I have a confession to make and that is I can’t really swim. Even with this small flaw, it doesn’t put me off from liking Swimmer smurf first released in 1977 by Schleich. This is unique smurf as it can be found with mould and colour variations.
The first mould was made out of light blue pvc material and can be found with either orange bathers with a yellow ring or yellow bathers and an orange ring. Both also have a blue valve. The other distinctive thing is the small red mouth and the arms on the underside are completely shaped
Like a lot of smurfs produced around this time, there are many different shades of paints used on the bathers from orange to dark red. Also the eyebrows can vary, from unpainted to thick.
When the Swimmer was made out of Hong Kong they used a much larger mould and white pvc material. Typically these are found with yellow bathers and a red ring with a black valve. Also with this larger mould you can no longer see the mouth as it is hidden by the smurf’s hands.
The Hong Kong version was sold in the USA from 1981 to 1985 by Wallace Berrie. As you can find the Hong Kong version with and without W. Berrie markings, it makes me think it was also sold in Australia as well but I couldn’t find anything to back up this theory.
I also have one with Hong Kong markings where they blocked out the year 1977 and replaced this with 1980. It is thought this happened around smurfs sold in 1982. So basically any smurf made before 1980 they blocked out the year and replaced this with 1980. Oddly they later changed the year back to the original year marking on these smurfs.
Around 1983 the German mould was changed to be more like the Hong Kong version. Though they used a blue mould. It was sold like this until 1986.
Between 1994 to 1996 Swimmer was re-released but this time with China markings. The China version can be found with yellow bathers and an orange ring with a black valve.
In the Der Schlumpf Katalog IV they list a Swimmer with Macau markings, possibly made around 1985. Ever since this has created debate amongst collectors whether it exists or not. I doubt this actually exists but I am happy to be proved wrong, all in the name of collecting smurfs.
HANDS UP, WHO knows what smurf was once referred to as Banjo or also referred to as Rocker? Any ideas…… if you had answered Lute smurf you are correct. Lute smurf would have to be one of few smurfs that has been given so many different names in its lifetime. So how did this all happen.
Lute smurf was first produced by Schleich in 1969 with the German name Gitarren Schlumpf, which translated into English means Guitar smurf. This would explain why when Wallace Berrie started selling Lute in 1979 it was called Guitar smurf. However it doesn’t explain why when the American Pewter company started producing smurfs in 1980 they called it Mandolin. Especially since the American Pewter company had authorisation to make smurfs in the USA.
In the UK National also first sold Lute in 1979. For some strange reason they referred to it as Banjo smurf. If someone out there knows why they did this, please let me know. Very strange!
Now in Australia, BP Australia referred to Lute smurf as Rocker in 1979. It was one of the first nine smurfs released by BP Australia. What is interesting to note at the same time back in the UK, the name Rocker was linked to Guitarist smurf, #20023. In 1980 when Guitarist was released in Australia we called it Bass Guitar.
The first reference I found to Lute smurf being called to what we now know as Lute was in an advertisement by BP New Zealand from 1981. Which makes me think it was the New Zealanders who gave its name of Lute. I should point out this is only my opinion but to me it makes sense. By 1986 Schleich started displaying both German and English names in their catalogues and it’s in here we also see the name of Lute being used.
Obviously there is more than just a name given to a smurf that makes it interesting to collect. With Lute it is all the different shades of yellow and red that can be found. From a very light red to a burgundy red or light yellow to a dark orange yellow kind of colour. In Australia you typically find the red Lute variation as this was the one that was released here but if you are lucky enough you can find a yellow lute. Then there is also the fake coloured variations to be found.
In my post about Climber Smurf, I made a reference to the Golden 100 Smurfs. We have had a request for further information on what figures are on the list, So I have put on my smurf hat and white trousers to get to work.
In the 1990 Schleich catalogue the first reference to the Golden 100 was made: ‘The Golden One-Hundred. 100 bestselling Smurfs on their go for the new decade’. This was around the same time of the reunification of Germany and parts of eastern Europe were able to buy genuine smurfs for the first time.
Each year a new selection was chosen along with any new smurfs produced by Schleich. Because of this I have decided not to list each smurf that was listed every year and instead I have decided to highlight some interesting points from each year.
Four new smurfs released; Smoogle, Chitter, Nanny & Patriot.
Soccer Smurf, #20035 is wearing blue shirt and white shorts.
Patriot, #20409 is waving a cloth like flag with a white flagpole. (this was never released like this, so most likely it was a prototype made by Schleich)
No new smurfs produced but the revival of 20 smurfs
This is the first CE mark is displayed in the Schleich catalogue.
Seven new smurfs released; Smurfette with Mouse, Azrael, Bride, Groom, Video Camera, Handball & New Soccer.
Gargamel with Lab Glasses is made for the first time by Schleich. Up until then only Bully had produced their own version back in the 1970’s.
Seven new smurfs released; Bodybuilder, Chasing Gargamel, Boxer, Scruple, Smurfette with Flower, Tramp & Yoga.
Boxer, #20419 is released as a regular smurf wearing a yellow singlet and green shorts. Prior to this Boxer was only sold as a Super Smurf.
Six new smurfs released; Papa Thinking, Angry Gargamel, Schoolboy, Caveman, Cavewoman & Hefty.
Six new smurfs released; Viking, Monk, Horeman, Horsewoman, Slouchy with Cone & Sassette with Cone and nine smurfs being re-released.
Golf Smurfette, #20210 is re-released since 1991 but only for the one year.
Six new smurfs were released; Saxophone, Techno, Mobile Phone, Azrael Frightened, Sport Swimmer & Sprinter.
Papa Thinking, #20424 was first displayed with white eyebrows and an open mouth in the 1994 Schleich catalogue but by 1996 his eyebrows were now black.
This time we have seven new smurfs released; Inline Skater, Inline Smurfette, Disco, Disco Smurfette, Smurf Child with Doll, Smurf Child on Truck & Smurf Bathing
Lute, #20013 with a red lute was re-released for the first time since 1986 and was only sold for the one year.
Six new smurfs released; Lead Guitar, Bass Guitar, Lead Singer, Snowboarder, Snowboarder Smurfette & World Cup Soccer.
Announces that this year the Smurfs will be celebrating their 40th anniversary 1958 to 1998.
First pictures of the 40th anniversary Rock Band playset are displayed
Six new smurfs released; Tourist, Sportsman, Aerobic Smurfette, Newspaper, Name Plate & Golf.
The last year Papa Smurf, #20001 is sold as a regular smurf unless you factor in the Decade Display Box Set in 2011.
Pointing Smurf with bright blue skin, #20050 was re-released for the first time since 1986.
Eight new smurfs are released with much excitement; Leather Pants, Caretaker, Sandwich, Studious, Fire Chief, Scuba Diver, Chimney Sweep & Climber
Indian Smurfette, #20167 is re-issued for the first time since 1995 but only for one year.
Accordion, #20225 is re-issued for the first time since 1994 and once again for only one year.
In 2001 Schleich announced that there will be no ‘Golden 100’ and there will only be 50 smurfs produced. Some say this may have had something to do with the deterioration of the some of the old moulds used to make the smurfs.
I hope this information on the Golden 100 has helped answer some of your questions you may have had about this. Please feel free to contact us if you would like some extra information on something to do with smurf collecting as I am always happy to put on my smurf hat and white trousers!
Climber was first released by Schleich in 2000 and then again in 2001. Wearing a fluorescent pink singlet and grey shorts along with all the rope climbing gear one needs when about to go rock climbing. For example a green chalk bag on his back right hand side with the number 1 displayed on the outside, a selection carabiners around his waist, yellow rope around his shorts and also swung over his left shoulder. You will also see on his right arm a red heart tattoo, so most likely this smurf is actually Hefty – the Climber!
Like other smurfs such as Caretaker, Nameplate, Tourist, Sportsman and others released at the end of 1990’s and early 2000’s, Climber was only sold for originally two years. This may have something to do with Schleich discontinuing with their ‘Golden 100’ at the end of 2000. Schleich decided not to issue any old figurines as was their practice in the 1990’s. In the year 2001 only fifty figurines would be produced as part of their smurf production line and not one hundred. Climber was sold in 2001 and then just disappeared.
In 2013 Schleich teamed up with Toys r Us and released Climber. These smurfs were sold as individual figurines on a card and were originally exclusively sold only in Toys r Us stores. This Climber is the same one that was sold as part of the Decade Box set. A little after this these smurfs could be found loose and without the card.
These were sold around the same time as the The Smurfs 2 movie was released. I recall visiting my local Toys r Us store a week before I heard about this new release and there were hardly any smurfs on the shelves. The following weekend with the release of the movie they had their shelves full of their smurfs. I guess it just goes to show a week is a long time when comes to collecting smurfs.
If you are like me, you may be curious as to where a Climber stores their car keys when they go rock climbing. I recently asked this question to a rock climber whose whole waist was surrounded by carabiners and ropes. He simply just patted his shirt’s top pocket and gave me a smile. His rock climbing mate shrugged his shoulders and remarked ‘good question!’