Every now and then you may come across a snail. I am not talking about the snails you find at the bottom of your garden, I am referring to the ones you find when you are on a smurf hunt. There is a good chance, that at one stage these once may have belonged to a playset.
The snail and cart playset was first sold in Australia around 1980 in BP service stations for $3.95. It was one of three new playsets BP introduced around Christmas time. The other two playsets were the Sail Boat and Well. All three playsets were made in Hong Kong and would be later sold in the USA by Wallace Berrie in 1981. For some reason in the 1981 Fall Wallace Berrie catalogue they used a hand drawn picture for the Snail & Cart playset and not actual photograph!
The Snail & Cart playset was produced by Schleich from 1980 to 1987 then 1989 to 1991 and in 1993 to 1997. No major changes were made during this time, though small variances can be found with the snail’s feelers and the shades of yellow used for the bucket.
In 1984 Schleich created the Super Western playset where a Cowboy smurf rides his snail drawn covered wagon. Along with the playset was a campfire, cooking pot, a wine barrel and a cactus. This was first sold between 1984 to 1987 and then again 1997 to 2003 by Schleich. From my understanding though it was never released in the USA. It was around 1984/85 that the decline of the smurfs really hit hard in the USA.
In 1998 Schleich decided to introduce a new line of playsets by adding two old playsets and a regular smurf together. The Snail Playset was given article number #4.0622 and included the Snail & Cart and Mushroom playsets and the regular Yoga Smurf. This playset was only sold by Schleich for two years and in my opinion is one of the hardest playsets to be found complete and in it’s original box. This is on my ‘most wanted list’, like many other smurfs!
Out of the non smurf figurines that have been produced over the years, Snail, Smoogle, Chitter, Puppy etc I think I like the Snail the best. This may have something to do with not growing up on the smurf cartoons or just the fact that I like the Snail’s disposition.
Keep on Smurfin