The origins of the German toymaker we know today as Playmobil can be traced to 1876, when a locksmith named Andreas Brandstätter opened a metal shop. By 1908, his son, Georg, took over the company from his father and renamed it after himself. Throughout the 1930s, the younger Brandstätter’s firm, renamed again as Geobra, made mostly telephones and cash registers, but it also produced some sheet-metal items for toy stores.

Plastic toys were added to the company’s line in the late 1950s, and in 1958 a molded race car was created as the first Playmobil prototype. But it would take more than a dozen years for the Playmobil look to coalesce, and the man credited with creating what would become a serious competitor to LEGO was Hans Beck, Geobra’s director of development.

One of the motivators behind Beck’s designs for Playmobil was the rising price of oil in the 1970s, which was pushing up the cost of plastic. In Playmobil, Beck created a world of toys for children that would be fun to play with despite their small size. In fact, their handheld size would be a key to their success.

Unlike LEGO, for whom figures were an afterthought to the building bricks themselves, Playmobil figures were an integral part of the toy from the start. Beck spent a lot of time on the figures, designing them after the look of children’s drawings, which are marked by exaggerated features and a liberal attitude when it comes to physical proportions. Thus the heads of Playmobil figures, which some fans called Klickies for the sound they would make when played with, lacked noses and were proportionally larger than the bodies they were attached to.

The first Playmobil system debuted at the Nurnberg Toy Fair in 1974. By all accounts, the reception was not overly enthusiastic, but an order from a Dutch wholesaler kept production going for a year. The initial systems featured medieval knights and horses in green boxes, construction workers with a pickup truck on a job site in blue boxes, and “Indians,” complete with feather caps for the braves, a canoe, and a teepee, in red boxes.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Playmobil Huge Park Swings Slide Carousel Pool Pram 6 Adults 16 Children ToysLarge Lot Of Playmobil People Animals And MoreDeluxe Reading Playmobile Vintage Toy DashboardX21 Playmobil Gold Coins Rocks Knights Roman Pirates Treasure Chest Shield PartsPlaymobil Car & Caravan - Figures Bikes & More Camping Holiday / Summer FunPlaymobil Tree House 5746Lot Of Playmobil Sets: 4250, 4251, 4252, 4253 Castle Themed #540Playmobil Garden Floral Greenhouse With Garden Shopper Set 4481 4638 CompletePlaymobil Train Set 99805 Working Geobra W/ Tracks Playmobil Lot X200+ Gold Swords Weapons Knights Roman Pirates Guns Parts GeobraVintage Playmobil Eskimo Igloo Inuit Antarctic Polar #3465 Playmobil 5551 Piano Victorian MansionX8 Playmobil Redcoat Soldiers Complete With Weapons Swords Toy Rare LotPlaymobil Supermarket Grocery Store Van Deli And Produce Cashier 3200 3202 3204Peppa Pig Rocket Ship Toy W Figures Uk Version SoundsPlaymobil Zoo Petting Zoo Extra Animals, Fence Tiger Pen 3240 3243 Complete#17 Huge Lot Of Spare Playmobil Victorian Scarves, Collars,bibs, Jewelry, Cool!Vintage 1990's Playmobil Complete Set 3652, Medieval Jousting Set 1993 With Box!Playmobil Airport Terminal, Airplane, Ground Crew 3353, 3185, 3334X400 Playmobil Western Pistols Guns Soldier Indians Animal Roman Knights PiratesPlaymobil Safari Adventure Lodge Set Complete 57593 Vintage Playmobil Systems Sets, 3052, 3144 & 3479 (incomplete)Huge Lot Of 40+playmobil People Jester, Pirate, Knight, Hats Lots Of HorsesPlaymobil Bakery And Bakery Delivery Car 4410 4411 CompletePlaymobil Lot 100 People, 29 Figures, Animals, Hats Tree Parts Pieces AccessPlaymobil Hospital / Surgical Operating Theatre Figures & MorePlaymobil British Royal Guard Soldiers Highlander Swords Guns Coins Redcoat RarePlaymobil 3628 Set Hunting Party Set Robin Hood Merry Men MibVintage Playmobil Ship Boat Pirate Sail Cannon Cool Awesome WheelsPlaymobil Trees Rocks Plants Foliage Cactus LotPlaymobil Figure Lot Pirates Indians Cowboys Civil War Weapons Horses Cows++++Lot Loose Playmobil Space Aliens Figures Robots Playsets AccessoriesPlaymobil Family Camper Rv Motor Home Playmobil Figures Serie 7 Queen And King - Limited Edition 40 Years AnniversaryPlaymobile 3769 Western House As Is - Read All! :) No Box, Vintage, Incomplete.Playmobil 5131 + 5127 City Action Boats Ages 4-10 Retired New In Box MintPlaymobil Post Office 4400Playmobil Roadside Cafe Set 3254Playmobil #5400 Vintage Victorian Flower PeddlerNib Playmobil 5329 Kitchen Set Table Doll House Grand Mansion Furniture Set NewPlaymobil 6160 Exclusive King Dwarf Gold Crown Coins Axe + Free Blue Rare SwordMatchbox Military And Playmobil LotPlaymobil Pirate Lot Playset Cannon Boat Treasure Chest Parrot #5894 And #4753X30 Playmobil Western Pistols - Cowboys Revolver Guns Civil War Soldier Rare!!Rare And Vintage Playmobil 4033 G Scale Steaming Mary Train Set Vtg 1989 Playmobil Indian Teepee Western Camp Village Canoe Horse Playset Rare Playmobil Car Wash 4312Playmobil Dhl Delivery Truck Set 4401 CompletePlaymobil Barber Shop Beauty Salon Set 4413 CompletePlaymobil Figures Pope Priest Pirates Gold Swords Coins Knights Roman HighlanderRare Playmobil Geobra 9958 Set Motorcycle Race Motorcross Track Bikes LotPlaymobil Robin Hood Merry Men Knights Medieval Castle Figures LotX7 Playmobil Figures Pirates Skeletons Redcoat Axes Swords Rare Guns Lot New Playmobil Knights Adventure Set Medieval Castle People Horse 68 Pieces PartialX31 Playmobil Rare Figures Knights Roman Pirates Parts Swords Axes Weapons GunsPlaymobil Vintage Western Fort Bravo 3773 Complete Set No Box Great Condition NrPlaymobil Christmas Nativity Of Jesus Joseph Mary Shepherd Manger #3996 NisbPlaymobil 4 Confederate American Civil War Soldiers Figures Guns Rifles SwordsX5 Playmobil Figures #4577 Royal Guard Soldier, Soldat, Redcoats English Palace Vintage Playmobil 3423 Sheriff's Office Jail Prison Cowboy Playset No Box