Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Sylvanian Families Water Mill Bakery--a Quick Look.

One of the very first toys I reviewed was the Li'l Woodzeez Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery.  Ever since I found that delightful and inexpensive diorama playset at Target, I have had a heightened interest in the Li'l Woodzeez and their more expensive counterparts, the Calico Critters.  After I wrote the comparison review of the two different brands of toy animals, it occurred to me that the Calico Critters might have their own bakery playset...and it might be awesome.  While there doesn't seem to be a Calico Critters bakery set sold in North America, there is a Sylvanian Families bakery set available in Europe, and I found a used one on eBay.  It looks like you can also buy a version of the set at the Sylvanian Families website for 40 pounds (about $60 dollars).  It's called the Water Mill Bakery and it does, in fact, look awesome:

Sylvanian Families "Water Mill Bakery."
Before I de-box the Water Mill Bakery, here are a few quick pictures of the Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery set so that it's fresh in your mind:

$19.99 at Target.

With some Littlest Pet Shop Blythe patrons.
The Water Mill Bakery comes in a very large cardboard box, but I can't say much more abut the original packaging since my set came used:

The Water Mill Bakery is owned by Christopher Apple-Blossom, who is a grey version of the chipmunk father, Kenneth, that I reviewed earlier.

Christopher Apple-Blossom

Compared to Kenneth, Christopher has a less detailed shirt and more detailed overalls.  He also has a bakery apron with elastic straps.

Unfortunately, my set is missing several pieces, but it did come with a good representative sample of the bakery items, and a few extra bear figures:

On the outside of the bakery there is a moving water wheel and a corner display window.  The details and colors are great, and there is a lot more depth to the shape of the bakery than in the Li'l Woodzeez set.  There's even a partial roof:

My set is missing some flowers in front.
You can see into the shop through the display window.
A cute little advertisement poster (a sticker).
On the inside of the bakery, there is a very small shopping area and a baking area with a sales counter separating the two spaces:

The water wheel is connected to a geared mechanism inside the bakery that is stirring a big bowl of dough.  There is no way to access the moving parts here--that door in the front doesn't actually open:

I love all of the working gears!
There are several sticker details inside the bakery.  These were not applied perfectly, but they still look nice: 
Me?  I like croissants best.
In the baking area, there is a sticker clock, a small open-paned window and an oven that actually opens on top.  In contrast to the Li'l Woodzeez bakery, this oven has some depth and can actually hold baking pans and trays.  I love the molded chimney over the oven:

On the other side, there is an arched display nook and the shelved window.  The front door of the bakery opens and closes.  

I think if the arched display had been a wall of regular shelves, this set would have a lot more usable space for all of the accessories.

The detail in the plastic baked goods is very nice.  This large loaf of bread is one of my favorites:

Doesn't it look real?
The loaf bread can be taken out of the realistic non-stick bread pan:

There are several baguettes:

There is an assortment of rolls and pastries, including the portrait pastries advertised on the outside of the bakery:

The croissants are the most realistic.

There are slices of bread and some fixings for deli sandwiches.  I am missing a few pieces here, including what looked like a very fun submarine sandwich making kit.

There are some essential baking supplies:

What on earth is wormwood?  Do I want to know? 

And this cute little gingerbread house:

You might remember that there was a small problem with sticky paint in the Li'l Woodzeez bakery.  There was one tray in that set that stuck to the doughnuts and caused their paint to peel off.  In the Water Mill Bakery, there is nothing at all sticky about any of the paint.  Everything looks like it is painted for good.

It's very tricky to get everything arranged inside this bakery.  There are so many little pieces, it took me a while to figure out how everything was supposed to be used.  I relied a bit on the numerous box pictures and in the ened I had to leave several items out.  It's a pretty cramped space, but it looks great:

Look at the opening oven with the tinted glass (plastic) door.  This is one of the best features.

I love that display window:

It makes me drool to just look at this display!
Because I was missing several bakery items, I also bought the add-on Sylvanian Families bakery set from Japan:
eBay, about $20.
This gave me a nice assortment of cakes and pastries:

Bouche de Noel?
Berry pie...with little green bits.  Rhubarb?  Celery?  Pickles?
Cream puffs.
Um...pudding of some sort?
The cake slices are very well done, but still pale in comparison to my D-Lightful Designs cake:

It also comes with a wonderful plastic display case, which has labels so I can try and figure out what all of the desserts are suposed to be:

Chou cream and Mont Blanc are the ones I had to guess about.
I think I got chou cream wrong.  There's a picture of it here.  I guess that means the Mont Blanc is the brown one (yep--apparently it's chestnut puree).  

The bakery is already so full, there's no obvious place to put the pastry display.  I had to add it on outside of the bakery like this:

The Japanese add-on set also enhances the Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery really nicely:

I had a great time mixing and matching all of the different pretend treats for some truly scrumptious-looking displays:

On top: Woodzeez doughnut, Sylvanian Families roll cake, D-Lightful Designs chocolate cake.
On bottom: all Woodzeez accessories--they fit right in!

The two bakery sets have a very different overall feel.  The Tickle Your Taste Buds bakery is bright, cheery and almost cartoonish.  It has lots of shelf space and many different arrangement options:

The Water Mill Bakery is more cozy and realistic.  It has the feel of a working neighborhood bakery.  I can imagine the hum of the water wheel and the smell of the hot fragrant air of the ovens.  It has to be set up in a fairly specific way, and there is barely room for all of the accessories.

It is very clear that the Li'l Woodzeez are striving to be an economical imitation of the Calico Critters/Sylvanian Families, and so it is no surprise that almost everything about the Water Mill Bakery is of higher quality than the Tickle Your Tast Buds Bakery.  The overall shape and construction of the Water Mill Bakery is more complex and realistic.  The moving water mill and opening oven are fantastic.  The enclosed window display looks amazing and keeps the accessories from falling out.  The bakery items themselves have a lot of sculpted and painted detail.  However, the floor space inside this bakery is cramped, and it is difficult to set everything up.  Also, although the baked good accessories are great, they are not significantly better than the Woodzeez versions, in fact, the Woodzeez bakery selection is a bit more appealing to me.

The Water Mill Bakery price is staggeringly high.  In North America, you're looking at close to $100 to bring this set home.  While I think the Calico Critter animal figures are worth the extra coin, I am pretty sure this bakery isn't worth three to four times as much as the Li'l Woodzeez version.  The Li'l Woodzeez bakery is a bright, spacious and cheerful little playset with a ton of realistic accessories.  It's easy to set up and extremely versatile.  For $20, the Woodzeez bakery is a toy that is accessible for a variety of gift occasions or just as a relatively guilt-free treat.  The Water Mill Bakery is a significant investment.

Given my obsession with food-themed dioramas, I am thrilled to own both of these sets, but I have to admit to a tinge of disappointment with the Sylvanian Families version.  Certainly the missing pieces bother me (I incorrectly assumed that this set was complete--totally my fault) and this could be a big contributor to my overall impression, but it's also that this set doesn't feel like a hundred bucks to me and so I am missing that giddy feeling of having found a little treat for a great price...which is how I felt in the aisle of Target when I first saw the Li'l Woodzeez bakery.  

I surprise myself by concluding that my favorite combination of the bakery sets I own is actually the Tickle Your Taste Buds Bakery with the added treats from the Japanese Sylvanian Families accessory set.  Huh.  I would've bet money (39 British pounds plus shipping to be exact) that I'd feel differently.


  1. SQUEEE!!! Oh my gosh, I thought the first bakery you reviewed was adorable, but this one just takes that to a whole nother level!!! I am truly amazed at the detail in the pastries, I'm talking these are older Re-ment quality! I might have to pick some up for reference! And I must say I grin like a fool every time I see one of my goodies in one of your images! I feel like a proud parent! :-)

    1. Oh, you should totally feel like a proud parent! I determine the quality of a miniature by whether or not it can share space with your cakes. :)

      I have always wanted to see some Re-ment food. It's not so easy to find a good variety at any given shop, but perhaps I should renew my quest. I have always been really curious about that brand.

      This bakery does, indeed, take it to the next level! It's a very nice set and really shows off the detailed food extremely well.

  2. I totally fell in love with the Li'l Woodzeez Bakery when I saw it in Target and snatched it right up when it came out! My Bobobies are a little large for it but they like to use it for their kitchen as the Calico Critter house they bought wasn't big enough to hold all their furniture. I spoil them too much. :D

    I love all these little things!

    1. Isn't the tiny stuff fun? I'd love to have a whole food-themed miniature display some day--like a whole street block full of bakeries and restaurants. Yum.

      The Bobobies are SO cute--it would be impossible to spoil them too much. ;) I am wondering if they are similar in proportion to the LPS Blythe dolls who use my bakery set most of the time. They're also a bit big but don't seem to mind.

  3. So would you say that the Lil Woodzeez bakery takes the cake?
    *CSI theme*
    :) Ahem sorry, sorry.. Gosh these are adorable. What is it about tiny little food items that makes them the best thing in the world? I just love the way your little Blythe girls look in those dioramas, to me they fit in even better than the Sylvanian Families figures somehow. Maybe it's because of those big bright eyes.

    1. LOL! Believe me, it took tremendous amounts of will power not to type that. ;)

      I agree about the little Blythe dolls--as cute as the Calico Critters are, my diorama playsets are all inhabited by Blythe. I like how their side-glancing eyes look longingly at the pastries! Just like me...

  4. Hello from Spain: This set is wonderful breads and pastries. All parts look real. I love the bakery. I congratulate you for these beautiful shopping. Keep in touch.

  5. LOVE your Sylvanian Families reviews!!! We have a house, the school and the hospital. Thanks to your input, I've decided to try the L'il Woodzeez bakery rather than the Sylvanian bakery. Keep the Sylvanian reviews coming please--they're awesome!

    1. Thank you so much! :)

      You can't go wrong with that delightful little Woodzeez bakery--the price is definitely right! If you want, though, shoot me an email and I will send my Water Mills Bakery to you. I don't have enough room for it.
      (toyboxphilosopher @ gmail dot com)

    2. you are so nice. the way you send everyone toys! That is awesome of you!

  6. O my God!
    I'm in love :O
    That looks absolutely amazing, I would love to have something like that!
    Just like you, I adore dioramas and especially cute dioramas like this one, the fact that you're missing some parts is kinda sad but all the cuteness of this diorama is doing a very good job distracting you from that!

    1. I like the way you think. :) The cuteness of the diorama can certainly make me forget about some little shortcomings...and extra parts can always be replaced.

  7. I love Sylvanian Families and I have that bakery. I agree that it is cramped, but I love it just the same. It costs significantly less than $100 if you can get it locally rather than having to order online though. The Lil Woodzeez bakery looks awesome, but I'd be absolutely itching to repaint everything. The only thing I really don't like about it are the non-removable things protruding from the wall.

    If you're not adverse to ebay, there are a number of mixed re-ment sets going very cheaply on there.

    1. I should check eBay for re-ment--that's a good idea. I used to drool over the re-ment at Pullip Style, but I don't think they carry it anymore.

      The things stuck to the wall in the Woodzeez bakery bug me a bit, too. I love that the Sylvanian bakery doesn't have any of that going on.

      I think you're right--if I'd paid a normal price for the Sylvanian bakery, there wouldn't be much contest between the two sets. The Water Mill Bakery is better in almost every way.

  8. Hey TBP! ever heard of re-ment?

    1. Yup. It looks amazing! I've almost ordered some sets before, but I never quite get around to checking out for some reason...

  9. It's kind of pathetic, but I only have 2 complete re-ment sets:

    1. Hello Kitty Kitchen Set

    2. Blythe Momoko Dal Re-MeNT Food Pizza Lunch Meal SET (

    I also have a Megahouse Bakery Set, and the pieces are detailed and nicely painted, though I still think re-ment is better. I think Megahouse has stopped producing miniatures and instead, are producing anime action figures.

  10. Looking awesome, i mean every thing looking so real specially those baked breads i remembered something by seeing this. thanks for sharing really awesome.

  11. I love this! I just discovered the Little Woodzeez sets at Target and love them, but am so frustrated at how PINK they are. I'll definitely check out the Calico Critters and Sylvanian Families alternatives, which look much more gender neutral.

  12. lurkins still working my way through the old blogMay 21, 2020 at 8:19 AM

    The Calico bakery has a nice homey 80s feel to it, imo, and the two sets look amazing together. It's too bad the fancier one is so small inside.