Horst Brandstaetter, who launched Playmobil toys in the 1970s, dead at 81

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Horst Brandstaetter — the man responsible for Playmobil —, the popular line of plastic toys first sold in the 1970s —seen in 2010 in Zirndorf, Germany. AP photo

BERLIN — Horst Brandstaetter, who launched the popular Playmobil range of plastic toys in the 1970s, has died. He was 81.

Playmobil manufacturer geobra Brandstaetter Stiftung, which Brandstaetter owned, said Monday that he died on June 3. It gave no details.

Brandstaetter joined the family firm, then run by two of his uncles, in 1952.

He initiated the Playmobil range during the oil crisis of the early 1970s and later said the success of the figures — the first of which were presented in 1974 — saved the company from bankruptcy.

The company says that 2.8 billion of the figures, including knights, cowboys, farm animals and dinosaurs, have been produced since then. It has more than 4,000 employees worldwide.

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