Today, I wanted to share with you a variation of Lion Tamer that you might not be aware of and this is not even mentioned in the Der Schlumpf Katalog IV. Its Lion Tamer, #20115 with a short whip.
Lion Tamer was first released by Bully in 1979 for possible only six months. It was then sold by Schleich with Bully markings until around 1984. The first version has a yellow and red drum, with a yellow loincloth & whip. The size of the whip can be found both short and long. Sometimes this version can be found with four black spots on his loincloth.
When Schleich got the mould they changed the colours of the drum to green and black, with an ocher coloured loin cloth & whip. Schleich also made a green drum version with a shorter yellow whip. This is considered rare as it is harder to find than the one with the longer whip. Sometimes the Schleich version can be found with five black spots on his lion-cloth.
Lion Tamer was also made out of Hong Kong and can be found with the green and black drum and extreme blue skin. It was sold by Wallace Berrie for two years, 1982 & 1983. Not sure if it was ever sold by BP Australia.
Schleich sold Lion Tamer from 1980 to 1989. It appears very little changes were made to the figurine, just little variances in the paintwork depending where it was painted. I have also seen some people refer to the thickness of the whip but in my opinion this is a very minimal difference that it is not worth mentioning.
A lion tamer is a person who trains and tames lions for entertainment in places like a circus. It is thought that lion taming has been around since the early part of the 19th century. Like other smurfs that have been made over the last 50 years or so it is unlikely that a Liontamer smurf would be re-released due to changing shift in people’s attitude to animals performing in the circus. However a circus themed play-set featuring smurfs, that could be a bit of fun.
Was it just me or were we all excited to see Hefty Smurf given a major role in the latest Smurf movie – The Lost Village? There is so much to like about Hefty Smurf, that I was little surprised that it has taken to the third Smurf movie for this character to be given more focus.
In The Smurfs movie released in 2011, Hefty Smurf was only given a small role and in this film we were introduced to a brand new character called Gutsy. In The Smurfs 2 movie Hefty appears in the film but once again appears to play second fiddle to Gutsy. It is unclear in both films why they decided to create and use Gutsy, where they already had the character Hefty at their disposal. Perhaps they felt Hefty was a little boring.
Hefty Smurf is one of the few smurfs that appeared both in the comics and the cartoon series. I always thought that a character that displays strength and bravery and a willingness to help other smurfs were all good traits to promote to young children.
The other thing that defines Hefty from the other smurfs is his red heart shaped tattoo on his right arm. Hefty is the only smurf that sports a tattoo. Typically smurfs are characterised by their personality and clothing or piece of equipment.
I also recall when I was growing up that Gymnast, Schleich ref# 20020 was often referred to as Hefty. However BP Australia used to call this as Keep Fit on their promotional material. It wasn’t until 1994 that Schleich produced a Hefty figurine. Hefty was made right up until 2000 by Schleich. Again a little strange considering Hefty was a well known smurf by fans.
The Lost Village movie may not be to everyone’s liking but it was nice to see the return of some of the original smurf characters such as Vanity and of course Hefty.
There is a lot to like about Flower Smurf, especially as we are head into Spring. Like a lot of the early smurfs produced by Schleich, Flower Smurf (Ref# 20019) is a simple designed mould available with different coloured flowers. The hard thing to know is how many were sold genuinely sold by Schleich and Bully especially as the flower can be removed and replaced with a different coloured flower.
What makes Flower Smurf extra special to me is that it was one of the first smurfs released by BP Australia in September 1979. In the beginning BP Australia released ten different smurfs and by the end of 1979 a total of sixteen smurfs were available. This probably explains why it is also not unusual to find Flower Smurf without its flower as anymore.
Like a lot of smurfs made in Germany and Hong Kong at the same time, there are little points of differences one should be aware of. The mould used in Germany and later on in Hong Kong appears to be the same. Both have Flower Smurf standing with his eyes closed, with one hand raised in front of him and the other behind his back with a flower attached to the corner it’s mouth.
When Flower Smurf was first made in Germany, a lot were made without eyebrows. This was quite common for a number of smurfs produced by Schleich before 1974.
The big difference between the two countries, was the material used for the flower. For example the German version used a felt/cotton like material that has generally deteriorated over the years and the Hong Kong version used a nylon like material.
The flower used on the German version appears to have a flower stem that has been pinned into the mould itself. This would make it easy to lose the flower. The Hong Kong version which is most commonly found in Australia has the flower glued to the mould.
If you are lucky enough there are test versions of Flower Smurf to be found. These are generally sold with a plastic flower in it’s mouth. The tricky thing about these ones nobody really knows their authenticity.
Arghhh….. the joys of collecting smurfs in Spring!