Smurf playsets

Like most toy makers, Schleich have not only made smurfs but they have also made accessories for the smurfs.  So like Supersmurfs, the playsets are highly collectible if they still have their original box.

Since 1978 Schleich has been continually been adding all sorts of playsets. Everything from garden furniture, petrol pumps, a drummer, Smurfette’s bedroom, Gargamel’s lab and many more.

The petrol pump playset is an interesting one, especially those of you who love a bit nostalgia as this was originally made for National Petrol in the UK around 1979. The early version also included Cleaner Smurf (20052) with the National Petrol logo on his white overalls and also on the petrol pump.

This was later produced for BP with their version including the Cleaner with the BP logo on his white overalls and also on the petrol pump. Some say this was released in Australia, though I do not recall this as a child and have as of yet not seen it for sale within Australia.

This was also released as a regular playset by Schleich in the years 1979 to 1988 then also 1992 – 1994.

In 1998 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the smurfs, (1958 – 1998) Schleich released the Anniversary rock band. The set included Drummer Smurf and drum kit, Keyboard Smurf and keyboard, Bass Guitar Smurf, Lead Guitar Smurf, Singer Smurf. The set also included a stage, speakers and a banner. Watch of the band members wore silver pants and a fluro coloured top.

playset40604For the really passionate smurf collector if you are looking for something truly amazing it is hard to go by the Moon Explorer playset (ref#40604). This can also sometimes be referred to as the Astro playset. The set includes a space shuttle, moon rocks, USA flag, smurf moon buggy, telescope and a special Astronaut Smurf. I believe this was only sold for possibly one or two years around 1984/85.

This playset in my opinion is the most highly sought after playset especially in mint condition, fully complete and with its original box. I know for sure it’s high on my wishlist.

In 2009 Schleich released only two playsets, Gargamel’s lab (ref# 40601) and Drummer Smurf (ref# 40623) and have not released any since.

Gargamel’s lab playset came with a stove, orange pots and utensils, a bed-size table, stool, podium, candle and magic books. The set included its own Gargamel figurine that sees him sitting down reading some notes.

The Drummer Smurf’s playset included a 7 piece drum kit, including the circular base, foot pedal and microphone along with the shiny cymbals and various drums. The set also included its own  Drummer Smurf sitting on its own drummer stool. The Drummer smurf can be found wearing purple pants, an orange singlet and holding two yellow drumsticks.

For whatever reason Schleich has not made in any playsets since 2009. It is unclear why they decided to stop but let’s hope that they change their minds.

Keep on Smurfin

Kath B





Splash of colour

When Bully started making smurfs around 1974 something unexpectedly happened which changed the way we now collect smurfs. Bully introduced us to the world of colour variations.

For those of you who do not know, Schleich was manufacturing smurfs between 1965 to around 1974 when they lost licence to make smurfs. Bully was then given the rights to manufacture smurfs and as part of the agreement Schleich had to hand over the smurfs that had previously made. This was around 22 smurfs.

What I find really interesting about this is that Bully gradually changed the paint colours used on smurfs. For some this was changing the colour not just once but twice.

There are a number of smurfs that benefitted from this fresh approach by Bully. I have included some examples to share with you:

Lute (ref# 20013) was first made by Schleich with a yellow lute and then Bully changed this to red. When Schleich started making smurfs in Hong Kong in around 1979, the red lute was sold in Australia under the name of Rocker. By around this time Bully had lost licence to manufacture smurfs.

sunbatherSunbather (ref# 20014) was first painted with red and white striped bathers buy when Bully acquired this smurf they painted it with different coloured bathers such as red & black, green & black and yellow & black.

Gymnast (ref# 20020) was first made by Schleich with no singlet. When Bully started to sell Gymnast it could be found with green or red singlets. Most collectors believe that the yellow singlet version was made for the National Petrol promotion in the UK in around 1978/79.

Sleepwalker (ref # 20021) was originally given a yellow pom pom by Schleich. Bully then also added green and red pom pom’s.

There was also some smurfs that their paint colours were changed  completely and were never changed back by Schleich. So this makes some of early Schliech versions highly collectible as generally they were only sold for a short period.

A good example of this is Judge (ref# 20016). When Schleich started selling this smurf around in 1971 it was sold with a black robe. By 1974 Bully started to sell Judge initially also with a black robe though gradually they started selling a version with red robe up until 1979. Schleich never changed this and continued to sell it with a red robe.

When smurfs were being made out of Hong Kong in the early 1980’s colour variations continued to be made. So it is quite common to find variations between smurfs made in Europe and Hong Kong.

More recently colour variations are a little harder to find as they are not as obvious as they once were. But for the passionate collector they are still there to be found. I recently discovered Classic Harmony (ref # 20539) with a dull and shiny trumpet.

One of the biggest joys a smurf collector can have is the ability to display their smurfs and all the different colour variations together.

Keep on Smurfin

Kath B


What are Bully Smurfs?

Do you have a smurf that has a Bully marking? Have you ever wondered what is the difference between Bully and Schleich smurfs? Don’t worry it’s a common question for those who are new to collecting smurfs.

In 1965 Schleich started producing pvc smurf figurines however in around 1973 they lost the right to manufacture smurfs. The rights to produce smurfs went to a rival German company called Bully.

The early smurfs made by Bully are highly collectible due to their strong comic resemblance. At the time all Bully smurfs were sculpted by Irmingard Hieber who worked for Bully as their in-house artist.

Peyo, the creator of the smurfs also was very happy with the transformation from his own drawings into the smurf figurines. This was a major thing at the time as supposedly Peyo owned the smurf moulds used.

During this period Bully also started to make their own moulds and used different paint colours compared to Schleich. A couple of good examples of these are Astro (ref# 20003) and Judge (ref# 20016)

sm20003Astro was originally made by Schleich in 1969 wearing a white outfit with a clear plastic  helmet. Astro smurf has his left finger pointing upward. When Bully started producing smurfs, they released their own version of Astro wearing a white outfit with red square  on the front, a clear plastic helmet and both arms outstretched.

Judge was originally made by Schleich in 1971 wearing a black robe with a white mascot. When Bully started selling Judge it was with a red robe and white mascot. The version made by Bully appeared at the time to be a closer resemble to the ones seen in comics.

sm20016Some collectors also find the material used in Bully Smurfs especially the only versions more adorable as they were made out of a softer pvc material. Due to the softness, it is not unusual to find these to be more flexible and slightly warped depending on its condition.

It is also possible to find some of really early ones without any markings at all; no reference to Peyo or Bully. Some believe this may have been due to the smurfs being used for promotional ventures. Though there is little doubt these are fake due to their likeness of the smurf character and texture of the figurine.

At around 1977/78 smurfs were beginning to be made by Schleich again. This was when at the time of smurfs being sold by BP petrol stations in Holland and the UK. The popularity of smurfs was just about to hit the world like nothing before.

By 1980 Bully Smurfs were no longer  being produced and Schleich had the exclusive licence to manufacture smurfs globally.

Bully smurfs are still easy to find today and the good thing is that they are not expensive. Though as smurfs were created to be played with, most will show some wear or damage. This never fazes me as it reminds me that smurfs were made to be toys.

For some more information on Bully Smurfs and their markings, have a read at this useful site on Smurf Markings

Keep on Smurfin

Kath B


Bringing smurfs to America

Smurfs were first sold in America in 1979. At first there was some difficulties in finding a company that would support foreign characters, because the Americans wanted something that their audience would recognise.

smurfnewyorkHowever Wallace Berrie & Co acquired the North American licensing rights to the smurfs. This included using pre existing moulds from Bully and Schleich. Along with this they also started importing their own versions made in Hong Kong.

At the time most PVC toys would sell for roughly 25cents though Wallace Berrie took a gamble and started selling the smurf figurines for $1.50. The gamble paid off as the demand for smurfs was growing at a rapid rate.

Not only smurf figurines were being sold, Wallace Berrie introduced all sorts of smurf merchandise to America. The next big thing after the smurf figurines was the demand for the soft toys (plush dolls). The sale of smurf comics was also taking off.

On 12 September 1981, the smurfs debuted on NBC  and made a huge impact capturing 42% of the Saturday morning television audience. The cartoon series in turn would be sold throughout the world and is still something that holds close to a generation that grew up on Saturday morning television viewing.

What is interesting to note that with the cartoon series, that any changes made to the smurf creations would have to be approved by Peyo.

sm20186Between 1979 and 1982 smurfs for America were being made in Hong Kong by Schleich. This served Schleich well because they were able to distrubute smurfs to Australia and New Zealand for BP promotions and America for Wallace Berrie.

By 1982 BP Australia no longer had the rights to smurfs in Australia and due to the high demand for smurfs in America, Wallace Berrie started to manufacture their own smurfs in Hong Kong.

With this Wallace Berrie also used their own reference numbers which was different to the existing Schleich reference numbers. This would later cause some head aches amongst collectors when trying to establish their own websites based on reference numbers.

sm20166They first  started adding W.B.CO to the existing Hong Kong marked smurfs. Though before too long smurfs were being sold with Hong Kong W. Berrie markings.

There was also some smurfs that were only sold in America at this time and were never intended for the European market. Some of these included Baseball Catcher (20146) and Baseball Pitcher (20166)

In 1982 Wallace Berrie had acquired Applause division from Knickerbocker Toys and started adding Applause to the markings. Some have estimated at around this time that smurf merchandise was worth over $600 million.

sm20146By 1985 smurf sales were starting to decline. Wallace Berrie were selling their Limited Collector Series by selling two smurfs together. The last of these were Papa Pilot (20223) and Stewardess (20222) in August. It was around here this time that smurfs were no longer being made in Hong Kong.

Come 1990 Applause (formerly known as Wallace Berrie) released their last 11 smurfs. These were all made in China.

For those of you who collect smurfs based on markings, there are potentially up to ten different W. Berrie markings to be found.

The other odd thing Wallace Berrie did briefly in 1982 is that they changed all the year markings to 1980. Though this was later changed back to the original year again. So it is not uncommon to find some smurfs with two different year markings.

When looking back at this extraordinary time, Wallace Berrie sold more than 200 different regular smurfs and 50 different Supersmurfs.  The question that begs to be asked is – Will we see smurfs rule the world like they once did?

Keep on Smurfin

Kath B