Playmobil at Silly Billy’s and the History of Playmobil
Playmobil was invented by German inventor Hans Beck (1929–2009), who is often called “The Father of Playmobil”. Beck received training as a cabinet-maker and was an avid creator of model aeroplanes, a product he pitched to the company geobra Brandstätter. The owner of the company, Horst Brandstätter, asked him to develop toy figures for children instead. Beck spent three years from 1971 to 1974 developing what was to become Playmobil.
Beck conducted research that allowed him to develop a toy that would not be too complex and would nevertheless be flexible. He felt that too much complexity would be obstructive to children’s imaginations, and too much rigidity in design and implementation would cause some inevitable frustration for the child. The toy Hans created, at 7.5 cm tall, would fit in a child’s hand and the figurine’s facial design was based on some children’s drawings – a large head, a big smile, and no nose. “I would put the little figures in their hands without saying anything about what they were,” Beck remarked. “The children accepted them right away … They invented little scenarios for them. They never grew tired of playing with them.”
The 1973 oil crisis enabled Playmobil to be considered a viable product. The rising oil prices imposed which impacted the production of other toys at geobra Brandstätter, for whom Beck worked as Head of Development, demanded that the company focus on products that required less solid plastic material than the hula hoops and other large plastic toys and playthings that the company had been producing.
In 1974, the company put the first sets of Knights, Native Americans, and construction workers on show in its display rooms. Initial visitors did not really take to the toy. Nevertheless, the plastic toys were displayed proactively at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, which was taking place that same year. A Dutch firm agreed to buy a whole year’s production. By the end of the year, geobra Brandstätter had achieved sales of 3 million Deutschmarks with Playmobil – one-sixth of the company’s total sales. Playmobil then began to be sold worldwide in 1975, and has remained a very popular toy ever since.
Playmobil has been a successful toy line for more than 40 years and they have been a major competitor to LEGO toys.
Examples of directly competing toys in both their product line are not hard to find. In the Playmobil toy world, the Playmobil toys are usually realistic, and present accurate representations of arms, armour, costumes, and tools from recognisable time periods. Especially notable for their fine attention to detail are the modern construction and city life toys (cars, cranes, fire-engines, trains, boats, etc.) and the characters that go with them. For Playmobil’s fortieth birthday in 2014 some special products were created and we were lucky enough to have stocked them in our old toy shop
Here at Silly Billy’s Toy Shop we have one of the finest ranges of Playmobil of any toy shop in the North of England. One customer recently stated that they haven’t seen such a wide range of Playmobil anywhere outside of London ! Here at Silly Billy’s we love it when people review us online so please take the time to do so if you have visited and had a good time! We also have in stock, although in ever diminishing quantities, Playmobil Advent Calendars. Both Playmobil “Christmas on The Farm” 6624 (recommended for ages 4+) and Playmobil 9009, also called “Christmas on The Farm” (suitable for ages 1 to 4). As one of the UK’s leading retailers of Playmobil, Playmobil have very kindly let us have only one of two life-size Playmobil Santa’s that are on display in independent Toy Shops in the UK, if you could send us a picture of the other Playmobil Santa we would be quite interested to know where Santa’s Brother is located. You can do that simply by heading over to Silly Billy’s Facebook Page and sending us a message.
For a chance to WIN some Playmobil, and lots of other exciting toys please visit our Christmas Competition 2017 page
So most of this information I have taken from Wikipedia, which is not always the most reputable source, although I think for this blog post it probably suffices.