Your Guide to Calico Critters: Houses, Families, and Where to Buy

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Jan 03, 2024

Whether you’ve seen the Calico Critters Drama TikToks or have had these critters in your toy chest for several years, these miniature toys have captured the imaginations and hearts of children and collectors around the world.

Calico Critters, also known as the Sylvanian Families, is a line of collectible anthropomorphic animal figurines that have been popular since 1985. What makes these toys so special? Let’s get into it!

What Are Calico Critters? 

The Sylvanian Families, also known as Calico Critters, were created by the Japanese gaming company Epoch in 1985. These adorable little animal figurines come in different families, such as rabbits, cats, dogs, and even bears. Each family has realistic animal features like fur, whiskers, and tails, and a back story that depicts the personality of these characters.

The entire families set for the Sylvanian Families

Source: RoybelGirl/Fandom

These critters are great because they are not just a stand-alone dollhouse toy. There is a larger collection that includes play sets, miniature furniture, and even toy vehicles.


Where Do These Critters Live?

Calico Critters live in Sylvania, a fictional country based on 1950s Great Britain. Most of the families are all rural middle-class, and own successful family businesses. If the critters don’t own a business, then they work blue or white-collar jobs (like doctors, teachers, artists, or bus drivers).

Baby Discovery Forest set with critters inside it

Source: RoybelGirl/Fandom

Some of the Calico Critters houses are multistory or based on a holiday home, and are realistically decorated and redesigned.

When Were Calico Critters Released? 

The Calico Critters came out in 1985 under the name Sylvanian Families. In 1993, the toy was rebranded and released in the United States as Calico Critters. When the first line of Calico Critters Families was released in Japan, the set included a house, 11 furniture pieces, and nine animal families.

Basil and Suzette Calico Critters

Source: SylvaniansDownUnder/Flickr

The families included in the first release are Timbertop Bears, Evergreen Bears, Wildwood Brown Rabbits, Thistlethorn Mouses, Babblebrook Grey Rabbits, Ellwoods Elephant Family, Bullrush Frogs, and McBurrows Moles.

Are Sylvanian Families and Calico Critters the Same?

By now, you might be wondering why Sylvanian Families changed their names to Calico Critters. Sylvanian Families was the original name of the product line when it was introduced in Japan in 1985. TOMY brought these critters to North America, but had to stop using the name “Sylvanian Families” in the 1990s due to legal issues.

Calico Critters Rabbit mom pushing a baby rabbit in a carriage

Source: Iamannamaldita/Flickr

Maple Town toys, which were based on the popular cartoon series of the same name, looked very similar to Calico Critters but with brighter and more unique outfits.

How Many Calico Critters Are Available?

There is no official count of how many of these critters are out there. However, the Calico Critters website confirms that there are 30 families with four characters each: a mom, a dad, and then a boy and a girl. There are also 30 sets that feature individual figures, couples, or triplets.

Sylvanian Families playing shop

Source: Hakuna Matata/Flickr

Lovely Little House believes that there are around 180 characters available for purchase on the company’s website.


How Many Families Are There? 

There have been around 185 families listed, according to the Sylvanian Families Wiki, but the Lady Lollipop Sylvanian Families Figure Collection has 230 families listed. Despite these high numbers, only 30 families are currently available online.

Different Calico Critters in the School Lunch Set

Source: RoybelGirl/Fandom

The most common species include bears, cats, dogs, and rabbits, with the species having around 20 to 30 different breeds to pick from. For instance, the Calico Critters cat families have the Sandy Cat, Persian Cat, Maple Cat, Silk Cat, Midnight Cat, and many more!


What Are the Different Families Available?

Right now, there are 30 different families available on the official website, with a short bio about the family. There is the Bear Family, Fennec Fox Family, Goat Family, Hedgehog Family, the Highbranch Giraffe Family, Husky Family, Kangaroo Family, Koala Family, Marshmallow Mouse, Penguin Family, Reindeer Family, Pookie Panda Family, Sheep Family, Toy Poodle Family, and Walnut Squirrel Family.

Cottontail Rabbit Family outside of their family house

Source: SylvaniansDownUnder/Flickr

On top of these unique families, there are a few variations of cat families and rabbits. This includes: Midnight Cat Family, Latte Cat Family, Maple Cat Family, Persian Cat Family, Striped Cat Family, Tuxedo Cat Family, Milk Rabbit, Chocolate Rabbit Family, and Flora Rabbit Family.


What Are the Most Popular Calico Critters?

The Hopscotch family, also known as the Chocolate Rabbit Family, is the most popular Calico Critters family. This might be because they are the main characters on the “Calico Critters” television show and YouTube channel.

Chocolate Rabbits grandparents on the beach

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Friesian Cow Family, who have the surname of The Buttercups, won the 2020 Australian Favorite Family Voting Competition. Other popular families include the Walnut Squirrel Family, Milk Rabbit Family, Bramble Hedgehog Family, and Petite Bear Family.


What Are the Different Calico Critters Accessories Available?

There are many cute accessories that you can purchase for your critters’ homes. There are a lot of Calico Critters furniture sets, like a living room set, a deluxe kitchen set, and a baby nursery set.

Adventure Tree House with critters inside it

Source: RoybelGirl/Fandom

There are also small shops and vehicle sets you can purchase. However, if you want to take your critters out of Calico Village, then outdoor sets like the Adventure Treehouse or garden barbecue set can bring some fun new surroundings to your families’ lives.


Are There Any Limited Edition or Rare Calico Critters Available?

The company releases limited edition critters or sets that are only available for a short time or until they are sold out. These are special editions that can include unique characters, play sets, or entire families.

The Mole Family in the box

Source: animals_from_thebigforest/Instagram

While there are several rare items that collectors are looking for, Newsweek reports that The Brown Mole Family, which was released in collaboration with Toy’s Dream Projects, could be sold for $500 with the original box.


Were Calico Critters Toys Recalled?

In 2023, over 3.2 million of these adorable animal figures and sets were recalled after two children choked to death. According to PBSR, the animal figures sold with bottles and pacifier accessories were recalled after a 2-year-old boy in New Mexico and a 9-month-old child in Japan died due to the small objects.

The recalled pieces of the Calico Critters toys

Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission

The bottle accessories were sold in yellow, pink, blue, and orange colors. The pacifier accessories were sold in yellow, orange, pink, dark pink, blue, and teal colors.


Where Do You Buy Calico Critters Toys? 

There are a few places where you can buy these families. While you can buy Calico Critters from their online store, you can check out the store locator to find a physical store near you. You can also find these critters on Amazon, eBay, as well as retailers like Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and Learning Express.

Outside window display of Sylvanian Family store in London

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Strangely, the popularity of these critters online has these families appearing in stores like Urban Outfitters, JOANN, or your local toy store. You can also find the Calico Critters blind box figures and Calico Critters clothes at many of these stores, too.


Why Are Calico Critters Expensive? 

You might have noticed that Calico Critters can be fairly expensive compared to other toys out there. These toys are made with high-quality materials with amazing attention to detail for how little these animals are. The detailed outfits and accessories are built to last and withstand playtime.

Large rabbit family on display at a toy store

Source: Loren Javier/Flickr

There is a lot that goes into these toys, but the popularity of the critters has also helped keep the price high. People don’t seem to mind paying almost $45 for a family of critters!