Super snazzy accessories. So-so quality. DreamHouse includes advertising for other Mattel products.
MSRP: $199.99 (typical retail $180)
Adjusted Price:* $215 (typical retail + 2 dolls)
Mfr. Recommended Age: 3 Years+
Assembly: 30 - 45 minutes
Furniture Included: Yes
Dolls Included: No
*The adjusted price is our rough calculation of the total cost of this item once you’ve bought any accessories (i.e., furniture, dolls) that aren’t included with the dollhouse.
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Advertising in the dollhouse
Nobody does snazzy accessories like the DreamHouse. From the waterslide to the working elevator, the DreamHouse has excellent features. We found it pricey for the quality (and we are pretty annoyed by the in-house Mattel advertising), but for some kids, it’s gotta be Barbie and her DreamHouse.
The Barbie DreamHouse includes furniture for a bedroom, living room, bathroom, office, and kitchen. The set includes dollhouse furniture mainstays like a bed, couch, and table, as well as some cute detailed pieces, like a carton of milk, dog bed, and soap.
Some of the furniture transforms. The desk doubles as a fireplace; the bunk beds can fold down into a couch; the bed can be flipped over to serve as a coffee table; and the kitchen set doubles as an outdoor grill.
Barbie dolls sold separately. There are of course loads of Barbie dolls to choose from, but we suggest checking out the Barbie Careers dolls, like Firefighter, Robotics Engineer, Chef, and Game Developer, or a Made to Move doll, like Soccer Player and Dancer.
You can have Barbie playing in her DreamHouse in 30-45 minutes.
You’ll need four AAA batteries and a screwdriver to make the magic happen.
The dollhouse arrives in large parts.
Most of the pieces pop together with interlocking plastic. These generally line up fine, but some proved difficult to connect (our testers were never able to get the back patio securely linked to the house).
Not-so-expert tip: For each of the large pieces, try to get all three of the plastic interlocking parts in place at the same time.
There are also a few stickers to apply.
From the snazziness perspective, Barbie has got a really good thing going. The working elevator. The waterslide. The actually, factually fillable swimming pool on the second floor. ALL the lights and sound effects.
(Seriously, can we get a waterslide that connects our home office to our swimming pool? On second thought, could we just get a home office?)
And those features worked their siren song on our kid testers, who were eager to run the elevator, fill up the pool, and send the dog down the giant waterslide.
The storytelling possibilities aren’t quite as expansive as we would like. The house has three floors, with a couple rooms on each floor. Despite being ginormous, each room can only hold a piece or two of furniture (because the furniture, of course, is also ginormous).
Sigh. This is where Barbie’s DreamHouse falls apart. Almost literally.
The first issue we noticed is that some of the pieces arrived dirty. The purple couch. The brown patio. A white column. We gave them a good scrub. Some of the dirt came off; some remained. Some items inexplicably had pieces of tape stuck to them.
The real problem, though, was the overwhelming cheap plastic-ness of it all (especially combined with the nearly $200 suggested price tag). The dollhouse components and furniture don’t have the look or feel of high quality pieces. And, as we mentioned above, the pieces don’t always fit together super well.
Hopefully Barbie likes the initial spot you stake out for the DreamHouse. Because if anyone ever decides to move this massive set, you may have trouble on your hands. We were never able to move the DreamHouse more than an inch or so at a time without pieces coming apart.
We’ve also got a major gripe about the not-so-subtle advertising inside the DreamHouse. Barbie has a giant flat screen TV in her bedroom. And guess what she’s watching? Barbie DreamHouse Adventures.
Barbie’s also got a nice stack of games on the second floor, all from Mattel (maker of the DreamHouse), of course.
Treating a child’s dollhouse as a commercial for your other products is a serious quality ding in our books.