© Getty Images'I'm redecorating the cottage.' 7 things you know if you've played with Sylvanian Families.
Playing with Sylvanian Families is the ultimate 'do not disturb' sign.
The only interruption allowed is if you've got a family of fluffy bunnies or fuzzy squirrels coming to join the cupcake morning tea. I don't make the rules, it's just how they are.
Yes, I remember playing with this tiny animal tribe for hours upon hours. I'd held onto many happy memories which all come flooding back when my own daughter - now the same age I was when my fondness for Sylvanian Families began 35 years ago - talks of chocolate rabbit families and quaint window shutters on pastel-coloured doll houses.
Her obsession is real, and I'm very much here for it. (Not just because it keeps her busy for ages, but yes, that helps).
Here's what you know if you've ever been part of a 'Sylvanian family'.
1. You assumed windmills and treehouses were a feature of every neighbourhood.
Exploring the region beyond the home is an exciting prospect for Sylvania's children, who could spend a fun-filled morning playing in a magical treehouse complete with a tree swing, climbing ladders and multi-level slide. With cubby spaces high above the ground, it's the place to be when they're not in school or tucked up in bed. It was my childhood mission to find a treehouse as wonderfully adventurous as this one.
The field view windmill, the landmark of the town, mills the flour for all the bakers (more on that in point 5) and has an attic observatory to watch all the goings-on in the local countryside. The telescope is quite the tool for nosy neighbours - so something probably best only found in the imaginary world of Sylvania.
2. You were well into interior design before anyone had heard of Shaynna Blaze.
If you haven't attempt a home reno on your mouse family's dollhouse, you haven't lived.
Yep, I earned my interior design stripes by redecorating my dollhouse. Over and over again. Adding a floral curtain here, a grandfather clock there, a flowerpot to the windowsill.
This was all before the age of 10, mind you - I could style up a homely cottage faster than you could say 'room reveal'. (See my original set below, dusted off and looking not too shabby.)
My original house and set. Image: Supplied.
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3. No day is complete without tea and cakes.
No village worth its salt will be without a bakery. And a house isn't a home until it has a matching tea set. Baked goods and cups of tea are the lifeblood of any neighbourhood, and Sylvania is no exception.
Mums can often be seen riding home with their bike basket full of baguettes. The bakery is a daily stop for every animal family, and invites to friends to pop over to enjoy a slice of cake and a cuppa are the norm. The dough that holds the village together, perhaps?
4. You're a social animal...literally.
Life is not always lollipops and rainbows, and heck, being a strong family unit is something that requires help from people all over the neighbourhood. So, like in real life, Sylvania's village is all about catch-ups with friends over cakes and tea, the casual chat over at the popcorn cart in the gardens, and grabbing the freshest produce from the grocery store to feed the family.
The school just around the corner has everything a student could need for their daily lesson. A ballet teacher waits on pointed toes for the class to start from her studio down the road, while next door, the parents are shopping in a grand department store. It really is the neighbourhood we all wished we lived in. For a sweet period each day, we're right there too.
5. Families come in all shapes and sizes.
Fox family values. Image: Supplied.
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Anyone can be part of a Sylvanian family, whether grandparents have their own room in the house, twins keep mum and dad busier than usual, or a tribe of children (I'm looking at you, rabbits) warrants a seven-seater mini bus and bedrooms full of triple bunk beds.
All families look different and live differently - inside Sylvania or the real world - and the message of uniqueness and connectedness is a quiet lesson kids learn while playing.
6. You won't stop until you hunt down every new release.
The house is never too full for more animals... Image: Supplied.
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You. Just. Have. To. Have. It. Finding new families or furniture is like the toy jackpot and the ultimate euphoria is bringing them home and settling them into life in the village.
Sylvanian Families is the original collectable. You soon find yourself picturing how Hugo Trunk the elephant would slot in so well as the brick oven baker and you imagine how the addition of the corgi family will add to the neighbourhood dynamic.
But it doesn't stop at the animals. A new highchair is needed (dinner time can be busy, OK?) and a kitchen island would really make breakfast time a family affair for those maple cats. A cosy cottage for the hedgehogs should suffice but a grand country home is very necessary for an expanding kangaroo brood. Oh, I probably should grab the cruising car to get everyone from one side of town to the other. The village pizzeria would surely do a roaring trade.
These are all very necessary purchases to ensure the smooth running of life in Sylvania. Then there's the limited editions - seriously, you must hold me back.
7. You'll guard your collection LIKE IT'S GOLD.
ALL MINE. Image: Supplied.
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I mean, who could really throw them out? While other toys were easy to part with once I grew out of love for them, my tiny grey mouse family and their home - from the 1985 original release and full of dainty, detailed green furniture - were packed away with the hope I'd be able to pass on to my own child one day.
I got my wish. After 30 years stored away, I was able to give my daughter my own childhood set, still as relevant and beautiful decades after it was last played with.
It's one of her most cherished toys, even in an age of digital entertainment. She has collected many more animal families and buildings, and the originals have added a nostalgic touch to the modern additions.
And it makes me smile seeing her love them like I did.
Happy 35th anniversary, Sylvanian Families. For more info on where to get Sylvanian Families figurines and playsets, visit sylvanianfamilies.com.au.