Don’t be alarmed if you come across a smurf that has a coloured paint dot under their foot. This was something Schleich introduced to smurfs around 1978 as a way of quality control. This practice continued right through to 2004.
The paint dots can be found on the feet or base of the smurfs to indicate which country the smurf was painted in and then later on if the smurf was made out of a new PVC formula.
Some say that the paint dots were introduced to smurfs after a National Benzole promotion in the UK in 1978.Upon where Schleich was accused of using high levels of lead in the paint used for their smurfs.
At around this time, Schleich had also opened up a new factory in Hong Kong due to demand for smurfs. By doing this it also allowed Schleich to produce smurfs at a lower production cost.
The story goes that some children were becoming sick after playing with their smurfs. The paint used for the smurfs contained higher levels of lead that was above the specified limit for the UK but not considered dangerous.
To avoid this type of thing happening again Schleich introduced the paint dots to smurfs as a method of quality control. This appears to include only smurfs painted outside the EC and sold within the EC that received a paint dot.
There are a number of different paint dots that can be found, one of the most interesting ones is the mustard paint dot. Mustard paint dots represent smurfs painted in Portugal. These are probably the most commonly found ones.
What makes the mustard paint dot ones the most interesting is that they can vary in size and colour (light yellow to mustard). This makes me think that within the mustard paint dot there were other key quality control indicators that were used.
In the beginning the factory in Portugal was used just to paint smurfs though as the demand increased for smurfs, Portugal also started making smurfs.
Between 1978 to 1987 smurfs painted in Portugal were given a mustard paint dot. After 1987 Portugal started using a black or white paint dot.
Red paint dots represent smurfs painted in Sri Lanka. Due to the high demand for smurfs in the USA, the Sri Lanka factory was opened to assist the operations in Hong Kong around 1982. This continued right through to 1987.
The red paint dot is generally smaller and does not vary in colour like the mustard paint dots that can be found.
Green paint dots represent smurfs painted in Tunisia. These were smurfs painted between 1982 through to 1987. A number of Bully marked smurfs can be found with a green paint dot.
The green paint dot is generally smaller and does not vary in colour like the mustard paint dots that can be found. Smurfs given a green paint dot are generally considered the hardest to find.
Between 1988 and 1999, black and white paint dots were used for smurfs painted in Portugal and Tunisia. The small black paint dot was used for smurfs that had a white or coloured foot/base. The white paint dot was used for smurfs that had a black foot/base.
Between 2000 and 2004 smurfs were given a blue paint dot to indicate a new pvc formula was used. It was around October 2000 the old type of PVC could no longer be used to manufacture in Europe, so a new pvc was introduced.
It was also around this time that Schleich started making smurfs in China again. This was between 2001 to 2004 and then stopped. However since 2013 new smurfs have be made out of China.
Who would have thought that the introduction of the paint dot used for quality control would become something that adds to the thrill of collecting smurfs.
Keep on Smurfin