In the beginning...
Once upon a time in 1876, there was a locksmith named Andreas Brandstätter. Mr. Brandstätter planted a magical seed that would eventually blossom into PLAYMOBIL by founding an eponymous lock and metal fitting company in Furth, Germany. His son, Georg Brandstätter, took over the company in 1908, changed its name to Metallwarenfabrik Georg Brandstätter, and in 1921 moved the headquarters to Zirndorf, Germany, where it remains to the present day. By the 1930s, the company had again been redefined, manufacturing telephones, cash registers, and various items for toy shops using sheet metal, and going through another name change, to geobra (short for Georg Brandstätter). At the beginning of the 1950s, Horst Brandstätter, the company’s current owner, came on board and started a new era in the company history. He updated products, searched out new markets and sales opportunities, and focused production on his favorite material -- plastic.
A whole lot of hoopla
In 1958 the hula hoop craze gripped the world, and Horst Brandstätter, who had apprenticed as a technician and moldmaker, responded by working continuously for two weeks to design a machine that could mold soft plastic hoses into hoops. Production began immediately, and geobra saw financial success manufacturing and fulfilling demand for the fad item. The hula hoop boom disappeared as quickly as it arrived, but the process Mr. Brandstätter had perfected to make the toy inspired further exploration. Realizing that the technique, using air pressure, hot plastic hoses, and shape molds, could also produce basically any shape (in addition to the traditional bottles and hoops), he created the first prototype PLAYMOBIL item, a closed racing car manufactured in a single production step. From that point on, the company expanded rapidly with products in the toy and leisure fields, and in 1969 opened a modern, 100,000 square meter production plant and warehouse in Dietenhofen, outside Zirndorf. Another production plant was founded in Malta in 1971.
The crisis in oil and other raw materials in the early 1970s made that era a difficult time for most industry, and geobra was no exception. The company’s traditional assortment was affected by the dramatic rise in plastic costs, pressure from low-price countries, and increasing development expenses in Germany. Knowing that drastic measures were needed to keep the company afloat, Horst Brandstätter directed his attention to a project he’d been working on with Hans Beck, the head of geobra’s research and development department -- small moveable figures with fitting accessories and a good price to value ratio. The toys were to be called PLAYMOBIL.
Hitting the shelves
PLAYMOBIL was introduced at the 1974 International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, but with the exception of a single Dutch customer, received a lukewarm greeting. Using an innovative marketing strategy, PLAYMOBIL was able to move onto German retail shelves by fall. Parents and children responded uniformly with fascination and enthusiasm, and PLAYMOBIL has been a top seller ever since.
PLAYMOBIL headquarters in Zirndorf, Germany, are housed in a 1.6 million square foot, state-of-the-art building, where more than 500 employees oversee management, administration, research and development, mold construction, and decoration for the world-famous toys. The company also has subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Benelux, Italy, Greece, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and the United States, employing nearly 2,500 people worldwide, and has made recent sales inroads in South America, Australia, and the Middle and Far East.
After a double-digit increase in sales over the past five years, the PLAYMOBIL Group’s consolidated sales increased once again in 2005. Total sales increased by 2 percent to 377 million euro as compared to 370 million euro in 2004.
PLAYMOBIL in the United States
For many years, PLAYMOBIL was handled by an independent distributor in the U.S., with mixed results. Receiving little marketing push, the few items on the mass-market shelves remained relatively unknown. The situation greatly improved when PLAYMOBIL USA, Inc., the official American PLAYMOBIL subsidiary, opened for business on July 7, 1986 in a 20,000 square foot facility in Edison, NJ. During its first year, PLAYMOBIL USA became a thriving enterprise and expanded rapidly. PLAYMOBIL USA focused on showing a wider array of product in the stores, taking more space in fewer sites. Through this approach, the customer saw firsthand the large range of the PLAYMOBIL items and how they can work together and be built upon.
For quality and safety reasons, ultrasonic welding is increasingly used for fixed bonds. Additionally, many items are tampon printed.
The strategy worked, and PLAYMOBIL sales increased dramatically. By May 1, 1990, it became necessary to move to a new facility in Dayton, NJ, with 67,200 square feet. Demand for PLAYMOBIL products continued to grow along with company revenue, and just seven years later the subsidiary moved to an even larger, 80,000+ square foot facility based in Cranbury, N.J., in April 1997.
PLAYMOBIL toys are distributed at more than 2,300 stores nationwide, including the PLAYMOBIL FunPark play center in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-, and the Playmobil FunStore in Woodbridge, New Jersey, and will continue to grow in popularity!
For more information on Playmobil toys contact:
Jacqueline Kohlmann at 312-397-6072 or email@example.com.
In the beginning...