Germany’s largest toy company, Geobra Brandstatter (maker of Playmobil), recently celebrated its 40th birthday. But the colorful family of interchangeable, clip-grip, helmet-haired models shows no sign of old age.
Over 2.7 billion little plastic people have been made since 1974. The company started with just three figures: a knight, an American Indian, and a construction worker. Today, that number exceeds 4,000 figures and 30 different Playmobil worlds (knights, pirates, wildlife, etc). The number of Playmobil plastic people on the planet grows by 275,000 a day, or just over a 100 million a year!
The first Playmobil figures are identifiable by the lack of articulation at the wrists
Part of the company’s long success is a result of the large number of new innovative products introduced each year; from new, extended, and revised Playmobil worlds and figures.
The planning of these innovations – from first ideas, exploring design concepts, testing prototypes to the finished parts in series production – passes through a standard product development process. But within that process, the designs are constantly changing based on internal and external feedback. And today, the company uses PTC’s 3D CAD software, Creo, and even 3D printing to explore more design alternatives earlier and faster than before.
The product design team use Creo having upgraded from Pro/ENGINEER
The Playmobil team use Creo across product development; from initial modeling of concepts through to NC machining of the plastic injection molds.
Mold and Tool Design for a Section of the Knight’s Castle (created in Creo)
The team recently selected Windchill to help centralize, secure, and archive product development data. In the future, all employees can easily and safely access the data of each project and start working in it, accelerating product development.
Find out more about how Playmobil products are designed, developed, and manufactured by the team in the video below.
(Hint: If you don’t speak German, open the video in YouTube, click [cc], and then click On. Click the pull-down menu, and select Translate to choose your preferred language.)
And if you’re a big kid at heart, here’s the 2014 trailer introducing the result: The Knight’s Castle from Playmobil.
The company is clearly looking towards the wholesale reproduction of society in 7.5cm, injection-molded form. World domination never looked so cute.
Images and videos courtesy of Geobra Brandstatter.