Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn takes a look at the collectable value of a certain tribe of tiny creatures...
At this time of year, visitors to the centre often say they’re getting out and about “to beat the winter blues”. And that leads me to the perfect collectable for this week, a tribe of tiny creatures who always remain cheery, despite being the epitome of blue.
Yes, it’s the Smurfs! Many will remember them as petrol station giveaways, but not realise the longevity (and collectability) of these little folk.
Smurfs began as a Belgian comic book series created by Peyo (the pen name of artist Pierre Culliford) in 1958. Figurines Papa, Normal and Angry were first produced in 1959. In 1965, German company Schleich mass-produced the first PVC Smurfs: Normal, Gold and Convict. The first female Smurf, “Smurfette”, was introduced in 1971.
Smurfs have proliferated ever since, with multiple franchises worldwide selling over 300 million to date and cumulative sales including merchandising and films totalling over $5billion! In only two years since 1969 (1991 and 1998) have no new Smurfs been produced.
Smurf collecting is now a major international hobby, with many collecting and swapping websites. With 400 different figures, Smurfs take up little room, are relatively unbreakable, and light to post. Common Smurfs can be picked up second hand for a few pounds. We usually have a small colony, starting at £5 each.
Rarest Smurfs include Praying, Baseball Player Smurfette, and Christmas Smurfs Candy Cane and Wreath. Look for themes like History Smurfs; Thomas Edison holding a lightbulb is the most valuable. Sports Smurfs like Footballer and Rugby, with different kits, can also fetch high prices.
Rarer (older, limited edition or ‘retired’) Smurfs will be more valuable. Look for stamps indicating the year the mould was created, and manufacturer (some people collect only Schleich). All Smurfs should be stamped ‘Peyo’, in reference to their creator. “M” denotes a rare “Muster Stamp”: perfect Smurfs used as a templates for painting others.
Smurfs are a great hobby to learn a little about and keep an eye out for. Get lucky in a battered box of mixed toys, and you could make a fantastic return for a tiny figure, a sure way to beat the winter blues.