Dub Name Change: The critters in the 2017/2018 Netflix exclusives. The names used in the US totally differs from those used elsewhere. For example, the Chocolate Rabbit girl is known as Bell in the US dub but as Freya in the International English dub. Which is a different name from what is used in Japan (Chocolate Usagi-chan proper).
He Also Did: Going through the credits, Half HP Studio and SMDEnote Shogakukan Media and Digital Entertainment stood out as names also attached to Hamtaro. Also, fun fact- the company that makes the Sylvanian Families toys, Epoch, also held and still holds the toy licensing rights to Hamtaro for Asia and Europe.
Market-Based Title: The franchise is currently known as Calico Critters in North America note when it was introduced in North America in 1987, it was sold as Sylvanian Families, but when the toyline vanished in the region circa 1990 and then was reintroduced by a new distributor circa 1993, the toyline name was changed to Calico Critters. It's known as Sylvanian Families since inception elsewhere.
Late Export for You: The OVAs were only finally released in the UK two years after the Japanese initial release, in 2009. This probably explains why it wasn't as well known.
Aiden Pearce is the designated protagonist of the much panned cyberpunk game Watch_Dogs. Aidan and Piers are Kuma-san's name in the US AND International markets respectively.
Screwed by the Lawyers: Supposedly. The most commonly held thought on why the franchise's name was changed to Calico Critters in the US and Canada is that the electronics company Sylvania sued and won or, alternatively, it was assumed to be changed to not be confused with being associated with said company. Wikipedia says it was because Tomy lost the rights to distribute them under the name back in '93. According to the website, the franchise was dubbed "Calico Critters" because they were reintroduced as "Calico Critters from Calico Village" and they were called that ever since.
No Export for You: A lot of the playsets and Families in Japan never get a good western release. The inverse is true for the western ones- a number of Playsets and Families never saw release in Japan.
For the earlier 3 OVAs, its been released in Japan and the UK, but not in the US or even other Asian countries or the rest of Europe. This despite the DVD having both built-in English dub and subtitles.
There is an app for iOS and Android that allows one to quickly check the website for new toy releases, ie, something a serious collector can really use. Sadly, it's only available to Japan.
As mentioned before, none of the games were ever released outside of Japan.
Live in a Muslim-dominant country like Malaysia? Your only way of getting the Pig Family is to import.
Same Language Dub: The 2017/2018 Netflix exclusives are plagued by this- there are two English dubs of the show: The US English version uses a dub made by Bang Zoom! Entertainment while the International English dub uses an unknown British talent agency overseen by Half HP Studio.
In the US, Sabrina and Stella are both voiced by Kira Buckland, Skip, Susie, and Lulu are all voiced by Julie Maddalena, and Dominic and Melinda are voiced by Erika Harlacher. Grace and Aidan are also both voiced by Cherami Leigh. It's more notable in the mini-episodes, which mainly focuses on Bell and her friends' daily lives.
The International English version is no better: there is Jessica Hands-Mingo voicing Ralph and Rhys; Mayumi Kawai voicing Tiffany, Coco and Laura; Sarah Sumeray voicing Melinda, Teri and Lulu; Alix Macey voicing Piers and Patricia; Jenna Sharpe voicing Shane, Sabrina, Patrick and Theodore; Bernadette Vanderkar voicing Créme, Veronica and Stella; and lastly Helen Clapp voicing Frasier and doing Narration duty. Only Freya has a dedicated voice actress- Georgie Fuller.
Bad Export for You: Some second world and third world countries (for example, The Philippines as well as in certain markets in Malaysia), a cut down core set with only three characters is sold instead of the full four character sets. Unfortunately, for these sets its the brother figure that gets the short end of the stick, never was these sets sold without the sister figure instead. While these sets are often cheaper by up to half the price and the missing figure can most of the time be readily purchased separately, and they sometimes contain families that are otherwise discontinued which gives newer collectors a chance to catch up on older discontinued sets somewhat, it still says a lot about the franchise's bias. That, and if it is a discontinued set, yeah, the missing brother would not be attainable.
Follow the Leader: Li'l Woodeez is a similar toyline that was probably launched to compete with or as an answer to Sylvanian Families in the US. They're seen as a lower costing form of this line.
Apparently some South Korean company has started producing a toyline called Konggi Rabbit that is also in competition with Sylvanian Families, as the toyline also consists of housing, furniture and little plush figurines.
From the 80s, it seems that Maple Town was to be a competitor of Sylvanian Families, given that it came one year later and was also selling miniature plush dolls with dollhouses and dollhouse furniture (apparently they started out producing regular hard plastic dolls, but switched to plush dolls soon enough). However what developed instead was a friendly fandom between fans of both franchises.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: For any discontinued characters or play-sets, as, the way to get them is to track them down through 3rd party sellers or thrift-shops. Unfortunately, on the 3rd party seller note, they can be pretty costly.
This can happen with current ones too, especially in North America, as the easiest way to get those is to go online (because few stores in the US sell them) and they tend to sell out pretty quickly. Like the above, getting them through 3rd party markets can be pretty expensive, even more so if importing from a country where they are more plentiful.
While some sets do reenter production after being retired for some time, it is hard to predict which set will go back in to production, and when. Additionally, it would probably be years before a figure would go back into production, and when they do they'd be overhauled such that they would have differences if compared to the original, and in some cases like the Walnut Squirrel and Striped Cat families, even change names! Case in point: as of 2019 the Babblebrook Rabbits, one of the oldest families, has reentered production. The first issue is that minor tweaks has been made to their outfits for various reasons. The second, more serious issue is that the set is sold as part of the budget 3-figures line, meaning the brother rabbit is still no longer available, and that the set is only available at select markets. The name was also changed to a very generic Rabbit Family note the code tho is 5124, making searching for them much harder.