Current Kinder Surprise Situation in NZ
(Last Updated: 9 March 2018)
I am not collecting Kinder Surprise toys with quite the same fervour that I used to, so I am not entirely “up with the play” about what’s happening with Kinders in New Zealand. But I can tell you that Ferrero appears to have teamed up with Disney to give us sets from movies like Despicable Me 3 and Cars (or maybe Cars 2?). You don’t have to worry about looking for use-by dates anymore if you want to find toys from these sets. Just look for eggs with pictures of the relevant characters on the wrapper! I have found that if you buy eggs with these characters depicted, you are guaranteed a toy from that set every time. Just as you are guaranteed a girl’s toy if you buy a Kinder egg with a pink-tipped wrapper. So the wrapper itself, rather than the use-by date, is all you need to look for now if you’re searching for a specific type of toy.
A couple of years ago, Ferrero also teamed up with Mattel to give us sets of Hot Wheels cars and Barbie dolls. 2016 is when toys geared to girls started being sold in Kinder Surprises with wrappers that are pink on top. So for example, the Barbie set could be found in toys with “pink-tipped” wrappers. (1/7/16 seemed to be a good use-by date for Barbie dolls). But Hot Wheels were in eggs with regular white wrappings (17/6/16 was a good date for Hot Wheels). And presumably other more male-oriented toys are also in eggs with normal white wrappers.
There was “more than meets the eye” to Kinder Surprise toys back in late 2014, because the releases then included a set of Transformers! These are only in “robot” mode and don’t transform into vehicles. There are eight of them, including Autobot leader Optimus Prime and Decepticon leader Megatron. They are part of the “FT” series. An excellent use-by date for Transformers (in fact, I had a 100% success rate with it!) was 10/6/15.
Yet another set of Smurfs were featured in 2013, just in time for the release of The Smurfs 2 movie, which came out on 19 September 2013. The set we got was from the NV series, and was pretty well identical to one that was released in Germany all the way back in 2008! However, the papers were naturally different, and the bases were also different in that they are marked “2013”. So it is still well worth collecting even if you managed to get the earlier set somehow. 24/4/14 was a good date for this set—in fact, I had a 100% strike rate with 24 eggs that I bought! I have also been informed that 14/4/14 was another excellent date.
A little earlier in 2013, we had toys associated with the Madagascar movie series. 14/6/13 was a particularly good date for these.
In March and April 2013, we had chocolate bunnies and Maxi eggs for Easter, and both of these contained toys from the very latest “TR” series. The Maxi eggs offered a Looney Tunes set.
Earlier in 2012, we got the “Happy Feet 2” set, and I can tell you that 2/12/12 was an exceptionally good date. I got a complete set of eight from just 14 eggs with this use-by date! Quite an outstanding strike rate!
In another exciting development of 2012, we had Maxi eggs! I don’t remember Maxi eggs ever being sold in New Zealand before, but I it’s always possible that I missed it previously. They were only available for the Easter period. They mainly had a Tom and Jerry set.
Late in 2011 and in honour of the movie, The Smurfs, released in NZ on 7 October of that year, Kinder Surprise eggs contained a set of eight Smurfs (well actually, it was seven Smurfs plus their old enemy Gargamel). A particularly good date for the little blue guys was 17/5/12. Along with Smurfs, we now also seemed to be getting the DE series. (This is still the case currently.)
Prior to this, we were getting the NV series, but plenty of TT toys were also mixed in. The 2S series finally disappeared for good, and I can’t say I’m too sorry about that. The first DE toys also appeared in the form of a set of Easter-themed animal clips available in eggs dated 12/1/12 and 13/1/12.
The last “hand-painted” series I’m aware of was “Magic Sport 2”, aka “Soccer Animals”. There was previously a set released in June 2010 that was doubtless aimed to coincide with the World Cup in South Africa. That set was from the “S” series, and was originally released for the 2006 Soccer World Cup. The “Magic Sport 2” set is from the TT series. I found 19/3/11 to be a pretty good use-by date for this.
With the departure of the original Soccer Animals, we FINALLY got rid of the “S” series, which felt like it had been around forever, and got a mix of 2S and TT toys, all of which were issued in the now-ubiquitous yellow hinged capsules. The NV series also started to make an appearance with some recasts, but also a set of very nice animal jigsaws. 19/3/11 was again a reasonable use-by date for these jigsaws.
Our last hand-painted set (that I know of, and which preceded the Soccer Animals) was Ice Age 3. 3/4/10 was the use-by date, that seemed to have the highest “hit rate” for these figurines. Incidentally, they have NV numbers.
Prior to that, we had The Simpsons. There were ten figurines to collect (as was also the case with the Ice Age 3 set), and the papers accompanying them were the same ones that have been issued with the set in Mexico and Benelux. (I suspect that’s also true for Ice Age set.) They were basically generic papers, which have The Simpsons logo and pictures of the characters on one side, and a picture of the specific figurine the paper belongs to on the reverse side. The figurines had TT numbers, by the way. One other group of toys out with TT numbers was a rather cool set of jigsaws featuring assorted animals. Meanwhile, the Musical Notes set from the S series could also be found in Kinder eggs late in 2009.
I am pleased to report that the horrible mishmash of papers we used to get seems to have ceased. In fact, we have pretty well waved bye-bye to the Argentine line of toys that has been with us since about 2000. Of the toys I have got in the past year or so, not a single one has had an Argentine paper. Just as separate German papers have been done away with, it appears that the same can be said for Argentine and Brazilian papers. In like fashion, it appears that there will now no longer be special Argentine variations of toys with their own stickers etc.
However, there is some variety now in the capsules. These seem to be a mixture of yellow and orange. But they can be further subdivided in the old style that we have had since the mid-1990s, and a new style of hinged capsule, which has presumably been introduced for safety purposes. There does not appear to be any types of toys being inserted into certain types of capsules; they are just inserted indiscriminately, so the type of capsule you get is not an indicator of the toy that may be inside.
Before The Simpsons, we had the Mole Mission 2 set. I even saw it being advertised on television! The series first seemed to begin appearing in Kinder Surprise eggs dated 27/3/08, but good numbers of moles could be found in eggs dated 20/4/08. There were two different papers accompanying the toys—West European and Brazilian. The West European papers were quite a dark blue and had the Magicode logo on the reverse side, along with the URL for the Magic Kinder Web site. The Brazilian papers were a lighter blue and didn’t have any logos or URLs on the reverse side.
The mishmash of papers in the Mole Mission 2 set was repeated elsewhere. Take the Boneless Pirates, for instance. Some toys had Kinder Joy papers, while others had Argentine ones! The same applied to the Baby Band figurines and toys. Most had Kinder Joy papers, but at least one (the Baby Band Safe, S-40) had an Argentine paper. At least two toys from the K02 series (the motor scooters, Nos. 28 and 29) were reissued with old-style Italian/European papers, while other K toys (from the K02 and K04 series) were issued with new Argentine papers (but in some cases, as with K02 No. 83, they had the wrong numbers!). It’s all rather confusing, and frankly annoying. Why could a single paper style not be decided on and stuck with?
But amidst this crazy hodgepodge was one set of toys to really get excited about: the World Wildlife Fund jigsaw puzzles. Accompanied uniformly by Argentine papers, there were six of them, two more than were issued in Europe! The extra two puzzles featured an elephant and a tiger. The puzzles were not especially easy to get.
The Kinder Surprise set based on the popular cartoon series, Spongebob Squarepants, was in New Zealand for a while, but it is long gone now. It could be found in use-by dates of 10/11/07 onwards. We got the same set that was issued in the Netherlands, and there were some important variations from the set that was put out in the rest of Europe. The Euro Spongebob has a round base, while the Dutch one has a diamond-shaped base. The Euro Mr Krabs has a round base, whereas the Dutch one has a sort of star-shaped base. The pin at the top of Squidward Tentacles’ legs is quite big and round in the European version, but in the Dutch version it is more slender and in a sort of star shape. The Dutch papers feature the Nickelodeon logo plus the name of the series in English and Spanish. Spongebob Squarepants six-packs were found in Napier’s Pak N Save supermarket (thanks to Heather Knowles for reporting this to me in mid-March), which apparently also had Kinder Maxi eggs! (Not sure if we have had Maxi Kinders in New Zealand before; they have certainly been available in Australia before now though.)
The Monster Hotel series is gone at last. The figurines have letters (C-A, C-B and so forth), and I think they come with Kinder Joy papers. There are also some Monster Hotel-related toys numbered C-1 to C-15. They were mixed in with regular MPG toys, which were first found in eggs with a use-by date of 29/11/06. The papers were very plain compared with the German or West European ones, and some were Kinder Joy papers, while others were all-new Argentine papers. Indeed, there was a set of jigsaw puzzles that were exclusive Argentine variations. These were based on the Monster Hotel series and numbered S-409 to S-416. They were also in the standard Argentine orange and yellow capsules. Click here for a scan of a paper showing the puzzle set, and here for a scan of the S-409 paper! Furthermore, older K toys were released with Argentine papers done in the same style as MPG ones! I call these Type 2 Argentine papers. Some K toys not previously issued with Argentine papers were being put out with these Type 2 papers. An example is the K01 speedboat set, K01 Nos. 39-41. This set was given Argentine stickers and the new-style papers. Check out a scan of a new Argentine K01 paper here, and a scan of the paper for K01 No. 40 (reverse side) here. Some of the K04 toys (not previously issued with Argentine papers) also came with Type 2 papers. Click here for an example of a Type 2 Argentine K04 paper. A number of C toys were likewise issued with Argentine papers. As previously mentioned, these papers are much plainer than their European counterparts, and in some cases, one or more toys from the set will be missing, or substituted with a toy from elsewhere. An example of an Argentine C paper is this one (click here to see the assembly instruction side, and see how similar it is to the Argentine K01 paper). Note that while the European version of this set has six toys, the Argentine version only has five (C-135 is missing). However, some C toys were issued with what are Kinder Joy papers, but which are very similar to 2005/06 East European papers. An example of this is the “Wheelers” set (C-69 to C-73).
Before Spongebob Squarepants, the main hand-painted series was Doraemon. This set comprised eight figurines based on two different cats and a boy. Click here to see a scan of a Doraemon paper. Our papers were very similar to the UK Doraemon papers, but in the top right-hand corner, our papers had the text, “© 1970-2005 Fujiko Pro”. The text in the top right-hand corner of the UK papers on the other hand is “© 1970-2004 Fujiko Pro. Licensed in Italy by RTI and in Spain and Portugal by Luk Internacional”.
Cybertops are long gone. A few strays with CANADIAN papers (in French on one side and English on the other) and Cybertop Magicode papers found their way into this country, but were pretty short-lived and perhaps an accident on Ferrero’s part. Prior to that, Cybertops had been issued with Australia/New Zealand papers. About the earliest date that Cybertops appeared was 18/4/06. This was the first hand-painted series to appear in New Zealand in nearly three years! What differentiated Down Under Cybertop papers from their UK counterparts was the safety warning, which on our papers begins with “WARNING, READ AND KEEP”, and has references for Ferrero Italy and Ferrero Argentina. The safety warning on UK Cybertop papers starts “PLEASE READ AND KEEP” and uses a larger, italic font. Another important point to note is that Dr Link the laptop is called Prof. Byte on Down Under papers.
The Argentine K03 series is ancient history now. This series also included some K02 ones not released with the main Argentine K02 series. Among these were K02 Nos. 3-6 (Gnomes on wheels), Nos. 22 and 23 (creatures on giant wheels), No. 25 (registered “JJ-5”), No. 33 (grinning cow), No. 44 (penguin with little penguin), Nos. 50-54 (funny tools on wheels), Nos. 71-74 (animals in baskets), No. 101 (articulated turtle) and No. 103 (sailboat). Not all K03 toys have had Argentine papers, however—K03 No. 70, for instance, is issued with an Italian/European paper, as were K03 Nos. 101-103 (the 3D puzzle set). Moreover, the Looney Tunes series was issued with Italian/European papers, so unfortunately, we got it twice over after first getting it with the Italian/European version of the K03 series.
The Argentine versions of the K03 jigsaws were thankfully a bit easier to find than their K02 counterparts. In my experience of the Argentine K02 series, jigsaw puzzles—and Smurfs for that matter—were like hen’s teeth. In fact, they were even rarer! I only managed to pull one solitary Smurf out of a Kinder egg in eight months. This was one I needed – Smurfette with Argentine paper. (I still need Papa Smurf to complete my Argentine Smurf paper set - please e-mail me if you can help with that.) Likewise, I think I only managed to get one jigsaw with tan back in that time. By contrast, I found less attractive toys such as the various robotic toys from K02 No. 35 to K02 No. 42 and the clam on wheels (K02 No. 100) to be rather depressingly common. (It often seems to be the way that the least appealing toys are the ones you encounter most frequently.) The sailboats (K02 Nos. 68-70), recasts of K95 Nos. 78-80, were also quite common, especially No. 69. German recasts were generally quite hard to get. The most common toys in that department seemed to be the “Turner in Aktion” and “Unter der Sonne Mexikos” recasts.
2003 was a great year for Kinder Surprise collectors in this country, and the arrival of the Argentine K02 toys and German recasts has brightened up 2004. 2005 got off to an excellent start with the arrival of the Argentine K03 series, and has just got even better with the advent of the Argentine K04 series and Cybertops. However, the first three years of the 21st Century (or first two, if you believe it started in 2001), were not at all kind to Kinder Surprise collectors in the Antipodes. Things were so bad in May 2002 that Linda McGuiness of Wainuiomata, a suburb of Lower Hutt near Wellington, actually complained to New Zealand's consumer rights TV programme, Fair Go about it!
The Fair Go Kinder Surprise item screened on TV One on 15 May 2002. Ms McGuiness showed off some of her impressive collection and discussed the large number of K99 toys showing up in boxes advertising the "2001" series. She and the reporter (Eleisha McNeill) opened 50 eggs and only got 18 K01 toys, with the rest being K99! (Actually, I’m surprised they got as many as 18 K01 toys!)
A lady from Ferrero (judging by her accent, she appeared to be from Ferrero Argentina, though the Fair Go report says Ferrero Australia) was also interviewed, but she did not offer an adequate explanation as to why there were so many K99 toys and so few K01 ones in our eggs at that time.
I wrote to Fair Go myself, but they didn't get back to me or follow up the story any further. That‘s OK. Fair Go have far bigger fish to fry than Ferrero. But still, it's great that this issue got even a small amount of TV publicity. And perhaps that has contributed to the considerably improved situation we eventually found ourselves in.
There was one small bright spot in the glut of K00 toys though. This was some new variations that came out in around 2002. (These were in fact the very first Argentine Kinder toys, though they still had Italian/European papers.) For example, the K00 28 & 29 set was redone. The penguin waiter now has a clear tray (the original’s tray has a red base). The singing parrot has eye stickers and no yellow hair, whereas the original has painted eyes and yellow hair. K00 No. 64, the bee with rotating wings, now has black eyes (the original had blue). K00 No. 70 has a white ball rather than grey (though the most recent ones I got still seemed to have the grey ball).
If you want the very latest toys that are currently available in Europe, you can always get them from overseas contacts, using the Internet. (Facebook groups are a great way to organise swaps these days.) Alternatively, you may be able to swap with or buy from another NZ collector or collectors (as indeed I've done), but they've got to get their new toys from overseas. So ultimately, overseas – particularly Europe – is where the very latest toys are going to come from, whether you get them directly yourself or from a fellow-Kiwi who has got them from overseas.