Friday, February 6, 2009

‘Hans Beck, Designer of Little Plastic People, Dies at 79’


Sad but awesome:

Mr. Beck was the original designer and, for 24 years until he retired in 1998, head of research and development for Playmobil (pronounced playmoBEEL). The company is a division of Geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Company KG, founded in 1876, which originally made ornamental casket fittings and handles. Based in Zirndorf, Germany, it has since manufactured cash registers, telephones, piggy banks, self-watering planters and, starting in 1974, those tiny, round-faced, black-eyed characters with moon-sliver smiles.

At precisely 2.9 inches high, the figures have moveable arms and legs, bendable waists and hands that can grasp a pirate’s sword, a carpenter’s saw or a firefighter’s hose. They can be ancient Egyptians building a pyramid, knights defending a castle, police officers in a patrol car, ambulance drivers, circus performers or even members of a wedding party.

Approximately 2.2 billion Playmobil figures have been sold worldwide since they were introduced in 1974.

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