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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#61 PLAY-BIG – RITTER GÜLDENSTERN (Ref. 5645 or 45) (1975)

In the second magazine of “Figuras En Acción”, you can find an article about Play-BIG written by Antonio Casal. That’s where I first read about these figures, so I was surprised when I found this nice box in a car boot sale. That article is focused on the Spanish variant of these figures, whose license was bought by Cefa toys (and the figures renamed to “Play-Cefa” and later to “Cefa-Boys”).

These figures remind instantly of the Playmobil figures. The Geobra Brandstätter figures are a little smaller in size, and not so good articulated. Note that Play-BIG can move their legs independently, as well as their feet. Like the first Playmobil figures, the hands are fixed and do not move. There were many different sets made, either individual figures, boxes with several figures, or bigger accessories, vehicles or playsets. The “Ritter Güldenstern” (lit. “Knight Goldenstar”) belongs to the Middle Age series, which comprised 5 figures plus various playsets, like a castle or a tent, or even horses in bigger box sets.

The fact that these figures came one year later than Geobra’s Playmobil (1974), made the second company to sue BIG. There was a trial that lasted several years, that was finally decided to allow the sale of PlayBig. The Federal Court of Justice of Germany ruled that “Play-BIG figures look self confident, sportive, aggressive men, while Playmobil look more like children, nice and still unconfident at their feet”. That’s was really so, because, Play-BIG pledged their commitment to more realistic sets, including for example a miniature Mercedes-Benz, great casted horses, as well as a military series including modern soldiers with weapons and uniforms, something which is far away from Playmobil’s concept. Another important difference, is that Play-Big figures have different face gestures, some are sad, other are angry, while Playmobils just laugh.

These figures are relatively rare to find, because they didn’t get to achieve a significant market share. The competition of Playmobil was simply too hard. In central Europa, Playmobil is the standard toy since its invention in 1974 (37 years now), and even today the most selling figures for children of both genders.

Take a look at its original box, where the actual toy is depicted in the front (first picture), and the other three knights of the series are depicted in the back (very nice figures by the way). Names and references of these toys are in one cover, while at the sides, there's a drawing of the figure showing their articulation points, and the accesories included in the box. It you pay enough attention, you'll note that the sword depicted in the box is not the one that came with my figure, and the face is different, it doesn't have the beard it should.


  • Name: RITTER GÜLDENSTERN (Ref. 5645 or 45)
  • Toy Line: Play-Big
  • Year: 1975
  • Company: Big Spielwarenfabrik (West Germany)
  • Size of the figures: Approx. 12 cm


  1. J'ai toujours préféré les Playbig aux playmobil ...
    Il y a eu aussi des extra terrestre, des monstres, des personnages Disney ...

    Et les jambes séparées, ainsi que les pieds étaient un vrai gros atout !

  2. Vraiment? Le plus belle que j'ai vu dans cette collection c'est une Voiture Mercedes, mais des extraterrestres ou personnages Disney je ne les ai jamais vu. Peut être que tu te trompes avec les Airgamboys / Airgamcomics?


  3. J'essaierai de te les prendre en photo (j'en ai deux en stock mais en très mauvais état), mais les coudes et les genoux ne sont pas articulés, contrairement à ton article sur airgam.

  4. Toutes Airgamboys et les Airgamcomics du premier wave n'ont pas des coudes et genoux articulées. Si tu fais des Photos, j'aimerais les voir. Peut-être que ces Photos deviennent un article "en-broc"?

    Mes Airgamcomics et autres photos trouvées sur l'internet sont ici à voir:

  5. Finalement, et après vérification, ce sont bien des airgam que je possède, cela se voit sous le pied.

    Les seuls playbig que j'ai sont donc 2 policiers, mais il ne me reste que les ceinture sur les bonhommes et plus d'autres accessoires...

  6. They had a US Patent:
    This was later cited in Lego's Minifigure patent: US 4205482 A

    Both patent texts list previous toy citations, if you really want to research obscure toys! You could almost make an evolutionary tree!

    1. Hi Torsten! Many thaks for the comment and for those patent links. The idea you propose seems to me like a good one, probably somebody is doing this already.

      I do not specially like Playmobil, but I admire the other similar figures (they call them "Kubrick") and the rarer the better. I would say Play-Big is after Playmobil one of the most successful lines of its kind. They were also available in Spain and other countries, and their cars, horses and other bigger accesories were really beautifully done.

      Great figures!


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