Between my collections, I have tons of small plastic and rubber little toys and figurines. Here some of the “families” I collected:
Created in 1958 by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, who wrote under the pen name ‘Peyo’ (his cousin’s inability to to pronounce his Dutch name, “Pierrot”) , they originally debuted in the Belgian magazine Spirou as Les Schtroumpfs.
Peyo was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1928 to an English father and a Belgian mother.
The Smurfs are a fictional colony of small blue humanoids who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest. Gaining instant popularity, they garnered their own stories in 1959 and began receiving countless forms of merchandising, which included miniatures, games, toys and their own 80s cartoon series. In 2011, these creatures will finally receive a cinematic reboot in their own big-budget live-action family film.
There are more than one hundred Smurf characters, and their names are based on adjectives that emphasize their characteristics, such as “Jokey Smurf”, who likes to play practical jokes on his fellow smurfs. “Smurfette” was the first female Smurf to be introduced in the series. The Smurfs wear Phrygian caps, which came to represent freedom during the modern era.
Dupuis, editor of the Smurf comics, first produced smurf figurines in 1959. The first one was a series of three figurines, 5 centimetres tall (Papa, Normal and Angry), followed in the next decade by some larger figurines. Those were only for sale in French- and Dutch-speaking countries. In 1965, Schleich, a German company, made the first truly mass-produced PVC Smurf collectible figurines (the first three being Normal Smurf, Gold Smurf and Convict Smurf (complete with black-and-white striped prisoner’s outfit). In 1966, Spy Smurf, Angry Smurf, and Drummer Smurf appeared. In 1969, five more smurfs followed: Moon Smurf, Winter Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Guitar Smurf, and Papa Smurf. In the 1970s, smurfs were also produced by rival German company Bully. The first of these figurines were made as a promotion for Kellogg’s, but were afterwards sold separately.
Numerous Dupuis figures were released between 1959 and 1966. Schleich started making Smurf figures in 1965 and still do to this day.
Nothing could stop the success of Peyo’s creation – not even his own death. Peyo died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1992. Unhappy though his death was, Peyo had created something much bigger than himself. Peyo’s heirs have continued to support the Smurfs with collectibles, promotions and publications in the whole world.
The Snorks was a cartoon that was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in the mid-eighties. The Snorks cartoon was very similar to that of the SMURFS, but just underwater. They produced around 60 episodes and had some great merchandise.
Snorks vs Smurfs: The Snorks are colorful underwater creatures that live in Snorkland. All Snorks have that instantly recognizable snorkel on the top of their heads. The main characters include: Allstar, Casey, Dimmy, Daffney and Tooter. The trouble-makers of the show are the Govenor and his snotty son, Junior. The Snorks had a popular TV Show that ran from 1984 to 1989.
History: The Snorks first came into existence as a comic book series, released in 1982. The comic was created by Nic Broca in Belgium. After a few years, Hanna-Barbera, produced a cartoon series for television which ran for 4 years and 65 episodes.
About Snorks: The Snorks live underwater and have snorkels on their heads which can aim backwards and propel them through the water. The Snorks live in the world of Snorkland and use clams for currency. The hero of the television series is All-Star and his girlfriend is Casey.
The Snork Figures: The Snork figures are very collectable. There are just over 30 different Snork figures to collect. These include the characters: All Star, Baby Billy, Casey, Dafney, Dimmy, Dr Galeo, Governer Wetworth, Jo jo, Junior, Lava Monster and Tooter Snork. All the Snorks are about 8cm tall. Approximately the same size as smurfs, accept that they have the snorkel on the top of their head to make them taller.
The name “PEZ®” comes from the first, middle, and last letters of the word “Pfefferminz”, which is the German word for peppermint. The candy was invented in 1927 in Vienna by Eduard Haas III, and was originally marketed in Austria as a compressed peppermint candy. It was originally carried around in tins, but in 1947, the first PEZ dispenser resembling a cigarette lighter was invented. It wasn’t until 1952 that character heads were added to the dispensers, and fruit flavors were created.
According to the patent number engraved on the bottom left side, it is possible to date the dispenser:
U.S. Patent 2.620.061 issued in 1952
U.S. Patent 3.410.455 issued in 1968
U.S. Patent 3.845.882 issued in 1974
U.S. Patent 3.942.683 issued in 1976
U.S. Patent 4.966.305 issued in 1990
U.S. Patent 5.984.285 issued in 1999
German – DBP 818.829
Mexican – Patent Nr 141.242
Kinder Surprise, also known as a Kinder Egg or, in the original Italian, Kinder Sorpresa (“Kinder” is the German word for “children”), is a candy manufactured by Italian company Ferrero, starting from 1968. Originally intended for children, it is also popular with adult collectors and has the form of a chocolate egg containing a small toy, usually requiring assembly.
The toys are designed by both inside designers and external freelancers (for example the French artist André Roche based in Munich) and manufactured by many companies worldwide, such as Produzioni Editoriali Aprile, a small company based in Turin, Italy, run and founded by two brothers, Ruggero and Valerio Aprile.Kinder Eggs are sold all over the world, including the United States, where they are sold in European Markets and Russian Deli stores, despite being illegal.
In Europe they have become a minor cult phenomenon among adults. There is even a thriving collector’s market for the toys. There are many types of toys available, but some of the most popular with collectors include the ever-changing series of small hand-painted figures (some have to be assembled); cartoon characters; metal figures; and jigsaw puzzles. Seasonal eggs are introduced around the holidays, such as the limited-edition creche collections (featuring such characters as the three kings, baby Jesus, and assorted barnyard animals) found around Christmas, and the huge ones found at Easter (extremely popular in Italy).
According to the catalog number engraved on the bottom or on the back, it is possible to date the dispenser.
Oodles & Lil’ babies
Oodles babies are little kewpie-like babies from the mid 1980’s , little plastic figures topped with a DairyQueenish curlique hairdo that formed a loop. Each Oodle had its own facial expression that gave it personality. Every one was made in a different position, which also added to their uniqueness and reminds us of the dolls to come which were actually posable. The creator is Mel Birnkrant.
Lil’ Babies were little plastic babies, each doing a different activity and each with a cloth nappy in either fluorescent pink or green, they also came in some wacky colors such as ‘neon pink jelly look’.
They were numbered so obviously were collectables.
Lil’ babies were made by LGT in 1991 and later, Hasbro. They measured around 2.5-inches high. They were made of very hard vinyl so they were durable. Later on more colorful Lil’Babies were introduced called the Strawberry Shortcake Lil Babies, these included Blueberry Muffin, Angel Cake and of course, Strawberry Shortcake.