Like many of you, I have a ‘Most Wanted’ List of Smurfs that appears to never shrink in size but to only grow in size. The one piece mould Tennis Player was one of the early ones added to the list and still remains to be found.
The Tennis Player was first made in 1979 by Schleich. In the beginning it was produced as a one piece mould with an orangey red tennis racquet with a yellow tennis ball attached. It is also the one that is shown in the Schleich catalogue between 1979 to 1984. Though I don’t believe it was ever made this long as otherwise there would be hundreds of these out there.
Typically you will find the Tennis Player with a red plastic removable racquet. Due to the popularity it was made in W.Germany, Portugal, Hong Kong and also in China. Tennis Player was produced between 1979 to 2000.
BP Australia also sold Tennis Player in 1980. It is unclear exactly when it was sold but it can be found on Collecting Smurfs is Smurfy poster that appeared in the TV Week in June 1980. Tennis Player was also sold in New Zealand by BP.
Over the years, I have seen the Tennis Player with different coloured shirts and shorts. Now I am no expert but I don’t believe these were actually produced like this and are genuine. The coloured shirts definetly adds colour to the Smurf but the price tag also associated with them is just crazy. Beware of ‘rare’ coloured variations!
This also brings me to the coloured variations that can be found with the tennis racquet. From my understanding the Tennis Player was only sold with a red plastic tennis racquet. The racquet produced by Schleich has smaller holes compared to the Bully ones with larger holes. So if you happen to find a Tennis Player with a yellow, white or some other coloured tennis racquet, it is more than likely this is from another Bully figurine.
Tennis Player can also be complemented when on display with two other tennis themed Smurfs. Tennis Player #20093 produced by Bully and Tennis Smurfette #20135 produced by Schleich.
Someone asked me about the Tennis Smurf and what colour should the racquet be. Before I could answer their question, I had to first find out which Tennis Smurf were they talking about as both Schleich and Bully produced their own Tennis Smurfs. So here goes:
Bully first produced their Tennis Smurf in 1977 as a one piece mould. This was only made like this for a very short time and is one of many smurfs on my ‘most wanted list’. Dressed in a white shirt and shorts with their tennis racquet in their right hand and a tennis ball in the left hand. They then changed the mould so it had a yellow plastic removable racquet. These can be found in may different shades of yellow.
I should also mention that it is also possible to find this Tennis Smurf with Schleich markings. This is because in 1984 blocked the original Bully marking and added it with their Schleich marking on the arm. If you are lucky enough you may also come across one made in Sri Lanka by Schleich. This Tennis Smurf has the reference number 20093 and is a little harder to in Australia than the other Tennis Smurf.
Schleich first produced their Tennis Smurf in 1978/79 also as a one piece mould. This was only made a for a short period like this and was later changed to a red plastic removable racquet. Dressed in a white shirt and shorts with a yellow sweatband on his right wrist. This Tennis Smurf was very popular in Australia and can still be easy to find with or without the racquet. This Tennis Smurf has the reference number 20049.
Regarding the tennis racquets the ones with the small holes are Schleich made and the ones with the larger holes are Bully made. It is also quite possible to find both of the Tennis Smurfs with different coloured racquets. So the Bully Tennis Smurf should come with a yellow racquet and the Schleich Tennis Smurf with a red racquet. But hey, it allows you to add colour and variety to your collection without detracting from the smurfs.