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mrosehughes 12-05-2012 05:11 PM

I looked at the one downstairs and it is just too deep and too closed off to be much fun for DS. And to be honest, I really loved the idea of a plan toys one (I loved playing dolls as a kid so am looking forward to it!): We got the plan toys green dollhouse, and two families of calico critters (elephants and koalas). I am excited :giggle:

I am convinced now to get a separate dollhouse/furniture and a few calico critters to go inside. Now I just need to decide which!

I have narrowed it down to four (ok, really five) options:
These two are the priciest, but I really love plan toys quality, and I like that it's modular. It's a little over my budget (particularly once the critters themselves are added) so if I did this I'd probably have to con my sister and parents into chipping in (which they would, as part of DS's present).
and suggested by iris0110 (I don't love the look of this one as much but it seems like a better deal). I'm a little concerned about the 'toy for kids who are gentle with their toys,' since DS is, well, a boy:

This one suggested by iris0110 (Thank you!) is also pretty awesome. It fits our budget a bit better. I tend not to like Hape as much as plan, but they're still a very good company, right?

This kidkraft one at costco is less expensive, still, and has a moving elevator. This one would be it except that it's very girly (which DH protested) and I doubt it's as sturdy as the previous three:

And finally, I realized we have an old dollhouse (no furniture or dolls) in the basement that was my cousins when she was little (I had forgotten about it until DH said, 'we have a dollhouse!'). I need to go down into the basement and look at what shape it's in. My recollection is that it's all wood (not painted) and is pretty basic in its layout (as in, two stories, both are pretty wide/deep, and they're just basically two rooms). I could potentially just furnish this for DS, but I need to look it over closely to check what condition it's in.

Original post:
Any one have them for their kids? Thoughts on their quality; comparisons to other 'dollhouse' type toys? DS never seems real interested in dolls, but we were at a local toy store the other day, and he played for about 20 minutes with a display of calico critters that they had (dressing them and putting them to bed, etc). He's 3. I was thinking about either getting him one 'family' for Christmas, or getting him the house 'starter' set that has tons of furniture and making it his big present (he hasn't asked for anything else recently that he doesn't already have, so no 'big' presents are on his list) -- how awful would it be if I get my son a dollhouse for Christmas? :giggle:

kelly_jeanie 12-05-2012 05:17 PM

Re: Calico critters
They are super cute and if your son loves them I say go for it! We only have a couple sets but they are very nice quality, much higher than your average mass-produced plastic. We only have a couple sets and my DD plays with them in her non-Critters dollhouse. They come with some small pieces but when I gave my DD the dining room set last year I held the plates and tiny things back until she's older. I've seen the sets on Amazon and other places for buy-one-get-one-half-off sales. Barnes and Noble carries them too if you can find a coupon for them. I know Target has a "Woodzeez" that are cheaper but not sure of the quality.

jbug_4 12-05-2012 05:43 PM

Re: Calico critters
We're doing them for the first time this year. DD saw a friend at school with them. I didn't buy the house though so i don't know how sturdy it is. DD wanted the critters and she also wanted a princess castle- the one she wanted was really flimsy and made for barbie sized dolls. So we got this instead . Its going to fit the calico critters perfectly. I peaked in the box it is really pretty. Its wooden so it can always be painted if needed. She is also getting this . I really liked the townhouse but she wasn't interested.

iris0110 12-05-2012 09:08 PM

Re: Calico critters
My son has the older Calico Critters and Sylvanians (which are the same thing) from when I was a child. I collected them but didn't really play with them. He also has an old CC house. He adores them. Now if it were me and I were purposefully buying a house I might buy a nice wooden house vs the CC house as I don't think the one I have is that well made, but I have no idea how well they are made now. The animals themselves and all of the furniture are very well made and sturdy, it was just the house that I worry about should a child fall on it or handle it roughly. I would have preferred one of the wooden fairy houses from Nova Naturals but it is hard to argue with free and I already have this one.

I don't think there is anything wrong with buying a doll house for your son, my son has two, the CC one and a playmobil one. In the past my boys also had a vintage sesame street house and a Little People house. Tharen also has a bunch of snap together Hello Kitty Houses. It is just what he likes to play with. He also has a large wooden castle.

Ainmemphis 12-05-2012 10:27 PM

My 3yo ds has a calico critter family and the nursery playset (it was cheaper than house) he loves playing with it. There is nothing wrong with boys enjoying "doll" houses. They are fun!

mrosehughes 12-06-2012 12:58 PM

Re: Calico critters
Ok, now I'm getting excited! Glad you all have DS's who also like the calico critters :) My DS has always been into 'fine motor' type activities (art, puzzles), so it totally makes sense that he likes these cute little critters.

So now I'm trying to decide what to get and where to get it. ToysRUs has a special where if you buy $100 worth of calico critters then you get a free family, which seems like a pretty good deal. I am debating whether to get this:
plus the free family (which would give him 6 animals plus a bunch of furniture to play with). Or this:
and add to it to get up to $100. Or I could just get a different dollhouse like many of you did and get just a family of the critters.

HeatherlovesCDs 12-06-2012 02:32 PM

Re: Calico critters
We had the big house that is in the gift set in your link. My parents got it for my daughter for Christmas last year. They didn't know it didn't have anything but the house in the box. So, we only had the house, no families or furniture for it that was that brand. Personally, I did not think it was well made. My kids broke the two halves of the house apart by accident. They were playing a little rough, but not throwing it or banging it or anything. It was up on the bed with a few other things because I was vacuuming. (We obviously don't keep it there.) The kids got up on the bed with the stuff and were gently hoping around on the bed. I say gently because they shouldn't have been standing on the bed and they were moving around, but they weren't all out jumping either. Hopefully that makes sense. In the movement of the bed, the house broke at the hinge in the center of the 2 halves where it would close up. I don't feel like I'm describing it well because it sounds like they were being really rough and they really weren't even though they definitely can be. :giggle: Anyway, it can't be fixed. I was very surprised at how little movement it took to break it, especially with no one jumping on it or hitting it. And, I wasn't super impressed with the house before it broke. It didn't seem like it was a quality as I would expect for the price. I have no experience with the family or furniture pieces. And, mine is obviously the minority opinion. I hope your son enjoys whatever you decide to get.

iris0110 12-06-2012 04:24 PM

Re: Calico critters
If it were me I would buy a nice wooden doll house and then buy either CC furniture sets to go in it or just the people. Like I said my old Sylvanian house has survived for this long but I am pretty sure it is by pure luck rather than design. Something like this is really cute Or Melissa and Doug make several larger wooden doll houses and castles. Tharen has one of the large castles and it is a favorite toy around here. Plan, Hape, and Ryan's room also make wooden dollhouses in the correct size for CC families. If you shop around you can probably find a decent deal on the house and still have enough to buy some furniture and a couple of families.

mrosehughes 12-06-2012 08:49 PM

Ok, I appreciate that input. The attraction of the ones i linked is that they come with a bunch of furniture, so I wouldn't have to spend a lot of time piecing together a set, but I don't want the house if it won't last. Is the calico critters furniture good?

iris0110 12-06-2012 10:51 PM

Re: Calico critters
I only have the old furniture which was very well made. It was all wood and very nice. I have little experience with the new furniture, only a teeter-totter type toy that came with a set of baby twins Tharen received as a gift last year. It seems nice enough but probably not enough to base a review off all of the furniture off of. I will say that it is not wood, unlike my older furniture.

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