What feels like a lifetime ago, I reviewed a Polly-Pocket-esque Pokémon Micro Playset based around Viridian Forest, the bug-infested woodlands linking Pewter City and Viridian City. I thought I’d also reviewed another set containing Charmander and Eevee but apparently not. Anyway, here’s another recent Pokémon micro playset pickup, dating back to the late ’90s or early ’00s.
On the front of the case is a sticker with the text Pocket Monsters and the Chinese characters for ‘playground’ underneath. The version I had as a kid had the more generic red Western Pokémon logo on the front, with Pikachu looking like he was being lobbed by Ash, so I’m guessing this version was sold in Taiwan or China.
Opening up the compact playset reveals two watery themed locations, a little bridge area with a water wheel, and a more oceanic looking scene with two islands off a beach.
Before I actually take a more in-depth look at the set, here are the figures that come with the set, a Polywhirl and a Squirtle. Not the most exciting of choices for Pokémon, but as I’m guessing that Tomy was trying to sell this line to little girls who enjoyed Polly Pocket, so cute and inoffensive Pokémon were obviously going to be more preferable over something like a Gyarados or a Blastoise. I do like that Squirtle is painted in thedarker blue colour that Ken Sugimori originally used for his watercoloured illustrations of Squirtle, before the animated TV show made Squirtle a paler blue colour.
Oh, the set also comes with a bridge. I’ll get onto that later.
The water wheel area of the set doesn’t really have any features or anything. A sticker underneath the bridge gives the impression of a pond with lily pads. It looks quite nice but isn’t very exciting. The water wheel does spin but that isn’t very enthralling. Poliwhirl looks quite chill there though.
The other side of the set has a little bit more going on. But not much, A sign on the beach says 双子島, which means ‘Twin Island’ in Chinese. My version as a kid definitely said “Seafoam Island” though, so many of my adventures involved me making Squirtle swim up and down where the land meets the sea, in the search for some mythical Pokémon called Missingno, with legends speaking of its magical ability to turn one item into many. Just kidding, that’s a reference to an infamous glitch in the orignal Pokémon video games which allowed players to essentially clone items, turning every kid into a big cheating bastard by spawning hundreds of rare candies, an item that would instantly level-up a Pokémon, making them stronger with every level. Basically the Pokémon equivalent of performance-enhancing-drugs.
Anyway, although there are no glitchy item cloning Pokémon in this set, there is a palm tree sticking out of the water. Rotating it will make the one island spin around slowly. How very exciting.
The second island also has an absolute rollercoaster of a feature. It lifts up, revealing a starfish, some shells or pearls, and a bit of driftwood. Mindblowing.
I’m definitely being a sarky bastard, but it’s hard not to be. I grew up playing with Mighty Max playsets, which would pit Max against all manner of nasty fuckers in all kinds of horrendous locations, usually littered with traps and spikes and bones and things, and going from that to a couple of islands and a water wheel is a helluva step down in terms of excitement and play value. Perhaps to Polly Pocket fan though, a calm little beach location and a water wheel would be very appealing, but seeing as the Pokémon video games and TV show were primarily about strategic battles, this set just seems a bit lacking.
Despite my harsh criticism, I actually do like this set. I just wish it had been more action packed instead of rotating islands and what not. Later sets did try to go more action themed, as I recall once owning a Safari Zone set with a battle arena that opened up revealing a swimming pool? I might be making this up. It’s been a long time.
Oh, nearly forgot. The bridge that comes with the set clips onto the side to link it up to another playset, hopefully allowing Squirtle and Poliwhirl access to somewhere more interesting than this location.
So there we go, that was the Seafoam Island playset. Is it fucking boring? Yes. Is it still charming and adorable? Also yes.
Is that everything wrapped up with this post? Definitely yes.