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Playmobil Group

Playmobil Play + Give (Series): Greek God Zeus

YEAR: 2016

COUNTRY: Greece

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Title of the work

Playmobil Play + Give (Series): Greek God Zeus

Country of the First Edition

Original Language

Greek

First Edition Date

2016

Target Audience

Children (c. 4 - 10)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Oliver Brookes, Royal College of Nursing, orbrookes@gmail.com

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk 

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com 

Male portrait

Playmobil Group (Company)

The Playmobil Group was founded in 1974, in Zindorf, Germany by Hans Beck and Horst Brandstätter (accessed: July 6 2018). Over 3 billion Playmobil figures had been produced by 2017. The Playmobil Company state that, through their figures and sets, they offer "imaginative role play opportunities, integrated with a variety of historical and modern play themes." These sets are said to be both fascinating to children, and highly valued by parents and education practitioners. Playmobil sets and figures offer a large diversity of theme. These range from Knights, Pirates, Wild Life, City Life, and History.


Prepared by Oliver Brookes, The Royal College of Nursing, orbrookes@gmail.com


Summary

The figure is wearing traditional ancient Greek dress with a purple cloak around its shoulders. Upon the edge of the dress, much like with the Athena figure which was released at the same time, there is a geometric motif that reinforces the "Greekness" of the figure. The figure is crowned with a golden laurel garland, which identifies it as a king, or leader. In combination with the long white beard, and white hair of an older man the figure is identified also as a patriarch.

Much like Athena’s owl, the eagle is the bird that is most closely linked to Zeus. The eagle is easily identifiable through its white head, brown body and golden beak, and is modelled on the colouring of a Bald Eagle. The eagle is perched upright, with its wings outstretched slightly as though to signify some sense of later action that could be controlled by the individual playing with the set.

Analysis

The figure is accompanied by a tri-forked bolt of lightning which can be held in the hands of the figure. The lightning bolt is frequently used as Zeus’ weapon of choice, whilst also indicating his role as god of the sky, heavens, and the weather. The accessory is coloured yellow, the colour most typically associated with lightning, and the simplistic zig-zag pattern allows instant recognition of the accessory as lightning bolts.

The set also includes a plinth with the inscription ΙΕΡΟΝ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΟΣ [Temple of Zeus]. This is identical to that of Athena in all but inscription. It is coloured white to give the appearance of inscribed marble. The images accompanying the set often depict the eagle as perched atop this plinth. This serves to emphasise the connection between Zeus and the eagle. The use of inscription allows players - if they are able to read Greek (the figures are intended to date only for a Greek market) - to identify the figure immediately as Zeus. 

Other accompanying accessories include a sceptre. This is taller than the figure itself, golden, and features a sphere moulded to the top. It can be held by the figure and can be made to move appropriately with the figure’s articulated arms. In addition, there is a wooden stool or throne, with a purple cushion. The figure’s legs can be bent, and it is therefore possible for the figure to sit on the stool. 

The packing that accompanies this figure presents Zeus in his dynamic environment with the various attributes. The super-imposed background of mountains, clouds, and a large generic temple structure in the distance assumes that the figure is on a high mountain, perhaps intended to be Mount Olympus. The upper part of the dynamic scene shows a lightning strike as to further reinforce Zeus’s domain over the sky and heavens. 


Further Reading

Tassoula Eptakili. Playmobil looks to ancient Greek mythology for inspiration, published October 3, 2016 at www.ekathimerini.com (accessed: August 3, 2018).

Playmobil. Playmobil company history (accessed: August 3, 2018). 

Playmobil. The fathers of Playmobil (accessed: August 3, 2018).

Addenda

Genre: a toy inspired by classical antiquity, an object of material culture

Yellow cloud
Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Playmobil Play + Give (Series): Greek God Zeus

Country of the First Edition

Original Language

Greek

First Edition Date

2016

Target Audience

Children (c. 4 - 10)

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Oliver Brookes, Royal College of Nursing, orbrookes@gmail.com

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk 

Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, elzbieta.olechowska@gmail.com 

Male portrait

Playmobil Group (Company)

The Playmobil Group was founded in 1974, in Zindorf, Germany by Hans Beck and Horst Brandstätter (accessed: July 6 2018). Over 3 billion Playmobil figures had been produced by 2017. The Playmobil Company state that, through their figures and sets, they offer "imaginative role play opportunities, integrated with a variety of historical and modern play themes." These sets are said to be both fascinating to children, and highly valued by parents and education practitioners. Playmobil sets and figures offer a large diversity of theme. These range from Knights, Pirates, Wild Life, City Life, and History.


Prepared by Oliver Brookes, The Royal College of Nursing, orbrookes@gmail.com


Summary

The figure is wearing traditional ancient Greek dress with a purple cloak around its shoulders. Upon the edge of the dress, much like with the Athena figure which was released at the same time, there is a geometric motif that reinforces the "Greekness" of the figure. The figure is crowned with a golden laurel garland, which identifies it as a king, or leader. In combination with the long white beard, and white hair of an older man the figure is identified also as a patriarch.

Much like Athena’s owl, the eagle is the bird that is most closely linked to Zeus. The eagle is easily identifiable through its white head, brown body and golden beak, and is modelled on the colouring of a Bald Eagle. The eagle is perched upright, with its wings outstretched slightly as though to signify some sense of later action that could be controlled by the individual playing with the set.

Analysis

The figure is accompanied by a tri-forked bolt of lightning which can be held in the hands of the figure. The lightning bolt is frequently used as Zeus’ weapon of choice, whilst also indicating his role as god of the sky, heavens, and the weather. The accessory is coloured yellow, the colour most typically associated with lightning, and the simplistic zig-zag pattern allows instant recognition of the accessory as lightning bolts.

The set also includes a plinth with the inscription ΙΕΡΟΝ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΟΣ [Temple of Zeus]. This is identical to that of Athena in all but inscription. It is coloured white to give the appearance of inscribed marble. The images accompanying the set often depict the eagle as perched atop this plinth. This serves to emphasise the connection between Zeus and the eagle. The use of inscription allows players - if they are able to read Greek (the figures are intended to date only for a Greek market) - to identify the figure immediately as Zeus. 

Other accompanying accessories include a sceptre. This is taller than the figure itself, golden, and features a sphere moulded to the top. It can be held by the figure and can be made to move appropriately with the figure’s articulated arms. In addition, there is a wooden stool or throne, with a purple cushion. The figure’s legs can be bent, and it is therefore possible for the figure to sit on the stool. 

The packing that accompanies this figure presents Zeus in his dynamic environment with the various attributes. The super-imposed background of mountains, clouds, and a large generic temple structure in the distance assumes that the figure is on a high mountain, perhaps intended to be Mount Olympus. The upper part of the dynamic scene shows a lightning strike as to further reinforce Zeus’s domain over the sky and heavens. 


Further Reading

Tassoula Eptakili. Playmobil looks to ancient Greek mythology for inspiration, published October 3, 2016 at www.ekathimerini.com (accessed: August 3, 2018).

Playmobil. Playmobil company history (accessed: August 3, 2018). 

Playmobil. The fathers of Playmobil (accessed: August 3, 2018).

Addenda

Genre: a toy inspired by classical antiquity, an object of material culture

Yellow cloud