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 Farm PlaysetPlaymobile Castle *rare* 3666Playmobil African Safari Wildlife Care Lodge - Figures Animals 4826 & ExtrasPlaymobil #4800 Ghost Pirates Figure & Ship Lot !!! Boat Playmobil Roman Leaders #4273 - All Pieces - Gently UsedPlaymobil 5142 - Magic Princess Fantasy Castle * New In Box *Lgb Playmobil #5065 Train Crossing Gates W/boxNib~playmobil 4122 Yellow Colorado Warehousing Cargo Train Car/perfect~nrPlaymobil Highlander With 3 Swords Weapon Geobra Roman Pirates Knights Guns RarePlaymobil 4404 - Hospital * New In Box *Playmobil 4053 Atlas Construction Train Workers Crane CarPlaymobil Hospital Figures Furniture And Accessories Huge LotPlaymobil Lot Of 12 Specials ~ Some Vintage ~ All New In Box/bagPlaymobil Train Set, G-scale Train EngineVintage Playmobil 1974 1976 Lyra Western Bank Set 3422 Includes Banker Safe Playmobil 1987 Train Set + Box 15 Rails Track Tech Ii Transformer + Parts 4002X100 Playmobil Lot Gold Swords Knights Guns Pistols Romans Pirates Castle KlickyLgb Playmobil #4101, #4065 Train Car & Misc9lbs Lot Of Playmobil Toys W/ Figures & Accessories #1Playmobil Vintage Western Farm House Ranch Complete New In Box Sealed #3769Complete Playmobil Magic Castle: 4-12 Years, Between 2007-2009, Princess FantasyPlaymobil Victorian Mansion Wedding Party With Horse & Carrige #5601 Sealed BoxNib~playmobil 4121 Green Western Cattle Train Cargo Car/perfect~nrPlaymobil Furniture Lot Hospital Victorian Furniture Long TablePlaymobil 3647 Family Camper And 4207 Forest Lodge 2007 Complete Boys & Girls 4+Playmobil 5401 Victorian Photographer Figure Nice! ~see~Playmobil Forest Playset Misc.Playmobil Boat/ship Motor.Playmobil 5245 Western Fort Brave Cowboys Indians,horses Playset Large Box32lbs Lot Of Playmobil Toys W/ Buildings & Accessories #2Playmobil Knights King Queen Swords Highlander Guns Romans Pirates Gold Edition20lbs Lot Of Playmobil Toys W/ Buildings & Accessories #3Playmobil Victorian? Crank CarPlaymobil 4501 Special Sherlock Holmes Detective Figure Complete Nice! ~see~Playmobil Dragons Castle 5479 155pc Brand New Great!!!!!!!!!!!Lot Of Playmobil Castle Knights Pirates Treasure Temple & WeaponsPlaymobil Set X10 Figures ..f779.. L@@k !!!176 Piece Lot Geobra,playmobil Figures,animals,hats Playmobil 3767 Western Series - Colorado Springs School House (1987) Mint RarePlaymobil Skull Pirate Ship Play Set Number 5778 Nearly Complete W/ Instructions2005 Playmobil Geobra Take Along Doll House W/ Lots Of Accessories & People7 New Playmobil Union Cavalry Klicks Figures Confederate Soldiers With GeneralG/playmobil"vintage Cemetary(pillars & Wrought-iron)fence Setwgates(7 Pcs)una X8 Playmobil Redcoat Soldiers Complete With Weapons Swords Toy Rare LotPlaymobil Castle Knights Custom Lot Blue Falcon Medieval Warriors + Seige TowerX2 Playmobil 5195 Fencers Swords Sports Olympics / Knights Pirates Roman Guns Playmobil Set X10 Knights Figures ..a580.. L@@k !!!Playmobil Stagecoach PlaysetPlaymobil Lot (hotel, Inn, Tour Bus)Playmobile Lot Of 80 + Figures Plus 7 Horses And AssesoriesPlaymobil Set X10 Soldiers Figures .... L@@k !!!Playmobil Dollhouse Summer Cottage Cabin House Family Vacation LotPlaymobil #5870 My Take Along Pet Clinic W/ Extra Kitten Set Boys & Girls 4 & UpPlaymobil City Life 5025 - Football Team Bus Holland * Worldwide Free Shipping *Playmobil 3797 Circus Clowns With Baby Elephant - With Box Playmobil Log Cabin X3 Custom Playmobil Figures 2014 Pope Redcoats Pirates Swords Klicks New LotX3 Playmobil Royal Guard Figures + Captain Prince Castle Sword Lot Rare ToysPlaymobile Dhl Delivery Truck With Figure - 2004Huge Playmobile Lot Over 200 Pcs. 25 People, Animals, Furniture 1974 '80&'90 Wow