PLAYMOBIL – a smile captures the world
Back in 1974, when the smiling faces of the first PLAYMOBIL figures entered the world of toys, virtually nobody could have envisaged the international success they would enjoy. Today the PLAYMOBIL system created by Hans Beck is a classic of children’s playrooms, with its many different play worlds – from a knight’s castle to a sunny holiday hotel.
Since 1974 about 2.8 billion of the beloved play figures – men, women, girls, boys and babies in various outfits – have been tumbling out of boxes and delighting children all over the world. Both parents and children feel the brand represents high-value, quality play. PLAYMOBIL has taken its producers geobra Brandstätter from the small Franconian town of Zirndorf to the pinnacle of German toy manufacturing.
Milestones for creative role play
Although very basic at the beginning, the 7.5 cm figures steadily became more distinctive in terms of play value, quality and appearance. The arms and gripping hands were originally made as a single component. However, thanks to multi-component injection moulding, all figures produced since 1982 have had revolving hands, opening up entirely new design possibilities.
Over the years the variety of figures has been enriched by new colours, clothing, hairstyles and accessories. Approximately 4,600 different types of figure have been created since 1974. The latest production methods, into which geobra Brandstätter has invested hundreds of millions of euros, allow virtually limitless combinations of colours and components.
It wasn’t long before corpulent characters joined the range of sporty, slim male figures. The women wear mini-skirts, long skirts or trousers.
In 1981 the “adult” PLAYMOBIL figures finally had the offspring that children had been hoping for: 5.5 cm girls and boys. Then, in 1984, along came 3.5 cm babies. The PLAYMOBIL 1.2.3. range for toddlers has also been available since 1990.
The PLAYMOBIL Figures mystery bags, introduced in 2011 are a fun treat: the collectible figures are unassembled, and can be put together according to the instructions, while many parts can be mixed and matched. Another long-awaited wish was granted in 2012 with the introduction of a pregnant PLAYMOBIL woman. In addition, PLAYMOBIL figures have been able to put on and exchange trendy dresses and skirts in the PLAYMOBIL Shopping Mall and other play themes, since 2013.
Since 1976 all PLAYMOBIL figures have been manufactured in the company’s production facility in Malta. The labour is divided between European locations because originally the seven-part PLAYMOBIL figure had to be assembled by hand. Today machines can put a figure together in 1.5 seconds. More than 100 million of the smiley-faced characters – which now enjoy cult status – are produced each year, ready for endless adventures in play rooms all over the world.
Safety and quality as factors of success
Meticulous workmanship and toy safety are the hallmarks of PLAYMOBIL’s success. Children respond to this attention to detail, and appreciate its inherent value. Quality and safety criteria are taken into account during the entire three-year period from new product design by the internal development department through to market maturity. Both the raw materials and the finished products are tested by a recognised, independent testing institute. The objective is not only to meet the legally defined requirements, but to exceed them.
The PLAYMOBIL figures made of high-quality plastic are virtually indestructible. Some of the original figures are still in use. Many early fans are now parents themselves and have passed on their enthusiasm for PLAYMOBIL to their own children. Others have become passionate collectors and have built up impressive collections.
The figures’ characteristic smile remains unchanged, just like the principle of promoting child development by stimulating young imaginations and creativity. Boys and girls playing with PLAYMOBIL can not only slip into many different roles, but also recreate and experience the world in miniature. Real multi-talents, these cheery figures successfully overcome all kinds of challenges – as knights and pirates in historical scenarios, as construction workers, vets and police officers today, or as secret agents in virtual worlds. The creative people at PLAYMOBIL are constantly coming up with new ideas and additions to bring long-lasting fun to children everywhere. Violence, horror and short-lived trends continue to be taboo themes.
Updated: June 2015