Playmobil 70634 Back to the Future Part II Hoverboard Chase Playmobil, 2021
Day #2,352: November 4, 2021
Hoverboard Chase with 4 figures, 1 vehicle, 1 small piece of scenery
Back to the Future Set
Item No.: No. 70634 Manufacturer:Playmobil Includes:4 human figures, Hill Valley pond, Hover Board, Pit Bull, PM today card, plants, Jaws sign, Hover Covnersion sign, lamp post, Gray's Sports Almanac, 2015 License Plate, Playmobil Slugger baseball bat, Mr. Fusion, alernate Doc coat, handcuffs, riot baton Action Feature:The big upsell Retail:$34.99 Availability: May 2021 Other: A very late addition
With licenses like Ghostbusters and Back to the Future we're seeing Playmobil cater to parent-age customers, and with the Hoverboard Chase set I think it's pretty apparent they're bypassing parents and going straight for adult fans. Making grade school toys of a sci-fi comedy from 1989 - a movie that was an entire generation's reference to "the future" that more or less expired at the end of 2015 - is the sort of move you expect from Playmobil. It isn't necessarily timely... it isn't necessarily timeless either. And it's not completely appropriate for children, but it also more or less is. The movie itself is a weird episodic fun house ride of a film, skipping the emotional beats of the first movie and swapping them out for visits to the evil 1985, a retread of 1955, and of course, 2015. The Hill Valley set of the future is the stuff of legends, with flying cars, hovering skateboards, 3-D holographic advertising, and Cafe 80s. Sadly, none of these things came to pass - but that doesn't mean you can't pull some of the cooler concepts and make a nice toy.
Priced similarly to the Advent Calendar [FOTD #2,352], this set gives you fewer figures, more big plastic parts, and a lot of accessories - plus an upgrade part for your DeLorean Time Machine. I should also note this set is age graded 5-99, as opposed to the usual 4+ age rating. They know this is probably going to be bought by adults, for adults.
As usual, you get a series of 3-inch figures - an unnamed police officer, Griff Tannen, Doc Brown (2015), and Marty McFly (2015, or Marty Jr.) It's a good set - the nameless police officer uses the skinny body, while Griff has a unique color hand and a huge grimace on his face. Doc's sunglasses are painted on his head, which is removable because it uses the customizable body so you can swap out the coat for a shorter, DeLorean-friendly model. Marty is Marty - complete with his color-changing hat. Nobody in Real 2015 tended to wear those (short of replicas from the film), but Movie 2015 was the 1980s to the Nth degree. Prismatic stuff makes sense - Hypercolor t-shirts were a big deal around the time of the movie.
Playmobil figures can be soothingly generic when you're dealing with a pirate or a girl with horse, but movie licenses require razor-sharp specificity. Doc's pants and boots have a difficult-to-see painted pattern, as well as a painted-on clear plastic tie over his shirt with Asian characters. It's incredibly ornate, particularly for the size, and of course he has two watches like in the film. I'd have loved an alternate head without sunglasses to have been included, but presumably they'll sell another one with that configuration later.
The cyborg Griff comes with a "Playmobil Slugger" red baseball bat as well as a black hand, while his flesh-colored hand has a glove you can click over it. The grimace evokes his manic, menacing energy quite nicely but does look a little off compared to the other figures in the line. Of course, you won't care, because the helmet looks so good you're just going to focus on that, the costume, and the Pit Bull board. I just re-watched the movie a couple of days before this set came in the mail from work, and the figure made me notice things I missed in the actual film. I didn't realize he had a radioactive symbol over his fly on his pants, nor was I completely sure he had a mesh shirt on. (I did notice that a 30-year-old was playing a teenager, though.) While the boots lack the giant spikes from the movie, they are colored silver in spots so it more or less evokes the look of the film. The gold jacket turned out nicely too. Is it perfect? No. But it's really good. And that helmet never stops being goofy.
The Police Officer uses the newer thinner body with a skin-tight uniform, plus has the LED readout on her hat reading out "OFFICER FO"...something. It cut off. Her costume looks a lot like the film, complete with the lighter blue trim and the very large hat. Shoulder pads, sadly, did not translate to the figure. It's a nice addition to the set, but I would have liked to have had another officer to go with her in here. (And also Griff's gang, but maybe we'll get them all later.)
The police hover bike is clever, if not screen-accurate. You'll recognize the bike is an old mold used in the Playmobil sci-fi spy lines as well as Ray's The Real Ghostbusters Playmobil sky bike, so here we see them apply the Hill Valley Police deco to the existing mold. Is it a perfect match? No, but it's pretty close - the silhouettes of the bikes are a little different, but it matches up close enough and has some retro-looking design flourishes that I assume most people wouldn't notice the changes without comparing it. I assume it was included here as a way to make this a more expensive set - after all, when Ray got the bike, it was $20 with two figures. It has pop-out wings and rolls fairly nicely, but is by no means an essential addition to the line. (This is why I like it.) I'd also like the Hill Valley Police Car from 2015, but I assume we're probably nearing the end of this license.
Over two years we never got a proper plastic playset, so the pond in front of the Hill Valley courthouse will have to do. You can set this in front of the parts from your Advent Calendar, or just keep it on your desk. If you can believe it (and indeed you can) the pond and water were originally parts in the 2008 Fairy Land Castle, but with some added sidewalk. There are plants, and a couple of signs. Is it a good playset? No - it doesn't do anything, but it's decent scenery to display your figures on their vehicles. Like a lot of old Kenner playsets, it evokes the feeling of a scene with some minimal play functions but is by no means an exact replica of the set. The Goldie Wilson III Hover Conversion sign is a nice touch, but the Jaws sign is pretty amazing - it's the kind of Easter egg I am not used to seeing on most licensed sets. (Maybe it added a few bucks to the cost of the set, too. I have no idea.)
You can see all the accessories below, but the most interesting elements are two bits - a Mr. Fusion and a panel to replace the lightning rod port - that plug in to the DeLorean Time Machine set, sold separately. This is fascinating and presumptuous. Playmobil knows you probably bought the DeLorean and want Mr. Fusion, and this is how you're going to get it. The tiny printing on it is amazing, and it's cast in clear plastic so it looks surprisingly great. I have to hand it to Playmobil that I appreciate not being suckered into buying multiple slightly-different DeLoreans, but that means I have to pick a mode and not keep swapping all the parts. This will only be made worse when the Back to the Future Part III set comes out with optional parts for the hood and two sets of wheels.
Four figures, a bike, and a small playset (with a lot of accessories) for $35 isn't terrible in the action figure world, but usually you get a bit more with Playmobil. A slightly bigger Hill Valley playset would be nice - perhaps something that can be constructed across multiple sets! - but this is also good in that it's a small collection. As of my writing this the entire line is a car, a figure pack, a truck, two advent calendars, and this gift set - and if I get my wish, maybe a train. They could keep this going indefinitely, but they gave us most of the best of what 2015 had to offer in this little box. Having said that, if they want to do an Advent Calendar in 2022 with a few more of Griff's pals or maybe Middle-Age Two-Tie Marty, I'd certainly pick up a few more of these guys. They're durable and the format allows them to take some liberties with accuracy. Plus they're toys, and they just work. I can't ask for much more than that. (Other than, of course, a new train.)
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