After a particularly screen-filled day (due to real-life frustrations unrelated to homeschooling), along came my next product for review for the TOS Homeschool Review Crew - a box containing animal figures from Schleich!
I can't count the number of times I've walked by the Schleich display at stores (our Target, in particular). Honestly, I never really gave it a second thought. Had I realized the quality of those little animal figures, I would surely have stopped and taken notice!
First, a little Schleich company history. According to its website, Schleich was founded by Friedrich Schleich in 1935 in Germany. The company started manufacturing figurines in the 1950's, including smurf, snoopy and muppet figurines. In the early 1980's the company added animal figurines, and in 2003 added the knights, wild west, and elves themes. Their products are marketed worldwide.
The girls were *thrilled* when the box finally arrived (we'd been expecting it for several days). Immediately all screens were off.
We received eight, individually wrapped figurines:
Prezewalski's Horse - Item #13620 (Farm Life Collection)
Gnu - Item #14386 (Wild Life Collection)
Gnu Calf - Item #14387 (Wild Life Collection)
Dartmoor Pony - Item #13651 (Farm Life Collection)
Okapi - Item #14361 (Wild Life Collection)
Indian Elephant Calf - Item #14343 (Wild Life Collection)
Donkey - Item #13644 (Farm Life Collection)
Swabian-Hall piglet eating - Item #13635 (Farm Life Collection)
Note these pics are not to scale (not all the figures are the same size), but I wanted the pictures to be large so you could see part of the detail.
Needless to say, the animals didn't stay individually wrapped for long:
I *love* toys that capture my girls' imagination - and that encourage them to use their imagination. These figurines did just that - as soon as they were unwrapped, the house was silent except for noises from the girls' imaginary farm and zoo. They even played "Disney savannah" (we have our first-ever Disney trip scheduled soon, and our resort overlooks an African savannah).
I don't know why I haven't paid more attention to the Schleich display in the past. I know I will be looking at it much more closely in the future. The detail is absolutely amazing - if you think these are "any old plastic animals," you're wrong, as they are quite realistic. You can feel the quality simply by picking them up. The girls have also proven that the figurines are very durable, as they have been used heavily since they arrived. I checked prices at one of the online sources, and the prices for the animals I received ranged from $5.95 to $8.95 - a bargain, in my opinion.
The only "con" I could find was the catalog. Yes, the catalog. Schleich was kind enough to include a booklet of "Playing & Collection 2010", which is 177 pages long! Lest you think Schleich only does animal figurines, they also have enclosures, stables, trees and foliage, airplanes, ocean life, birds, pets, jeeps, trailers, barns, people, prehistoric animals, knights, princes, archers, tournament knights, castles, forts, catapults, American Indians, covered wagons, teepees...I could go on (and on), but you get the idea. The only thing I didn't like in the catalog is something called "Bayala", because it appears to be too "fantasy-oriented" for us (we avoid magicians, sorcerers, and other such things in this house - my girls aren't even allowed to read Harry Potter). Schleich even offers smurf figurines - cute, but I'd avoid the smurfs which incorporate astrological signs. Actually, I'll probably avoid all smurfs and stick with the more educational lines (animal/history figurines). You can view an online version of the collection booklet here. You can click on "Product Range" here to see the various collections.
We took at least an hour the first time to go through the catalog, and each page was met with an "ooh", "aah", or "we need that!". My younger daughter was especially enamored with the pages of horse figurines:
And before you ask - yes, that is a halo on her head (long story).
As I began exploring the Schleich website, I noticed that close to the top were the words "your wish list contains no items." After having reviewed the catalog, that won't be true for long. (Love that there's a wish list option!) The website itself is a wealth of information. When I searched the website for each of the figurines we received, I was amazed to see background information for each one! For each animal, the website provides basic information including such things as zoological name, conservation status, primary habitat, and global home. Also included is a fun fact about each one!
The website also offers:
* a "playground" area which includes desktop background images, monthly desktop calendar, e-cards, and games.
* store locator here. Note, though, that I noticed the search did not pick up all locations in my area - the results appeared to be specialty toy stores, but did not include major retailers which usually carry Schleich (Target, Toys 'R Us, etc.). If there is no store in your area, you can find a list of online retailers here.
* FAQ - some great information here about the company's philosophy - I especially liked their explanation of their tagline "Anywhere's a Playground".
* Downloadable construction manuals for some of their larger items/sets here.
I was very impressed with the quality and durability of these figurines. I can say, without a doubt, that we will be adding to our fledgling Schleich collection. The girls have already put several of the larger items on their Christmas wish lists, and I'll be delighted to fulfill those wishes!
To see other reviews of this product, click here. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:
Disclaimer: As part of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the figurines described in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.