gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

PLAYMOBIL Country – Large Organic Farm & Electric Tractor

It’s all too easy to look at toys as a frivolous waste of precious resources. As objects merely to assuage boredom. As nothing more than entertainment. But play is much more profound than this.

Toys – the instrument of play – are a significant and potent force for shaping your child’s understanding of the world. By creating toys that introduce and build upon modern, environmentally sound ideas we are ensuring those ideas are enshrined in a child’s early development. That they are normalised and understood intuitively.

A baby and a toddler playing with the Playmobil large organic farm. It has a vibrant red roof with two rows of solar panels. The roof is cut-away in the middle to allow access. There are muted green doors visible at the end. There’s a small green gantry crane peeking out of the top. The look of concentration on babies face is the precursor to him tipping the whole farmhouse over.

Playmobil’s re-imagining of their classic farmhouse set into an organic farm is a great complement to its transition to recycled materials and bio plastics.


“But what relevance does this have to a technology blog?” you might ask. Fundamentally toys are an introduction to and exploration of the technology we rely upon in our everyday lives. It’s through play that children begin to understand the world around them and, perhaps, begin to see their place within it.

PLAYMOBIL have a deep understanding of this concept and are creating toys that not only demonstrate a social consciousness and the changing technological landscape that helps enable it, but seek to gently bestow this understanding upon the children who play with their products.

Perhaps no better example of this is PLAYMOBIL’s gradually expanding Eco range. Starting in 2022 they began to tentatively explore bio-based materials with their Wiltopia range which I wrote about in September. Now they’re getting bolder. Their latest foray into bio plastics and recycled materials involved re-inventing classic sets from their Country range with a more environmentally-conscious twist.

Toy solar panels on top of the playmobil farm’s red roof. It’s subtle but I clearly had some trouble applying the stickers.
A little EV charger on the side of the farm, complete with a charging cable and holder- which is a repurposed door hinge clip. Nice part re-use!
A water-butt on the outer detail sticker. It has a little “Save Water” written in droplet on it.

There are some little eco details to boot-


X and I sat down with their Large (Electric) Tractor (71305), two examples of these re-invented sets. These are our first Country PLAYMOBIL sets, so I’m going to have to do some web spelunking for historical context. Let’s start with the farm-

PLAYMOBIL’s Large Farm (71304) is a direct and very comprehensive re-imagining of their older 70132 set from – as near as I can tell – around September 2020. I was surprised, however, to find that the solar panels were not a new addition. A great many things have been changed, however, resulting in a visual overhaul and general thematic shift that I’ve been having trouble putting into words. In brief its transition to a more “organic” style of presentation makes the old 70132 set feel “icky.”

Let’s be clear, here, I’m under no illusion that such a drastically remodelled organic farm would necessarily be sustainable as a profitable business, nor that its output would be affordable to a great many people (just like PLAYMOBIL’s own bio-based products require a buy-in we can’t expect of everyone). You could even say that this shift in design has the effect of masking the bitter truths of the farming industry. You might be right. But this presentation is, while aspirational, fundamentally more pleasing to the eye. I prefer it. I prefer it a lot.

As much has changed as has been taken away, so let’s first start with the clear and obvious truth here. Either the bio-based plastics and recycled materials PLAYMOBIL are using to make this shift are more expensive than their traditional counterparts or – well – the “everything is going up in price” wave has hit them too. The newer large farm has lost the separate grain silo that came with 70132. It no longer has the battery-powered “heat lamp”, instead including a small, simple, non-functional plastic one. In addition to these large omissions there are many, many smaller pieces omitted- from animals to vegetables to fences and accessories and, uh, cow-pats.

An image showing all of the pieces within Playmobil's new Country Organic Farm set. There are cows, pigs, mice, a dog and cat, three people, fences, birds and various tools.
An image showing Playmobil's older farm set contents. The farm itself is larger than the newer set, there are many more smaller additions such as vegetables, plants, cow pats and more tools. There's even a pile of

The difference in style and part count is stark between the older regular and recycled/bio-plastic organic farm sets. As a parent I definitely prefer having fewer parts!


Of course as a parent you’re probably thinking “oh, thank god for that, my four year old is a nightmare with the small pieces.” And, well, perhaps that’s the real answer. PLAYMOBIL kits have never been wanting for tiny little accessories, and these are the bane of parents and – let’s face it – of the environment. It’s easy to spin the re-imagined Large Farm’s fewer bits and pieces as being a positive thing. When we finished building the farm I very quietly grabbed the remaining bags of smaller parts and hid them away until our youngest passes the put-everything-in-his-mouth phase. But it’s not all bad. You still get a wheelbarrow! And the newer set has fixed 70132’s absolutely glaring omission of a dog. What kind of farm doesn’t have a dog? Oh and the grain silo?- let’s not even go there. Bullet dodged.

A product shot of the original Playmobil large farm. It's all set up (though the silo is missing here).  It appears to be simulating a solid sheet metal building with a pitched red roof. Metal fences surround cows and there's very clearly a subtle industrial hint in some of the details- for example two cows lean over a grate with a weird bristly electric blue thing looming over them.
A product shot of the newer organic country farm. Detail has been added using stickers. The walls are now slatted wood, less plastic. The farm is smaller with fewer details. There are wooden fences and hay lining the floor. It looks distinctly small scale and one of the figures is petting a cow.

The official product shots of the old and new large farms. It's clear the newer set evolved from the older, but the transformation is comprehensive and complete.


Aesthetically the shift is similarly unsubtle. The solid, ostensibly metal walls of the old farm have given way to slatted wood which cleverly also reduces the amount of plastic used. The vibrant green indoor fences and cold, metallic outdoor fences are now clearly intended to be wooden too- practicality be darned. Metal floors are now lined with hay. The electric-blue motorised cow-brush has gone- these cows get hands-on petting time. There are fewer colours in the design resulting in something that at once feels less visually overwhelming and more natural. Detail has been added to the inner and outer walls by means of stickers. The colours seem muted- rather like comparing modern Smarties to those you remember from your childhood. There’s a little electric charger point, completing the sustainable energy theme. The farmers look distinctively more hipster. I prefer it. I prefer it a lot.

And the tractor?

PLAYMOBIL’s Large Tractor (71305) is a modern, electric re-imagining of 71004 and 6867. Gone are the prominent exhaust pipes, as are many of the accessories. In their place comes a focus on sustainability – both in the design concept of the toy itself, and the materials used.

An official product photo of the old Large Tractor. It’s blue with red wheel hubs and is depicted carrying two hay bales. Large exhaust pipes are clearly visible.
My photo of the newer bio-based tractor. It’s mostly grey with much less vibrant colours involved though the rear mud guards and some details are quite a punchy red. There’s only a single bale included. The engine exhausts are gone, replaced with a little electric charger.

How it started versus how it’s going.
Playmobil have reinvented their fossil fuel tractor (71004) into a modern electric (71305) to mark the sets conversion to (mostly) bio-based plastics. The difference in colour vibrance is quite noticeable.


It’s clear again that the cost of bio-based plastics or the focus on sustainability – at least I’m again choosing the charitable interpretation here – has limited the scope and scale of the new tractor set. While the new tractor is very definitely still large, it comes with less. The 71004 version came with two hay bales and two different attachments, 71305 comes with only one of each. Making an even larger contrast, the 6867 tractor came with five different attachments. The detachability is still here in 71305, however, suggesting backwards compatibility with at least one of these classic sets and perhaps some additional options in future. While the Large Farm’s reduced part count feels like a blessing (have you tried tidying this stuff up?) the Tractor feels a step too far.

Small hands plugging a little green toy electric charger cable into the side of the tractor. It’s clear how little of the toy the vibrant red covers here, with most of it grey and white.

While there’s less value-add clutter in the set (though at least one other attachment would have been nice), it’s captivated X none the less. He immediately understood the electric charger.


Like the farm the tractor also shows a reduction in colour count and vibrancy across the set. Unlike the farm it seems afflicted with an abundance of grey, though its colour scheme does suspiciously look like a nod toward that of the Steyr Konzept, an electric tractor concept from Austrian tractor veterans Steyr.

An official photo of Steyr Tractor’s “Konzept” electric tractor. It quite a bold angular design that very much looks like a tractor but might have things like in-hub motors and accommodations for a larger, perhaps even hot-swappable battery. It’s grey, white and red.
A photo of Playmobil’s electric tractor being pushed along the floor by a child’s hand. Another, smaller hand reaches into the right of the shot; trying to grab the tractor. It’s coloured… you guessed it … red, white and grey.

The red/white and grey colour scheme of Playmobil’s electric tractor is extraordinarily coincidentally similar to that of the Steyr Konzept!


It’s clear that the difficulty of convincing customers to pay more for less is what’s tempering PLAYMOBIL’s bio-based rollout. It’s a tough sell. But PLAYMOBIL have done more than just swap their existing products- this thorough reinvention and re-imagining of the classics affords something to set them apart and make them uniquely appealing.

The large farm and large tractor are both great sets that fit beautifully with the eco-friendly theme. They retail for £99.99 and £39.99 respectively, and should be available this July.

Hopefully PLAYMOBIL will continue this trend into smaller-in-scope, more sustainable sets. I’d love to see some officially licensed electric vehicles such as the Lotus Evija, the less awe-inspiring Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf and – of course – that Steyr Konzept tractor. Just look at the amazing – albeit not bio-plastic – job they did with the Porsche Mission E.

Thursday, July 27th, 2023, Toys.