Willi Zapf, former Zapf Creation owner, passes away aged 83

With great sadness, the Zapf Creation team shares the news that the company’s former owner Willi Zapf passed away on 30 June 2021 at the age of 83.

In a statement issued this morning, the Zapf Creation team said that “Willi will be remembered as a committed and optimistic entrepreneur and a down to earth, approachable man who never lost sight of what he believed in.

“The impact Willi had on play and development for young children is immeasurable. Together with his wife Brigitte Zapf, Willi helped to shape Zapf Creation and its much loved, bestselling brands into the company we know today.

“Thanks to his leadership, generations of children across the world have enjoyed endless hours of fun with their dolls, including and especially BABY born. His work inspired imagination and adventure amongst very young children, developing their nurturing, social and empathy skills along the way.”

Willi and Brigitte Zapf took over the management of the Max Zapf doll factory in 1958. It was under the new name of Zapf Puppen-und Spielwarenfabrik, Willi and Brigitte Zapf launched BABY born in 1991, one of the most successful play concepts in history.

Willi sold the company in 1992 but continued to lead it through success, growth, and innovation, until his retirement in 1997. With passion and determination, he led the company to become one of the leading manufacturers of play and functional dolls, and BABY born grew into one of the best-selling products the doll sector has seen to date.

The team told ToyNews: “We have been honoured to have worked with such an inspirational leader and Willi’s passion, spirit and innovation will undoubtably continue to live on through Zapf for many more years to come. Our thoughts are with Willi’s family at this sad time.”

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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