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Playmobil And Childhood Stories

Why medieval castles seemed so familiar in the history class for me and most of my classmates? Why some of us have a déjà vu when we watch films like the "Pirates of the Caribbean"? We have spent so much time assembling the Playmobil version of the castle, or making stories about pirates, knights, sheriffs and Native Americans as children and playing with the Playmobil spaceship, that sometimes we think that we actually have lived in all those places. For everyone who was a child in the 1980s and later Playmobil is not just the name of a toy, it is a legend. This legendary story of "Playmobil" started in the 1971, when Horst Brandstätter the owner of toy manufacturer "geobra Brandstätter", asked the -so called- "father of Playmobil", Hans Beck, then a cabinetmaker to develop figures for children. Beck spent three years developing what became Playmobil. His aim was to create a simple and flexible toy and as it turns out he could not be more successful. Playmobil, a 7.5 cm toy, with hands, which are capable of gripping and holding objects and a facial design based on children's drawings (big smile, no nose), was first presented at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg in 1974. The first figures were of Native Americans, construction workers and knights, while the 1973 oil crisis made it possible for Playmobil to be considered a viable product. Rising oil prices made plastics extremely expensive and larger plastic toys virtually unaffordable. Playmobil began to be sold worldwide in 1975 and had an unprecedented success. Only a few years after the first introduction of the product, "geobra Brandstätter" became the German toy manufacturer with the highest turnover. In 2004 when Playmobil celebrated its 30th Anniversary,

1.8 billion figures had been produced. And these little figures have been almost everywhere: in movies, video games, fast food restaurants. Today, there are seven Playmobil fun parks worldwide three of them in the United States (Orlando, Florida -Palm Beach Gardens, Florida - Woodbridge, New Jersey) and four in Europe: in Paris, Athens, Malta and in Zirndorf, Germany where the manufacturer's headquarters are located. "Playmobil is a toy that doesn't impose specific play patterns on children, but rather stimulates their imagination," said once Hans Beck. And he is right. Some months ago when I visited a friendly couple, I found out that children still play with Playmobil, creating their own scenarios and stories. The memory of the Playmobil pirate ship, that I got as a present for my 6th birthday brought tears in my eyes. As a representative of my generation I owe a big thanks to Hans Beck, for all the dreams that he helped me to create, all the stories, most importantly, all those little friends, who may be now kept in some attic, but they often come to my mind and make me smile.


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