Hans Beck, inventor of Playmobil, dies at 79

February 3rd, 2009 - 12:28 am ICT by IANS  

Zirndorf (Germany), Feb 2 (DPA) Hans Beck, who invented the Playmobil dolls and matching model cars collected by millions of children, has died at the age of 79, the German manufacturing company which employed him said Monday.Playmobil men and women, which are 7.5 centimetres tall and have moveable arms and legs, have developed over the years into a complete fantasy world with police stations, trains, boats and castles.

Beck, who lived in Germany near Lake Constance, died Friday last week after a serious illness, the Geobra Brandstaetter company said at its office in Zirndorf near Nuremberg.

A model enthusiast who had trained as a furniture joiner, he worked for the company from 1958 to 1998, rising to head of design.

When Geobra Brandstaetter asked him to design a collectible toy, it expected him to propose a range of scale-model cars. But instead he devised Playmobil, in which all the vehicles and buildings are scaled to accommodate the dolls. It was launched in 1974.

Some 2.2 billion dolls later, the range is the foundation of the company’s prosperity and is exported to 70 nations.

The company grew to a payroll of nearly 3,000 and had sales last year of 452 million euros ($588 million).

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