supply when I was a kid, but since then we've had good action figures, LEGO sets, and so much more. I have had a Scooby figure on my desk for years, but this collection is one of those weird dream projects - even if it is a little off-model. It's totally worth getting, though.
The flat-nose van was a bit more sqquat with colorful wheels and a spare ture on the front, which this lacks - the reason for this is that the van is made of old parts. There's a 2014 copyright stamped into the bottom, but I'm not sure which set or sets this came from. There are similarities to a lot of vans and food trucks, but I haven't been able to figure out which one this may have been from thanks to the working drink cup holders. The pop-off top is the same size as countless other food trucks and vans, and as I have stayed away from a lot of vehicles I can't make a positive ID here. From my research using PlaymoDB.org, no specific van had this exact build and these fold-down seats in it.
If you can accept that this is less the perfect Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine and instead a great van customized to look like it - with figures that can be similarly described - this is a fantastic little set. If you want one of the better toys, this is it. If you need a perfectly accurate model, this is not it. As a long-time fan of these when I was a kid, my friends and I watched the heck out of the original show while on a college road trip to San Diego in college and endlessly quoting the show because that is a normal thing young adults do. It didn't hurt that I used to look (and eat) a lot like Shaggy. Depending on the day, I still might.
If you just want the main crew, get this and one of the Shaggy & Scooby sets at a lower price point and you're ready to solve the mystery, gang. Once assembled the van has opening rear doors, a pop-off lid, a slide-open door, and a pop-off windshield so you can put figures in the driver's seat. You can't have all five figures seated and facing forward, but you can put two figures directly behind the driver's seat and an additional two figures in a fold-down seat off to the side. There's not really a perfect place for Scooby, and I don't think it's possible to store all the gear inside the vehicle without things cluttering the floors. Playmobil could have left a lot of gear out and this would feel like a better toy - once you have easily lost parts, it loses some charm.
The wheels roll, it has a trailer hitch, and for some reason it has some sort of super computer with a fire hose inside. I don't get it - and admittedly, I missed a lot of the Scooby episodes after the mid-1980s up until Mystery Incorporated. It has a light-up element not unlike an x-ray machine, and you can put the clear monster dossiers from the blind bags or other sets in there. For some reason. I guess it's supposed to be fun? It adds cost to the toy and requires batteries, but it isn't as fun as I think headlights (to spot ghosts) or sounds. It's just there, taking up space for Scooby or the tray of accessories.
The exterior of the van borrows heavily from the original animated design, with familiar flowers and that strange green and blue color scheme. The wheels are just plain wheels, plus you have a couple of places to fuel up if you take it to one of the many pretend Playmobil gas stations.
The figures are great - and are duplicated in other sets. Daphne has her green scarf, purple dress and hairband, and dark eyebrows like on the classic show. There's a 2-part clip-on skirt over her leggings, and I don't love it as far as functionality goes - you have to pop it off to get her to sit properly. I had the same issue with my old Kenner Obi-Wan Kenobi figure in my Landspeeder, and this sort of thing bugs me. Velma has the same general build with different hair, a fake turtleneck clip-on piece, a different skirt, and painted-on glasses. "Jinkies!" indeed. The shoes have painted-on straps, so ou might not notice the shared parts with Daphne - Playmobil did a great job here. The outfit is a bit more form-fitting than the rather roomy and oversized orange sweaters from the TV show.
Along with Fred, everybody here can stand, sit (sans skirt), hold their accessories, and amazingly look like their very specific animation models despite not being sculpted at all to look like them. That's the power of toys! Fred's collar and ascot are replicated with a painted-on orange element and a blue clip-on piece.... and everything else is pretty generic. Fred's hair has a little body to it, and this figure has a blond wig that could just as easily work for Luke Skywalker or if you really squint, maybe Owen Wilson. Of all of the Scooby-Doo figures in this line, Fred has the least special or unique - Playmobil probably could've cobbled something very close to this together out of existing parts a decade or three ago.
The accessory compliment is more than generous, and there are a lot of places to store things. For example, you've got cupholders. There's a console for the Scooby Snacks. And everything else fits in a box or a tray - and can fall out if you aren't careful. I would've loved a storage chest inside the van, or some closed box so I don't lose the parts, but such is life. Everything else comes from an existing set - fold-down chairs, food, a camera, and a big Sherlock Holmes-style magnifying glass add a lot to the set's mystery-solving personality. Other than the medical equipment light-up thing in the van, it's a pretty simple set of things teenagers might be able to wrangle up and have in a van, were they so inclined to solve mysteries rather than do what normal teenagers do, which I assume is go to toy stores. I mean, that's what I did. There are no computers, phones, or walkie-talkies to be found, giving it a vague sense of time.
The Scooby-Doo line has a new Scooby in it, plus some new playsets like a gimmick-laden haunted house and graveyard that Playmobil never had before. Most of the figures use recycled parts thanks to about 45 years of available tooling at their disposal, and from an execution standpoint it's well-done. Most people aren't going to get this home and compare it to the cartoons, but I was watching Mystery Inc. again when it landed at my door. I'd say it's a good enough take on the classic van, and it'll be fun for kids or adults looking to integrate the gang in their existing Playmobil towns. I assume it'll get expensive after the license expires, so keep an eye out and get it while you still can.
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