The first plastic Smurfs ever were a give-away from the magazine Spirou that in 1960 decided to produce 3 figures made of latex.
Schleich is a German company founded in 1935 by Friedrich Schleich. During the first years, the company produced security clothes for industrial workers. After the war, the company changed to plastic toys. It was 1951, and the first Smurfs wouldn’t come out until 1965. Those were the first figures intended to be sold on stores.
During the 70s, Schleich shared the production of these pvc figures with Bully. In 1981, after 57 figures, the production is again exclusive to Scheich.
Since 1978, there’s an additional line, the Super-Smurfs, which are articulated, as well as a complete series of accessories like different houses, castles, a mill…
In 1979, the production of the figures is expanded from Germany to some other countries: Sri-Lanka, Hong Kong, Macau, Tunisia and Portugal. The figures were gaining popularity and after the Hanna-Barbera TV series from 1983, Schleich was selling over 1 million figures each month. That same year, the small plastic figures were declared “Toy of the Year” in The Wall Street Journal.
This toy has been offered as a give-away by Hardee’s or McDonalds. There are also lots of promotional figures out there, some marked with the logo of some company, other were exclusive to that offer.
The only three figures I own were released in 1973 and are the King Smurf and two Wild Smurfs (or in German, “Schlimps”)
Something that interests me even more than the official Schleich/Bully/Peyo releases are copies, bootlegs and imitations. The most famous for me are the CNT Smurf from Spain (Comic No Toxicos), form which I have heard a couple of times, and that are very rare and difficult to find. These were made by Comics Spain, a company from which we have talked a couple of times before. Probably, because they lost the licences to produce Smurfs, decided to make them without the name of the company. Each figure had only a sticker with the words “comics - no tóxico” (not toxic).
Possible (until now unknown) CNT Smurf? -Sorry for the quality of the picture-
I thought my fourth Smurf might be one of these, but according to some sources, CNT Smurfs are very well finished, and have a similar quality to Schleich. This is not the case. I haven’t seen the Fisherman Smurf anywhere, I think it must be even rarer than a CNT, some kind of bootleg or similar. It was bought in Spain as part of a lot that also included this Torero and some small plastic figures in the “Dunkin” Style (maybe they’re real Dunkin, not sure about that), so I guess it is an old fake from the late 70s, it’s not a modern figure. Any information on this?
FACTS and FIGURES:
- Name: KING SMURF, WILD SMURF and FISHERMAN SMURF
- Alternate Names: KÖNIG SCHLUMPF, WILD SCHLUMPF or SCHLIMPS, ANGLER (German) / PITUFO REY, PITUFO SALVAJE, PITUFO PESCADOR (Spanish)
- Toy Line: The Smurfs / Fake?
- Year: 1973
- Company: Schleich (West-Germany) / Unknown Company (Spain)
- Size of the figures: approx. 5 cm