Saturday, April 6, 2013

#267 COMICS SPAIN – MUPPET BABIES (JIM HENSON) (1986)


I finally found plenty of information about Comics Spain! Last time I tried, I couldn’t, because the company that manufactured these plastic figures is not called “Comics Spain”, but “Comic Figuras S.L.”.

Comic Figuras S.L. was a Spanish plastic (PVC) figure manufacturer settled in Granollers, a town near Barcelona. The company was founded sometime by the early 80s. Unofficial sources say the company was founded after two store owners travelled to one of the big toy fairs in Germany (Nürnberg, probably) and discovered Schleich’s Smurfs. They bought some boxes of these small plastic figures, and sold them in their store with great success, so they decided to become themselves manufacturers. Without any license they produced unmarked Smurfs as well as other toy figures. These unmarked Smurfs are called among collectors “CNTs”.


It seems that Yolanda acquired the rights to sell Schleich’s Smurfs in Spain, so they sued Comic Figuras S.L. and won the case. The production of Smurfs stopped, but Comic Figuras tried to find other licenses to keep producing figures.

The first known catalogues of the company appeared in 1985, and back then, it had already purchased some licenses and was producing figures legally. This was the situation for the next 3 years, but in 1988, Disney decided not to renew those licenses.

Up to this point, the story of the company becomes quite blurry: in 1992, the company went into receivership, with an asset of 232 million pesetas and a debt of 148 million pesetas (La Vanguardia,25th January 1993). This triggered some legal investigations that did not discover anything illegal.

The company produced figures after 1992 for which they had lost the license years ago; according to La Vanguardia, the 9th of April 1997, police confiscated 10 tons of plastic figures for piracy and falsification. A few days before some investigators discovered in a shop unlicensed figures of “Delfy and His Friends”, a Spanish tv-series. After some enquiries, the police found the storehouse of Comics Figuras and closed it, confiscating the figures. Another two companies were also closed after they found the casts to produce the figures. If the production was made by Comics Figuras or one of the other companies, it is unknown to me. Police arrested the owner of the toy store and other three people, while the person in charge of Comics Figures had fleed around 7 months before.

Among the confiscated products there were Disney and Warner Bros. characters, as well as characters from the Spanish publishing house “Ediciones B” (Clever & Smart) and even the Barcelona Football Club. The confiscated figures had a value of 2000 million pesetas (around 12 million Euros).








The figures have enormous quality, and today they’re pretty scarce. Many collectors are trying to get them, and the prices are quite high… mostly considering that all company stocks were presumably destroyed. Their Smurf and Superheroes series are maybe the most popular, but as you could see in the catalogue images, there were many series made, I do not really how did they select which series would be manufactured or which wouldn’t, I guess they would simply produce figures from any tv-series, comics or films that were popular (or were supposed to become popular, but didn’t) back then. As a result, there are some really weird series, like 11 figures from the comic books “Shoe” by Jeff McNelly. Never heard about them  before…

By the way, most figures have (many) colour variations, what it's normal considering that they were hand painted and that they were produced during many consecutive years. Here's for example a variation of Rowlf the Dog.


Figures are marked (C) 86 HA! Comics Spain plus the CE mark.


And to finish this article, I will leave here the pictures of all catalogues I could find. I thank Sergio for them. You can visit his store at todocoleccion. Resolution of the pictures is not very good, but good enough to recognise most of the figures.



catalogue - around 1985
catalogue - around 1985
catalogue - around 1991-1992
catalogue - around 1991-1992

FACTS and FIGURES:
  • Names: KERMIT THE FROG, MISS PIGGY, FOZZIE BEAR, ANIMAL, ROWLF THE DOG and GONZO.
  • Alternate Names: LA RANA GUSTAVO, SRTA. PIGGY, FOZZIE EL OSO, ANIMAL, RUFO EL PERRO and GONZO (Spanish - Spain) LA RANA RENÉ (South American Spanish)
  • Toy Line: Pequeñecos / Muppet Babies)
  • Year: 1986
  • Company: Comics Spain/ Comic Figuras S.L. (Spain)

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