The Sylvanian Families Courtyard Restaurant arrived in the country a few weeks ago, adding to the limited number of SF buildings currently available in the local market. Thanks to a tip from my friend Harriet, I was able to get the Courtyard Restaurant from Kidz Station Rockwell within a week of its arrival.
I’ve had ample opportunity to compare the original Courtyard Restaurant with the replica (aka a knockoff) which was sold last year in toy shops. Original Sylvanian Families buildings, figures, and accessories are distributed by their authorized country distributor, Ban Kee Trading. The Courtyard Restaurant retails for PhP4199.75, which might seem a little steep for a toy, but not when compared to prices from other countries. (HongKong sells it for HKD880 or about PhP5300; it is available in Malaysia for MYR 349.99 or about PhP4800). The replica, on the other hand, is sold under the name “Sweet Home,” comes at a fraction of the price of the original (roughly 35% of the cost), and does look very similar. I have not seen it in toy stores in a while but it was widely available for a time last year.
At first glance, one sees that the products are packaged very differently. Still, while there is no direct attempt to link the replica with the original product, the similarities are all too obvious. Even the perspective of the photos seen in the front of the boxes are the same.
The weight and the heft of the items, however, are different. The original SF restaurant weighs a bit more than the replica. The replica’s plastic construction is also less thick and more brittle than the solid heft of the original toy.
There are basic differences in coloring too. As you can see in the pictures above, there are color differences in windows, posts, doors, and even the courtyard flooring.
The replica comes with a lot of furniture not available in the real Courtyard Restaurant. Unfortunately, they are nowhere near Sylvanian Families standard in looks and construction, with the exception of the tables and chairs which attempt to mimic the original. They look almost the same except for minor details in the design. The replica is also of a deeper shade of yellow than the muted yellow of the original.
If replicas serve any purpose at all, perhaps it’s to drive down the cost of originals, though this has yet to happen with this particular toy line. We’ve seen it happen with music CDs and DVDs, even with Transformer toys where the older stocks are always on sale. Competition in the market always benefits the consumer in the end. Then, too, in this particular case, replicas have the advantage of being easily customizable with paints, something I dare not do with the originals (wallpaper is as far as I will go).
I don’t recommend buying bootlegs or replicas; there is no arguing that originals are always much better than their copies. Issues of safety, quality control, and manufacturer’s guarantees usually fly out the window when replicas are concerned. You see toys laced with lead, make-up tainted with mercury, and you wonder why people still buy replicas, even when differences in costs are only marginal. If you’re buying for a child, especially a younger child who still mouths or gums things, then it’s always best to stay away from the unknown. Remember that toxic paints leach and brittle plastic gets broken and accidentally swallowed. Moreover, if you’re buying something that is eaten, absorbed, or applied to the body, then why risk it at all?
My rating: (out of 5 stars)
SF Courtyard Restaurant: