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Hello, Mr Chips!
on 15 May 2014
It's not often I encounter a toy that makes me wish that my body was as youthful as my mental age. In the case of the, quite superb, Sylvanian Families Fish and Chips Van though, that might just have provided some semblance of justification for the fact that I shoved the intended recipients of it clear into the sidings in my determination to experience a second childhood right then, and right there.
Those recipients were a 6 year old and her 9 year old sister, by the way. And it was the six year old's birthday as well. God, I feel so ashamed. Especially since I even went so far as to give it large with a few 'brrm, brrms' while helping Finley Osborne to manoeuvre his van out of my two young (former) friends' reach... .
This is simply brilliant for inspiring some really worthwhile creative play. And I am reliably informed that, after I was invited to leave the premises by their somewhat irate mother, my two little relatives were completely inspired by it too.
It is beautifully made and comes with everything but a jar of pickled eggs. The 8cm high Mr Osborne is very cute indeed and, what's more, he has a brilliant business brain. Not content with simply flogging his wares from his van and then hotfooting it to his next location, Mr Osborne comes fully equipped with a table and two chairs that can all be unfolded for the comfort and convenience of his customers, at the drop of a Sylvanian hat.
His van is reassuringly heavy (and 'Made in Japan', apparently). I'm not quite sure why one whole side of it is missing but, if I ran any kind of mobile chip shop, I would probably need to come up with a similar arrangement in order to get myself in and out of the thing. I'd probably need a few firemen and one of these winches that they use to move elephants around as well. Finley Osborne looks remarkably svelte actually, given the myriad temptations he is surrounded by. He obviously has a tremendous amount of chip-related willpower.
There are a fair few sticky labels that need to be applied to the van and its contents, but these are all number-coded, their destinies very clearly detailed in a series of diagrams on the lid of the box. Some of them are a bit fiddly, but you can always get someone with smaller fingers (oh, say... a six year old and a nine year old) to take care of all that for you while you get Finley Osborne to show you how he gets his chips so crispy.
No? Oh well, that must just be me then.
The food items and assorted accoutrements have been very well designed. Crinkle cut chips, trays, mushy peas, ketchup, vinegar... you can almost smell it all! The two bits of fish look suspiciously 'fish-shaped' to me though, suggesting that Finley Osborne, far from having a supplier snapping up the catch of the day at Billingsgate Market, may have been buying his stock in the kids' meal department at the Sylvanian Cash and Carry. Still, he has found a way to get around Health and Safety rules by wrapping his nosh up in newspaper, so fair play to him.
Speaking as an adult (well, in body at least), this is a fabulous toy in its own right - never mind what it brings to the community of Sylvania.