Playmobile

Logo from Palymobil toys using the typeface fo...
Logo from Palymobil toys using the typeface font Bahaus heavy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Playmobil, that company famous for its klicky little figures and all of their detailed accessories, began commercially in 1974. Invented by Hans Beck, a  cabinetmaker, it took from 1971-1974 to get off the ground through German company Geobra Brandstatter.  Beck did his research for the toy with children, basing the face design on children’s drawings and market testing them out on kids who got busy inventing little stories for the new toys right away.  In 1973 an oil crisis forced the parent company to look for a new product to sell which required less solid plastic in manufacturing than what they’d had on market previously (such as hula hoops) and the design of the Playmobil figures fit the bill.

The 1974 debut of Knights, Native Americans and Constructions workers at the International Toy Fair sealed the deal and Playmobil embarked on the successful career it’s had to date competing directly with Lego. Playmobil figure hands are designed to grip and hold objects such as their myriad of accessories and since 1982 have been manufactured with hands that rotate at the wrist. The accompanying set buildings were built to fit together with a tab and slot system called Steck-System but in later years added on small connector pieces worked with a tool known as System-X. You can still find the occasional Steck-System in reissue sets.

Playmobil figures and sets are manufactured in several different countries under different producers:

USA: Mattel and Schaper (Playmobil figures also debuted in McDonald’s HappyMeals)

UK: Louis Marx and Co (called Playpeople)

Argentina: Antex

Brazil: Troll, Estrela, Industria de Brinquedos do, Amazonas

Peru: BASA

Greece:  Lyra

Spain: Famosa

See my comprehensive list of special edition, rare and retired Playmobil on Yello80s!

 

Sources:

Playmobil on Wikipedia

ThinkGeek

Playmobil Official 

 

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