Materials

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Toy animals have been made out of a great many different things. The earliest would have been stone, wood or carved bone, and later they were made of ceramics. In modern times animals made of ceramic or stone are usually considered collectibles rather than toys to be played with. In the last 200 years many other materials have made their appearance.


Wood

Wood has been in use as a material for toys since ancient times. Carved animals were common during the 19th Century into the early 20th, as can be seen with many older Noah's Ark sets. The region of Erzgebirge in Germany is so well known for these carved animal toys that Erzgebirge is often used as the generic name for any such figure. Wood is still in use and is often seen as a more natural material that appeals to parents wishing to avoid the chemicals used in paints and plastics. A current popular line of wooden animals is that made by Anamalz.


Composition

Composition is any material that was made by mixing natural fibers or materials with a binding agent. Many different companies have used this sort of material pressed into molds to create their toy animals. Example composition materials are wood flour, starch, whiting and water - used by Molded Products, and wood flour, white clay and glue - used by Elastolin. Each company had it's own formula and working methods. Often a wire armature was often used in the center of the figure to provide support for legs and tails. Because composition is made with natural fibers it can contract or expand as it absorbs or loses moisture. This can cause cracking of the material, especially on figures with wire armatures. It also can lead to paint chipping and loss. Because of this the condition of a figure greatly effects it's perceived value. The rarer a figure is the more cracks and paint loss is considered acceptable for it to retain value. Another name sometimes seen is Sirocco, used to refer to a composition item that is stained and made to look like carved wood. Paper-Mache is considered a composition material as well since it's made of paper (a wood product) with glue and water.