When Smurfs: The Lost Village comes out this Friday, Gerda Scheuers will be excited — but she’s most excited about the merchandise the movie will bring.
For Gerda, Smurfs are a way of life. The stay-at-home mom of four sons from Ripon, Wis., has the world’s largest collection of Smurf memorabilia — more than 7,000 items! “Anything and everything that has Smurfs on it or in it, I want,” she says.
“The only thing that really stops me is a budget,” she adds. “And my husband saying, ‘That’s it! We need to pay the mortgage.’”
She has plush toys …
signs and decorations …
and plates and dishes:
But Gerda doesn’t use any of her Smurf items. She says they have to be in mint condition, still in the packaging, with the tags on. She does occasionally make exceptions for older vintage items that she doesn’t already have in her collection, or for duplicates, if she gets curious about what lies underneath that plastic packaging. With that said, most of her Smurf items have never been used. “It gives me a nervous breakdown just thinking about opening some of this stuff,” she says. “Oh, my God!”
Gerda’s collecting started when she was a kid. She was about 8 when she was playing Smurfs with her little brother and saw him chewing on one. She noticed its paint was missing and panicked that her toy was being damaged. “It became kind of a Smurf rescue from that point on,” she says.
Gerda still has that kicker Smurf with the missing paint:
Since then, her collection has grown significantly. She says Smurfs toys were easier to find in the 80s, when the cartoon was on the air, but they’ve since gotten harder to find. Gerda says she started out finding her Smurfs at thrift stores and flea markets, but these days she finds most of her new acquisitions on eBay. She has found a community of collectors online who are supportive and helpful. Together, they help each other find rare items and get their “Smurf fix” on. That, she says, is in keeping with the message of the Smurfs — that the whole Smurf village comes together to help each other out.
Gerda drives around with a custom license plate that reads “SMURF IT” and a Smurf air freshener hanging from the mirror. What does “Smurf It” mean? “Smurf and Smurfy really just mean helpful, happy,” says Gerda. “It’s not really a noun or a verb or anything.”
As for her kids and husband, she says they think this is normal. One of her sons has even gotten involved with collecting himself. She says she’s known as the “crazy Smurf lady” or “Mama Smurf” to her son’s friends.
Gerda says she has no plans to stop collecting, even though people sometimes tell her she’s crazy. “They look at it like, ‘You collect toys? You collect Smurfs? What’s wrong with you?’” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with me. Have fun in life! Be a kid! Who says you gotta grow up? I don’t!”
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