Review and Giveaway: PLAYMOBIL ‘Nautical Expedition’ playsets (CLOSED)

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I’ve often said that one of the best things about having kids is being able to play with their toys.  🙂  And nowadays that’s even more true when toys are so much more creative and detailed than ever. Although my kids have their share of electronic toys that talk, sing, and make all kinds of other noises, my favorites are the silent ones that simply inspire kids (or anyone) to use their imaginations. Those are the ones I love to watch my kids play with and that I’m much more likely to join in on the fun with. And that’s something that PLAYMOBIL understands and promotes with their playsets for kids.

What they are:

200px-Playmobillogo PLAYMOBIL is based in Germany and has been making toys for over 35 years. Their toys are extremely popular in the US as well as 70+ other countries, and the company has won many honors and awards, like FamilyFun’s “Toy of the Year,” the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, the TODAY Show’s Toy Awards and Parents “Best Toy of the Year” award. From their website:

The cornerstone of all PLAYMOBIL activities is the two and three quarter inch figure which can bend, sit, stand, turn its head and move its arms. The hands, which can grasp, rotate and carry accessories, are what make realistic play possible. The figures also have a smiley face that suits just about any play situation. All PLAYMOBIL men, women, children and animals are compatible with all other PLAYMOBIL vehicles, accessories and environments. The bright colors and rounded edges are appealing to children. And the unique construction features locking-grid building pieces that allow children to change their play worlds by creating new buildings. With numerous themes to choose from in a variety of age-appropriate settings, PLAYMOBIL is dedicated to enriching the lives of children by encouraging them to use their imaginations.

In 2009 PLAYMOBIL introduced 80 new products, including their first ever DVD (“The Secret of Pirate Island”), based on the PLAYMOBIL characters. Along with the popular pirate sets, are PLAYMOBIL’s school, hospital, Egyptian, Fire Rescue, farm, zoo, circus, fairy, castle – and many more playsets.

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Courtesy of PLAYMOBIL and Ogilvy PR, we received the Divers in Tropical Reef playset from the Nautical Expedition category to try out and review.

Here’s my our take on them:

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This particular playset is intended for kids from ages 4 and up, and I can definitely see why, with all of the tiny pieces that come with it. The set includes two divers, all of their gear (including masks, tanks, flippers, camera and watch), and the underwater reef, fish and other sea creatures for them to explore. The figurines are brightly colored and well constructed and mostly easy enough for my (almost) 4-year-old to play with on her own. She does well enough with other small pieces, so I didn’t have any misgivings when giving her this set to play with. My only big concern has been to keep everything together without losing any of the set (especially the tinier pieces), but the sturdy cardboard box that the set came in makes a good place to store it all in when not being played with.

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One thing that is so nice about the PLAYMOBIL sets is that they simply provide the setting and the characters while leaving it up to your child(ren) to come up with their own stories about and involving them. My daughter started off by thoroughly exploring all of the pieces, putting the divers’ equipment on and then taking it back off. She did need a little bit of help with the tiny diving watch and getting the camera and such into the divers’ hands but after a little while of playing she had it all down pretty well on her own. She loves all of the different fish and making them ‘swim’ around the reef together.

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Of course I think her favorite fish has to be the swordfish – apparently it’s fun to make it stab at the divers with its long nose. I guess that’s nothing if not realistic, lol. Here’s a short video that I took the first time we got this playset out on the day we received it:

Overall, I think this is a fun set for kids, not only to play with but also to use to help teach them about ocean life, the different kinds of sea creatures and the types of gear that scuba divers use to explore the ocean’s depths. There’s a lot of educational potential, as well as the opportunity for kids to simply use their imagination to play with the pieces in any way that they wish to. Yes, even if it means having fish stabbing at the divers, lol. My older girls have had a lot of fun playing with this too – although I must say that having two divers for three kids isn’t always a good mix. Thankfully there are plenty of fish to go around.  And we all can identify the different species of fish, and know a little about their habitat now as well. 🙂

The bottom line:

It’s easy to see why PLAYMOBIL is, “the toy brand synonymous with creativity and imagination”. The playsets allow them to role play and bring the sets to life with their own imaginations, and to learn social skills while playing together – like taking turns and sharing. Plus the sets promote kids putting themselves into the characters and learning to empathize with what they are thinking, feeling and doing. The figures, furniture and other accessories are extremely detailed and easy for small hands to grasp and manipulate. With tiny pieces involved, however, it’s easy to see why they aren’t recommended for kids below the age of 3 or 4, as labeled on the sets.

Where can you find them?:

You can purchase PLAYMOBIL playsets directly from their website, at http://store.playmobilusa.com. They are also available for purchase at many different retailers and toy stores both on and off-line, as well as on Amazon. Prices vary depending on the playset and the retailer – as an example, the set that we reviewed costs $21.99 on PLAYMOBIL’s site and currently is $29.99 on Amazon.

Would you like to try them?:

4478 I have the opportunity to give away two additional sets from the Nautical Expedition category at PLAYMOBIL – the Shark Diver and Deep Sea Diving Bell playsets, to one lucky reader. If you’d like to give these to your child or use as a gift for someone else, here are the rules:

  1. Enter by visiting the PLAYMOBIL site and leaving a comment here to let me know which set is your favorite, and how you would use that set to create ‘teachable moments’ with your child(ren). This is required – please don’t just say anything like ‘choose me’, or your entry will be discarded.
  2. 4500The contest will run until Saturday, January 23rd at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be selected through random drawing, contacted by e-mail, listed on this post and also submitted to PRIZEY. US entries only, please.
  3. Please leave a valid e-mail address or other way to contact you! If the winner hasn’t responded within 3 days, an alternate winner will be chosen by random drawing.
  4. If you’d like extra entries, you can:
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed (click on the orange icon in the upper right sidebar) or subscribe via e-mail – leave me a separate comment to let me know.
  • Mention this contest on your blog with a link back to this post, and leave a separate comment with the link to your post so I can find it.
  • Either Twitter about, ‘Digg’ or ‘Kirtsy’ this post – leave me a separate comment with your username at whichever site(s) you chose (one extra entry per method).
  • Become a ‘fan’ of this site on Facebook – there’s a link in the sidebar or you can click here.

So that’s a total of 7 comments/entries if you do all of the extra entry options.

Good luck!  :)

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED – the random number generator has chosen comment #30 as the winner:

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Congratulations to Denise (no blog) whose extra entry via tweeting this giveaway has won for her! I will be e-mailing you shortly to work out the details.

This post courtesy of: PLAYMOBIL and Ogilvy PR, who provided the product(s) for both review and giveaway. No payment or compensation, other than product samples as described above, was received for this post. All opinions given here are my own. Ogilvy PR abides and governs its web-based outreach by the WOMMA Code of Ethics, as well as its own blogger code of ethics.

This product is also featured in the JAMTOT 2009 Holiday Gift Guide, under the category “Gifts for Kids”.