History of Bullyland
Bullyland was founded June 01 1973 by Volkmar Klaus, a former manager of Schleich. Mr Klaus had been considered the crown prince of Schleich, but according to the Schleich book "Anywhere`s a Playground" he left with a handful of Schleich associates after a dispute in the family.
Bullyland began making figures in a garage in Spraitbach Germany, and quickly expanded to the international market. They have made a number of animal ranges including prehistorics, and produce character/comics figures. Another important part of their model business has been the so called "Werbefiguren", plastic models ( key-rings etc) shaped as company logos.
The name of the company
Mr Klaus first registered the name Bully-Figuren Volkmar Klaus. In 1977 the company was changed to BULLY GmbH Volkmar Klaus (mainly for liability reasons), And in 1998 into Bullyland Volkmar Klaus. Other Bullyland companies were founded already in 1978 and 1984: Bullyland H.K. Ltd. and Bullyland Inc. USA, and later on Bullyland Slowakia. In 2001 it was changed into Bullyland Volkmar Klaus AG In 2010 it was changed from Bullyland AG into Bullyland GmbH
The name of the brand
Volkmar Klaus and his wife Jane had no less than 7 French Bulldogs. This breed of dog is called a ”Bully” in German, but they could not use the name, because Steiff ( plush animals) had already registered the name for one of their models.
From 1995 or 96 and onwards the name ”Bullyland” was used as the trademark, even if most models were still marked ” Bully”.
Bullyland was owned By Volkmar Klaus until the end of 2005, when he sold to Mr. Thomas Fischer + 3 other partners. In Jan. 2012 it was sold again to Mr. Arthur Ruland.
In 1973 the very first figures were: 1) the lying Bully dog and 2) Tip & Tap the football mascot for 1974 world championship (this was, however only 2D = a flat figure with a keychain. The company Bully-Figuren was not yet well known at that time and therefore, could not get the rights for the normal 3-D figure.
Then, right from the beginning in 1973 the company prepared some Smurfs, but officially could only offer them as of 1974 (because Schleich still had the Smurf license until end of 1973. Since Mr. Klaus always had the good contact with Peyo, he gave Mr Klaus the rights as of 1974. At that time the Smurfs were not very popular and almost unknown. The very first Smurf which was designed and sculpted was the doctor smurf.
Through the contact with Peyo Bullyland came into contact with other Belgium artists, and got the rights for Maxifant + Minifant, Plumpaquatsch, Fido, Katzenpeter, Tips + Taps, Schnieff + Schnuff .
Next license was Pink Panther, and here again Bullyland only got the rights for keyrings, not for the figures alone. Quite popular was "Die Pichelsteiner" from Rolf Kauka, a German cartoonist, of which comic books were sold successfully.
The Walt Disney cooperation started later only. Bullyland took over the rights from Heimog, which was not very successful with Disney.
To be continued....
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