Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: Schleich

Perhaps of all the vendors I saw listed on the possible reviews for this year's TOS Crew, the one that I was the most excited to see was Schleich animals! I first discovered Schleich animals when the twins were toddlers. A moms group I was involved with, was doing a group buy, to combine shipping and generally get a lower price, so I tried a few. I LOVED them! Loved their quality, and the detail. However, the twins weren't very into them, so we didn't get any more.  Then Little Bit came along. She liked them! She has a thing for putting things in & out of containers, and lining them up and such, and little animals are perfect for that. So finally, our Schleich animals were getting some love. And THEN we got our oh-so-exciting box of animals to review!

I had wonderful intentions of setting up a cute scene with the animals we got specific for the review, and taking nice pictures, but as soon as we opened the box, they started migrating all over the house. And then we went on a trip, and handing Little Bit an animal at a time was a great way to keep her occupied in the car, but it meant that many animals migrated to various nooks and crannies throughout the car, and suddenly, this review is due and trying to pull together JUST the ones we got for the review seems impossible. So, I'm not going to try. I'm going to show you pictures of Schliech animals, some from the batch we got for the review, some that we already had, and some (er . . . many)  that we've gotten SINCE we got that box to review.

Because you see, NOW the big girls think they're great too! And we needed a good incentive to get them back on track for doing chores without a million reminders after all our traveling this summer, and so, Schleich animals became the currency of choice. And while I was ordering animals for the big girls, I ordered more for Little Bit because, did I mention she LOVES them? (and I LOVE them!).

I believe these animals (at least some of them) ARE marked for age 3+ I assume this is because some are small enough to be choking hazards and little ones chewing on them could mess up the hand-painted detail (that's right, did you know these are HAND painted? I didn't! So cool!). However, Little Bit (18 mo) LOVES them! She likes all of them, but I've found the small ones (baby animals and little animals like frogs (see the one in her hand?) and such) to be lovely for their versatility and portability. I keep a small bag of them (whichever ones I happen to grab that day, mixing them up keeps them more interesting too) in the diaper bag. These are some well-traveled animals.  In addition to their weekly trips to church in the church bag (where they often become a favorite with many of the children who sit near us), they visited Colonial Williamsburg with us. Little Bit and I spent a good part of the time that big sisters and Daddy were attending a "trial" at the court house taking the animals out of a bag, lining them up on a bench, putting them back IN the bag, and then doing it all over again . . .

The animals also came to Sesame Place with us this past weekend. A nice table in the shade was a lovely place to line them up over and over again while big sisters were off riding rides.
Schleich animals are available from various online sites, including Amazon. They are also available at most Target stores and I've been told they are sold at Farm and Tractor Supply (we don't have one near us, but there's one near my parents, so we might have to go check that out when we're down there next). The Schleich website includes a store locator. Prices vary.  In most cases the small animals start in the $2 range and as the animals get bigger, the prices go up. But the quality, compared to discount store plastic animals, makes the higher prices absolutely worth it!

When we received our box of animals to review, in addition to a bunch of more common animals (horse, pony, elephant calf, piglet, donkey, and probably others I'm forgetting) it included an Okapi, a Gnu, and a Gnu calf, so we started out right away with "learning" by pulling out our big animal book and learning about these less common (at least in our experience) animals. 

When the big girls started "earning" additional animals for doing chores without being asked, they both decided they wanted to focus on farm animals. It's given us an opportunity to discuss some of the considerations in farming . . . stallions don't get along with other stallions (and yes, these animals are anatomically correct, the girls quickly figured out how to tell which of their horses were male and which were female), so that's a consideration. We also discussed the fact that a cow doesn't give milk until she has a calf, and why that is. So it's led to some great discussions, even if we haven't "officially" used the animals for school.

I also can see, as Little Bit gets older, the potential for using them as math counters, and to learn about animals and who knows what else . . .
I highly recommend these to anyone with animal-lover kids! They're open-ended toys that encourage imaginative play, portable, good quality . . . what's not to love? 

Not to mention, the "play worlds" that we haven't even talked about . . . there's a whole "world" of knights and castles and princesses, for those who enjoy that era. There's also a "frontier" play world and a play world full of fairies and related stuff.  One of the animals A2 chose when we ordered animals (I let them each choose several but they don't GET them until they earn them with the chores thing), is a Pegasus and it is SOO pretty!! It seriously looks ceramic! I'm not sure how she plans to incorporate it into her "farm" but that's her problem, hee hee.  Oh an SMURFS!!! Remember smurfs? Those little blue things, 3 apples high . . . they're still around! And Schleich has a whole playworld FULL of them! So fun!

AND, when I went onto the Schleich website in preparation for writing this review, I discovered that they also have ONLINE games and coloring pages and all kinds of fun stuff! Who knew!!

Disclaimer: I received a sampling of Schleich animals in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own. 

1 comment:

Our Village is a Little Different said...

What a great review! Your daughters are adorable, too. My twins had a great time with these, too.