Horst Brandstätter, Owner of Brandstätter Group and Man Behind Playmobil, Dies at 81

8 June 2015

The toy community joins in mourning the passing of Horst Brandstätter, owner of the German toy company that manufactures Playmobil, who died last week at the age of 81.

Mr. Brandstätter dedicated more than six decades of his life to the toy industry, having joined the Brandstätter Group – at that time managed by his two uncles – in the early 1950s. After becoming a joint shareholder, he completely overhauled the business by introducing plastic toys, such as the hula hoop, which the company brought to the European market in 1958.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Brandstätter asked chief model maker Hans Beck to think of a new play system, believing that mini figures and vehicles made from small amounts of plastic would be both cost-effective and offer more play value for children. Beck’s creations – featuring the 2 ¾ inch Playmobil figurine – were introduced by Mr. Brandstätter to the trade during the 1974 Nuremberg Toy Fair. Incomparable to anything else on the market, the new concept of creative role play won over kids and parents and led to outstanding economic growth for the company. The company now employs more than 3,700 people; 2.6 billion Playmobil figures have been manufactured since 1974.

In 2014, Mr. Brandstätter was recognized for his vision, creativity and perseverance in the toy industry when he was inducted into the U.S. Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) esteemed Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

He is survived by two sons.

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