PEBE, a high-quality DDR LEGO clone


The PEBE brand of construction toys was established in 1955 by Paul Bernhardt in East-Germany.

In early 1958 PEBE offered two sizes of construction sets (nr 3 - Figure 1-and nr 4). Set nr 3 included three 10x20 yellow baseplates, app 150 bricks of sizes 1x2, 2x2, 3x2, 4x2 and 8x2, two doors, ten windows and a booklet.

The bricks were shiny and the shades (a dark red and a milky white) were very attractive. There were also transparent bricks and although using a different connecting system (Figure 2) they could be interlocked with LEGO. The whole system, including the red windows and yellow baseplates (Figures 3 and 4), were a shameless copy of LEGO, made possible by the divide of the Iron Curtain. 2x2 and larger bricks are easily distinguishable by the characteristic cross-shaped connectors and the baseplates are marked underneath (Figure 4) but the unmarked 1x2 bricks and the windows may easily be confused with LEGO parts of mid 1950s vintage.

The whole system has a glint of superior quality and my 1958 nr 3 set is as shinny as new with bricks showing absolutely no distortion. The minimal set of parts provided allows the building of constructions with the same simple charm of the early LEGO (Figure 5).

Figures 1 to 5- Box cover and contents from a 1958 PEBE set nr 3 (door is broken)

The early connecting system depended on tolerances not easily achievable and by 1965 PEBE had evolved an alternate system (one of a number used by the brand during a 30 year span) - Figure 6.

Figures 7 & 8 depict a brand new box manufactured in 1965. The contents have not varied substantially since the late 1950s except for the introduction of a new door type and of a fourth brick colour (cream), and for the use of a lighter Lego-like red for the bricks.

Figures 6 to 8- PEBE nr3 set from 1965 (plates / bricks were ranged in three levels)


In 1969 PEBE brought out an architectural 1:100 system reminiscent of the then defunct LEGO Modulex (Figures 9 & 10).

The PEBE system subsisted, much modernized but with varying fortunes, until after the reunification of Germany.

Figures 9 & 10- PEBE 1:100 architectural set from 1969


Bibliographic references


João Manuel Mimoso, October 29, 2009
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