Playmobil figurines and playscapes have enchanted people young and old for over 45 years. It’s hard to imagine that a small toy made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene could make such an impact on the toy world, but it has!
Playmobil was created in the early 1970’s during a time when oil prices were going up, thereby increasing the cost to make plastic. That’s when a company outside of Nuremberg, Germany came up with the idea to make their normally large plastic toys much smaller. Horst Brandstätter designed the tiny toys to fit in a child’s hand, and they were made to look like something a child would draw.
The toy was debuted in 1974 at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. The first three figurines were a construction worker, a knight, and a Red Indian. Most of the toymakers thought that the toys were ugly and pointless, but a Dutch wholesaler decided to give these toys a chance. His hunch was right, and three years later sales were over 100 million! Children loved the fact that they could create their own stories and scenarios with all kinds of different “people” in different situations.
Female figurines weren’t introduced until 1976, with babies and children following in 1981. Playmobil also introduced Playmobil 123 for children under the age of three could enjoy these toys. Today, Playmobil offers over 20 different playscapes and magical worlds to spark the imaginations of every child. Almost three billion figurines have been made all over the world and are available on five continents.
Playmobil is not just for children now, as many collectors have taken to these little figures. In 2017, the company made a Martin Luther figurine to commemorate the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. Playmobil had originally only made 34,000 of them, but within three days they quickly sold out, and they had to make more to accommodate the demand. Collectors from all over the world made sure that Martin Luther made it in their collection.
It just goes to show you that you don’t have to be big to make a huge impact on the world!