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In the beginning...
Once upon a time in 1876, there was a locksmith named Andreas Brandstätter. Mr. Brandstätter planted a magical seed that would eventually blossom into PLAYMOBIL® by founding an eponymous lock and metal fitting company in Fürth, Germany. His son, Georg Brandstätter, took over the company in 1908, changed its name to Metallwarenfabrik Georg Brandstätter, and in 1921 moved the headquarters to Zirndorf, Germany, where it remains to the present day. By the 1930s, the company had again been redefined, manufacturing telephones, cash registers, and various items for toy shops using sheet metal, and going through another name change, to geobra (short for Georg Brandstätter).
His son, Georg Brandstätter, took over the company in 1908, changed its name to Metallwarenfabrik Georg Brandstätter.
And in 1921 moved the headquarters to Zirndorf, Germany, where it remains to the present day. By the 1930s, the company had again been redefined, manufacturing telephones, cash registers, and various items for toy shops using sheet metal, and going through another name change, to geobra (short for Georg Brandstätter).
A new era...
At the beginning of the 1950s, Horst Brandstätter, the companys current owner, came on board and started a new era in the company history. He updated products, searched out new markets and sales opportunities, and focused production on his favorite material plastic.
In 1958 the hula hoop craze gripped the world, and Horst Brandstätter, who had apprenticed as a technician and moldmaker, responded by working continuously for two weeks to design a machine that could mold soft plastic hoses into hoops. Production began immediately, and geobra saw financial success manufacturing and fulfilling demand for the fad item. The hula hoop boom disappeared as quickly as it arrived, but the process Mr. Brandstätter had perfected to make the toy inspired further exploration. Realizing that the technique, using air pressure, hot plastic hoses, and shape molds, could also produce basically any shape (in addition to the traditional bottles and hoops), he created the first prototype PLAYMOBIL® item, a closed racing car manufactured in a single production step. From that point on, the company expanded rapidly with products in the toy and leisure fields, and in 1969 opened a modern, nearly 300,000 square-foot production plant and warehouse in Dietenhofen, outside Zirndorf. Another production plant was founded in Malta in 1971.
The crisis in oil and other raw materials in the early 1970s made that era a difficult time for most industry, and geobra was no exception. The companys traditional assortment was affected by the dramatic rise in plastic costs, pressure from low-price countries, and increasing development expenses in Germany. Knowing that drastic measures were needed to keep the company afloat, Horst Brandstätter directed his attention to a project he had been working on with Hans Beck, the head of geobra`s research and development department: small moveable figures with fitting accessories and a good price to value ratio. The toys were to be called PLAYMOBIL®.
Hitting the shelves
PLAYMOBIL® was introduced at the 1974 International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, but with the exception of a single Dutch customer, received a lukewarm greeting. Using innovative marketing strategy PLAYMOBIL® was able to move onto German retail shelves by fall. Parents and children responded uniformly with fascination and enthusiasm, and PLAYMOBIL® has been a top seller ever since.
PLAYMOBIL® headquarters in Zirndorf, Germany, are housed in a 1.6 million square foot, state-of-the-art building, where more than 500 employees oversee management, administration, research and development, mold construction, and decoration for the world-famous toys. The company also has subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Benelux, Italy, Greece, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and the United States, employing nearly 2,500 people worldwide, and has made recent sales inroads in South America, Australia, and the Middle and Far East.