Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh My!

Just in case you’ve missed it, my two youngest children have been obsessed with Schleich animals for several years now. The obsession started with one of my older children, animal-loving Rachel, who is now 21 years old.  She noticed the Schleich animal display at a local Theisen’s farm store and lusted after some of the farm animals.  Rachel bought them with her hard-earned money from a job at McDonald’s and displayed them on a shelf in her room, tags intact.  She never played with them but she did dust them once in a while. For her, and for many adults, they are a collectible toy.  For her younger siblings, they were the most realistic toy animals they’d ever seen and they never tired of asking her if they could play with them.  Of course, the answer was always a vehement NO, but that didn’t deter them from pleading. It wasn’t long before Emily and Katie began using some of their birthday money to collect their own Schleich toys, and the first ones I ever purchased myself were for Abby’s second birthday, five years ago.  It is amazing how many a child can collect in five years;

Abby and Katie store their animals in a plastic bin. “Other” toy animals are not mixed in amongst these, nor are these two young girls ever fooled by poor imitations in their hunt for more animals at garage sales, thrift store bins or wherever toys are sold. They can spot the real thing immediately, by the quality and realistic look and the heft of the solid weight.  Pick up a common plastic horse at your local toy store and then pick up one of these fine horses and you won’t be fooled either.

Occasionally, one of these animals goes to the library with us, or swims in the bathtub with Abby, but mostly they are played with in Abby’s imaginary world of  what she calls “Theisen’s Toys.” (because she buys most of hers there)

Recently a represenative from the Schleich company read my blog and sent us a few of their newer pets for review.  When the box arrived you would have thought it was Christmas morning in our house. What they sent was a male pug dog, a female pug dog, pug puppies, a white mouse, a frog, a Budgie Green, guinea pig, and turtle.

What might be difficult to see in the picture is that the pug puppies are actually hooked together on a patch of grass.  I was interested to see the response of my girls since they had once rejected a set of chicks for the same set-up, reasoning that the baby animals weren’t as fun to play with if they were hooked together. They didn’t seem to mind with the puppies, and Abby proceeded to play with the pets and was soon joined by Katie.  Katie, at age 10, will play with the Schleich animals with Abby, but never gets out her own to share. She will pull out her bin and play in a corner by herself, but when playing with her sister Abby, it is always with Abby’s toys.  I once asked her why and she said that she didn’t want to wear hers out.  Since Abby obviously did not care, I decided not to make an issue of it.

Within minutes Abby had turned over a toy bin for an impromptu setting for the animals to play on, and before long Katie was clamouring to play too.  All the animals were new to my children, except for the guinea pig, which Abby promptly claimed because Katie already had one.  They argued over the pug family for a few minutes until I informed them that they were actually mine and they needed to share them.  No one wanted the frog or the turtle, which means those will be delegated to my grand-daughter Rebecca when she comes to play.  All of the newcomers are realistic and have the potential for educational value. (I asked Katie why no one played with the amphibian and she asked what an amphibian was~ a homeschooling mother’s way of sneaking some education into daily activities) The refusal to play with the turtle and frog was more a reflection on my children’s individual taste than anything else. They wouldn’t play with a real frog or turtle either. I may have to try these out on my grandson to see if there is a difference in a boy’s attraction to those animals.

Of course, a new Schleich catalog arrived along with the toys and it is well wrinkled from little hands already, with the wished-for animals circled.  I could do all my Christmas shopping from this one catalog and Abby would be satisfied.  What I didn’t know was that some of these toys are available on Amazon, and now I am going to be saving my gift cards for the one thing these children really need:

The Schleich stable to hold all their horses.

But, of course, then they would also need:

A fence to corral them in.

Hmm, I think I just made up my Christmas list.

For anyone who is interested in obtaining their own Schleich figurines, you can check out their website at    http://www.schleich-s.com/ Besides the animal toys, there are castle toys, Smurfs, and dinosaurs. (and, yes, lions and tigers and bears~Oh My!)  You can download coloring sheets, animal facts and more. You can also find Schleich toys at farm stores, Toys R Us, Target and online.  Who knows? It might just start an obsession in one of your own children.

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