I like finding these around the house.

by Kristen on March 20, 2014 · 24 comments

in Photos

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I post a picture and just a few words.

Calico Critters on railing

Sonia and Zoe have really gotten into their Calico Critters in the past year, and I can’t say I’m complaining.  Calico Critters are a little on the expensive side, yes, but they don’t break, they don’t have batteries, they don’t make any noise, they encourage creative play, and I really, really like that they haven’t followed the trend of most toys marketed to girls*…no makeup, no huge flirty eyes, and most of them haven’t even been pink-i-fied.

Also, they’re delightfully round and cute.

(*There’s an interesting side-by-side comparison at the bottom of this article which shows what I’m talking about.)

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa March 20, 2014 at 7:55 am

My daughter loves her Calico Critters (and loves finding them in the pictures your girls hide them in :), and I encourage her toward those kinds of toys because of the very things you listed above (creative, not superficial, etc.). I like her having good “role models” to influence her as she’s being established as a person, and I think even toys send a message about such things.

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2 elizabeth March 20, 2014 at 8:06 am

I always wanted calico critters when I was a kid. They’re just so cute.
I was just about completely horrified when I saw My Little Ponys that weren’t little, horse shaped or adorable but standing upright, person shaped, short skirt, makeup and person hair….do we need MLPs to be barbies too? They kind of look like aliens or something. I liked when my daughter had her ponies lined up everywhere-hair brushing, tea parties, conversations, attacking other toys army style…

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3 Anne March 20, 2014 at 8:41 am

So tired of the pinkification of toys!! Thanks for the post.

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4 Diane C March 20, 2014 at 8:48 am

Hmmm, manufacturers tend to make what people buy… Perhaps if we weren’t so gender obsessed*, the pink stuff wouldn’t sell and hence wouldn’t be made…
*Specifically, have you noticed that it’s the norm to identify the gender of the unborn baby these days? The people who want to be surprised are in the minority, thanks to modern science. Now the parents, grandparents and heck, all the other family and friends have a period of several months to “bond” with the unborn baby. Since they know nothing about the child other than the gender, it’s easy to fall into the “It’s a Boy!” everything’s blue or “It’s a Girl!” let’s buy something pink trap. Just my two cents…

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5 Kristen March 20, 2014 at 8:51 am

It’s a chicken vs. egg sort of debate, I suppose, and I don’t really know enough about it to say which came first!

Mr. FG and I didn’t find out the gender of any of our kids before they were born. It wasn’t a moral issue on my part…I just felt like it would be sort of like opening a Christmas present early, and I knew myself well enough to know I’d prefer to wait.

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6 Kendra March 20, 2014 at 9:26 am

It’s a surprise no matter when you find out, right?

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7 Kristen March 20, 2014 at 9:54 am

This is true! I just wanted to wait a little longer for my surprise.

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8 Maggie March 20, 2014 at 11:22 am

Oh. My. Goodness. Yes. We’re expecting baby #2 and the FIRST question everyone asks- before they even ask how far along I am or if it’s our first baby- is “Are you having a boy or a girl?” We don’t want to know! Does it matter? On that note, it’s really, really hard to find clothes and baby gear that isn’t pink or blue.
My firstborn son has a lot of pink “girly” toys and gear, simply because they were hand me downs and we can’t really afford to replace all that stuff. Besides, he likes playing with the toys, and it doesn’t make a difference! His favorite toy is a little mini vacuum. He likes to chase me around when I’m using the big vacuum and “suck up” anything I missed!

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9 Kristen March 20, 2014 at 11:39 am

Yeah, I think that aspect has changed just in the last 15 years or so. When I was pregnant with Joshua, there were a lot of unisex things, and pink carseats and strollers were the exception, not the norm. In my memory, all the baby gear was just navy blue back then.

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10 Julee March 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Interestingly, this pink-blue dichotomy is specific to North-America. Or rather, my European friends (England, Germany) who now live in North America attest that it is.

Apparently bright, vivid colors (reds, greens, yellows, oranges, purples, blues) are MUCH more common in Europe – for children’s clothes and toys. My friends are so happy when family members send them clothes from home!

I’ve certainly found that too, when shopping – at thrift stores, of course – for my kids (7, 5, 3 and 1) here in Canada. I try to keep my eye out for bright clothes and snap them up when I find them, even if they’re a size or two too big. I know they’ll fit them eventually.

For the record, I actually like pink and blue… I just don’t want ALL my kids’ things to be those colors. It’s lovely to have variety.

I also do think it’s good to ask ourselves why things in North America seem to be becoming hyper-feminized and hyper-masculinized. I’ve got a few theories about that, but this reply is already long enough… Still, I think it’s an interesting and important question to consider.

Thanks for getting me thinking this morning, Kristen!

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11 Julee March 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Ha! Just glanced at the article you linked to now, and see that it’s from the UK, and the group “Let Toys Be Toys” was formed by a group of British parents.

(Guess I should have read that part first!)

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12 April L March 20, 2014 at 8:58 am

Oh but they do break! Our armless baby mouse would be happy to tell you all about it. Still, we love them as well! We inherited a few for free, and I’m watching ebay and etsy for some more to put in my daughter’s Easter basket. Also HATE pinkification.

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13 WilliamB March 20, 2014 at 9:10 am

In the comparison of toys in that article, also notice the dolls’ stances. The modern versions have weaker stances: hip cocked, head to the side, etc.

I am not a fan.

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14 Kris March 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Very perceptive! My sister-in-law did something interesting with her daughter several years ago. They went to a store to buy a doll and my S-I-L asked her daughter to look at the dolls and decide if she thought they had “good attitudes” by looking at their faces. It was a good exercise in discernment for my niece (I think that was when the Bratz dolls were at the top of their selling peak). My daughter prefers her stuffed animals, Calico Critters, and baby dolls so I’ve never had to use that technique but I thought it was brilliant.

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15 FeatheredFiend March 21, 2014 at 3:33 am

About the Barbie faces, I never liked the ones with the cheese smile. I didn’t get one until they started making ones with naturaler smiles. The Teresa Barbie usually looked the kindest, I got the Fairy Queen Teresa on my 11th birthday and she was always my favorite. I think her expression looks more normal because her eyebrows aren’t so slanted.

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16 Tina Ray March 20, 2014 at 9:24 am

We have guardianship of our four year old granddaughter (which of course lives with us). She has various Barbies and a Toy Story Woody “doll”. I find them in random places around my house. Planters, behind couch pillows, dog bed, pretty much anywhere. I love finding these random sightings. They make me giggle. Woody got lost in the toy box. She was wondering where he went. I happened to mention the toy box. Well she found Woody and he is back at it and all her toys have been removed from said toy box. :)

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17 Karla March 20, 2014 at 9:47 am

I’m so agree with you.

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18 Kate F. March 20, 2014 at 9:53 am

Calico Critters! What a flashback…I loved those as a kid.

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19 Kris March 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Maybe your house is my house? Cuz it looks like that around here too! And I love it. We have other toys besides Calico Critters lurking in strange places around my home. I have recently decided that the price I pay for having 2 very creative kids is that, while things are relatively tidy, no one can accuse me of having a spotless and completely organized home!

What a good article! My daughter doesn’t even LIKE pink and yet it’s crammed down her throat. And what is up with those Monster High dolls that look like corpses??? I have a boy and a girl and they both play with the “boy” and “girl” toys. What they DO with those toys is very distinctly male/female (my son builds and destroys, my daughter nurtures) but it all becomes a part of their play time. A lot of things they play, like school or camping, is really a universal experience and is not gender-specific.

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20 Gladys March 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm

They’re so cute!

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21 Rebecca B. A. R.r March 20, 2014 at 5:35 pm

I had a version of these toys when I was young, but they were called Sylvanians. I ended up giving all of them and their accessories to my friend’s little girl, and she was so excited! I was so excited that she loved the gift and it didn’t cost me anything!

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22 barbara beall mauri March 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I like these as well ! Couldn’t possibly thrown these away! showing them to your children I know gives them a nice feeling …..I remember in school 2nd or third grade I made a “friend “a girl out of school paper double strength for a more realistic affect, I placed her in the inkwell! Soon other girls wanted me to make them one..afterwards I graduated to “old Fashioned girls ,hoop skirts and long hairstyles ..very popular and as far as my platform shoes ? they went well!

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23 FeatheredFiend March 21, 2014 at 3:37 am

I used to have a rabbit like that, but it was gray. Probably still do have her, somewhere. She was named Wurzy after our hamster and I made her a very simple sleeveless dress to wear. We had gotten her second hand and she didn’t have any clothes of her own. She played an important role as a witch in all the games. Even when she was a landlady, she was still a witch.

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24 Danica March 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm

My daughter got a set of Calico critters for her birthday this year. I love seeing where I find her Princess barbies or her lego figures (we have a lot of the Disney princess sets, but also the zoo, Jake, Winnie the Pooh and the farm … she loves them all). It is frustrating to try to find things that are not pink. I love B toys … they are more bright colors … neither pink nor blue. There are definitely certain companies that have a lot more gender neutral choices, though we have our share of pink toys (not so much on the blue side for my son … he has a lot of hand me downs … though I did try to get gender neutral toys for the most part for the baby toys). I’m not a fan of the updated versions of the toys I played with growing up (especially My Little Pony).

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