If you were a child living in the UK in the late 1970s/early 1980s, then you will more than likely remember the National Garages and the role they played in introducing us to the Smurfs. Smurfs were given away by these garages as part of a petrol promotion and many children enjoyed collecting these little blue figures. The most well known Smurf characters were Papa Smurf and Smurfette, although there were many other characters and Smurf Houses which you could also collect. However, when the promotion ended, the PVC Smurf figurines disappeared from UK shores.
The Smurfs cartoon series was broadcast throughout the 1980s here in the UK. But in 1990 the Smurfs cartoons came to an end when Hanna-Barbera (the producers of the animated series) found their animation techniques were now outdated and The Smurfs could not compete with the newer cartoons arriving on the market.
Unless you were a regular traveller to Germany or other countries on the continent where the PVC Smurf figurines were, and still are, very popular you would probably assume that they were no longer produced. It was only with the advent of the internet and particularly eBay that many people rediscovered the Smurfs.
Smurf collecting is now a growing hobby worldwide. The PVC Smurf figurines were actually first introduced in Germany in 1965 with over 400 different figures having been produced so far. After taking into consideration different markings, colours and mould shapes there are actually thousands of different Smurfs to collect. New Smurf figures are still being produced; in fact there have only been two years (1998 and 1991) where no Smurfs were introduced. Every year, up until the year 2000, 100 different figurines were available, some newly introduced and some reproductions of older figures. This was reduced to 50 in 2001 due to the deterioration of older moulds.
With many other retro toys making a comeback it is only a matter of time for the Smurfs. New merchandise is already appearing in shops in the US, with rumours abounding of a new Smurf Movie. I don’t think we have seen the last of the Smurfs.