Father Dies, Legacy Remains – Hans Beck

Little information is found on this man. What do we know of the man behind playmobil?

On the website of Playmobil, the name of the designer (or inventor) Hans Beck is named once in a description of a product: the book “the story of a smile.” The book details the process behind the invention of Playmobil. The story must have given strength to the company (Geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co) as the invention made the company survive from a near bankruptcy. The product was not understand to be successful at its time, but was immediately embraced by kids. And this at the beginning of an oil crisis with a high cost of plastic. This was one of the driving factors behind the success of the innovation, because the company initially produced products (like the hula hoop) that used a lot of plastic. Inventions often come out of problems and a lack of space (budget).

There is nearly no track of the company (Geobra B.) on the internet, but only of its main product line: Playmobil. In a German article the playmobil-man is said to be Horst Brandstätter, but its real father is understood to be Hans Beck who died yesterday.

The website of BASF cherishes its designer.

The pirate captain is mentioned as Hans Beck’s absolute favorite. The miniature with his typical smile shows that in the world of Playmobil even the bad guys are friendly. “Friendliness has always been very important for Hans Beck…. He wanted his Playmobil to be likeable. And as simple as possible.” (1)

“Playmobil is a toy that doesn’t impose specific play patterns on children, but rather stimulates their imagination,” explains Beck… It allows children … to discover boundless new worlds and give full rein to their imagination. And it has been doing so for 30 years!” (1)

BASF refers on their site to a three decades of cooperation between Geobra Brandstätter and BASF which supplied the material for these plastic “marvels.” BASF was involved from the very beginning.

BASF mentioned that… Hans Beck … had noticed that toys have to have certain characteristics if children are not to become bored with them too quickly.


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