If you like collecting variants of Smurfs, Azrael the cat is one for your collection. Sold between 1992 to 2014 by Schleich Azrael #20411 can take collectors by surprise when looking for variations.
At a glance, Azrael is an orange cat with a white stomach and inner ears. He is licking his lips and appears to be on the prowl. But just like any Smurf made over 20 years, Schleich progressively made changes.
The most obvious one is the orange pvc material used for Azrael. From a dark orange-red colour to a light orange colour. There is also a rare variant with its fur painted.
The next most noted difference is to do with Azrael’s ear. Some have a notch in the right ear. In my opinion, this version is fairly common and is easier to find comapred to one without a notch in its ear. Another thing to look out for is whether Azrael has a blue paint dot on the end of its nose. Some also refer to the thickness of Azarel’s whiskers or the red colour of the tongue. Again both are not always to identify in photos.
Variants of markings
Some collectors like to collect Smurfs with different markings. The markings on Azrael are on its stomach and back left leg. For example, with the one made out of China, it has the China mark twice on the leg. Also the size of the CE mark can vary due to toy specifications.
Though Azrael was also made out of Germany, paint dots were also used for quality assurance measures. The black paint was added to Smurfs between 1988 to 1999 to indicate that it was painted in Portugal or Tunisia. The blue paint dot was used between 2001 to 2004 for Smurfs mostly made out of China. After 2009 a date stamp was also added to the markings.
Despite the changes made to this version of Azrael, the characteristics of the figurine did not change which is a good thing. In my opinion the more recent versions of Azarel have taken away the beauty of this evil character. One only has to look at the 2020 Azrael to see the difference.
Keep on Smurfin
There is a little bit of Azrael in every single one of us, wouldn’t you agree? Azrael is Gargamel’s cat or more like his trusty campion trying to capture the smurfs and like any evil villains they always seem to get in each other’s way just at the pivotal moment. Previously Azrael had only been released as a Super Smurf with Gargamel, article number #40211 between 1979 to 1986.
Azrael was first released as its own figurine in 1992, article number #20411. This version included Azrael on the prowl licking his lips. The orange pvc material can vary and you can also find version ones with a notch in the right ear or without a notch. It should also have a blue paint dot on the end of his nose. This was sold by Schleich up until the end of 2014. So still quite easy to find.
In 1996 another Azrael figurine was released, this time it was called Azrael Frightened, article number #40239. By the looks of this figurine it looks like it has just done the ice bucket challenge! This one is harder to find out of two as this Azrael was only sold by Schleich up until end of 2000.
It wasn’t until the 50th anniversary that a new Azrael was released this time Party Azrael, article number #20703. I was never fan of the green bow on his tail as for me this looked odd.
In 2013 when The Smurfs 2 movie was released a combined Gargamel & Azrael figurine was released, article number #20759. I really liked the portrayal of Azrael on this one but not so much Gargamel. For me he looks like Statler from the Muppets Show. You may recall him as one of the two old men used to heckle Fozie and other acts from on The Muppets Show. His offsider was called Waldorf.
The same Gargamel & Azrael figurine were included in the Smurf House with Gargamel and Papa Smurf, article number #20803 as part of The Lost Village movie sets. I was little disappointed when I found this out but also found it quite understandable. So my disappointment didn’t last too long as the Smurf House is just amazing such high quality.
Lastly as I didn’t grow up reading the smurf comics or watching the NBC cartoon series, I was quite surprised to learn that when Azrael was first created it was female and then in the cartoon series they changed it to male. After this Azrael was also portrayed as male in the comics. In the movies Azrael has always been male. Freaky!
Keep on Smurfin