Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Playmobil Inventor Dies At 79

Hans Beck, the founder of the German toy manufacturer Playmobil, has passed away at the age of 79. Beck, who lived in Germany, died on Friday, January 30, due to "a serious illness".

Born in Thuringia, in 1929, Beck grew up in the town of Zirndorf, and began his toymaking career as a creator of little vehicles and figures for his younger siblings. Beck received training as a cabinetmaker but worked simultaneously on model airplanes, a product he pitched to the company Geobra Brandstätter. The owner of the company, Horst Brandstätter, asked him to develop toy figures for children instead.

Beck spent 3 years developing what became Playmobil, which was launched in 1974. Horst Brandstätter was not initially convinced of the viability of Beck’s idea, but allowed the inventor to continue developing the product. Eventually, the company grew to a payroll of nearly 3,000 and had sales last year of $588 million.