Hans Beck, inventor of Playmobil toys, dies

With the global oil crisis of the early 1970s driving up the price of plastics, German toy manufacturer Geobra Brandstätter came up with the economical solution of shrinking its product line. The man they tapped to do it, Hans Beck, was an avid model builder. The company thought, based on its suggestion, that he would produce tiny cars, but instead he invented a tiny universe of 3-inch plastic dolls called Playmobil.