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Playmobil: From the heart of Bavaria to toy store shelves worldwide

Playmobil's photographer set - © playmobil.com
Playmobil's photographer set - © playmobil.com

It all started in a small factory in Franconia (Northern Bavaria). Geobra Brandstätter GmbH, a company founded in 1876 by Andreas Brandstätter to manufacture ornamental fittings and locks, evolved in the 1920s to producing metal goods (telephones, piggy banks), and further in the 1950s to plastic toys for kids. In the early 1970s, the oil crisis prompted Horst Brandstätter, owner and grand-son of the founder, to launch a system toy that would require a minimum of raw materials to manufacture.

He did so by encouraging the pastime of one of his employees, cabinet maker and head of development Hans Beck: an avid airplanes model builder and designer, he was to develop children’s plastic toy figures that would be flexible yet not too complex, in order to leave most of the play to the children’s imagination. Exactly 3 in (7.5 cm) high, the little men would fit perfectly into a child’s hand; they had movable arms and legs, hands that could grip, and a friendly smile.

Nuernberg-spielwarenmesseIn 1974, the first toy sets – Indians, knights, and a construction site – were shown at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg. By the end of the year, geobra Brandstätter had achieved sales of 3 million Deutschmarks (approximately $33.5 million US in 2009) with Playmobil, which began to be sold worldwide in 1975, and has remained a popular toy ever since.

The Brandstätter Group produces exclusively in Europe (Malta, Spain and the Czech Republic), and first and foremost at its main factory in Dietenhofen, 25 km from Zirndorf, in which he always invested heavily to expand production over the years. In 2011 the company generated a turnover of 564 million euros with an international workforce of about 3,500, selling a record 55 million play sets worldwide.

Source & more: www.playmobil.de,