They say that history repeats itself, and likewise so do trends. One trend in play that’s back with some serious bite this year is everything jurassic. Yes, the dinosaurs are back, and at the forefront of popular culture that’s being driven by the release of Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. While they might own the rights to certain stories, names and places, Universal can’t lay claim to dinosaurs, and that keeps the gates wide-open for other toymakers to ride the wave of renewed excitement for the long-extinct (or are they?) giants that have been captivating imaginations for millions of years. For Playmobil, The Explorers are their new line of archaeological adventurers who are making their way into stores and playrooms with tales of a mysterious island called Roca, where dinosaurs continue to live peacefully thanks to a magical fruit. At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York, I had a chance to see the new collection first-hand, and the folks at Playmobil recently sent us the new Hidden Temple with T-Rex Playset for a hands-on review.
Kind of an evolution of the Playmobil Dinos line from some years back, The Explorers posits a a trio of heroes – Nick, Will and Emma – against not only the mystery of the island, but also the villainous Quinn, whose curiosity for the inhabitants of the island is less than noble. At the center of the collection (currently six sets) is the Hidden Temple & T-Rex.
This set includes all three Explorers, plus their dog, the T-Rex and a ton of fun accessories that are customary to Playmobil’s noted history of detailed imaginative play. There’s exploratory tools like binoculars, computers and backpacks, but also weapons (the jungle can be a dangerous place) and supplies. A UV flashlight is included that activates some cool blacklight features such as glowing dinosaur eyes and magic fruit, and there’s also plenty of things like a working freight elevator and dropping gate to keep things moving in interesting directions. Personally, I like that the playset has a side that’s reversible, allowing the multi-level platforms to be either inside or outside the Temple base.
Now that summer is finally here, it’s a lot of fun to take these outside to experience the “jungle” in our own backyard. Granted, we need to watch out for losing the small pieces (always a hazard), but seeing the adventure unfold through the power of pure imagination is what it’s all about. Fun fact: Peonies make pretty awesome “trees” for playtime, and decorative grasses can be pretty exotic heavy brush.
As I’ve said many times over the years, Playmobil is hands-down one of the finest toymakers of all-time, and every kid should experience these. Having lost Toys “R” Us as a major retailer of Playmobil products here in the United States, your best bets for finding these online are Amazon and the official Playmobil store, or look for a local independent toy retailer for the best selection in-house. You can check out ASTRA.org to find a local toy store near you.