Playmobils emigrate from the 'toy valley' after half a century of activity

The Spanish division of the German company Playmobil, one of the last emblems of the well-known 'Toy Valley' of Alicante, has definitively closed its Onil production plant this Monday after more than 48 years of activity and after putting an end to the manufacturing at the end of last year as a result of the continued decline in sales.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
12 May 2024 Sunday 17:19
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Playmobils emigrate from the 'toy valley' after half a century of activity

The Spanish division of the German company Playmobil, one of the last emblems of the well-known 'Toy Valley' of Alicante, has definitively closed its Onil production plant this Monday after more than 48 years of activity and after putting an end to the manufacturing at the end of last year as a result of the continued decline in sales.

As the tourism technician at the Onil Doll Museum, David Pons, reminded EFE, Playmobil settled in the town with FAMOSA (acronym for Fabricas Agrupadas de Muñecas de Onil SA) in 1974, after an agreement resulting from a work meeting at the Nuremberg Fair, although it was not until 1983 when the German company created the Playmobil Ibérica subsidiary.

This toy giant, which has suffered a 25 percent decrease in its turnover in the last year, joins the long list of companies dedicated to the sector that have already closed their doors throughout the valley (Ibi, Tibi, Onil and Castalla), forcing the populations to reinvent themselves, of course, without losing the essence that put them on the map.

Now toys that have marked an era or are symbols of the industry, such as the Ibi tartan, are exhibited in the Toy Museum of nearby Ibi as a relic of those prosperous times in which, as the technician there comments, , Pilar Avilés, practically the entire population was dedicated to making this and many more figures for the delight of the little ones.

Along with this there are more than 500 toys displayed in the exhibition center in what is a true trip to the past in a very special location since the facility that safeguards them is part of the first tin toy factory that was established in the Ibense municipality at the beginning of the 20th century, owned by the Payá family.

Among the City Council's plans now is to try to rehabilitate the building to accommodate another 6,000 objects that are currently stored and, in the same way, museumize the old factory so that it can be visited.

“The decline of toys has caused us to reconvert as an industry,” said the vice-mayor of Ibi, Aitana Gandía, who reported that “there is not even a tenth of what we have been now.”

Another example of all this is Onil, known as the cradle of dolls, which has been a witness and main protagonist of the golden age of the toy industry in Spain, a fact based on the volume of production and export of companies based in the town.

FAMOSA, flagship and living legend of the world of dolls, now based in Alicante, had more than 2,000 workers in its production center in the town and managed to export more than 3 million “Nancys”, the most demanded and recognized dolls of the brand.

Today, according to Pons, although the town's industrial plant is made up of nearly fifty companies dedicated entirely or in an auxiliary way to the manufacture of dolls, the large firms have disappeared and those that remain have not managed to retain the commercial weight that they had in the past.

Following the same steps as its Ibense neighbors, Onil has decided to take advantage of its fame to turn the industry that made the town famous into another heritage element by locating the Doll Museum in an old 19th century palace, with more than 30,000 people in the past. anus.

Along the way it is possible to closely observe the evolution of the doll in Spain, always having Onil as the guiding axis, from the first factory owned by Eduardo Juan Sempere and Agustina Mora in 1897, the first example of the famous Mariquita Pérez or also of the already mentioned “Nancy”.

A historical review that, added to that of its Ibense neighbors, traces an exact route of what was one of the largest industries in the area and the importance it had for both populations. A fact that is now the demand of many curious and toy enthusiasts who, with their visit, help ensure that this memory is never forgotten.