Newest Review: ... have to do them all yourself. Easy peasy, you think, but oh no, oh no, oh no.....Playmobil require a specific type of knot, tied in a spec... more
Knot an easy thing to make
Playmobil 4469 Expedition Ship
Member Name: historywitch
Playmobil 4469 Expedition Ship
Advantages: Lots of play value, can be taken in the bath, female captain, surprisingly sturdy
Disadvantages: Really hard to put up. Lots of little bits to lose.
I was a big fan of Playmobil before we actually owned any. So far my daughter has had the Wild West set with the jail that takes 20 minutes of swearing and breath-holding to build and 2 seconds to fall over once completed. Then we got the giant pyramid that looks really cool but took me two hours (TWO HOURS!) to build, takes up four million metres of floorspace and needs 8 million metres to be able to actually play with it, plus the inside barely makes sense. It also comes with 200 million teeny tiny pieces of extra bits which are regularly sucked into the vacuum cleaner or eaten by her baby brother. The helicopter is cool, I'll give them that, a big favourite actually, but that is one win and two massive fails for big Playmobil sets (the little ones are lovely and immune). So what convinced me to buy this big Playmobil set, the Nautical Expedition Ship, RRP £35 (I paid £24)? Really? Honestly? Well, shamefully it was the teeny tiny microscope and the teeny tiny test-tubes, even though I knew they would stay together for precisely one microsecond before dispersing forever, only to be found ten years later clinging to a sock. Sigh.
So present duly exclaimed over, box opened and there is the usual Playmobil slew of random plastic bits to construct into the shiny picture on the box. There were also a worryingly large number of miniscule metal screws, which always fills me with dread. So, five different screwdrivers later and I was completing the body of the ship which is filled with a large piece of polystyrene in the bow, presumably for buoyancy. Several of the little screws had to be screwed through this polystyrene which was very hard to do and it took a lot of force to get them all in. The rest of it was the normal clipping and poking in of various teeny little pieces of plastic until the body of the ship was created. Fiddly but par for the course. Finally came my nemesis, knot tying. There are four or five knots to be created; for the anchor, for the winch, for the buoy etc and you have to do them all yourself. Easy peasy, you think, but oh no, oh no, oh no.....Playmobil require a specific type of knot, tied in a specific place on the (slippery, thin) cord. I have never been a sailor, will never be a sailor, but by god after 50 minutes of trying to follow the miniscule diagram provided and doing lots of swearing, any possible minute vestiges of a dream of a life of the ocean wave were well and truly swamped. But why not tie a normal knot I hear you say, oh, if only it was that easy.....the 'normal' knots untied themselves in the springy cord within minutes of energetic play and it was back to the swearing and the diagrams.
And then you finish with the three little people and their accessories, millions of little golden coins, a tool set and diving accoutrements. There are binoculars and other accessories for the female Captain and her crew - a mechanic type and a diver. In the cabin are the little computer screens, the sink and the aforementioned microscope and test tubes in their rack. The test tubes are miniscule and are incredibly tricky to fit into their little holes, my daughter has long ago delegated this job to me, usually just before dropping the whole ship and requiring me to start again.
After the nightmare of construction it does have considerable play value. The polystyrene insert and sealed hull mean that you can take this boat into the bath and for an extra £10 you can buy a little motor which fits to the bottom of the hull to make it chug around the bath. The winch at the back has a little platform attached but also attaches to the shark cage from another Playmobil set -4500 which is another £12. Even without these extras there is a lot to do with this boat, rescuing, investigating, surviving massive storms, losing the test tubes down the plughole whirlpool, working with the helicopter to rescue stranded foam letters and sinking after a run in with the baby bottom of doooooomm. The winch is used a lot and despite its seeming fragility has held up rather better than I expected, likewise the anchor which makes a satisfying metal clunk on hitting the bottom of the bath.
We have had this ship for three months and despite its regular dunkings and the disappearance of the majority of the small parts down the plughole, vacuum and the gaping maw of an investigative toddler it has held up pretty well. The crew are still chirpy, although their computer screens have dissolved, the winch knots are holding up well and the number of missing bits doesn't seem to compromise their multiple missions that much. It has been played with almost as much as the helicopter, much more than the pyramid but just slightly less than the Lego. Even though it has a lot of play value I probably wouldn't buy this model again, the putting together was tedious and whilst I usually love putting these things together I feel that they made it too difficult, especially for 4 year olds (box says 4+). The knots in particular were taking the self-construction too far and I would have greatly preferred it if they had come ready attached, that bit was not fun at all, neither were the screws. There was space in the box for those pieces to come already put together and I don't think it would have detracted anything from the construction experience if this had been the case - it just felt exasperating and tedious. The set itself is one of the more successful Playmobil sets in my opinion, we have had some duds and seen more at the houses of other people. This one works, but only just....and as long as I never have to see another knot again!
Summary: One of the better Playmobil medium sized models
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