If you’re looking for something that adds another dimension to your smurf collection, how about collecting promotional smurfs that were produced for a charity organisation.
In 2003, a new promotional smurf was produced by Schleich for Malteser Hilfsdienst (Maltese Aid Service) in Germany to celebrate their 50 year anniversary. The Malteser Hilfsdienst is an emergency service from Malta which has activities world wide. The promotional smurf was based on the regular First Aid Smurf, Ref#20054.
The Malteser Smurf is wearing red pants and a white shirt that displays the Malteser Hilfsdienst logo. The smurf is carries a silver case, which also displays the Malteser Hilfsdienst logo and the word Malteser written in black text. The logo is a red shield with white cross in the middle. The smurf has the markings under the case – Made in China Schleich S Germany Peyo (c) 78 CE. A blue paint dot is also found under the smurf’s foot.
In July 2003, Schleich produced one run of 5,000 pieces, the smallest run they would produce for a promo at that time. They were shipped to Maltese in August 2003, and distribution began in September 2003. 3000 of the 5000 smurfs were distributed throughout the 600 Maltese departments. The remaining 2000 were to be sold through a distributor or official Maltese model cars to raise funds for Malteser Hilfsdienst.
Following the huge success of the first Maltese promo smurf, Malteser Hilfsdienst released four more smurf figures the following year in 2004. This set included Techno smurf Ref# 20437, Nurse Smurfette Ref# 20139, First Aid German Red Cross and Die Johanniter Ref# 20054.
At it’s peak Schleich was producing a large variety of promotional smurfs. The number of promotional smurfs that have been produced since 2000 may have become less frequent but are still highly important especially if they are raising the profile of a charity organisation such as Malteser Hilfsdienst.
Flying Smurf is a character that only appeared in the comics and in The Smurfs Village game. Flying Smurf must be one of a handful smurfs that never appeared in the cartoon series and for that reason alone, makes it extra special. It should also be noted that the figurine was never produced for the USA market.
The story of Flying Smurf is a delightful story upon where a Smurf becomes determined to fly after seeing the advantages birds have by being able to fly. Along the way he tries several ways to fly, for example stealing feathers from a chook and sticking the feathers on his arms, using a hot air balloon, eating some yeast mixture. Eventually he found a way to make himself extraordinary light that he could float but the problem came that he was unable to come down. After using a lasso the smurfs were able to tie him down and made him eat bricks to keep him from flying away. Luckily for us, the smurf decided to get assistance from Handy Smurf, who built him a big wooden mechanical airplane.
Flying Smurf was first produced by Bully around 1973. Like a lot of early smurfs produced by Bully, you may be lucky enough to find one made out of a very soft material and with the arms held higher
Around 1976/77 Bully changed the mould for Flying Smurf with it’s arms more horizontal and out of a harder pvc material.
Schleich made Flying Smurf up until 1986, giving it reference number 20071. At some point Schleich produced Flying Smurf for the Belgium Airline Sabena. Sabena was the national airline carrier for Belgium between 1923 to 2001. This is considered extremely hard to find.
It has never been officially explained why Flying Smurf was never produced as part of the cartoon series or as a figurine in the USA. Some say it had something to do with the potential of children attempting their own ways to fly and causing harm to themselves. If that is the case, that is a little sad as the story is more about determination than actual flying.
Have you ever found a paint error with a Smurf? Sometimes something goes wrong at the painting stage, which results in some weird looking smurfs. To find a smurf with a paint error, is pretty amazing when one comes to think about it. Considering how much quality control measures are out there. But for me, nothing beats finding a smurf with a paint error.
So what is a paint error? A paint error can be anything that has not been painted or painted in a different colour. In my opinion these are not variations, these are just genuine mistakes. For example it is not all that uncommon to find smurfs with unpainted tails, smiles, legs or something on the mould.
It should be noted though when smurfs were first produced back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s there were a number of smurfs that did not have any eyebrows. This was not a paint error, this appears to be deliberate thing. However it is not uncommon to find some of these early smurfs where people have drawn on their own eyebrows. Good examples of these include the small moulds of Sitting, Thinker and Coin.
Some paint errors are quite obvious. Others are a little harder to notice at first glance. Some collectors feel that without having doubles of a smurf, they cannot see the differences. Other collectors deliberately look out for paint errors on smurfs to add to their collection. I must have confess I am occasionaly guilty of this.
Take for example Teacher Smurf, Schleich Ref# 20059. It was first produced with a brown book cover with ‘abcd’ written in black on the pages. The brown paint used for the cover can vary but this is not paint error just different batches of brown paint used.
Later it was produced with a red book cover with ‘abcd’ written in black on the pages. The black writing can vary from thin to thick. This is not paint error just a different style used by the painter.
Now I have Teacher Smurf that I am not sure if you call this a variation or series of paint errors. There are no letters in his book, his smile and eyelids are also unpainted. It is also mentioned in the Der Schlumpf Katalog IV published in 2003 and is for sale on the Toy Dreamer website so it must be variation and not a paint error. Right?
Between January to April 1980 the Monte Carlo International Circus Spectacular toured Australia. Recently I was able to come across an advertisement by BP Australia that appeared in the Monte Carlo’s Circus programme guide. On the bottom of the picture it has the mark: (c) Peyo BP Australia 1979.
On the other side of this promotion piece was advertisement for Peter’s Ice-cream. What is interesting about this, is that Peters Ice-cream were the ones responsible for the Smurfee Ice-cream released in late 1979. I love this kind of nostalgic stuff.
Upon this discovery I decided to look for some information about the Clown figurine (Ref# 20033) released by Schleich back in around 1978. It was one of a number of smurfs that was made both in Germany (known then as West Germany) and Hong Kong around 1978. The Clown Smurf wears yellow pants with suspenders, a red bow tie and big floppy shoes.
As there is little documentation out there about when BP Australia released certain smurf figurines, from my knowledge Clown Smurf was released in 1980. It was like many smurfs produced out of Hong Kong that had their eyes and mouth spray painted and their blue skin hand painted.
The Clown Smurf was sold between 1978 to 1986 and then again from 1991 to 2000. Not only was it was made in West Germany and Hong Kong but also in Portugal, Sri Lanka and then later on in China. This means that there are plenty of different shades of yellow pants, stripes and bow ties.
It is also not unusual for Clown Smurf to be confused with Jester Smurf (Ref#20090) even though they look nothing a like. Jester Smurf wears a bright green outfit with yellow pom poms on it and a white ruffle around the neck. Jester Smurf also has a red nose and holds a candy cane in his hand.
The Clown Smurf can still be easily found today and like a lot of early smurfs released by BP Australia brings back fond childhood memories for many collectors. These were the days when you could buy a smurf for only 85 cents.
There is a lot to like about Flower Smurf, especially as we are head into Spring. Like a lot of the early smurfs produced by Schleich, Flower Smurf (Ref# 20019) is a simple designed mould available with different coloured flowers. The hard thing to know is how many were sold genuinely sold by Schleich and Bully especially as the flower can be removed and replaced with a different coloured flower.
What makes Flower Smurf extra special to me is that it was one of the first smurfs released by BP Australia in September 1979. In the beginning BP Australia released ten different smurfs and by the end of 1979 a total of sixteen smurfs were available. This probably explains why it is also not unusual to find Flower Smurf without its flower as anymore.
Like a lot of smurfs made in Germany and Hong Kong at the same time, there are little points of differences one should be aware of. The mould used in Germany and later on in Hong Kong appears to be the same. Both have Flower Smurf standing with his eyes closed, with one hand raised in front of him and the other behind his back with a flower attached to the corner it’s mouth.
When Flower Smurf was first made in Germany, a lot were made without eyebrows. This was quite common for a number of smurfs produced by Schleich before 1974.
The big difference between the two countries, was the material used for the flower. For example the German version used a felt/cotton like material that has generally deteriorated over the years and the Hong Kong version used a nylon like material.
The flower used on the German version appears to have a flower stem that has been pinned into the mould itself. This would make it easy to lose the flower. The Hong Kong version which is most commonly found in Australia has the flower glued to the mould.
If you are lucky enough there are test versions of Flower Smurf to be found. These are generally sold with a plastic flower in it’s mouth. The tricky thing about these ones nobody really knows their authenticity.
Arghhh….. the joys of collecting smurfs in Spring!