UNICEF Smurfs

Smurfs: The Lost Village opens today and while it’s the third Smurfs film from Sony Pictures, it’s essentially a reboot completely unrelated to their previous films. Unlike other franchises Sony has decided to reboot before their time, it actually makes sense for this series, as the Smurfs have been around forever and have done pretty much everything.

The brainchild of acclaimed Belgian artist Peyo, The Smurfs launched as a comic book way back in 1958 before expanding into nearly every form of media, including TV series, toys, and food. With that many years of Smurfs, there were plenty of opportunities for some really strange things to happen, and they didn’t Smurfing disappoint. Here are some of the strangest moments from their history.

Purple Smurfs

Smuuuuuuuuurfs

Believe it or not, there’s an episode of the Smurfs that’s essentially one of the first onscreen zombie tales. The Purple Smurfs shows Lazy Smurf living up to his name and trying to slowly chop down some trees in the forest. He finds himself attacked by a purple fly that he tries to chase away with an axe and only gets bitten by for his troubles. He immediately turns an alarming shade of purple and begins to shout out “GNAP! GNAP!” (presumably smurf for “Brains!”) through gritted teeth. Lazy then begins hopping away like a jiangshi and starts biting his fellow smurfs, turning them purple as well. Papa Smurf and the survivors are forced to seek shelter in a house as they desperately try to find a cure. They decide to capture one of the purple Smurfs and do some testing on him for a cure (their very own Bub!) but he gets free and starts biting everyone, and the epidemic gets even worse.

It all ends with a blazing inferno in Papa Smurfs’ home that cooks the ineffective cure and finally saves the village. As insane as this sounds for a kid’s property, it could have been much worse. In the original comic it’s based on, they are zombified Black Smurfs. Thankfully someone at Hanna-Barbera clearly saw the issue with a tv show depicing the Smurfs turning into mindless, dark-skinned monsters. “Gnap,” indeed.

Wartime Smurfs

Despite what you might believe, this is a 100% real UNICEF ad that aired on Belgian TV. It was created via a collaboration with the family of Peyo, who gave the project their full approval.

The opening of the commercial should be familiar, as it’s how every single Smurfs episode starts… but then the bombs start falling. With no warning, the Smurfs village is reduced to blazing rubble, the only apparent survivor a crying baby in the middle of this hell.

It’s certainly striking, to say the least. It was crafted as part of UNICEF Belgium’s campaign to raise about $150,000 for the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in Burundi. The cartoon was shown on national television, but was obviously not intended for children, so it only aired for adult audiences later at night. “The cartoon is in no way intended to be a teaching tool for children.” they suggested but it likely stuck with any who saw it.

Smurf Gas

Smurfin’ Dots

An urban legend that Smurf figurines used lead paint circulated in Britain in the 1970s, and it might have had some basis in reality.

It all started because of a campaign by gasoline company National Benzole to give away free Smurfs figurines with purchases. While the toys were first produced in Europe, demand for the figurines quickly overwhelmed their factories, leading them to outsource production to Hong Kong. The U.K. Department of Health stated that they had conducted tests on the paint that showed there was no risk, but this scare still led to colored dots being added under the feet of each figurine for future production runs. This enables anyone to quickly figure out which country’s factories produced them and, presumably, stay clear of any suspect toys – red dots were from Sri Lanka, Yellow are from Portugal, and so on..

Collectors of course ran with this and the dots are used to determine rarity of these figures.

Smurf The Other Cheek

SmurfTDs

As someone who has sat through dozens of children’s cartoons in the interests of being a loving, supporting father, it’s easy to spot the shows that only exist to tell a morality tale. The best cartoons feature clever metaphors for real-world issues and deal with them in ways that the kids watching them don’t pick up on, while the adults can all nod sagely. And then there are episodes such as this one, Smurf the Other Cheek, that exist to warn kids about the dangers of dirty, dirty women.

It starts as all of the Smurfs are listening to a decree from Papa Smurf, who states that under no means shall any Smurf kick another Smurf. Unfortunately, our hero Hefty Smurf is out in the woods and misses this important info, and runs across a witch in the woods with a massive red spot on her nose. She is crying and demands he kicks her in the ass so she can be freed from her terrible, unsightly blemish.

After a quick conversation with the angel and devil smurfs that appear over his shoulders (“Ah go on, she’s asking for it,” the devil insists) he kicks her, and the spot promptly transfers to his nose. Hefty runs back to village and asks for his friend Vanity to kick him to get rid of it, and you can imagine what happens next. Hint: it involves a lot of Smurfs presenting a lot of blue butts to each other, until Papa Smurf ends up breaking his own damn rule. He ends up going back to the witch and kissing her nose, curing them both and presumably making them live with the life-long fear of spreading it to others.

The morale of the story? No kicking. Uh-huh….

Smurfs Village

A Thousand Smurfaroos

The Smurfs is an incredibly profitable franchise, as video game company Capcom found out in 2010 when they released Smurf’s Village. The game is one of those base-builders that is free to play, but it costs money if you want to speed things up and actually have any fun. The game proved incredibly popular with children, and unpopular with parents who found their children spending thousands of dollars of smurfberries.

While the iTunes store had already implemented some safety measures to stop this from happening, they missed one. It turns out that if you entered a password for your kid to spend a buck on some in-app content, the account remains active for 15 minutes and lets the kids continue to buy whatever they want, including $99.99 mega-packs of worthless berries.

Capcom quickly released a press release saying that parents should blame Apple, not them, but that wasn’t much comfort to anyone with phone bills that were scary enough to make them smurf their pants. It’s since been fixed so that a password can be required for each and every purchase, and Apple offered refunds for anyone who thought they were charged by accident.

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