When it comes to choosing play animals, there are many choices. Realistic and water friendly animals, Safari Ltd and Schleich are popular. For eco-friendly wooden animals, the two largest brands are Ostheimer and Holztiger.
The question that always arise is: should I buy Ostheimer or Holztiger? Which is better?
I love and hate this question. Each brand has positives and negatives. Which is the best wooden animal? Ostheimer? Holztiger? Or, another brand? And what brand do kids like the best?
Read on to know more about each of the two German brands and which one my kids liked the best.
Ostheimer is often considered creme de la creme – it is the oldest wooden toy maker still in existence today. Their styles and practices have not changed much over the years which many consider an achievement. Both Ostheimer and Holztiger animals are aligned to Waldorf style, though Ostheimer has more neutral expressions on the faces.
When it comes to and feel, Ostheimer have an unfinished raw smoothness. Writing this makes almost no sense, but if you feel one and then feel another brand, you will sense the difference. This touch feeling is 100% subjective. Some may like this unfinished feeling, while Holztiger has a smooth glossiness to the touch. Personally, I like the touch to both.
The paint style between the two brands is very different. Holztiger animals have more details on the animals: spots, lines, speckles, patterns, eyes and mouth, while Ostheimer is more simplistic. Ostheimer animals are stained (a type of water diluted painting) while Holztiger is painted on. Holztiger colors tend to be brighter as well. Ostheimer colors are more muted, while Holztiger use a thicker coat of paint and more vibrant colors.
Size-wise, it is hilarious to compare the two brands. Holztiger overall makes larger animals. If you ever looked at the Holztiger chick and Ostheimer chick, there’s a huge difference! Holztiger chick is the size of a silver dollar, while the Ostheimer chick would be nickel sized. The Holztiger moose is enormous – the size of my face! It’s extra fun having a massive moose among the trees. Overall the Holztiger animals are larger, which one can say is more bang for the buck.
From the numerous posts I read, Holztiger is a more “throw friendly” toy than Ostheimer. Holztiger seem to be made of harder woods (still researching exactly which ones). If you have a thrower or a child who is more aggressive with toys, Holztiger would be a better option. Bear in mind, Holztigers break too, especially horns. Breaks are easy to fix than chips – it’s difficult to find a tiny piece that chipped off versus gluing on a large horn.
Just this week, my toddler threw one of the older Ostheimer horses. A small piece chipped off the ear. I was ready to cry. Now, all the Ostheimer has been put away until the youngest is out of the “I’m gonna throw everything” schema…so in 10 years?
2020 is the year of crazy. As with everything pandemic related, availability has been scarce. In the past month, Holztiger supplies to North America are normalizing again. Ostheimer on the other hand is facing extreme shortages. The major restock of October (which is happening these coming weeks) means low stock to each shop. Honestly, it is not a good situation to be in if your collection is set on Ostheimer.
In another year, I would tell you to buy either brand. Right now, 9 weeks before Christmas, I recommend Holztiger.
Where to Buy
Ostheimer – $$$
With extreme limited stock, my best and only suggestion is The Natural Baby Co as they have not had their restock. Make sure to sign up on several items to get the restock email notification. Modern Rascals, a small online shop in Canada has an Ostheimer rabbit, blackbird, and hen in stock at the time of this writing.
And, if you want a quick pros and cons list to reference:
- Waldorf style with minimal facial expressions
- Minimalism style to painting
- More ‘delicate’ feeling
- Very difficult to find in stores in 2020
- Made in Germany
- Unfinished/soft feel to touch
- Reasonably priced
- Easy to find at stores
- Large sized animals
- ‘Cheery’ faces
- Made in Europe, mostly Romania
- More ‘durable’
- Smooth feel to touch
What’s the secret Preeti? Who’s the winner? Should I buy Holztiger? Or Ostheimer? What will my kid like?
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! The answer is: IT DEPENDS! Hahahaha! Don’t throw your toys at the screen yet, hear me out!
Your style and preferences, your budget, and the availability in shops is what matters. Kids, more often than not, will love whatever animals you choose when it comes to wooden toys. The big difference really lies between realistic style animals (Schleich and Safari Ltd) versus Waldorf imaginative style of Holztiger and Ostheimer.
After asking my kids 30+ times which animals their favorites, EVERY brand was chosen! One kid preferred the Holztiger giraffe because the spots were better, the other preferred the Izvetvey bear because he was huge. It didn’t matter to them.
The point is, brand name matters to US as parents, not the kids.
Want more inspiration or need help finding a particular wooden animal? There are many other lovely brands out there. I’m listing a few with a dollar sign to represent expensiveness.
Brin d’Ours $$ – Stylistically sweet and simple. Faces narrow to give a definitive “Brin d’Ours” style. Not to be confused with Brin de Bois. Made in France. Available at WoodWoodToys.ca.
Dada Craft $$ – These sweet Ukraine made animals and trees come in a diverse collection from Africa to farm to Australian animals. You can purchase direct from the maker on Etsy (be aware of COVID shipping delays!) and through presale at Danny & Luca (free shipping, US webshop,. With Danny and Luca you can also use code ALIFEOFTOYS10 for 10% off! (Disclosure, I am a rep for D&L)
Eric and Albert – $$ UK online available
Izvetvey – $$$ available on Etsy direct from shop
Predan -$$$ – minimalistic carved wood toys. Their style is very different from the other brands. Limited shops in Netherlands, UK, and Germany carry them. NOT available for direct purchase in North America.
Schleich – $ realistic animals with textured skin.. Not wood but well designed and durable. Buy at Amazon.
Safari Ltd – $ realistic animals. Similar to Schleich but with smooth animal bodies. Buy at Amazon.
There are also several US etsy toymakers making wooden animals and that’s in a separate post.
Whatever you do, Ostheimer and Holztiger make beautiful animals and people. Choose what you think your child will love through the years.
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