When I was growing up, tabletop hockey games were a big part of life. We had one of those sets with the two-dimensional players for everyday use, but the really nice set with the detailed hockey figures was saved for the holidays. So when Playmobil sent me their NHL Arena to review, I was going to either really love it or really hate it. As the headline spoils, it was clearly the former.
My first impression when I opened the box was that this would be an easy set to put together. If you know anything about Playmobil, you already know that they pride themselves on being hyper-detailed. While that’s an overwhelmingly good thing, that means some of their bigger sets have many small pieces, and can take a while to assemble. Well, I’m happy to report here that although Playmobil’s attention to detail is still greatly evident with their NHL Hockey Arena, it is very easy to assemble. It will only take a few minutes, shown in this video.
The Arena comes with four players, two skaters and two goalies. While none of them wear official NHL team colors (don’t worry, Playmobil still has you covered, we’ll get to that) they do sport the official NHL Shield logo on their jerseys and helmets.
Still, the colors the teams wear are wisely chosen, and mirror some official NHL teams closely. The blue team could easily pass for the Winnipeg Jets, for example, and the white and red team could easily become the Detroit Red Wings or Carolina Hurricanes. It would only take a few stickers to accomplish that.
The skaters snap easily into platforms that make them look like they’re skating, and it also allows them to shoot pucks. While they still have that iconic Playmobil aesthetic, the players are definitely unique additions. The NHL Hockey Arena (set 5068 for the sticklers) can either fit into an existing Playmobil theme or stand alone.
The goalies are amazing. Underneath their equipment, they look like a more traditional Playmobil figure. Their accessories include skates (which connect to the lever that moves them), leg pads, a blocker, a trapper, a goalie stick, and, of course, an awesome facemask. Combined with the puck shooting action of the skaters, the ability of the goalies to go post to post in the crease really makes for a lot of fun hockey gameplay.
And here’s something I discovered that I’m not even sure Playmobil thought of, you can put the goalie on his action feature sideways. Now he can stack the pads and make exciting kick saves just like in the real NHL! Not to mention this covers a lot more ice and makes scoring much harder. It’s a way to level up to a harder difficulty in game play.
“But waaaaaaaaait a minute,” says the sharp-eyed reader, “Where did those New York Rangers players come from?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Playmobil also has official team players available, and as I’m a huge Rangers fan, I naturally had to have them.
Each skater comes with a sheet of decals with numbers and their team logos. You can customize them any way you like. So for the Rangers goalie, I gave him number 30, for Henrik Lundqvist. The skaters got 19, because I liked to wear 19 when I played, and 36, because I think Mats Zuccarello kinda looks like a Playmobil figure.
I kid you because I love you, Mats. Seriously. ZUUUUUUC!
But to the point at hand, Playmobil allows you to customize not just your players, but the NHL Hockey Arena itself. As we’re a New York Rangers family, the rink will be New York Rangers home ice.
But you can choose whatever team you like. Playmobil includes three sheets of decals, including every NHL Team logo and the NHL Shield logo as well, in case you’d rather stay neutral.
“But, wait,” you might say, “I don’t know anything about hockey!” Don’t worry, Playmobil thought of that too. They include a booklet explaining everything you need to know about the sport. Don’t worry, it’s not very complicated. If your child likes hockey and you don’t, then here’s a quick and fun way for you to catch up.
As for gameplay on the NHL Arena itself, it couldn’t be simpler. There’s a slider on the boards behind each net to keep score. First one to ten wins. You’re all set to play games immediately.
The rink also features removable side boards revealing ramps, as Playmobil also offers a Zamboni ice cleaning tractor. My full video review of the NHL Hockey Rink is HERE, by the way.
With the NHL Hockey Arena, Playmobil will let you trick out your rink with players from your favorite NHL team, as well as the aforementioned Zamboni, referees, and even the presenters of the Stanley Cup. For those of us who love hockey like I do, these are the toys we’ve been waiting for. It’s a serious upgrade from tabletop hockey.
It was symbolic that my father was visiting for Thanksgiving when I gave the Arena to my son. Hockey’s a family thing with us. That’s why I wore the number 19 when I played, because my father wore it before me.
When I was growing up, tabletop hockey games were a big part of life. I played it with my family and friends, with the extra special nice tabletop game with the cool figures saved for the holidays. Thanks to Playmobil, I can pass on this tradition to my son, and we’ll play hockey games just like my father and I did.
And while we may have picked up this tradition for the holidays, I think we’ll keep it going all year round.