PLASTECK- the other DDR LEGO clone

The PLASTECK (later FORMO) brand of construction toys was established by the Kunstoff Verarbeitung (Plastic Factory) of Werner Wind in Gotha, East Germany. The bricks were reminiscent of early LEGO (see figure 1 below) but are smaller and the pins are totally different. They were sold in two sets (nr. I and nr. II- see figure 2 for the box cover of an early nr.II set by Plasteck).

    Figure 1 - Plasteck 2X4, 2X2 and 1X2 bricks and window compared to LEGO
    Figure 2- Boxcover of Set II (1960)
    Circa 1964 Werner Wind redesigned the bricks in a way similar to Idema, to ensure positive connection. Figures 3 and 4 show the inside of a Plasteck II from the second half of the 1960s. I turned one of the red bricks upside down to make the connectors apparent.
    Figures 3, 4- A later version of the nr.II set with improved bricks and a choice of colours

In 1970 the whole system was modernized and renamed "Formo" but in 1972 the East German gouvernment decided to nationalize the industry and Wind lost control of his own enterprise, though he was kept as general manager. After the collapse of East Germany the enterprise was duly returned to him, but by then his traditional markets were lost and the business was in debt. Production was finally halted and the firma closed in 1990.

For those of you who read German, Werner Wind wrote a touching account [1] of his kafkian experience of industrial endeavour in a communist environment that is well worth reading.


Bibliographical reference:

1- Baukästen by Ulf Leinweber, Staatliche Museum Kassel, 1999

João Manuel Mimoso, Lisbon, Portugal- Nov 25, 2009
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