The Best Toys Made in Germany

German Toys to Last a Lifetime

Steiff teddy bears
Thomas Niedermueller / Getty Images

My daughter and I both love German toys – not (only) for nostalgic reasons, but toys made in Germany have a wonderful quality, are sturdy, and engage children’s imagination and creativity. Yes, German toys cost more than plastic toys from China, but they are built to last a lifetime and deliver when it comes to safety, quality, and design.

Here are my favorite toys made in Germany that will make your Kinder happy (and you too)!  If you are not in Germany to shop - have no fear. All of these items can be purchased online.

  • 01 of 06

    In 1905, a German girl had only one Christmas wish: a soft doll she could cuddle with. Back then, all dolls were made out of porcelain, so her mother Käthe created her own toy and the first Käthe Kruse doll was born.

    More than 100 years later, Käthe Kruse dolls are still handmade. They are hand-stuffed with reindeer hair, given high-quality clothes, many have wigs knitted from real hair and their faces are meticulously painted by hand. The dolls aren't just for children, there is also an avid collector market. Besides dolls, Käthe Kruse also offers beautiful soft toys for babies.

    If you want the full doll experience, visit the Käthe-Kruse-Puppenmuseum in Donauwörth.

  • 02 of 06

    Haba creates everything from wooden toys and board games to soft dolls and whimsical tea sets. The Haba family business has been manufacturing its educational toys for more than 80 years now, receiving many international prizes for top-quality and child-oriented design.

    Haba is the "inventor for inquisitive minds” and uses eco-friendly materials like indigenous maple and beech wood, fabric, felt, cardboard, and water-based paints. They are best known for their creative wooden blocks, but also have lines of natural-material products like fabric animals.

    Most toys are made from start to finish in the German workshops in Bad Rodach and can be purchased from stores in Germany, online or around the globe.

  • 03 of 06

    Three years of research went into the creation of the Playmobil figurines, which were born in Germany in the 1970’s. The company conducts extensive tests for its award-winning toys to ensure highest quality and safety.

    The signature Playmobil toy is a 7.5 cm (3 inches) tall human figure that stands tall in the toy market. The original, known as a "klicky," comes with a wide range of accessories, buildings, vehicles, and animals. The ever-smiling faces of the figures - large head, round eyes, no nose - are based on children’s drawings, and the first Playmobil dolls (like knights and construction workers) were an instant success with kids. Though there are more than 500 Playmobil figures, they usually come unnamed to allow children to invent their own characters. Among the many themes they have rolled out, there has been:

    • Animal Clinic
    • Fire Rescue
    • Future Planet
    • Hospital
    • Pirates
    • Stone Age
    • Top Agents
    • Treasure Hunters
    • Vikings

    Super-fans in Germany can even take their obsession one step further with Playmobil-Funpark. Located in Zirndorf near Nuremberg, there are over 90,000 m² of attractions. There are also FunParks in Athens, Malta, Florida, and Paris.

  • 04 of 06

    Created in 1880 by the German seamstress Margarete Steiff, the Steiff plush animals are made only out of the finest materials, such as cashmere, mohair, and alpaca. Most work is still done by hand, from sketching designs to hand-sewing.

    The company is best-known for its bears, such as the original and now world-famous Teddy Bear (named for US President Theodore Roosevel) created in 1902. Today, there are more than 16,000 different animal designs.

    Make sure your animal has its signature Knopf im Ohr (button in ear) which distinguishes the real Steiffs from counterfeit toys. There is an animated collectors' market for Steiff toys with vintage animals selling for more than $100,000 at auction. Steiff also provides children’s clothing and baby essentials.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Ravensburger, founded in the 1880’s in the German city of Ravensburg, is famous for its high-quality toys, including jigsaw puzzles, picture books, games, and craft kits. Ravensburger follows the philosophy that play is a key factor in a child’s development and the sturdy toys are made with eco-friendly materials. Ravensburger is the number-one company in Europe for puzzles and handicraft products, and the German market leader for games.

    Kids never have to stop playing Ravensburger as they keep upping their game. In September 2010, Ravensburger broke the record for the world's largest jigsaw puzzle with 24,000 pieces

  • 06 of 06
    Stacking Rainbow from Grimm's Wooden Toys
    Courtesy of Grimm's Wooden Toys

    GRIMM’S is a family-owned company, begun in 1978. They develop, manufacture and sell quality wood toys worldwide. They focus on ethical practices like using wood from sustainably managed forests in Europe and minimal packaging. Finished products are sanded by hand giving them a raw, natural look. They are known for their beautifully hand-crafted stacking rainbow.

    The headquarters is in Hochdorf, Germany. All the design work, assembly, quality control, packing, and shipping starts here.