20th March marked the brand’s official birthday; the day Sylvanian Families first went on sale in Japan, its country of origin, back in 1985.
Sylvanian Families is still as popular as it was when it originally launched as a girls’ collectible in 1985 with just one house, 11 pieces of furniture and nine animal families. Today the range has expanded to over 200 buildings, furniture and accessories and 25 different families, plus the Town series, which launched in 2018.
This year’s birthday celebrations coincided with the UK population’s first Friday working from home and schools closing in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Using social media as the key channel for engaging with fans, including parents of young fans as well as original collectors from the 1980s, Epoch’s main birthday activity was focused around an all-day Twitter party comprising of fun games, downloadable colouring sheets, storytelling, videos, quizzes and giveaways of exclusive products.
A special 35th Anniversary Election was also announced. The election gives fans the chance to vote for their favourite family out of 100 families, including much-loved but now discontinued sets such as the Meerkats, Ducks and Wild Boars. The winning family will be put into production for fans to purchase.
A national photo competition in partnership with holiday company Forest Holidays has also been launched, which invites fans to set up and photograph their Sylvanian Families enjoying an outdoor, summer-themed adventure. The top prize, worth £1,300, is a short family break in a Forest Holidays cabin plus the complete Sylvanian Families Family Adventure range. Running until 16th August, Epoch hopes the competition will be popular with families currently stuck at home during the lock-down.
Suzie Howes, marketing manager at Epoch making toys, said: “We’re thrilled that the 35th anniversary birthday party was such a success and that it brought some much needed fun and relief to lots of families stuck at home during these uncertain times. Partnering with Forest Holidays is something we’re really excited about, as the two brands have very similar core values – namely a love of the outdoors and family focused fun. We can’t wait to see everyone’s photo entries for the competition.”