Believe it or not, 2008 marks the 50th birthday for the Smurfs! These little blue beings were the brainchild of Pierre Culliford, the Belgian artist better known as Peyo. The Smurfs (or les Schtroumpfs, as they were known in French,) made their first appearance on October 23, 1958, as supporting characters in a children’s comic book series called Johan et Pirlouit. Their popularity soon ensured them a comic series of their own, and in 1965 Schleich GmbH, a German toy maker, began to produce the small PVC figures that we know today.
Over the years, Schleich has created around 400 different Smurf figures (including, of course, the villain Gargamel and his equally crafty cat, Azrael.) Over 300 million Smurf figurines have been sold since 1965 — and they are highly collectible, prized by adults as well as children.
For 2008, the new Smurf figures produced by Schleich celebrate this 50th anniversary. The eight commemorative figures include Papa Smurf (dressed in white tie and tails) to Smurfette perched atop a large pink-and-white birthday cake. The price remains the same at $4.99 plus tax.