By Past Nastification
1:18 GI Joe has done a good job of representing the genus Canis starting with 1984’s Junkard. Timber, Order, Sandstorm, Lamont, New Sculpt Junkyard, Modern Era Timber, and ME Order followed. These molds were sometimes used to represent different or new animal characters. Sandstorm stood in for Timber once, Timber became one of Kwinn’s sled dogs, and NS Junkyard became the unnamed dog for Night Adder.
The dogs/wolves/coyotes can only be altered so much, and pretty much only by color or paint. Even with eight different animals to choose from, sometimes a customizer needs to look outside of the GI Joe line to find the right base figure. That’s what led me to discovering Playmobil’s animals. Although Playmobil figures aren’t the same scale as GI Joe figures, the Playmobil animals tend to work just fine when pressed into Joe usage.
This is a Playmobil wolf. (It’s destined to get some sculpting changes and a German Shepherd paint scheme.) But, right now, it’s still a wolf. It appears to have come with several different Playmobil sets through the years. Unlike the mostly static GI Joe animals, this wolf has five points of articulation: the neck and the legs. Oddly, Playmobil loaded the wolf with articulation but added none to the tail.
Hasbro’s sculptors had a great ability to load character and personality into static animals. Because they relied on sculpting the animals frozen in time, the body language can be shown. It’s a trade off of being able to convey tons of information in a static pose vs. less information with articulation. The overall body language, in my opinion, is lost on an animal with points of articulation. One could argue that the Joe dogs/wolves are more like mini statues than true action figures. This is very subjective. I’m one of the very few collectors who doesn’t dislike the new basic Star Wars figures because they only feature 5 poa’s (although hinged knees are really needed). Also, I don’t own any of the new Star Wars figures.
If you prefer articulation the Playmobil wolf is probably a treat. The poseable neck and legs allow for the wolf to do poses such as “My humans make me walk like them!” and “Krypto the Superdog”. Wow, I can’t even talk about the points of articulation without sounding disingenuous. The nose-to-the-ground pose is pretty realistic- even though it looks like the wolf is smelling scent markings, the closest thing wolves/dogs have to the internet. In fairness, this is the static pose of poor Lamont, the hardest working but least respected of the Joe K9’s. Adding neck articulation to Lamont might have been a good call.
The wolf’s overall look-feel is acceptable. Playmobil didn’t design the wolf, or its humans, to convey any realistic sense of personality. It’s just there. GI Joe animals, by comparison, are more lifelike. The sculpting on the Playmobil wolf is simple, but just detailed enough to read as elegant instead of cartoonish. The large round ears look more like those of a hyena than a dog or a wolf, but the sculpting throughout the animal has a very curvilinear feel. The paws also lack any indication of individual toes or claws, as they’re just round shapes.
The Playmobil wolf was never intended as a GI Joe accessory. That it can be presented that way says quite a bit about it. The articulation isn’t for me, but this is still a wonderful figure.