As a big fan of Playmobil toys since I was in their target audience 30-something years ago, I'm saddened to read that Hans Beck, has died at age 79. From the article:
Hans Beck, a furniture maker and model enthusiast, came up with the toy in 1974 after being asked to create a new and collectible play concept. It was initially suggested he might work on a range of cars. Instead Beck came up with the dolls and earned himself a place in toy history. He worked according to his motto "no horror, no superficial violence, no short-lived trends."
Now that my own son is approaching two, I've had opportunity to reacquaint myself with these toys, and I'm continually impressed by the quality of the toys themselves and the themes they represent.
Thanks Mr. Beck!