I was a Lego kid. I relished the challenge of assembling each set by the (instruction) book, then tearing it down and building something of my own design. When I got bored with that, the pieces would join the others in my collection—a constantly growing parts bin from which I could craft anything I could imagine. But I realize that isn’t for everyone, and for some, they just want to play with their new toy right out the box. That’s one reason behind Playmobil’s existence and success, and how it has managed to score licenses for some of the most iconic movie cars ever—which even I have to admit are pretty slick-looking in toy form.
One thing Playmobil has been known for is its attention to detail, and it nailed that with its Back to the Future DeLorean time machine. Sure, Doc and Marty are just Playmobil’s standard eternally-fixed-smile, thousand-yard-stare figures dressed to look like the characters from the movie, but the DeLorean’s likeness to the real-life DMC-12 is uncanny. The exterior proportions appear to be correct, and they even captured the DeLorean’s staggered wheel and tire setup (check out the image of the time machine in flight mode).
Naturally, the car comes with functioning gullwing doors. Movie car details are also accurately represented, from the aforementioned extreme-positive-camber hover wheels to the Mr. Fusion above the engine bay to the Flux Capacitor and time machine controls inside the cabin.
Two other classic movie cars rendered for the Playmobil universe include Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 and Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine. Ecto 1 is reasonably faithful to the original movie car, though there are subtle differences that keep it from looking too much like an actual 1959 Cadillac ambulance (note the extra fog lights in the bumper and the lack of a Cadillac chevron and crest badge). The Mystery Machine has always been an anonymous American panel van (though is sometimes depicted as a VW bus), so Playmobil was in the clear license-wise. Their version happens to vaguely resemble a Chevy Astro. The large cupholders up front are a nice touch, but also a bit surprising given that Playmobil is German-owned and German cars are notorious for their tiny cupholders. The playset also comes with a pizza, a hot dog, and a donut. Finally, a German company that gets us.
If you’re not into piece counts in the hundreds—or even thousands for some higher-end Lego sets—you’ll be pleased to know that comparatively little assembly is required for Playmobil kits (the DeLorean has just 64 pieces). Despite that parts disparity, Playmobil cars aren’t cheap. The Back to the Future DeLorean time machine retails for $49.99. But then again, can you really put a price on having your own plastic Einstein and plutonium canister?
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