In March 2002 the Outdoors range was expanded with some bright new sets, breathing new life into this long-standing theme with the exciting combination of creative, modern designs and bold, primary colours.

The Summer House (3230) carries through a style of furnishings and interior design similar to that found in the Family House (3965), while the unusual A-frame shape gives it a fresh look and creates a fun, holiday atmosphere. There is a large opening on one side of the sloping roof to allow easy access to the interior.

The Camping Trailer (3236) has the appearance of a small caravan perfectly suited for towing by the Red Car (3237). Other new sets include a Lawnmower (3233), Catamaran (3183), and even the playmo kids finally get some exciting new playthings with the bright yellow Playcastle (3235), which looks a bit like a giant sand-castle, and the Optimist (3188). The figures in these new sets are perfectly attired for fun in the sun with casual looking clothes in shorter styles that have never been used before, and attractive stripe and tropical-looking, floral print details. The new shirt collars seen on some of the male figures have an interesting, less formal shape perfectly suited to this theme.

One of my favourite smaller sets from the new additions is the Garden Chair (3234). The main attraction of the set is not the chair, though it is a pretty interesting and well-designed item. The speckled pattern on the grey base gives it the appearance of concrete or cement and the curved arm which fixes the seat to this base allows some swivelling movement. There is also a small hand-hold molded to one side of the base of the seat to keep the figure securely in place. These small details create an attractive, very modern piece of furniture which will be equally suited to either an indoor or outdoor setting.

It is the figure in this set which really steals the show. She is dressed in a simple, yet elegant summer outfit of sleeveless shirt and knee length bermuda-style shorts. Her hair is a gorgeous shade of red and is drawn back into a casual pony-tail style.

The sandals are different to those found in previous sets with a more modern-looking fitted shape and slightly diagonal strap.

However, the most exciting feature on the figure has to be the new hand shape which fits perfectly to the arm and is reminiscent of the original klickies, while still retaining the all-important manoeuvrability of later ones. There is no raised edge anymore, which was always present on long-sleeved figures and even the bare-skinned natives who usually wore decorative bracelets or cuffs to hide the join. The new style of wrist join is barely discernible. It looks even better on the actual figure than the one which appears on the box cover, where I surmise a prototype may have been used for the photograph.

Some collectors may not be happy about the slight change to the hand and arm, but they should reserve their opinion until they have had the chance to see the figures close-up and can admire how well the new parts have been molded. I believe it represents a major step forward, and is particularly suited to this theme. At last our playmo figures have been given the freedom to wear sleeveless summer clothing and appear much more carefree thanks to their bare arms and wrists!

Overall, I am very impressed with this new group of sets and think they represent good value for money, particularly the Garden Chair which retails around 4 Euros (suggested retail price). Unfortunately, the news for Outdoor fans outside of Germany in the "Export" countries is a little disappointing, as most of them will have to wait an extra year before they become readily available in their local shops.

Countess Krystal, May 2002

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