A partnership between ESA and PLAYMOBIL continues to inspire and educate children about space. It also helps to support the children’s humanitarian organisation UNICEF and its work with vulnerable children around the world.

During his Beyond mission, ESA's Luca Parmitano used his PLAYMOBIL figure in educational activities for children.
During his Beyond mission, ESA’s Luca Parmitano used his PLAYMOBIL figure in educational activities for children.

Launched in 1974, PLAYMOBIL figures are pioneering educational toys that have encouraged generations of children to develop their imaginations by inventing worlds while they play. Today, PLAYMOBIL figures and toys are enjoyed by millions of children around the world.

ESA’s partnership with the Horst Brandstätter Group, which produces PLAYMOBIL toys, goes back to 2019 with the release of a PLAYMOBIL figure of ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, in joint cooperation with the Italian space agency ASI.

Luca took two of these figures to the International Space Station, where they featured in broadcasts that inspired and educated children about space exploration and science.

ESA directs the royalties from the sales of co-branded toys, such as PLAYMOBIL figures, to support charities.
ESA directs the royalties from the sales of co-branded toys, such as PLAYMOBIL figures, to support charities.

The partnership with ESA grew with the launch of a PLAYMOBIL astronaut training team in 2021, which coincided with the launch of ESA’s real-life astronaut recruitment campaign.

This set included a clever robot called ROBert, who also appeared with ESA astronauts Luca Parmitano and Matthias Maurer, and other ESA experts in educational videos that explained space technology and showed young space fans how you can become an astronaut.

This was followed at the end of 2021 with the release of an ESA-branded PLAYMOBIL Mars Expedition set, designed to inspire children who might grow up to explore the Red Planet for themselves one day.

Björn Seeger from the Horst Brandstätter Group, the makers of Playmobil, commented: “With the cooperation between ESA and PLAYMOBIL, we have a unique opportunity to explain space and the world to children in a fun way through play.”

As part of the cooperation on co-branded ESA and PLAYMOBIL toys, the agency was offered royalties. ESA arranged with the Horst Brandstätter Group to pay these directly to UNICEF: the UN organisation dedicated to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged children around the world. 

The PLAYMOBIL DuoPack featuring ROBert and the ESA Mars Expedition set are available from selected retailers and the ESA Space Shop. With more than 175 000 co-branded sets sold worldwide to date, the royalties donated to UNICEF in 2021 and 2022 have topped €50 000. Further donations are expected during 2023.

Kerstin Bücker, Head of Communication and Child Rights at UNICEF Germany, commented: “ESA has been a strong supporter of UNICEF for many years. The financial support we receive through royalties is timely and helps us to support children in crisis areas. We thank ESA and the Horst Brandstätter Group for their efforts.”

In this way, ESA’s partnership with the Horst Brandstätter Group has not only provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the agency and helped to educate children about space – it has also supported the work of long-standing charity partner UNICEF.

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher commented: “It is wonderful to see how the partnership between ESA and PLAYMOBIL continues to spark children’s imaginations about space. ESA is very happy to be able to share the benefits of this partnership with UNICEF, who make a vital difference to the lives of children affected by poverty, disease, natural disaster and conflict.”

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