As a kid, I never had many Playmobil sets. I was a LEGO kid, and Playmobil was really only available at high-end hobby and toy stores. They always seemed so… foreign and exotic.
My own kids have a few sets and really enjoy them, and truth be told, so do I. It’s hard to deny that Playmobil toys are really high-quality, and there are some crazy cool themes out there now. In fact, I covered one of the newer themes a few months back.
While I was at Toy Fair earlier this year, I made it a point to tour through the Playmobil booth. Hands down, the theme that grabbed my attention was Knights. And it was the castles that did it.
The Royal Lion Knight’s Castle is the big one, and – I’ll be honest – as soon as I saw it at Toy Fair, I wanted one for myself. It’s also the one I’m going to focus on here. The slightly smaller (and cheaper) Wolf Knight’s Castle is also way cool, and the Knights theme is fully stocked with insanely fun smaller sets, such as the Giant Troll, Castle Ghost, Catapult, and Battering Ram.
The Royal Lion Knight’s Castle is huge, and so is the box it comes in. It contains 320 pieces, but – to be fair – many of them are very small. Still, the castle itself is constructed with a lot of pieces and takes a while to assemble. I consider myself fairly well-schooled in the art of toy assembly, and it took me about an hour to get the whole thing together.
The pieces all come bagged, but unlike LEGO, the bags aren’t numbered… and there’s very little rhyme or reason for how they’re packaged. In other words, you basically need to open up all of the bags at the beginning and either make a big pile or sort them out as best you can.
If you’re only familiar with LEGO instructions, then Playmobil will be at once familiar and needlessly complicated. The (22 pages of) instructions are language-independent, so you just follow the step-by-step directions to add new pieces. That’s the familiar part. However, since the bags aren’t numbered, finding the appropriate pieces can sometimes be a challenge. And the steps don’t identify which pieces you need in a separate window, so you have to figure out what’s required by comparing each picture to the previous one. That’s the needlessly complicated part.
But once it’s all put together, it’s a thing of beauty. There are secret passages, locked dungeons, hidden tower rooms, trapdoors, a drawbridge, a portcullis, and an exploding wall. And that’s all on top of five figures (one of which is a skeleton!), a cannon, an armory, a treasure chest, and lots of other awesome little bits.
If you’re a Playmobil fan, know one, or are just looking for a spectacular playset, the Knights theme (and the Royal Lion Knight’s Castle in particular) is a surefire winner.
Disclosure: Playmobil provided me with the pictured set for review. All opinions remain my own.