(The Hippo Empire Goes Mad)

Most Europeans know exactly what they are and how much fun Kinder chocolates can be, but for those of you who have never experienced the joys of these children's sweets (candy) here is a brief history and description.

Kinder Eggs - sold by the case!The Kinder chocolate range first appeared in 1974 when Ferrero, and Italian confectionary company, decided to expand from the adult market into children's sweets with a series of brands (Kinder Chocolate, Kinder Surprise Eggs, Kinder Brioss, Kinder Freude, Kinder Cereal, Kinder Colazione, Kinder Delice, Kinder Bueno, Kinder Fetta al Latte, Kinder Pingui and Kinder Paradiso). To attract the attention of Europe's youth the Surprise Eggs - originally known as Kinder Sorpresa - and Freude ( a larger version of the Surprise Eggs) contained toys.

Kinder Surprise Eggs

Kinder Surprise Eggs are a creamy chocolate egg (about 3" / 7cm high) that contain a small plastic capsule. The egg itself is a thin shell of two layers of chocolate (32% dairy products according to the wrapper); dark on the outside and white on the inside. For most people it doesn't have a very rich taste, but connoisseurs believe the flavour to be quite exquisite.

Kinder eggs - three steps to heaven

The plastic capsule (measuring 1-3/4" / 4cm tall) inside the shell varies in colour, but is mostly yellow, orange or green. The toys held within the capsule vary from small models that appeal to both boys and girls, characters (such as Asterix & Obelix, Smurfs, Warner Brothers etc...) that must be assembled, to licensed hand-painted, moulded characters and cartoon animal sculptures. In the past these licensed characters have included Disney, Snoopy, The Flintstones and The Simpsons. Kinder's own cartoon animals have covered sharks, bats, crocodiles, hippos and countless other species. At different times of the year, particularly at Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentines and Mother's Day special sets of figures are released. Recently Kinder Eggs have been involved in producing toys for film licenses, such as Lord of the Rings and now Star Wars.

Figurine lineup

In Germany they are known as Kinder Überraschung Eiers, as Kinder Sorpresa in Italy, Spain and all the Spanish speaking countries of South America, in Portugal and Brazil they are called Kinder Surpresa and in Sweden and Norway they say Kinderoverraskelse. Kinder Surprise is the English translation and is used in just about every other country in the world. Kinder Eggs are largely available everywhere - except the USA. This is due to laws separating small parts from children, and regulations of food and non-food items being mixed. However there are plenty of dealers and websites that cater for the demand.

A typical Kinder Egg triple boxOver 4000 different toys have been made - of which over 1200 are hand-painted figures - exclusively for Kinder Surprise Eggs. If you find yourself becoming increasingly interested then a stop at Kinder Surprise - The Unofficial Website is in order. Complete listings of Kinder Surprise toys are hard to find, but they can point you in the right direction. The best place to start hunting for your Star Wars set is through one of our sponsors - at the time of writing Toy Palace has sets in stock. You can also use eBay France and eBay Germany where they are commonly up for auction; one source that can be recommended is shimodasmagic. Searching for "Kinder Star Wars" will produce a suitable list of auctions.

Kinder launched their Happy Hippo Star Wars series in Germany first, during the summer of 2002, with posters (23 x 33" / 59.4 × 84.1 cm), flyers (8 x 11" / 21× 29.7 cm) and display stands in confectioners and supermarkets, and an official Imperium webpage. There have also been a number of TV spots, reports of which have come in from Austria, Spain and Switzerland (as well as Germany) so it seems that Kinder has released the toys in other European countries.

Kinder promotional flyer Kinder promotional flyer Kinder promotional poster

Kinder promotional poster Kinder point of purchase display Kinder point of purchase header

Kinder TV Spot 1 Kinder TV Spot 2 Kinder TV Spot 3 Kinder TV Spot 4 Kinder TV Spot 5

The only official display diorama was the large (80cm long) Millennium Falcon diorama shown above. This model was given out to large and prestigious shops in Germany to be used as in-store displays for the new Kinder toys. Very few have shown up commercially through retailers or auctions, but when do they have reached triple figure values. Other smaller displays were released in Germany - see Unlicensed Toys for more.


Each Star Wars Kinder Surprise toy comes with a small leaflet that gives the character's biography (see each character below) and tells the story of the Hipperium:

The Happy Hippos went to see the new Star Wars film and are ecstatic. Now they obviously want to experience the newest adventures on their island like the heroes in the cinema. They jump into their costumes and the Hipperium is ready: with his laser sword Luke Eggwalker is putting Dark Laser in his place…great! His little robot Erzwo Hippo is beeping so excitedly that he really gets on the golden droid HI-PO's nerves. In the meantime cunning smuggler pilot Happy Han tries to conquer Princess Hippeias heart. His furry friend Aubacca roars so loud that Jango Jet accidentally sets off his jet drive. What a bonus that the masters Hippoda and Obi-Wan always stay relaxed and stand by their Hippo knights, even if things are not always working out like in the cinema. May the force be with them.

Inside each plastic capsule is the toy, with any necessary assembly instructions incuded:

Closeup front Obi-Wan Hippobi

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:

  • none
Character Biography: The legendary Hippo knight is Luke Eggwalker's most important advisor and major role model. Obi-Wan has always been passionate about improving the galaxy.
Leaflet Closeup back Closeup right Closeup right

Closeup front H-IPO
(Aich-Eyepeeoh)

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:

  • figurine is shown oiling his rear joints in a very endearing fashion
  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: Luke Eggwalkers droid is competent in almost all the languages of the universe. But if situations are getting dicey, he wobbles behind his colleague Erzwo. It is really not surprising that after all this excitement he has to oil his joints here and there.
Leaflet Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right

Closeup front Aubacca
(Chewbacca)

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:

  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: The shaggy Wookie is the co-pilot and companion of Happy Han. He also stands by his side in dangerous situations. And he can roar like nobody else. Buuuarrrhhh!
Leaflet Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right

Closeup front Happy Han

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:

  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: The cunning pilot of the star ship Hipperium Falcon is Luke Eggwalkers greatest friend. On top of that he is irresistible and wants to show Princess Hippeia that he is a hero.
Leaflet Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right

Closeup front Jango Jet

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:

  • exhaust clips to jet pack and acts as a base
  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: He is not a nice contemporary and also possesses a high tech trick. Although he hasn't got any control over his jet pack, even Obi-Wan Hippobi cannot prevent him from populating the cinema screens with clones.
Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right
Instructions Leaflet

Closeup front Prinzessin Hippeia
(Princess Hippeia)

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:

  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: The beautiful princess is Luke Eggwalker's twin sister. She has a lot of power and is not even intimidated by Dark Laser. Only Happy Han's charm can soften her.
Leaflet Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right

Closeup front Luke Eiwalker
(Luke Eggwalker)

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:

  • removable lightsaber with blue blade
  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: Luke is the young hero of the Hippo Knights. Master Hippoda taught him to trust his spiritual powers. That way he will be fit for a fight with Dark Laser.
Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right
Leaflet Instructions

Closeup front Erzwo Hippo

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:
  • figurine is depicted with small hand fan to keep the hippo inside the R2 costume cool, much as Kenny Baker does during shoots
  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: You can always trust on Luke Eggwalker's loyal companion. Here and there though he has to take a little nap, so that the fuses under his hat don’t blow. Luckily H-IPO is making sure that his little friend doesn’t get too over excited.
Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right
Leaflet Instructions

Closeup front Dark Laser

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:
  • removable lightsaber with red blade
  • figurine will also be released in limited number with a totally black paint job
  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: The Dark Lord used to be one of the good Hippo Knights, but now he would do anything to have power over the whole Hipperium.With his dark mask he really does look terrifying.
Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right
Leaflet Instructions

Closeup front Dark Laser
(Black Edition)

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:
  • removable lightsaber with red blade
  • limited edition figurine with a totally black paint job
  • only available in Germany
  • available in 1 in 400 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: In order to look really frightening the Dark Lord uses a camouflage of black shoe polish under his robe sometimes. No wonder that the vain Happy Han gets annoyed, because once again there will be nothing left over for him to polish his boots.
Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right
Leaflet Instructions

Closeup front Hippoda

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:
  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Character Biography: The wise Hippoda shows Hippo Knights how to have faith in themselves and to listen to the Force. Would you have thought that the little chappy with the green ears is capable of that?
Leaflet Closeup back Cloesup left Closeup right

Comic with capsule Comic Book

Retail: approx €0.50/$0.55

Accessories/Notes:
  • 64 colour pages of hippo adventure
  • available in 1 in 7 Kinder eggs
Closeup back

Typically, Kinder Eggs are sold individually (all of Europe) or in triple packs (excluding Germany). Character toys are normally packed one in every three Kinder Surprise Eggs, but the Star Wars figurines were short-packed - one in seven eggs contained a Hipperium figurine.

Triple pack - Austria Triple pack - Austria Triple pack - Switzerland (French) Triple pack - Switzerland (Germany)

Because of the reduced chance of finding a character toy it is necessary to buy extra Kinder Eggs. If you were to get lucky and find a different Star Wars toy in every seventh egg you would have to buy 77 eggs to complete the set. It isn't known how many black edition Dark Laser figurines were produced so he doesn't even figure into the calculation. Sadly this doesn't happen very often, so Kinder toys are at least seven times their retail price on the secondary market. Each series is short lived - once a new range has been brought out the previous toys are discontinued/retired. In October 2002 Kinder replaced their Star Wars toys with Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers figurines, thus closing the door on the Hipperium's brief life.

Kinder Freude

Kinder Freude EggKinder's larger range of chocolate eggs - Freude (meaning "joy" in English) - are more similar to Easter eggs than their small cousins. These large eggs (5.5" / 15cm) are generally available in Europe throughout the year, though some countries (like Britain) only see them at Easter. In November 2002 the Hipperium line crossed over from Surprise Eggs to Freude to meet the DVD release of Attack of the Clones. A series of larger toys, games and puzzles were introduced with these chocolate eggs. At a ratio of one to three they are more common than the Kinder Surprise Eggs, but with fewer stockists eBay seller like shimodasmagic are a good source.

Closeup front Hippoda

Retail: approx €5/$5

Accessories/Notes:
  • plush
  • 13 cm / 5" tall
Leaflet front Leaflet back Closeup back Cloesup left
Closeup right

Closeup front Aubacca

Retail: approx €5/$5

Accessories/Notes:
  • plush
  • 13 cm / 5" tall
  • removable bandolier and pouch
Leaflet front Leaflet back Closeup back Cloesup left
Closeup right

Closeup front Erzwo-Hipo

Retail: approx €5/$5

Accessories/Notes:
  • has a pull-back-and-go mechanism
Leaflet front Leaflet back Closeup back Cloesup left
Closeup right

Closeup front Landspeeder

Retail: approx €5/$5

Accessories/Notes:
  • includes two non-removable Kinder Eggs Surprise figures
  • modelled on Action Fleet Landspeeder
  • has magnetic hovering effect
Leaflet front Leaflet back Closeup back Cloesup left
Closeup right

Closeup front Jigsaw Puzzle

Retail: approx €5/$5

Accessories/Notes:
  • 150 pieces
Leaflet front Leaflet back

Closeup front Strategy Game

Retail: approx €5/$5

Accessories/Notes:
  • printed on fabric, with 18 playing pieces
Leaflet Leaflet back Closeup back

Unlicensed Items

Kinder collecting is very popular in Europe, and much like Star Wars, a sub-industry has sprung up around it providing wall-mounted display stands, storage cases and display dioramas. Dragon Designs is the main producer of these and has printed limited numbers (five to ten thousand) of a pop-up Millennium Falcon (called "Blue Star 2002") and an open-faced Darth Vader helmet. Neither of these are official Kinder products because Dragon Designs does not have a license from Lucasfilm Ltd.


These dioramas aren't generally available outside of Germany so you will have to go to specialist retailers like Toy Palace. And because they are printed in short runs there can be a lot of competition over them, so you might end up spending more than you'd expect. As with all auctions, keep your eyes out for Buy It Now deals – they will save you a lot of time and money.

With special thanks to Martin Flammer of Martin's Curiosity Shop for helping me find the black edition Dark Laser, Julia Meitz for her skills in German, Axel Ruhle who helped me get the Freude toys, Stephane Houvion who started this all off, Andy Dukes because he dug deeper into eBay than is safe to go and Toy Palace for being the only seller of the Darth Vader-like diorama I could find.

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