What I Don't Like About Kinder Surprise
(Last Updated: 7 April 2005)
Probably my chief gripe about Kinder Surprise these days is the preponderance of recasts in recent years. Recasts, as they are generally known, are reproductions of old Italian and German toys. They are often inferior reproductions, with both the toy and paper being of poorer quality, although the 2003 German recasts are quite decent. And admittedly, some do at least have colour variations and the like. But many are almost identical to the originals, which must be making the con artists among us rub their hands together with glee. Some recasts are almost impossible to distinguish from the originals even for seasoned collectors – you really have to know what to look for. Worse than that though is the complete lack of a cohesive numbering system. (Which admittedly also dogs the German toys, but at least they do have numbers!) One of the great things about the main K series, and now the new C series, is their orderly numbering system that makes the toys so easy to identify and catalogue. But how do you catalogue recasts? You end up forced to devise your own system, which adds to the confusion, because others use their own systems and it all becomes rather chaotic. Whereas with the K and C series, everyone can use the system already provided. Much better. Admittedly, Ferrero appears to have attempted to address this somewhat with the “T3” numbering system. But this was used with far too few toys – only about 12.
The recasts are not all bad, but the general consensus among Kinder collectors is that the cons outweigh the pros. Their lack of a numbering system creates utter confusion, their quality (of both toy and paper) is frequently inferior to the original, and basically they seem like a completely unnecessary addition to what was a perfectly good system. Recasts are justifiably regarded as being a poor second cousin to the main K toys and hand-painted figurines. When at their peak, they became the bane of Kinder Surprise collectors’ lives and caused people to become increasingly disillusioned with this venerable old collectable. Frankly, they are a disaster.
It appears that Ferrero has at last recognised this, because as far as I am aware, there have been no more recasts issued following the rather good German ones. Certainly, there appear to be none issued with the Argentine K03 series, although the C series contains some recasts of old K98 toys (but at least they have C numbers and nice papers to boot). I don’t think too many Kinder Surprise collectors are mourning the apparent passing of the recasts. Certainly, I don’t.
The only way Ferrero could really make the recasts work, if they ever want to foist them upon us again, would be to market them as a series in their own right. Perhaps they could take a tip from Furuta, the makers of Japanese Choco Eggs in this respect. Furuta has released a series called Choco Egg Classics, which comprises recasts of various animals from the first three Choco Egg series. The recasts are often different from the originals, but are of equally good quality and are just as desirable for collectors as the main series. They have a proper numbering system and so are easy to catalogue. Plus they are nicely packaged. If Ferrero were to organise its recasts into a proper series that was clearly identified (e.g. as Kinder Retro 1) and properly numbered, it could actually make them desirable for collectors. But things could not have gone on the way they were. Kinder Surprises were in grave danger of being completely ruined by the recasts as well as the continued flood of old toys and lack of new ones. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Let’s hope Ferrero continues to listen to collectors.
As if the recasts on their own were not bad enough, they are also infiltrating the regular K series and, as previously mentioned, the new C series. Here at least they are properly numbered and easier to catalogue. But the number of old toys getting into new series makes the new series rather less appealing. Part of the fun of new series in the past was getting totally new toys. Sure, there are still original toys in today‘s new series, but there are also too many old ones that have just been redone a bit. It would be good to see a reduction of recasts in future C series as well.
When it comes to the toys themselves, my biggest gripe would probably have to be that the stickers on some of the toys come off too easily. Eye stickers are particularly notorious in this regard. This problem was resolved by the eyes being painted on. Now however, in its continued regression to the past, Ferrero is bringing back the eye stickers (at least, for Argentine toys). Eye stickers are probably cheaper than painted eyes, which is probably why they are being brought back.
Apart from stickers coming off, some toys just fall apart altogether! Even if they're just stored away, they can fall apart.
Duplicates are a kind of "occupational hazard" when collecting toys like this, but it gets kind of depressing when you get a run of, say ten in a row. And why is it always the ugliest toys that seem to be the most common? You wonder if you'll ever see a new one again! (But invariably, you do.) And of course, a long duplicate run tends to involve common toys you already have about 20 of and everyone else has about 20 of too!
Here are a few of my least favourite Kinder Surprise toys:
· Arabs and Egyptians - movable arms and legs are OK, but otherwise they don't do much for me, even though in general I do like the Playmobil/Lego-type figurines.
· That red ball puzzle in the K96 series (No. 131 I think it is). It doesn't stick together and is just really stupid in my opinion. It gets my nomination for worst Kinder Surprise toy ever! A complete dud.
· Plastic animal puzzles (well actually, some are not too bad, and many of the German ones are rather nice)
· Viewing devices – none of them seem to work very well.
· I know I said I like vehicles, but I'm not all that shook on some of the carts. They’re rather unwieldy and unattractive. Also, I don’t especially dig some of the more “way-out” vehicles (e.g. insect cars), being a fan of realism.
· K00 Nos. 99 and 100, the capsule space creatures. Have there ever been two uglier Kinder Surprise toys devised than those two?
· Some of the spaceships and other space-related craft are frightfully ugly, e.g. K02 Nos. 34-37 and K04 Nos. 11-13. K96 Nos. 1 and 2 are pretty hideous as well. If they want to do spacecraft, why don’t they do more along the lines of K94 Nos. 59-61?
· Horror-themed toys generally—one negative for the C series is that there are far too many horror-themed toys. They could get rid of some and bring in more vehicles (of which there is a decided paucity) or even better, jigsaws or cartoon characters, which seem to have completely disappeared from the MPG lineup.
· A lot of the recasts, for reasons stated in detail above.
Something else that increasingly gets my goat is the lack of hand-painted figurine sets in New Zealand. Our trans-Tasman cousins are no better off in this respect. I don’t think we have had a hand-painted set in this country since late 2002. This is really not good enough. We used to get hand-painted sets on quite a regular basis—why is this no longer the case? And why do we no longer seem to get promotional items like three-packs, or special Easter packs etc.?
Also, although I do like the new development of new toy and paper variations, the Argentine papers leave a little bit to be desired. I don’t especially like the way assembly instructions are included for more than one toy. It makes the papers lose their individuality, and, I think, collectability. It also seems a bit ridiculous when two toys completely unrelated to one another are included on the paper, as is the case with K01 Nos. 15 and 64. What would be wrong with having separate papers for those two toys? The papers are also thinner than the European ones, which makes them more susceptible to tearing.
In fairness to Ferrero, they seem have addressed this problem in the Argentine line of the K02 series, with virtually every toy having its own individual paper. The same holds true for the new Argentine K03 line. And the papers are thicker and thus a little less susceptible to tearing. So well done to Ferrero on that improvement.
One final grizzle: although it’s nice to be getting different toy and paper variations courtesy of the Argentine line, it is also rather boring to get series we’ve already had. It’s not so terribly long ago that we had the K03 series with European papers, and now we’re getting it all over again, but this time with Argentine papers and a few different stickers. Given the choice, I’d rather get what all of Europe is now getting—C toys with a hand-painted series to chase after.
Well, those are a few of the negatives about Kinder Surprises. Remember, this is only my totally subjective opinion. You may very well love the ones I hate and loathe the ones I love. Perhaps you think recasts are the greatest thing since sliced bread? Whatever your opinions, feel free to e-mail me and tell me what you don't like about Kinder Surprises toys, as well as what you do like. What is your favourite and least favourite toy, and why? How about sharing your views with New Zealand and the rest of the world? We won't bite - promise!