Sylvanian Families are a hugely collectable range of Toys with a massive worldwide following. I have been collecting them since 1987.
Sylvanians are most popular in Japan where there is even a Sylvanian theme park -GrinPa Amusement Park at the foot of Mount Fuji, a 90 minute drive from Tokyo. There are even replica life size Sylvanian houses to buy as holiday homes in Japan. Sellers often list items with JP in the title if the Sylvanian originates from Japan. Sylvanians were created in 1985 in Japan by Epoch.
Sylvanian Families were launched in the UK in 1987 by Tomy and were Toy of the Year for three years running. In 1998 Tomy stopped selling Sylvanian Families in the UK although Flair quickly started selling them again in 1999.
Sylvanian Families are now called Calico Critters in the US. They were originally sold by Tomy as Sylvanian Families in the US although Tomy stopped selling them in 1990, relaunched them in 1993 as Calico Critters and then finally stopped selling them in 1996. When International Playthings started selling them again in 1999 they were still rebranded as Calico Critters. Remember to search for Calico Critters on ebay or if you want to sell to the US market put Calico Critter in the title too. If you plan to sell to the US make sure you put the international p&p amount in the p&p box else it will not show up in the US searches on the ebay.com site. You want to maximise your sales to the US which has the fastest growing Sylvanian/Calico Critters collectors market.
Sylvanians and Calico Critters are mostly the same. The modern ones both have open handed hands capable of holding cups etc and the UK and US versions are usually identical.
Japanese Sylvanians are usually different although at first glance they may look identical. JP Sylvanians mostly have closed hands and are slightly taller than their UK equivalent. The quality of clothing on the JP Sylvanians is also much higher than in the UK/US. Older UK/US Tomy Sylvanians have flat hands so do mention that in your ebay listing if you are selling old items or take photos which clearly show the hands. Collectors will collect different versions of the 'same' family.
Their are exclusive figures available in each country and sometimes to complete a whole family you have to buy from each country. For example two standing Fisher Cat babies can be found in the UK School trip set while in the US the babies are sitting and crawling.
The Japanese Sylvanians are the lovliest and usually the most sought after by adult collectors. The Urban Life series and the exclusive items only available in certain Sylvanian Market stores in Japan are highly sought after as are the Misty Forest Gnomes, horse and faries. The Japanese theme park also has a range of exclusive items - The Wildflower Rabbits who are highly sought after. The large sized limited edition of 300 Rabbit and the baby in the Chritmas outfit are the most rare on ebay in this range. Look for the different versions of the Wildflower sisters too. In my opinion the most beautiful JP Sylvanian is the Doll of the Year 2003 (2003 was the only year they had a 'doll of the year!') which was a limited edition of 100. I have number 3.
If you are starting collecting then do watch out for Forest Families and Maple Town Figures which while lovely are not the same as Sylvanian.