Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Way Back WhensDay: The Smurfs

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I can still remember the first time I saw a Smurf.  It was the summer before third grade (1981) and I was looking at the comics section in the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  The section that week featured a half page ad with all the upcoming cartoons on the Saturday morning lineup on NBC.  Back then, Saturday mornings were filled with hours of cartoons and it was glorious.  Anyway, there was a picture of the Smurfs, promoting its September debut in the United States.  I was instantly obsessed.

Later that summer we went back to school shopping and I insisted on getting a Smurf lunch box.  The blue plastic box featured many of the Smurfs staring in awe of the only female (at the time) Smurfette.  It came with a yellow and white thermos with a Smurf and Smurfette featured on the front.

Gargamel & Azrael
I tuned in each Saturday and watched with interest as Papa Smurf lead his pack of little Smurfs.  They talked funny, substituting the word "Smurf" for other common words.  They sang and danced.  They got along pretty perfectly for the most part.  The Smurfs seemed to love everything and were loved by all, except the evil wizard Gargamel and his cranky cat Azrael.  The evil duo created Smurfette as a way to destroy the Smurfs, but his attempt backfired and Smurfette became a part of the Smurf family.  Through the years new additions arrived, including Grandpa Smurf, a batch of Smurflings, and a little Baby Smurf.  They joined my favorites like Brainy, Clumsy, and Grouchy.

Of course with any successful show there are plenty of things to market along with it.  My favorite was of course the little rubber toys.  I had (and still do have) dozens of these little Smurfs.  There was a bowling Smurf, a clown Smurf, a doctor Smurf, even a Santa Smurf.  I also had a collection of plush Smurfs, tshirts, games, and even ate the Smurf cereal (which for the record I hated)  When Hardee's introduced a line of Smurf soda glasses, you can bet my family was there each week to get another one.  They're still packed away ever so safely in my attic.  I ate breakfast in bed on my birthdays on with my metal Smurf TV tray.

Just a few of my Smurfs
Even after I graduated from college,  a full six years after the Smurfs went off the air, I went back into a collection phase.  I scoured flea markets and picked up a handful of toys to add to my collection.  I bought a record player, alarm clock, and kitchen ware.  I even found the Smurf toy box.  I was obsessed all over again.  Of course, as I was preparing to get married my wife pulled the plug on most of the Smurfiness.  I ended up selling almost everything, except the glasses, toys, and lunchbox.

4th grade & now
Now, with the movies out, my kids have gained an interest in the Smurfs.  My daughter still plays with the figures.  And I've picked up three or four Smurf t-shirts over the last couple of years.  A couple years ago I even wore my Smurf pajamas on the air on National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day.  In 2005, I dressed like Papa Smurf at an 80's New Year's Eve party too.  It's like what's old is new again, and when it comes to most things from the 80's, I'm on board, especially for my beloved Smurfs!

1 comment:

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