A Guide to Buying Second hand Sylvanian Families

Where to buy used Sylvanian Families in Australia

Sylvanian Families – a Guide to Buying or Selling Secondhand Sylvanian Families

A Brief Background of Sylvanian Families

Sylvanian families were first created and produced in Japan in the early 1980’s.  The Sylvanian Families range of figures soon expanded to include many different families of animals and a wide range of play sets and scenery.  In no time the Sylvanian Families phenomenon found it’s way to UK and USA, and eventually many other countries around the world, including Australia in the late 1980’s. Children (and adults) around the world fell in love with this unique range of Woodland creatures from the imaginary world of Sylvania, becoming besotted with animal families made up of a mother and father and two children, such as the Evergreen Bears, Slydale Foxes, Timbertop Brown Bears and many others.  Families could be enlarged by buying the Babies or twins, which were sold separately.

Taking the world by storm, Sylvanian Families won the British Association of Toy Retailers award for "Toy of the Year" three years consecutively, in 1987, 1988 and 1989. However, in the 1990’s their popularity began to decline and Sylvanian Families gradually began to disappear from our shop shelves, sadly for collector's, who thought the opportunity to continue adding to their Sylvanian Families collection was over. Fortunately, and to many Sylvanian fans delight, Sylvanian families made a comeback in the late 1990’s, becoming just as popular today.

Sylvanian Families are released in various countries around the world. Some sets are exclusive to a certain country. There are some Sylvanian sets released only in UK, or Europe or Japan and not sold in any other country. Even Mexico has its own release of Sylvanian Families (known as “Lindos Ternurines”) which are specific to Mexico. This limited release in any kind of set, of course, makes them quite collectible.

In USA and Canada Sylvanian Families are sold under the Brand name of Calico Critters. These figures and sets are identical, and come from the same factory, but are marketed under the name of Calico Critters of Cloverleaf Corners.


Sylvanian Families Preloved Buy Sell Australia and New Zealand Facebook Group 

The wide range of Sylvanian Families available

Sylvanian Families Figures, Homes and Accessory Sets


The range of Sylvanian dolls has expanded greatly since the first figures were created in the 1980’s and now people the world over enjoy the great range of Sylvanian Families characters based on a variety of animals.

Favourite Sylvanian Families Figures over time

Some of the most popular figures of all time are now discontinued. Once sold out of stores these figures usually become quite collectible. These include the Cow Family, the Elephant Family, Pig Family, Meerkat Family, Sheep Family, Otter Family and my own personal favourite the Sylvanian Families Fox Family. Most of these are now retired and are quite hard to find. We do still sell the Elephant Family at Sylvanian Specialty Store, and occasionally other rare and hard to find Sylvanian Families when they become available.

Used Sylvanian Families animals sets are often of varying quality but often you will find them in fairly good condition on Facebook Buy Sell sites, Ebay, Gumtree or other sales sites. Nevertheless, it does pay to make further queries if the seller hasn’t already given a description of their condition.

Sylvanian Families Play Sets and Accessory Sets

And let’s not forget all the fabulous playsets, which include Sylvanian careers, such as a Doctor, Nurse, Paramedic, Postman, Policeman, Seamstress etc. There are also accessory set which include dress up sets, cake decorating sets, shopping sets, gardening sets and much, much more. There’s something for everyone in Sylvania!

There are also themed play sets such as tree houses or caravans. Recently Sylvanian Families released a Seaside theme, which included many seaside related sets, such as a Seaside Cruiser Houseboat, A Treasure Ship, a Seaside Restaurant, a Seaside Birthday Party set etc.

Over the years Sylvanian Families has released many themes, and you will likely see sets from these different themes come up for sale second hand.

There was even a whole range of Sylvanian Families Wedding items in the early 2000’s in UK. Occasionally these lovely items show up for sale secondhand. The latest Sylvanian theme, which will be due in Australia next, is the Town Series theme, which includes a Sylvanian Tram, a Chocolate Shop, Concert Music sets with a variety of instruments and lots of very well dressed town-dwelling Sylvanians. Sylvanian Families is an ever-evolving range, with new sets or Families being produced nearly every year. This means that previous Families are eventually retired (or discontinued from production) so they will no longer be sold in shops. Often the only way to still add these to your Sylvanian collection  is to purchase them secondhand from someone who is willing to part with their own Sylvanian toy collection.

Sylvanian Families Houses and Cottages

You may be surprised at the vast range of Sylvanian Families houses, cottages and buildings over the years, especially if you are looking at buying someone else’s preloved Sylvanian Families collection from several years ago.   The buildings may not be so familiar, as these days you only see the current Houses and cottages available in stores, such as Beechwood Hall and Cozy Cottage Starter set, but just remember that Sylvanian Families have been around for over 30 years with a very rich and varied history of buildings. Many of them are still quite sought after today as collector’s love to build up their vintage Sylvanian Families collection.

Used Sylvanian Families homes will vary in condition and it’s always wise to check the items in person, to make sure the building is intact and in a good state. Obviously a building is worth more when well looked after, and not worth so much when it’s damaged, faded, has balcony railings missing, or is well worn. When buying a pre-used Sylvanian buildings it is likely there will be some playwear, such as scratches, marks or rubs, but often this is only minor and as long as the building is sound and complete it’s well worthwhile to add it to your village. If you’re lucky some sellers will add bonus furniture and accessories sets which makes it a real bargain to buy.

TIP: Be aware that when you purchase a Sylvanian Families building with missing railings, door, floor panels or any other item that may need replacing, Sylvanian Families individual parts can be very difficult to locate and replace. Often something as simple as replacing a railing panel can cost $15, plus postage from UK (where most Sylvanian Families buildings spare parts are usually found) Sylvanian Families spare parts are few and far between and quite expensive to purchase due to their lack of availability. The end cost of replacing secondhand building parts can cost more than the price you paid for the secondhand building itself. It's advisable to check first whether all parts are present on the building you are considering purchasing. 

Sylvanian Families Buses, Cars, Bikes and More…!

Those Sylvanians have sure known how to get around in the last 30 years! From Model T Fords, to sportscars, pony carts, scooters and bicycles. And that’s only some of their transport options over the years! Lately I’ve seen those Sylvanian’s flying around in a Blimp Air Ship, however, those Sylvanians who don’t like heights tend to take the new Sylvanian Families Tram around town! 

Sylvanian Families Furniture sets over the years.

The early 1980’s Sylvanian Families furniture was all green. There is still a reasonable amount of this 30 year old green Sylvanian furniture on the second hand market today. It’s surprisingly more commonly available today than you would expect. The original Sylvanian furniture was certainly built to last, and 30 years later this vintage Tomy Green Furniture is often as good as when it was new. Though much of the original green Sylvanian Furniture does not have a very high value today, there are certain green vintage Sylvanian furniture sets that are still quite collectible.

The early Sylvanian Families bathtubs and toilets were ceramic and there was even a Sylvanian Families bed made of brass. These ceramic furniture items are not as common nowadays as the green furniture is, possibly because ceramic toy items may have broken during play.  But they may still turn up for sale from time to time in well-preserved condition.

Sylvanian Families furniture has evolved over the years too, with many different living room sets, lounge suites, bedroom sets, many of them quite luxurious, while some are more basic and less expensive to buy.  Epoch certainly made provision for every room of a Sylvanian Families house – from the patio, to the bathroom and bedroom to the kitchen and study and even the conservatory. If you look long enough, you’ll find furniture of any kind!


Where is the Best place to Buy or Sell Used Sylvanian Families in Australia?

Sylvanian Families Preloved Buy Sell Australia and New Zealand Facebook group is the best place to look for Used Sylvanian dolls or figures to purchase some of the most popular and collectable toys around. It’s a great idea to check the Sylvanian Families Preloved Buy Sell Facebook Group regularly, as new items can come up for sale at any time. Especially in the School Holiday’s when there’s a Toy Room de-clutter, often great bundles of used Sylvanian Families can be advertised on the site. Many seller’s are happy to mail items at the buyer’s cost.

Sylvanian Families Preloved Buy Sell Australia and New Zealand is the best place to look if you are searching for a particular rare or vintage Sylvanian item, or to sell yours, as many Sylvanian Families collectors in Australia and New Zealand belong to this group giving you a very wide audience of over 2000 members.

It’s always recommended to pay for second hand Sylvanian Families that you are purchasing through any Buy Sell Groups by Paypal Purchases, if you can't pick up an item and pay in person. This gives you Buyer Protection in the unlikely event that your transaction does not work out. Paying by bank transfer is a risk to the Payer. Fortunately, most sellers are happy to use Paypal.

Buyers can view items being sold by Sylvanian family collectors who know a great deal about vintage Sylvanian Families. Often it's interesting just to browse, and you'll be sure to learn a lot about Sylvanian Families from other members posts.

If you have your own Sylvanian Families items to sell, seeing other’s sales posts can give you an approximate idea of today’s prices of secondhand Sylvanian Families are selling at. You may be surprised at the value on some vintage Sylvanian Families these days.

The Sylvanian Families Preloved Buy Sell also a great place to find tips and answers about your own Sylvanian Families sets. There’s always plenty of friendly members willing to lend a hand. If you post a question about your Sylvanian Families item, there is usually an answer or discussion about it from members of the group within minutes!


How to Buy or Sell Used Sylvanian Dolls

Some good advice is: – Do your own research first!  Try to Google the Sylvanian Families sets on the internet before placing a sales post or making a purchase. Research can help determine whether items you have fall into the highly collectible Sylvanian Families category. Sylvanian Families Preloved Buy Sell Australia and New Zealand is a friendly group and you’re always welcome to post pictures and ask – What is this worth? Is this Sylvanian Families items complete? What is this set? Or other questions you may have about items.


Buying or Selling Sylvanian Families family figures - Questions you may want to ask

When buying any used toy such as Sylvanian Families figures, these are some of the Questions you should consider before making a purchase:

*What is the condition of the Sylvanian Families figures? Do they have any marks on them or loss of flocking? (the soft fur-like covering of the Syvlanain animals)

*Are they wearing their original Sylvanian Families clothing?

*Are they in good, clean condition?

*Is a Sylvanian Families set complete? Does it have all of it’s accessories, or are their some accessories missing?

*Does it have its original box and packaging?

If you are purchasing items purely for young children’s play, then perhaps some of these aspects are not so important. You can always clean your Sylvanian Families quite easily and a little playwear won’t make much difference.

Some buyers are wanting to add items to a Sylvanian Families collection and are therefore quite particular about the state of Sylvanian figures. If this is the case, then obviously you need to look closely at the photo images or even ask the seller for further clarification, such as clearer photos or a photo showing the back of the figures also.

Sylvanian Families figures that display signs of playwear or have lost flocking are obviously worth quite a bit less than immaculately kept preloved figures. You may want to consider the state of items before committing to a purchase, as good condition figures will keep their value, if not increase in value long-term.

To Sylvanian Families Collector’s often having the original box is important, and this should be mentioned if you are selling items that come with their original box, along with a description of the state of the box.

Buying or Selling Sylvanian sets with Accessories.

When Used Sylvanian Families sets with multiple accessories are being sold, it’s not unusual for a few small items, such as a cup, or the teeny tiny knives or forks to have gone astray. In fact, when buying second hand Sylvanian Families this is probably to be expected. Often a seller will state “Sold as seen” or “What you get is what you see” In this case, the onus is on the buyer, if you require a complete set, to check how many of the accessories are with the set. This can easily be done by a google search, for example “Sylvanian hospital” and then click on google images. You will find many commercial photos (even of retired sets) still available on the internet, often finding a picture of all the accessories laid out, which you can compare the seller’s item with.

Buying Sylvanian Families Houses second hand

When buying used Sylvanian Families Houses, such as Beechwood Hall, or Babblebrook Grange or any other of the many Sylvanian Families houses that appear for sale regularly, it’s always advisable to check whether all the railings are present, and the flooring panel and staircase, as if not included, as it's not easy to find replacements for these.

When buy second hand items, railings from the Sylvanian Grand Hotel or Beechwood Hall can be missing. As can the ceiling lights from either house, which originally come with these Sylvanian Families buildings. Ladders from Cozy Cottage or Sylvanian Families Copperbeech Cottage can also regularly go astray.

Also it’s a good idea to check whether doors are intact, and not broken off their hinges. Sometimes this cannot be immediately apparent in photos, but you can always ask to be sure.

Perhaps the most common disappointment is buying Secondhand Sylvanian Families caravan and finding that the silver towbar that connects your caravan to the car is missing. The Towbar connector is sold with the Sylvanian Families Caravan, however it connects to the Sylvanian car, and often when items are later sold, the towbar is sold with the car, leaving the Caravan without a towing option. Second hand Sylvanian Families Towbars on their own are nearly impossible to find for sale. However, there is another option. The Sylvanian Families Trailer and Connector set, come with this same towbar, which can be in turn be used to tow the caravan, as well as the trailer.


Sylvanian Families Specialty Store also stocks vintage and pre-owned collectible Sylvanian Families sets in our store Treasure Trove


You might also like to read our other