Playsets! If you grew up in the '50s or '60s, or '70s, playsets were ubiquitous. There were so many and there were so many themes: Space, Wild West, World War II, Airports, Flintstones, Service Stations, and on-&-on. Many of them had really nice tin-litho centerpieces while others had no particular central structure. With the exception of several manufacturers who cater to a select audience of playset collectors or aficionado's, the whole playset thing kind of died out in the mass market Basically stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, or even large grocery chains no longer offer playset like they did in the past although hobby shops may have some BMC or Americana sets. Like everything there are exceptions. Star Wars sets are still popular and Lego makes a ton of sets in many themes. One of the hallmarks of these sets was generally a central structure - usually tin-litho - and a large 'piece count'. The center piece would draw you in while the piece count was meant to impress - the bigger the set the better, right?
Well, today we finally put a cap on the Playmates line of "King Kong" licensed tie-ins with the #66047 Skull Island Playset. Can you believe this was a mint-in-box set, I bought new back in 2005 when the movie came out? This set bucks the trend in modern playset production in several different ways. First, this was a set available in the mass market and could, in 2005, be bought in Wal-Mart or Toys 'R' Us, and perhaps others. Secondly, there is no one centerpiece in this set - the whole set is a center piece. And third, the piece count is woefully minuscule. There are just 17 pieces, including playmat, hills, and figures. 17! But what Playmates did with those 17 pieces makes this an awesome set overall. This set has such a spooky, fearful, dark ambiance.
The set is comprised of a four major rock wall sections, two of which are joined by a 'shaking' log bridge sitting on a nicely detailed, irregularly cut, cardboard playmat (versus the flexible plastic ones normally associated with playsets). There are 8 figures (labeled as victims on the box - how cheery!): 4 adventurers, 3 Skull Island Natives, and Ann Darrow. A Kong figure is not included, ensuring the buyer must purchase at least one of the other sets in order to make the whole scene complete. Special features include the log bridge joining a cave entrance (nicely adorned with creepy hanging vines) to Kong's lair. The entrance to Kong's Skull Island lair appropriately enough has a skull over the entry. Atop this rock formation is a swinging crane which swivels and raises and lowers. On it hangs a large rope with 'metal' loop at one end for Kong to hang on. Another mountain piece has a ladder on which victims were tied and lowered into the grips of a waiting Kong. The fourth mountain piece has a face carved into it - neat touch. There is also a raft on which one of the 'victim's' must negotiate his way past Kong.
The whole set fits on to the playmat which measures 27" (68.6cm) L x 18" (45.7cm) W. The tallest piece is 17" (4302cm) H. When setting everything up, the instructions say to refer to the box photos, but they're not that explicit. I really like how the river winds its way through the rock canyon walls. This set just oozes character. My biggest complaint about this as well as all the other sets in this line is the lack of figures. In nine sets they repeat the same eight figures and this is a series that screams for more adventurers, cries for more Natives!! BTW, I've included a photo of one of the adventurers next to a K-Line 35mm figure. The two match in size perfectly and so one can conclude that the scale is ca 1/43. Okay, enough chit-chat - Enjoy!
Size comparison: K-Line 35mm figure (L), Skull Island Adventurer (R)
Contest insert found in most of the King Kong sets
I simply had a heck of a time with the glare - I'll have to re-take these photos one of these years!