Photo by Karen Bradbury
Photo by Karen Bradbury

German Christmas gifts: Schliech figures

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

For our next gift, it’s back to the toy shop, where a simple plastic toy that does absolutely nothing in and of itself comes under the spotlight.

The maker is Schleich, and its product is plastic figures, but no ordinary ones. These are astonishingly detail oriented creations with such complex workings on their surfaces that they resemble the work of a highly skilled woodcutter. Their true-to-life faces and almost pleading eyes make them perfectly capable of tugging on adult heartstrings too.

The figures take their inspiration from both the natural world and the realm of fantasy. The current range of Schliech products includes six different themed worlds and more than 600 figures. Homes and habitats for its stable of creatures are also on the market.

The company traces its roots back to 1935, when Friedrich Schleich set up shop in Schwäbisch Gmünd. Today, Schleich is one of Germany’s biggest toy manufacturers and a leading maker of realistic animal figures in the international market. The company collaborates with numerous other companies to transform its characters and themed worlds into books, magazines, games and school supplies. Schleich figures and playsets are available in over 50 countries today. Their red and white logo consists of a letter “s” inside a circle.

Schleich’s theme worlds cover six categories: Wild Life, Farm World, Horse Club, Dinosaurs, Bayala and Eldrador. Bayala is a fantasy world populated with colorful fairies, unicorns and mermaids; Eldrador is inhabited by weapon-wielding monsters and skeletons, two-headed dogs and fearsome wolves.

Schleich’s creations are perhaps at their best when they’re modeled after real animals. Fans of certain breeds of dogs can find wonderfully realistic German shepherds, Dalmatians, huskies, Yorkies and French bulldogs. Its golden retriever puppy practically begs to be taken home. Coming in at just 3.99 euros and requiring minimum care, it well could be.

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