Can anyone tell me why Schleich choose the number 3 on the front of the American Footballer Smurf? #20132 I have always been curious why certain sports themed Smurfs were given particular numbers on their tops or bibs. Any ideas?
The American Footballer Smurf is holding the football close to his chest in one hand, while his other arm is stretched out – ready to defend himself. First released in 1981 by both Schleich and Wallace Berrie, the American Footballer wasn’t just popular in America but the rest of the world. It was sold between 1981 to 1986, 1992 to 1994 and 1998 to 2000 and made in Hong Kong, W.Germany and Portugal.
Made in Hong Kong
I have two from Hong Kong, one with W.Berrie markings and the other with just Hong Kong markings. With the Hong Kong variations the number 3 is always painted yellow on a shiny red shirt. The paint used on both of them are dark colours. Sometimes their blue skin can be described as extreme to really dark. It’s probably not surprising that in the Wallace Berrie catalogues they just to this Smurf as Football.
Wallace Berrie also used the American Footballer on promotional triangle pedestals, promoting places in the USA. These included Dallas and San Francisco.
It appears only W.Germany marked ones have the number 3 unpainted but you can still the outline. Both the helmet and the football is painted in lighter colours compared to the Hong Kong made ones. I have an American Footballer that has W.Germany markings with a mustard paint dot, which tells me it was painted in Portugal.
Made in Portugal
The ones from Portugal can be found with the number 3 painted and not painted. The yellow paint on the helmet can vary as well. It’s also possible to find ones with Portugal markings with a red paint dot, which tells us it was painted in Sri Lanka.
Around 1992 Schleich made changes to the paint they used on their Smurfs, to a lighter, fresher blue colour. The markings also now included a CE marking. In the beginning the CE mark was quite small but overtime this has changed to a larger size.
Due to the popularity of American Footballer Smurf, fakes were also produced out of countries like Polland and Spain. The Spanish ones are still highly collectible due to the high quality piantwork and craftsmanship.
So if you are like me, you don’t have to understand the rules of a particular sport, to appreciate the Smurf that was made in it’s honour.
Keep on Smurfin