PVC Figures

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They had no articulation. They had no accessories. They didn’t do anything but sit there in their various poses, and yet I loved them. PVC characters had captured my heart from the moment I saw my friends collection of Smurf PVCs sitting on a shelf above his bed. I wanted my own pretty badly (especially the one with the surfboard, which could actually be torn out of his hands so that you could make him ride it). Alas, I never got any, but I never stopped wanting, either.
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Over the years, I would encounter several other PVC figures. Peanuts. Garfield. The California Raisins. The Muppet Babies. Cap’n Crunch (as cereal premiums). And Care Bears.
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I have even managed to collect all the Grumpy Bear PVCs, as you can see in this video:

So what is it about these figures? Why did I love these things that were more knick-knack than toy so much? Hard to tell. Maybe it was because each figure seemed to be telling a story. Or, since it was the 80s, it may have been the mere idea of possession, the irresistible draw of simply owning something cool. Whatever it was, these PVC figures had it. They still do.


7 Responses to PVC Figures

  1. sjgeek89 says:

    When I was about 8 or 9 my brother and I were on a Sunday morning kids bowling league and after each session my mother would take us to a mom & pop gift/novelty store. My brother and I would each pick out 1 new Smurf each week and by the end of the league we had a pretty impressive collection. Unfortunately a few years ago when our son was born and my wife was not working I sold them on Ebay. Darn Ebay!

  2. Mike says:

    I sold off my Smurfs collection from the early 1980s when the movie came out a couple years ago. Middling reviews aside, it really boosted the interest on eBay.

  3. Drahken says:

    I had that cap’n crunch one, and a smurf one. I also used to have a set of larger snap/crackle/pop ones from the 70s.

  4. Rob O'Hara says:

    Great post, Doug! I loved collecting these too, and I think part of the allure was that there was a finite (usually relatively small) number of figurines to collect so it was pretty easy to “get them all”.

  5. Atari Adventure Square says:

    PVC figures were fun cuz they came in all varieties of my favorite toonsters and could stand a day doing massive stuntwork.

    Though some (like most collectable Smurfs we had) were only for show and not to be tossed around.

  6. DrNobody says:

    I have the Kermit and the California Raisin still, and used to have an awesome collection of Muppet PVC characters that were based on The Muppet Movie… Still have Rowlf and Scooter, but am missing so many great figures from there… (Of course I have a TON of other ones, but the Muppet ones were something special!!)

  7. Pop Rewind says:

    I had a TON of those! Why were they so popular?! I remember having a lot of Care Bear (Grumpy Bear FTW!) and Cabbage Patch ones for some reason.

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