Franchise / Sylvanian Families
Copyrighting the word 'adorable' since 1985.

"Have your ever been deep inside the woods, to a place hidden behind numerous mountains? If you do, you'll find a village, more beautiful than any you can find in this world. That is the Sylvania Village. It is the place where the most kind-hearted friends in the world live in. Perk your ears and carefully listen to the wind. You will be able to hear the wonderful conversation between friends."

Sylvanian Families is the name of a line of video games and anthropomorphic collectible articulated toy plush figures, created by Japanese company Epoch in 1985 and distributed worldwide by a number of companies. The characters, grouped into families, are woodland creatures such as rabbits, foxes and bears. They remain a quintessential part of the 1990s boom in craze (or fad) toys.

The general design of families, clothes, furniture and vehicles is set in 1970s rural Britain (which is when the parents who would be buying the toys would have been growing up), with most families apparently members of the middle classes, often hosting garden parties and going on short camping holidays. Many run small businesses. Most families start with a father, mother, sister and brother and add relatives on from there, often by way of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and babies in different playsets, and then doctors, teachers and store owners (who also tend to be members of somebody's family). The product line is generally commended for the degree of detail in its teeny-tiny accessories.

Sylvanian Families are known today as Calico Critters in the USAnote , but they are basically the same toyline, the only difference being packaging and the names of products. The most popular word used to describe them is 'adorable'.

You can practically imagine them saying "Are we going out for a bicycle ride, Mother? Oh how perfectly spiffing!" If this is all too saccharine for you, you could always check out the parody Forest Friends - NOT safe for work!

Several video games for GBC and GBA were also released in Japan only (but fan translations exist). Also there was also an animated series and a 3-Episode OVA series in Japan.

Tropes associated with the Franchise includes:

  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Most of the cast, in both the toy line and the adaptations. Toy shoes are available as an additional purchase.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Only present in the Japanese version of the franchise. Mainly due to the use to Gratuitous English on some of the playsets involving shops and restaurants.
  • Carnivore Confusion/Furry Confusion: Rabbit, fox, cat and mouse families all live together in the same little world peacefully (along with many other woodland species). There's even the wolf family 'Tailbury' (it's usually called a 'dog' family - even though the other dog families have their breeds named).
    • The families can serve a wide range of highly detailed food, go show-jumping on an actual official horse (there are also horses for pulling carts), and run a hamburger stall.
    Official Babble: No fast food rubbish here! All the meals on offer at the Sylvanian Hamburger Restaurant are top quality, healthy, locally sourced products! If you're in a hurry, the restaurant even has a take-away window that you can drive up to!
    • A Farmyard Accessories set comes with milk churns. Its box shows it being run by cow and sheep families. There is also a goat family. For the contemplative among us, this can be a little 'squicky'.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: You can buy toy sets for your Sylvanians' children. These include miniature versions of the full-size houses that can be bought for families, and some toy sets also include teeny-tiny teddy bears that are even smaller versions of actual figures.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted in the name of making money. There are quite a few bathroom sets with toilets. Some include toilet paper, toilet brushes and even toilet cleaner. Does a bear shit in the woods? Not in this forest!
  • Petting Zoo People: Everybody wears human clothes and has basically human-type bodies, but they have animal heads and tails.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Pink is exclusively used by girls (although not all of their accessories are pink). Boys never use pink, and often use blue with their accessories. This trope is even stricter for babies.
    • Subverted. The son of the main Wilder Panda Family, as they're known in the US, has an outfit consisting of pink overalls with pink suspenders, and a pink bowtie on his shirt.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Male and female toys are exactly the same. You can tell who is who purely by their clothes. Girls wear dresses, decorated with bows, flowers and aprons. Boys wear dungarees and trousers. You can swap clothes between males and females and nobody will notice.
    • The exception is adult male species with horns. However out of dozens of families these number only four.
    • Male dolls also tend to have darker nose colors than females.