Picture this: You walk through a town, not expecting anything unusual. But then suddenly you see him – your favourite cartoon character from your childhood. The one that sent you to bed every night. The one that, in my days, existed twice: One for East Germany and one for West Germany. The Sandman. I am in Erfurt and in the middle of the town centre there he is: the Sandman, on a bench, looking at me. No, I don’t want to go to bed, it is 1 o’clock in the afternoon. But if he is not here to send me to bed, what on earth is he doing in Erfurt?
This is the outcome of an idea from 2007. The TV channel KiKa from Erfurt (KiKa = Kinder Kanal = Kid’s Channel) turned 10 and its most popular characters were dotted around the city to celebrate. Different artists took drawings and pictures of the characters and turned them into statues. They turned out really well. So far, there are 17 sculptures at 13 locations throughout the city, and more are to follow.
The tourist information centre hands out maps to kids (and adults, of course) that mark the locations where the KiKa characters are. A fantastic idea that makes a city tour so much more interesting for children.
I have already discovered some of the figures and combined the locations into a nice city walk.
Looking for the KiKa characters in Erfurt
1. Das Sandmännchen – The Sandman
The Sandman (Das Sandmännchen) is a classic amongst kid’s TV shows. From 1959 to 1989 two versions of The Sandman were on TV, one in Eastern Germany and one in Western Germany. During each ten-minute episode, kids were told short bedtime stories followed by the same bedtime ritual as the outro.
The Sandman throws his sleeping sand into the air, children’s eyes get tired and everyone goes to bed. All accompanied by the Sandman song, a song that I can still sing to this day.
After the German Reunification, the GDR version of the Sandman moved over to the German state TV network and has been on air on KiKa since 1997.
I am a big fan of the Sandman and I was very happy to find him sitting on a bench in Erfurt.
Kreuzgasse hinter der Krämerbrücke (Krämer Bridge)
The Sandman and Pittiplatsch with his friends Schnatterinchen (a duck) and Moppi (a dog) belong together. These puppets from GDR TV are still a part of the Sandman TV show just as they used to be in my childhood. In my family, we often use Pittiplatsch’s characteristic catchphrase “Ach du meine Nase!” (“Oh, by my nose!” – used like “good grief” or “goodness me”) when we are surprised.
Now, Pittiplatsch occupies a spot in Erfurt, too. He sits on a bench and looks over the river Gera. It is almost a miraculous occurrence to find the little gnome by himself without a beaming child or adult next to him on the bench to take a good photo. Oh, and if you are looking for his friend Schnatterinchen the duck: You’ll soon find her, too, as she will be added to the KiKa figurines in Erfurt in the near future.
Rathausbrücke (Town Hall Bridge)
3.+4. Maus und Elefant – Mouse and Elephant
What do you hear in your head when you think of Mouse TV (that is the international version of a very popular German kid’s TV show called “Die Sendung mit der Maus” which translates to “The Show with the Mouse”)? Is it the characteristic noise of the mouse fluttering its eyelashes?
In between the segments of the show, the “Lach- und Sachgeschichten” (stories to laugh and stories to learn), the mouse and the elephant appear for an interlude. As a kid I was always eagerly awaiting the characteristic thing the mouse would always do, the fluttering of the eyelashes. And of course, I was also looking forward to the loud trumpeting of the little, blue elephant. The elephant doesn’t always appear in the interlude cartoons, sometimes it’s their friend the yellow duck.
It is so amusing how one is catapulted back into their childhood just by seeing the KiKa characters in Erfurt.
auf dem Anger (on the Green)
5.+6. Käpt’n Blaubär und Hain Blöd – Captain Bluebear and Hain Stupid
Right in the middle of the river Gera are Käpt’n Blaubär and Hain Blöd in their boat. Both of these characters originated in Mouse TV. There, they would have a segment where they would tell their cock-and-bull stories to Bluebear’s grandchildren. Captain Bluebear would tell his over the top tales from his adventures at sea that are so unrealistic that his grandkids would at some point protest. But Käpt’n Blaubär usually has some sort of “proof” that would somehow back up his version of events.
Hain Blöd (Hain Stupid) is the Captain’s assistant and is a true delight with his naive and scatter-brained personality.
These two were never really my favourites out of all the characters from Mouse TV even though they look absolutely adorable.
In the river Gera near Schlösserbrücke (Bridge of the Castles)
7. Tigerente – Tiger Duck
Janosch and his tiger duck – for me personally, the tiger duck brings back more memories around reading the amazing books it was in but I know that many kids met he tiger duck first in the KiKa TV show or the Tiger Duck Club TV show.
The little duck with yellow and black stripes has also been turned into a statue and was placed into the Old Town of Erfurt. Now we just need Janosch and Günter Kastenfrosch to join us and we are ready to leave for Panama.
There is a quote from one of the songs of Tabaluga that translates to “As a young dragon I get to do things that the old ones don’t do” – Thank you Peter Maffay for this wonderful song! As a Peter Maffay fan I of course also listened to his Tabaluga stories and I love them. The lyrics are often so insightful and the adorable characters always appealed to me, especially at the concerts and live shows.
I was a little less into the cartoon show that many children love to watch. I put that down to the fact that I was no longer in the target age group when the cartoons first aired.
In front of the State Chancellery
9.+10. Bernd das Brot und Kikaninchen – Bernd the Bread and Kika-bunnyrabbit
I have been working at a daycare centre for years but Bernd the Bread and Kikaninchen never became part of my world. I just don’t connect with the talking loaf of bread and the blue bunny and the kids at the daycare centre hardly ever talk about their stories. However, these two rose to immense popularity amongst the young KiKa viewers and I saw eyes light up in Erfurt when children spotted the statues.
Bernd the Bread is next to the Town Hall at the Fish Market side
Kikaninchen can be found on the playground behind the Krämerbrücke
11.+12. Moppi and Schnatterinchen
Moppi and Schnatterinchen are Pittiplatsch’s best friends. Schnatterinchen, who is also affectionately called Schnattchen or Schnatterente by Pittiplatsch, is one of the most popular puppet characters on German television in the GDR. In the 1970s, the dog Moppi made his first appearance. The three characters became inseparable.
Open space behind the Krämerbrücke
13. Fidi the bat
Fidi is a bat. Unlike her fellow bats, she is active during the day and sleeps at night. She is curious and likes to visit her friends in the tree house. Fidi loves music and sings and hums familiar and unfamiliar melodies.
on the Petersberg
14. +15. +16. +17. Rudi Rabe and the Talking Suitcase, the Golden Sparrow and Fox and Magpie.
I didn’t visit these figures on my Kika figures tour in Erfurt. Rudi the Raven with the talking suitcase is at the main entrance to Erfurt Airport and the Golden Sparrow is at the F1 shopping centre. Fox and Magpie are still quite new and are at Theaterplatz. Let’s see, maybe we’ll get a glimpse of the sculptures later.
My stay in Erfurt was part of a sponsored PR trip.