Ecumenical News International

Record Reformer: new edition of Playmobil Luther figure

February 20, 2015

The small-scale Reformer does not differ greatly from other Playmobil figures, but sales of Martin Luther have broken all records. The whole edition of 34,000 sold out in three days, which has never happened before. Now the company in Zirndorf (Bavaria) has ordered more: about 100,000 Luther figures are to be available for purchase in the next few weeks.

The initiators did not anticipate such a demand. "The Luther hype was unforeseeable," says Wolfram Zilk of Nuremberg's Convention and Tourist Office. Along with those involved in designing the figure, he is delighted at the overwhelming response at home and abroad. To implement its idea of a special production for the 2017 Reformation anniversary, the Office had sought cooperation with the Playmobil toy company and the German National Tourist Board. It rapidly became clear that designing such a toy with a religious motif calls for special care, Zilk reports.

A pastor was brought in for practical advice. Rev. Christian Düfel, coordinator of Reformation anniversary 2017 in Bavaria, had the idea of placing a Luther Bible in the hand of the Playmobil Reformer. That was a detail inspired by the well-known Luther monument by Johann Gottfried Schadow on Wittenberg's market square. Yet the Playmobil Luther only wears second-hand clothes: his beret, shoes and black cassock are elements that were already available in the Playmobil collection. Developing new accessories would cost several thousand euros, Zilk explains, and so the mini-Luther was kitted out from the available wardrobe. Individual colors and prints provide for the typical appearance of the 7.5 centimeter figure. However, little Luther has the standard Playmobil facial expression, instead of the look familiar from the Cranach portraits.

The toy manufacturer will continue to produce the figures until the demand is met, says Zilk. If only to counter the inflated prices on Ebay, he emphasizes. "There was never any talk of a limited edition." Dealers have demanded up to EUR 1000 for a figure, although the regular store price is EUR 2.39. All Playmobil fans who have missed out so far can hope to purchase a figure in the long run. Those interested include not only Protestants, Zilk remarks, but also many enthusiastic Catholics.



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