Friday, February 6, 2009

Hans Beck 1929-2009

I consider Playmobil the cornerstone of my childhood.

Countless hours were spent arranging, rearranging, and dusting (beginnings of OCD tendancies I now realize) the intricate details, decor, and objects of the doll house and operating rooms. My dad gave me the doctor keychain seen below to take to grade school with me so I wouldn't be homesick (my mother decorated a clothespin to look like her for me to take... but that's a whole other story in itself) both of which I still have to this day. And the children's playroom was my favorite room in the doll house. Sigh... Hans Beck you will be missed. Rest in peace.

Hans Beck, creator of Playmobil toys, dead at 79

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.
(via Associated Press)