Playmobil’s “Little Luther” sold out in a record-breaking three days.
Image via Boing Boing / Playmobil
As popular history tells it, the Protestant Reformation began when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Little did Luther know that in addition to launching one of the most important movements in Christianity, he would be transformed into a children’s toy—and a record-setting one at that.
Beloved toy makers Playmobil announced recently that they’d sold out of their newly released “Martin Luther” figurine in just a matter of days. The Luther toy, complete with a hat, a German-language bible, and a writing quill accessory, reportedly sold over 30,000 units in just 72 hours, an all-time record for the Bavaria-based company. According to Newsweek, the figurines were “produced for the German and Nuremberg tourist boards and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria” as part of Germany’s ramp-up toward 2017’s 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Responding to the figurine’s unexpected popularity, German government official Astid Mühlmann told Newsweek:
“There’s quite an interest in looking back to our history. Parents want to make sure their children grow up knowing who he is because he had such an impact on how society evolved in Europe.
“I’m very happy with the news because it shows people are interested in history. On the one hand, Martin Luther was a totally normal person in the 16th century who believed in demons and witches and was afraid of them. He shared the belief of the majority of the people of the time.
“On the other hand he had very modern ideas. He believed every person had the right to an education, including women and girls. In this aspect, he was a very 21st-century man.”
Fear of demons and witches aside, Luther was also a virulent anti-semite, prompting some online critics to offer their own modifications to the bestselling toy:
Image via Twitter user @BBBalabusta
Given the massive popularity of these “Little Luthers,” are there more unexpected religious or philosophical playsets in store? Will children eventually play with little Jan Hus or Baruch Spinoza figurines? Who knows? For the time being, Playmobil is focusing on getting Luther sets back on the shelves, according to company spokeswoman Anna Ermann. Playmobil has already ordered a new batch of the toys to be printed from their factory in Malta, but collectors will reportedly need to wait until at least April to get their hands on them.