A guide to the most popular Playmobil toys this Christmas

Construction toys are always in demand at this time of year, as parents look for something which will not only entertain young children on Christmas Day, but encourage them to play imaginatively and improve their motor skills. Along with brands like LEGO and Mega Bloks, Playmobil is a much-loved manufacturer whose wide range of toys and games let children create anything from a fortress to a country farm. Popular Playmobil themes like Playmobil Action, Pirates and City Life are much-loved by families, along with more traditional options like the dollhouse. So what do Playmobil have to offer children today and what can you expect from their range this year? Read on for our buying guide to Playmobil, as well as an overview of their play sets, figures and accessories.

About Playmobil

Playmobil have been producing toys since 1974 and began with just a few themed sets that have been carried forward to today, such as Construction, Native American and Knights. Today, their collection includes around 250 toys of all kinds.

Unless otherwise stated, most Playmobil sets are made with children between 4 and 10 years in mind, with an emphasis on learning about the world around them and expanding their imagination as they enter and work their way through school.

Other Playmobil categories like Playmobil 123 are aimed at a younger audience of 1 - 2 year olds and are generally chunkier, withstand rougher play and are easier for smaller hands to hold. 1,2,3 is characterised by bright colours and softer shapes for toddlers.

Construction toys and learning

Playmobil sets are generally categorised as construction toys. However, unlike other building block sets which offer a little flexibility in the way that the child puts them together, Playmobil toys often fall into the 'convergent' toy category - meaning that they can usually be constructed only one way.This makes them a good choice for younger children who are learning how things work and need some guidance when playing, but they can also be used as a stepping stone onto more complex 'divergent' sets (which can be modelled and remodelled several different ways) like LEGO and Meccano. This said, figures can be collected and swapped between different settings as children grow and want to bend the rules a little.Using familiar themes like emergency services, working sets like farms and leisure models like campsites, construction toys like Playmobil help children reconstruct what they see around them and figure out real situations are dealt with. More fantastical sets include motifs like fairies and mythical beasts to promote creative thinking.There is often a collaborative element in construction play, creating a new world together with friends or brothers and sisters. It allows children to develop a sense of teamwork and to start bouncing ideas off one another, resulting in broader enjoyment of the task.