In addition to traditional toys that children play with, Playmobil producer Horst Brandstätter wants to make more toys that are collected. Preferably by adults. “Collectibles of high quality and originality”, that is what the German manufacturer sees as value. “We are going to expand our offering in this segment and thus tap into new target groups,” says CEO Bahri Kurter in a press release on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary. The first three figures were introduced to the world on February 2, 1974 during the Nuremberg Toy Fair. It involved a knight, an Indian and a construction worker. Since then, 3.8 billion dolls have been sold worldwide.
Playmobil wants to celebrate the birthday in a big way, under the motto “Join the party”. But the company also realizes that it is time to transform the brand make over to undergo. Competitor Lego is doing much better than Playmobil, partly because it has managed to tap into markets other than that of playing children. Adults now also have fun putting together complicated constructions. Lego’s turnover is now twelve times greater than that of Playmobil. In 2004, Lego was twice as big as its German competitor.
The adult offering will include historical figures, classic and modern cars. Playmobil talks about the “kidults” market: adults who buy toys that were originally intended for children. About thirty percent of all toys sold are not intended for children. Playmobil has already had some success with historical figures. A doll depicting the church reformer Martin Luther sold 1 million copies. The figure is waving a quill and has a Bible in his hand. The painter Albrecht Dürer owned one hundred thousand pieces.
At the same time, the group behind Playmobil also wants to focus more on collaboration with large companies. An agreement has already been signed with McDonald’s. The collaboration will start in April. A collaboration is also in the pipeline with the German Football Association on the occasion of the European Championship.
This year Playmobil will launch 209 new products. There will be anniversary editions of classics such as pirates, firefighters and mermaids. The licensing agreements with media companies are also being expanded. In March there will be Playmobil versions of Ladybug & Cat Noir, popular television characters of French origin. Existing licenses with Disney will be continued.
A new commercial impetus is desperately needed for Playmobil. The brand has been in a corner where the blows are falling for some time now. In October, the parent company cut 700 jobs, one sixth of the total. This was necessary to keep costs under control after two years of losses. The company blames the poor figures on inflation, but it is suspected that the product range has not sufficiently kept pace with the changing use of children’s time. Even during the corona period, when board games, for example, were not available, Playmobil sales did not rebound. Toy connoisseurs doubt the potential of tapping into the adult market. While construction toys such as Lego appeal to the creativity of buyers, this is less the case with Playmobil.