Animals and fantasy themes are very hot trends in the modern-day toy industry and so it is not surprising that a franchise which melds both themes, known as “Animal Jam,” is hugely popular--especially among girls. “Animal Jam” is a series that was created by a game producer known as WildWorks. Upon its inception, the series was an imaginative online community that enabled children to create their own fantasy-inspired creatures and then share their creations with other users. In keeping true to the animal-inspired theme, Animal Jam offers true-life facts about actual animals and has even partnered with National Geographic.

Hence, there is an educational element to the series that impresses parents and educators alike. At the height of its popularity, Animal Jam was the most visited online community in the world and it still boasts over 125 million users globally. Noting the massive success of the brand, it is not surprising that its content has made its way into the toy industry via a line of figurines and playsets.

Means of play

Toys inspired by Animal Jam are fairly new to the market although producer Jazwares plans on releasing more throughout 2016 and 2017. To date, there are a range of psychedelically colored animal figurines, a plush line, ‘Adopt a Pet’ blind bags, and twoplaysets--namely, the “Princess Castle” and the “Small House”-- with a third gingerbread-themed set due to be released in the fall.

These playsets are cheerfully colored and each one contains a character from the series. Although these sets are made with quality plastic, most of the textured details are on the floors and outside walls. The details -- including suggestions of bricks and stones -- are all rendered in one solid color.

To break up the monotony, the sets are inlaid with illustrations that convey a feeling of interior coziness. Each set also includes several pieces of furniture which are made of sturdy plastic.While it is somewhat disappointing that the outside of the sets is not more colorful, the main play-sections are very appealing.

The size of the playsets is also worth noting -- they are not as tiny as items in the Shopkins line but they are much smaller than most sprawling Playmobil sets. Hence, although Animal Jam playsets do not come with handles, they are easy to transport.

Tools of stop motion

As toys, the Animal Jam playsets are designed with the sole purpose of amusing children. However, given their size and portability, they could also be quite useful to stop motion animators. Like LEGO and Stikbots, Animal Jam is a brand that encourages creativity. Hence, they are welcoming of creative content made using their materials. To this end, these playsets could be incorporated into projects by stop motion enthusiasts of any age.

The furniture -- which can be removed from the sets -- make great stand-alone pieces that can be easily mixed with LEGO figurines, Stikbot characters and more to create maximum imaginative potential. Overall, these are toys that can serve many purposes -- spreading joy, chief among them.

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