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