The History of Kinder Surprise...
Surprise (Kinder Überraschung or Kinder Sorpesa), also known as a Kinder
Egg, (Kinder being the German word for "Children"), is a confection
originally intended for children in the form of a chocolate egg containing a
small toy, often requiring assembly.
Kinder Surprise originated in 1972 in Italy.
The manufacturer is Ferrero. 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.
Prohibited in the United States
Kinder Eggs containing toys are not
suitable for children under the age of three due to the small parts which
may be ingested or inhaled. They are sold all over the world excluding the
United States, where the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, prohibits
embedding "non-nutritive items" in confections. Additionally, the
Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall on the eggs in 1997. Kinder
Egg-like confections are available, but only in a form filled with small candies
and/or stickers. There are some stores in the United States that sell genuine
Kinder Eggs, often in conjunction with other imported British or other European
sweets, although their importation is technically illegal due to the 1938
law and 1997 recall.
Click picture for larger size.
Every Kinder Surprise toys is accompanied of a text warning the buyer of the potential hazard for small children.
The paper reads: "Warning, read and keep: Toy not suitable for children under 3 years. Small parts might be swallowed or inhaled."
Popularity and Collectors
In Europe, their popularity has spread
beyond their intended market, and they have become a minor cult phenomenon
among discerning adults. There is even a thriving collector's market for the
toys. This is especially true in Germany, where the manufacturer includes
higher-quality toys than those available elsewhere (more details below). 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), which are said to be in every seventh egg (ad slogan: "Jetzt
in jedem siebten Ei"); cartoon characters (sometimes called "stick
figures", which is a mistranslation of the German "Steckfiguren");
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).
|The Magic Code
A relatively new innovation, triggered
by the advent of the Internet, is the introduction of 'Internet surprises'.
Accompanying the toy is a small slip of paper containing a 'Magicode'. This
code gives access to games at the Magic Kinder website, some for downloading,
some for playing online.
Note: The magic code was short lived and lasted only a few years, now a days the Magic Kinder website offers lots of interaction, fun and games for everyone visiting the site, no code required.
Kinder Surprise toys
There are a number of different approaches that can be taken to collecting Kinder
Surprise toys. It is important to realise that not just the toys are collectable,
but also the instruction papers (which many Kinder Surprise collectors refer
to by their German abbreviation of BPZ, which stands for Beipackzettel). Some
novice collectors make the mistake of discarding the instruction papers. Consequently,
"BPZs" tend to be rarer than the toys, which makes them more valuable
to collectors. Other objects associated with Kinder Surprises (such as promotional
posters, sales display boxes and dioramas) are also frequently sought after.
As with any collectable, it is possible to be "completist",
and attempt to collect every toy and paper ever made anywhere in the world,
as well as any other Kinder-related items. However, most collectors prefer
to specialise in a particular area, such as hand-painted figurines, metal
figurines or jigsaws. Some collectors even choose to only collect Kinder-related
advertising and promotional material.
Before deciding on what and how to collect however, it is
important to have a basic understanding of the main types of Kinder toys and
how to classify and identify them. This is covered in the section below.
Classification and identification
Classifying and identifying Kinder Surprise toys is a rather complex exercise.
There are several different lines, and a number of different numbering systems
have been used over the years. Until the 1990s, the toys were seldom numbered
at all, which can make identification difficult (although some early toys,
especially hand-painted figurines, have a Ferrero mark). Kinder history can
be broadly split into two periods: pre-2004 and post-2004. The pre-2004 toys
were made by Ferrero. But in 2004, a Luxembourg-based company called MPG (which
stands for Magic Production Group) took over toy production, although Ferrero
continues to make Kinder Surprise chocolate. Prior to 2004, but after 1990,
three distinct lines emerge:
Pre-2004: German line
The German line of Kinder Surprise toys was sold only in Germany before 1997,
and in Germany and Austria after 1997. In general, this line is regarded by
Kinder aficionados as being superior in quality to other lines. The instruction
papers for German toys are quite large and usually contain the name of the
series on one side, and frequently, the name of the toy on the other side,
which also has the assembly instructions. In addition, each German paper has
a six-digit number that is unique to the specific toy. The toys themselves
do not have these numbers, but almost always have a Ferrero mark. There does
not appear to be any particular pattern to the German numbering system, but
the first three digits are always either 6xx or 7xx.
Pre-2004: West European line
Until the early 2000s, this line (made by Ferrero Italy) was sold and distributed
in all countries except Germany, Austria and countries where Kinder Surprise
eggs are illegal (such as the USA) or simply not available. From about 2001
however, it was restricted mainly to Western Europe, Japan and Hong Kong.
The main distinguishing feature of this line is the use of "K numbers"
(e.g. K96 No. 1), which are found on both the toys and instruction papers.
The two digits after the K represent the year of issue, while the subsequent
number is the number of the specific toy. So K96 No. 1, for instance, would
be toy No. 1 in the series issued in 1996. Toys with "K numbers"
are sometimes referred to as "K toys". The toys tend to be less
sophisticated than the ones in the German line. The papers are also a great
deal more basic. They are essentially elongated strips that show the toys
in the set on one side and have assembly instructions for the specific toy
on the other. Unlike the German papers, they almost never have any writing
on them. The "K" papers were accompanied by a separate white strip
of paper with a standard safety warning in many languages. The first known
"K" series was K91, while the last was K04, after which MPG introduced
a brand-new numbering system.
In recent years, there have also been reproductions of older
K toys, which Kinder collectors frequently refer to as "recasts".
These "recasts" first appeared in Poland, but soon spread to other
Eastern European countries and eventually to Canada, Mexico, South America,
Australia and New Zealand. They have very similar papers to the original releases,
but the numbering is slightly different. For example, a "recast"
of K93 No. 81 is simply numbered "No. 81". Both the toys and papers
have this altered numbering. Recasts are not very popular with collectors,
but they are nevertheless sought after by completists.
Pre-2004: Argentine/Brazilian line
This line only began in the earliest years of the 21st Century after Ferrero
Argentina became a much bigger player on the Kinder Surprise scene. "Argentine"
toys, as they are generally known, are basically K toys, but with some significant
differences from their West European counterparts. The Argentine line is distributed
in South America, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is also sold
in Brazil, but Brazilian papers are different from the standard Argentine
versions (see below). Although the "Argentine" line mostly resembles
the West European line, there are often differences in how the toys are made.
For instance, where a West European animal or character toy would have the
eyes painted on, the Argentine equivalent would have eye stickers. Some Argentine
toys have even been exclusive and never released in the West European line.
For example, the jigsaw puzzle numbered K01 No. 122 was only ever released
in the Argentine line and never issued in the West European line. It is consequently
quite highly sought-after by European Kinder Surprise collectors. In more
recent years, a series of jigsaw puzzles based on the Monster Hotel hand-painted
series was also exclusive to the Argentine line.
Up to 2004, Argentine papers showed the toy series and assembly
instructions on the same side, while the opposite side contained the multi-lingual
safety warning that is printed on an entirely separate paper in the West European
line. Initially, the papers were of rather poor quality and tore easily, but
from the K02 series onwards, they were thickened up a bit, although they were
still rather less robust than their European counterparts.
Post-2004: European MPG line
After MPG took over the production of Kinder Surprise toys, the German and
European lines were merged so that the same toys were now distributed in all
European countries. The numbering system was changed, as were the toys and
papers. Instead of a "K" number or six-digit number, all toys now
had a new type of number. In the first MPG year, toys were numbered C-x (e.g.
C-1, C-2 etc.). In the second MPG season, the C was replaced by an S (so toys
were now numbered S-1, S-2 and so forth). In the third and current season
of MPG toys, S has been replaced by 2S (2S-1, 2S-2 etc.). The papers were
made somewhat larger. The toys had the new numbering and an MPG mark instead
of a Ferrero one.
But although the toy lines were merged, the papers have retained
some significant regional differences. German papers still contain the series
name, and often the toy name, in German. West European papers have no writing,
but do contain a Magicode logo. East European papers are much the same as
West European papers, but have no Magicode logo.
Post-2004: Argentine/Brazilian MPG line
Notwithstanding the merger of the German and European lines, there continues
to be a separate Argentine line. MPG toys are included in this line, but sometimes
have differences to their European counterparts, most notably in their stickers
and the papers. The new Argentine papers are much bigger than before. In fact,
they are the same size as the European papers. On one side, they show the
toys in the series. The reverse side has two distinct parts: the assembly
instructions (across the top) and the multi-lingual safety warning (bottom
half). The Brazilian papers are much the same, but the safety warning section
is yellow rather than white. Interestingly, some "K" toys (mainly
from the K04 series, but also a set of speedboats from the K01 series) have
been released in the Argentine/Brazilian line with MPG-style larger papers.
Another curious feature of the Argentine line has been the release of a small
number of "recasts" of old German toys. The papers are in the original
Argentine pre-2004 style, but have the German six-digit numbers. The toys
are much the same as the German originals, but in some cases, the colours
have been changed.
In addition to the regular collectable toys, Kinder Surprise series generally
contain special limited-edition sets. These sets tend to vary greatly between
countries, with many variations in toys, but more especially papers, which
tend to be unique to the specific countries in which the sets are released.
Some sets are released in many countries, while others are only issued in
one or two. A few types of limited editions are discussed below.
Hand-painted figurines are solid toys that generally don't require assembly.
They are very popular with collectors. They can be broadly divided into two
types: animal themes and cartoon characters. One of the earliest known hand-painted
sets is the Super-Mini-Schlumpf-Parade (Super Mini Smurf Parade), issued in
Germany in 1983. Hand-painted sets issued prior to 1990 tend to be very highly
sought-after, especially if, as in the case with the Smurfs, other collector
groups are also interested. The earliest sets were released only in Germany,
but after about 1993, they were released in many different countries, with
papers unique to those countries. Even so, a small number of sets were only
released in Germany, while others (like the 1994 Panda Party) were issued
in several European countries but not Germany. It is fair to say that some
sets have seen wider distribution than others. Until the advent of the MPG
era, hand-painted sets were not numbered. However, MPG limited-edition sets
have MPG numbers on both the toys and papers.
The 1994 Panda Party figures. |
Some of the Super-Mini-Schlumpf-Parade figures.
The toys known in Germany as "Steckfiguren" are based primarily
on cartoon characters. Some English-speaking collectors call them "stick
figures", but this is not really a correct translation. A more accurate
translation would be something like "put-together figurines" or
"snap-together figurines". So unlike hand-painted figurines, they
are not solid, but have to be assembled. As with hand-painted figurines however,
they were originally issued in Germany only. In the European and Argentine
lines, they were assigned K numbers, but tend to be harder to find than other
"K" toys and can command a similar premium to hand-painted figurines.
This is especially true of the early German releases, which were usually based
on Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Hanna-Barbera characters
like The Flintstones and Yogi Bear tended to feature in the "K"
series, although there were also two Peanuts sets (in the K94 and K00 series)
and two Smurfs sets (in the K97 and K02 series).
There have been many sets of metal figures - mainly soldiers - issued since
about 1980. Most of these were put out in Germany, but some found their way
to the West European line, where they were assigned "K" numbers.
The last known metal figure set in the "K" line was a set of medieval
figures released in the K98 series. There have been no metal figures issued
since MPG took over the manufacture of Kinder Surprise toys.
Other Kinder Surprise egg types
In addition to the main line of Kinder eggs, there are a couple of sub-types
worthy of mention:
Kinder Joy eggs are released during the hottest part of the summer in Europe.
Though the toys are the same as the toys that are currently in the Kinder
Surprise eggs, the Kinder Joy eggs are very different. The cover of the egg
is plastic, and to open it you cut it in half. One half of the egg has the
toy, and the other half has a hazelnut cream with two crunchy chocolate balls
Kinder Joy packets from Greece 2008.
Maxi toys can be found in giant-sized Kinder eggs known as "Maxi eggs".
They are much bigger than regular-sized toys.
Size difference between a Maxi egg and a regular sized one.
taken from Wikipedia, Free Encyclopedia on the internet.