Hasbro and Mattel are the two biggest toy manufacturers. We know of the innumerable brands of these two companies, and they inspire us merchandising fans with STAR WARS, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, Transformers and much more. But neither of the two has a brand that has been an evergreen in children’s rooms for generations. There are only two companies / brands that come to my mind: LEGO and Playmobil.
There is rarely a child who does not like LEGO. And even as adults, we have the LEGO fever – at least in a small dose. Since LEGO discovered the merchandising business, LEGO has grown into a giant and has something for every target group at any age.
But on to Playmobil…
PLAYMOBIL’S CONCEPT HAS AN AGE LIMIT
Playmobil has adult fans too, but these are a tiny number compared to the adult fans of LEGO. With Playmobil, children can playfully explore the world. But no later than in their teenage years, Playmobil loses its appeal. The teens start to explore the world themselves, they do not need Playmobil anymore.
My childhood mainly consisted of STAR WARS, LEGO, MASTERS OF THE UNVIERSE and of course PLAYMOBIL. Of these four brands, only Playmobil has no place in my collection today. At puberty, I gave away my Playmobil to other children. (Okay, I also did the same with my LEGO).
WITH PLAYMOBIL, YOU GET TO KNOW THE WORLD, BUT IT DOES NOT LEAD YOU TO ANY OTHER WORLDS
Playmobil understands this. The PR and sales department of Playmobil is definitely full of clever, hardworking minds. No matter where you are, it does not take long to find a Playmobil product. Sometimes I see a Playmobil rather than a LEGO pack. There is a TV series and a monthly magazine. Playmobil does a really good job. Thus, they consolidate their market share but have not enlarged their target group. I’ve never seen Playmobil in a teenager’s room.
BUT THIS COULD NOW BE CHANGING!
With careful steps, Playmobil has begun to move into the merchandising market. The first merchandising was “Dragons”. Playmobil has not taken any risks with this, because the target group is mostly children. I’m sure this series is going to be great for Playmobile in getting to know the merchandising business. Playmobil has never had to cooperate with others before and now suddenly Hollywood is involved. That will certainly be an interesting experience.
But the target group is – as mentioned – for the most part children and therefore Playmobil has stayed under the radar for merchandising collectors.
But if you mention Playmobil, the question keeps coming up: Why is there no STAR WARS or similar product from Playmobil?
It seems this question was asked by Playmobil itself and finally comes the answer: GHOSTBUSTERS. When I first posted that Playmobil now also has a Ghostbusters series, there was an immediate discussion about Playmobil STAR WARS or “Back to the Future” products.
However, Playmobil is still an owner-managed, down-to-earth, German company. It has developed its solid market niche and, like LEGO, it is unrivaled in that. With such a brand you have to act very carefully. However, I am also sure that Playmobil wants to leave the age limit of Playmobil behind!
It is interesting that Playmobil was only geared to GHOSTBUSTERS I. It is possible that some children may be interested in GHOSTBUSTERS. They are great films, I like to watch them. But Ghostbusters I & II was definitely addressing teenagers and adults, and the films are no longer up to date (as fun as they are). Therefore, I assume that Playmobil has chosen a relatively small but stable merchandising line whose products can be seamlessly integrated into existing Playmobil series, but also that deliberately address adults. Today’s little tots will find the sets of ghosts and monsters cool – but Playmobil easily have invented sets with monsters and ghosts without paying royalties to COLUMBIA PICTURES. Not to mention doing it with a lot less complexity: as a licensee you have to discuss everything with the license holder.
GHOSTBUSTERS IS A TEST BALLOON – AND A DAMN GOOD ONE TO
Holding Playmobil in your hands today is a very strange feeling. The action figures have changed a bit but otherwise everything is very familiar – from a long time ago for me. Yet while I like Ghostbusters, it had no obvious meaning for me as a collector. Except…
Playmobil has done a good job here!
But at the thought that she might lose or break something, everything gathers in me and refuses to give these sets to a small child to play with! This is not a toy!
If a collector notices this feeling, especially if he does not collect that something himself, then that proves that Playmobil has managed to reach a collector’s heart without losing the fun factor for children.
Choosing Ghostbusters as the first major merchandising line, not STAR WARS, was absolutely right! Without bogging down your actual audience, it opens up a new target group.
Almost devilishly good, these Playmobil strategists!
PLAYMOBIL GHOSTBUSTERS ON COLLECTORBASE.NET
All details and many photos can be found in our collection database.