Current Affairs Czech company re-issues forgotten toy classic from the 1970s
A Czech toy manufacturer has recently bought the rights to a classic line of toy figurines – Igráček, a communist era knock-off of the well-known German Playmobil brand. The reissue of the plastic figures, which range from doctors and nurses to bricklayers and mailmen, is set to hit shelves in a few weeks.
Igráček toy figurines were a favorite with Czech children for decades, until the brand disappeared after the Velvet Revolution, when foreign-made toys entered the Czech market. Now, the company Efko has bought the rights to the brand and is set to start selling a new version of the popular toy classic in mid-August.
I asked the company’s director Miroslav Kotík to describe the toy a bit.
“The figurine originated in the seventies. It was meant as a way to educate children on real-life professions, and it worked because children like to play games in which they pretend to be adults.
“So this toy, this figurine, can represent people of all kinds of different professions, with the help of a few accessories. It also came in various colors, and patterns, with all kinds of hats, and other items, so that children can tell if their figurine is a brick mason, a policeman, a doctor, a waiter, a car mechanic or a mailman.”
Bringing the toy series back was not an easy feat. Efko bought the molds used to make Igráček figurines from its original manufacturer Igra, which went bankrupt in 2006. But only recently – and after long-lasting negotiations – was the company able to purchase the rights to the instantly recognizable name from entrepreneur and toy collector Lubomír Bláha, who had a license contract with the director of Igra.
What can we expect from the updated Igráček line that will be available in department stores across the Czech Republic this summer? Miroslav Kotík again.
“The main change of the figurine was to give it new arms, with moveable wrists. The arms used to be connected to the hands of the figurine, now the hands can be moved. Also, the hands are now flesh-colored and no longer simply the same color as the sleeves. And of course, we have a much wider variety of shades and patterns to choose from for the figurines’ outfits and faces, and for all the other accessories that the figurine can have and that can serve to illustrate different professions.”
Along with this change in anatomy, the new Igráček series will also feature three types of cars, a new line of athlete figurines, and some will even come complete with work environments such as police stations or kitchens.