FF and Other Series
There are several series of toys that are quite a bit similar with Forest Families. Some of them are better known, but most are not. On this page you can find tips on how to find the differences between Forest Families and other flocked toys like Simba's Bear Family, Sylvanian Families and some less-known toy series.
Besides these other series, I have also bumped into some real bootleg series with many of the FF species (bears, dogs, gorillas, crocodiles...) and similar clothing style and even similar moulds. These were available at least in Europe. Telling a genuine FF character from a fake can be difficult if you don't know what you are looking for. I recommend to carefully look through my collection pictures and compare the possible fakes to these. I'll also be happy to help in identifying FF's!
Sylvanian Haven has an excellent information page of many of the less-known critter series with information and comparation pictures.
Bear Family by Simba
Bear Family (or Bärenwald in German) by Simba is in a way a sister series to the FF's. Notice that Simba also distributed Forest Families as a part of their own series. In this ID help, by Simba animals I mean only the exclusively Bear Family type animals. The series included a lot of Forest Families animals that were sold under Simba's Bear Family -name with presumably a lisence from M.C.Toy. For recognizing them, you should turn to the Forest Families identification help.
The Bear Family series includes bears, moles, rabbits, cats and dogs - and many more! Simba's animals are a lot sturdier than Forest Families and the adults are also of a bigger size. They look quite different from the FF animals, so it is an easy distinction to make. The challenge is bigger when trying to identify Bear Family animals compared to some other, similar-looking series.
The Bear Family series has also several curious things like some storybook sets (police dog, robber bear and wolf), gnomes, bees and other things, but these are nearly impossible to confuse with FF's so I'll leave those out of this site.
Bear Family animals have shorter legs and a more "muscular" look to them than the FF's. They have relatively close-set eyes. There are many different sizes of them. For example, the Bear Family bears include: parents (posable), children (posable), smaller children (not posable) and babies (small, not posable). The easiest way to identify Simba's animals is to look at the body. The head moulds are different from species to species, but the body is the same.
Sylvanian Families (also known as Calico Critters) is the best known flocked toy series and there are many websites about them. This is just a cursory look into how to make a distinction between them and Forest Families.
Sylvanian Families are slightly smaller and slimmer than Forest Families. Their children and babies also have posable arms and legs unlike the FF children and babies. Their general look is slightly more realistic than with the FF's who are more cartoonish with their happy expression.
Many people confuse Forest Families with Sylvanian Families because the Sylvanians are the only series they know of. If you know your FF's well, you won't likely confuse these two series.
Maple Town creatures are based on a cartoon of the same name. They are quite different from Forest Families since they are more cartoonish even though the FF's have a happy cartoonish face as well. Maple Town figurines are easy to recognize since they're all based on a character of the TV show. This website gives a more in-depth look into how you can identify Maple Town characters compared to both Sylvanian Families and Forest Families.
Mümmel and ZOO Familie
Mümmel and ZOO Familie were two very similar series of flocked animals, available in Germany. They both seem to be knock-offs from the more famous critters. The companies behind these two series probably worked together because their boxes are of the same shape with similar pictures, and some Mümmel rabbits appear at the back of some ZOO Familie boxes.
The ZOO Familie box also has Simba's moles and some Forest Families animals in that same picture. There are also light coloured bears, I think from Familie Putzi line. This, I think, strongly suggests that ZOO Familie series are fakies of other animals. These two fakie companies may have worked together, or possibly ZOO Familie copied also from Mümmel.
The animals included in the ZOO Familie series are at least: crocodiles, gorillas, elephants and mice. They also had copies of Simba's moles. Their flocking isn't as soft as flocking on real Forest Families and they are a bit sturdier. Their head moulds are exactly the same as FF heads (or Simba mole head), just slightly bigger. The adult animals have open hands and the children paw-like hands. ZOO Familie was made for the company Wachsmuth & Krogmann.
The size of these animals can easily confuse a beginner, especially in online auctions. If there are adult ZOO Familie elephants for sale with a normal FF elephant child, it's easy to mistake the child for a FF baby elephant. So look at any auction pictures carefully to make sure you're buying what you think you're buying. The animals' clothes may give you a hint of their origins, as ZOO Familie clothes aren't all that similar to FF clothes in style.
Tierwelt had elephants, gorillas, dogs, bears, pandas and maybe other animals. The bears are even the same colour as Forest Families bears. Nevertheless the moulds aren't as similar with the FF moulds as with the previously mentioned fakies. Tierwelt families were sold in sets of three, two parents with one kid.
Tierwelt families wear clothes that are very similar to FF clothes. They even have some of the very same patterns. But Tierwelt animals are taller than FF's so the size is one way to recognize the clothes as Tierwelt. The children in Tierwelt series remind the ZOO Familie children more than FF children. Out of the different Tierwelt animals, only the red/brown bears and the panda bears are likely to be confused with Forest Families. The other animals have a different look to them.
3-2 Class Mate Are Very Friendly Each Other (Sannen nigumi no nakamatachi)
This series by Takara was available in 1985-1986 in Japan. They have a distinctively Japanese look and aren't easily confused with Forest Families. They are quite rare. A peculiar thing is that the female adult animals have a feminine body shape instead of the usually androgynous body that most flocked animals have.
Silvan: Happiness Forest Family
This series has also made flocked toys that are mimicing both Sylvanian Families and Forest Families - as seen in the name! The animals in this series resemble Sylvanian Families more than FF's and aren't easily confused with Forest Families. Sylvanian Haven has a lot of information on this series.
These magnet-hand clipper animals are a mystery! They are the kind of clip toys that were popular in the 1990's. They have vinyl flocking, magnetic hands and a Forest Families head! They were available at least in Germany and Sweden. I'm not sure if they were licensed by M.C.Toy or not, but at least their original product tag only says "Animal Clipper". The animals include bears, rabbits, dogs, mice, pigs and pandas.