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Last Update: 04.03.2019, 05:04
Last Author: Norbert Schrepf

History of the O. & M. Hausser Company

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Hausser company buildings, image from the dealer catalogue 1958

On May 1, 1904, Christian Hausser, a master craftsman from Ludwigsburg, bought the company “Müller & Freyer Kurz- und Spielwarenhandlung en gros,” for his sons Otto and Max. By 1910 the company was supplying (besides educational and party games) nearly unbreakable, three-dimensional toy soldiers from its own production line.

In 1912, Max and Otto Hausser sold the part of the company that was responsible for wholesale and carried on with the rest of the company registered in Ludwigsburg under the name of "O&M Hausser." At that time, the brand name "Elastolin" was created and made Hausser a worldwide-known company. Despite the fact that Hausser was the only one to sell its figures under the brand name Elastolin, collectors today identify composition figures in general as "Elastolin" items.

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I. World War

During World War I, Max Hausser served as a soldier in the German Army on the western front until he fell in France in 1915. He did not live to see the incredible success of Hausser, which became one of the largest toy manufacturers in Europe.

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Weimar Republic

By 1917, Hausser was one of the largest employers in Ludwigsburg with more than 1,400 employees and it was still growing! As the available space was not sufficient, an old military building at 1 Mathildenstreet was rented as a warehouse. In 1927, it expanded into the former artillery depot at 20 Mathildenstreet.

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Third Reich and II. World War

In 1933, the company "Franz Braun AG" developed the first injection molding machines worldwide in the German region of “Zerbst-Anhalt.” In collaboration with Hausser, they experimented in making figures from plastic. During this experimental phase they produced figures from various kinds of colored plastic. However, there was no mass production of these figures before the outbreak of World War II.

As a result of Germany’s remilitarization in 1935, the lease contracts for the military buildings were canceled, and new production sites and warehouses were needed. In 1936, the company moved its headquarters from Ludwigsburg to Coburg near the Thuringian border. Bringing over 1,000 jobs to the underdeveloped region, the company was more than welcomed.

During the reign of the National Socialist Party, the production of toy soldiers reached its peak. The assortment then included figures of all armed services and political organizations. In 1938 alone, more than 3 million Elastolin figures were produced. Even the start of World War II did not stop production. After a law was passed in 1943 prohibiting the production of toys for the German domestic market, Hausser restricted this part of its production line.

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Post War Area

After the end of World War II there was practically no demand for toy soldiers. New, non-military figures had to be developed. At the same time, Hausser recalled the experiments of producing figures out of plastic carried out before the war. Following the continuing development of the Wild West series, composition figures were being discontinued until they completely disappeared from the range in 1968.

In 1954 Hausser obtained the exclusive rights to produce historical western figures (Karl May items) from the publisher Karl May books in Bamberg. In the years to follow, many good-guys and villains described in these books were produced in plastic. 13 years later, following the great success of the Winnetou movies, two additional figures were added. These represented the principal actors Pierre Priece (Winnetou) and Lex Barker (Old Shatterhand). Additional figures followed in 1976 and 1977.

Also, in 1954, the film Prince Valiant (produced in 1953 by 20th Century Fox) was shown in German cinemas for the first time. The 24-year-old main actor, Robert Wagner, was the godfather of the most successful and most sold plastic figure from Hausser, "Prince Valiant.“ Because of its enormous success, this series was extended with the figure of the Prince of Thule. The modeler Max Weißbrodt (following the comic books of Prince Valiant by Harold Rudolph Hal Forster) made additional figures. Many of the figures were produced directly from the comic books and modeled with hardly any changes to the originals. Some examples are the aiming archer (8643) and the Viking (8503).

In the 1950s and 60s the figures made by Hausser were ideal toys for kids, as they reenacted the stories from the original films and comic books.

During the 1970s and 1980s the toy figures were further developed from stiff figures to completely movable action figures, which could be equipped with different weapons and other equipment. This is how the movable figures of Playmobil and Timpo Toys entered children's rooms.

The Hausser sales leaflet "News 1970" began to depict figures made of soft plastic which could be reassembled. In June 1976, Hausser presented the further developed series of these completely movable 5.6 cm figures in its 36-page sales catalog. With the advertising slogan "Hausser Elastolin reassembly figures – the toys of our time" it made an attempt to gain back lost terrain on market shares from its competitors Playmobil and Timpo Toys. More than 260 figures were shown, which could be changed into countless variations by reassembling the different parts of the bodies and pieces of equipment.

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Bankruptcy

However, the desperate attempts to gain back the lost market shares from its competitors failed. In 1983, the company's bankruptcy ended the nearly 80-year history of O&M Hausser.

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The Company Paul M. Preiser

The company Paul M. Preiser took over the tools and molds for figure production, as well as the brand name Elastolin from the bankruptcy assets. The famous hard plastic figures are still produced today on a small part of the former Hausser factory using the old molds and under the brand name of "Elastolin by Preiser."



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