Sylvanian Families are a range of small animal figures that live in a forest known as Sylvania. The word “Silvan” means “of the forest”and so the original name, The Sylvanian Family, underscores this toy line’s connections to the natural world.
The toy range is know in the US and Canada as Calico Critters and Shirubania famirii in Japan where it first began life in 1985, created by Japanese toy company Epoch. After a few changes in suppliers, today the range is available worldwide. In 2010 Sylvanian Families is receiving more and more interest from children and adults in countries such as Australia and Canada. The range also goes under the same name in the UK where it has enjoyed continued success for the last few decades.
The line is based around small anthropomorphic animals made of a hard plastic material but covered in flocking and so are soft to the touch.
The figures have minimal articulation but can more their heads form side to side and their limbs up and down. The figures are dressed in human-like clothing, are grouped into families and generally come with personal biographies to give a level of personality and back-story to the figure.
There are a number of playsets including houses, furniture and vehicle sets available for the figures to interact with and the range is known for their attention to detail and durability. As the figures are only a few inches tall (approximately 4-9 cm) their accessories are made roughly to scale so can be very small. Young girls love the detail involved but babies and toddlers should be kept away as the toys present a choking hazard.
The Sylvanian Families line has been the subject of a cartoon television series, a comic and many other franchise elements aimed at children. The line promotes a wholesome, simple way of life with an emphasis on families and nature and is an asset in today’s consumer driven toy market.