Hans Beck


FRANKFURT (AP) — Hans Beck, creator of the colorful plastic Playmobil toy figures that sold by the millions around the world, has died at age 79.

Geobra Brandstaetter GmbH & Co., which owns the Playmobil brand, said in a statement that Beck died Jan. 30 after a long illness.

A trained cabinetmaker and passionate model builder, Beck became a pattern developer for Horst Brandstaetter, the owner of Zirndorf-based company, in 1958.

In 1971, Beck created and developed the 3-inch (7.5-centimeter) tall line of figures for the company, which were dubbed Playmobil and brought to market in 1974. A year later, the simple yet visually appealing line went global.

It has since expanded to include everything from farm animals to dinosaurs, along with planes, trains, automobiles and ships. Some 2.2 billion of the toys have been sold since their debut.

"Playmobil is a toy that doesn't impose specific play patterns on children, but rather stimulates their imagination," said Beck, who retired in 1998 after becoming the company's longtime development director.

"(Beck) rendered outstanding services to the company in a special way," the company said. It noted he worked until the end of his career "with enormous craftsmanship talent and great qualification. Hans Beck and Playmobil wrote an important chapter in toy history and made millions of children happy."

Beck once said his main rule for toy designs was "no horror, no superficial violence and no short-term trends."

Originally from Germany's central state of Thuringia, Beck is survived by his wife and son.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press

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Hans' invention of Playmobil has brought happiness into my life for decades. Truly an inspired creator and designer, who will be missed by millions who never knew him personally.

My daughter, Karina, grew up with playmobil...I never had the opportunity...but through her eyes and your creations..I became a little girl again...thank you..my thoughts are with you.....

Your father help to make such wonderful memories for my two boys. They played with their playmobil all the time. My boys loved the fork lift and garbage truck just 2 of their favorite playmobil toys. We still have the toys and one day I am looking forward to giving them to my grandchildren. May God be with you and give you peace during this difficult time.

Prayers to the Beck family.I am sure he in heaven still making them for all the souls that await for all of us to arrive someday.Peace to all

My heart goes out to you at this time and in the days ahead.

I have two sons, 35 and 33 years old
who loved Playmobile!! I , to this
day, still love the memory. Thank you.

Dearest Herr Beck & family,
My children played with their playmobile everyday. Now they have children of their own who play with theirs. When they come to my house they play with the ones that my children played with. They never go out of style. They are never thought of as old fashioned toys, because they look the same. GOD BLESS you for giving children years & years of pleasure. You have earned a special place in heaven.
My heart is heavy with sorrow & you will be...