Things to Consider When Purchasing a Dollhouse Kit
Victoria's Farmhouse by Real Good Toys
Choosing a dollhouse kit can be a daunting task. You will be amazed at the number of choices on the market. Building a dollhouse is an investment of both time and money, so it's important to make the time to fully explore your options. If there is a local miniatures shop that features assembled houses, take the time to go and look at some of the choices in person.
There are several manufacturers who produce kits, and there can be vast differences between these manufacturers. Do NOT automatically buy the cheapest kit, or the one with the prettiest finished photo. Sometimes a cheap price tag can be reflective of low quality, or can mean that the house will require pricey add-ons. Cheap kits can also mean that the house is so difficult to assemble that it's beyond your time and skill. Take time to research, so that you know what's included in the kit. Make sure that you purchase a dollhouse that you are happy with - AND that you will actually be able to successfully construct.
When you are comparing dollhouse kits, things to consider are:
-thickness of walls
-is the kit plywood or MDF (MDF is medium density fiberboard)
-components included in the kit, i.e.
is the kit simply a "shell" (basic walls and roof), or does it include components? If you're going to have to purchase windows, doors, shingles and/or siding separately, that's going to add to the cost of your dollhouse project. Some kits include these components and some do not.
-skill level required for assembly
-manufacturer reputation and reliability
-customer service offered by the retailer and/or manufacturer (if you have missing parts, or difficulty in constructing, it's important to be able to get support).
-ability to add-on to the house, if desired, at a later time
Some kits are made of thin, die-cut plywood. This means that you are punching the parts out of the wood yourself. Often, the punched-out parts will be splintery and will require quite a bit of sanding. Sometimes, the die-cut pieces do not fit together perfectly and require a bit of "futzing" and filling. Die-cut kits are usually less expensive, but at a cost to you personally: these dollhouses are certainly more difficult and more labor-intensive to put together. Depending on your skill and patience, the results can be beautiful, but the dollhouses are also more fragile (because the wood is so thin). Greenleaf and Corona Concepts, are examples of the die-cut kits.
Real Good Toys makes the best quality dollhouse kits. These kits offer pre-cut parts and pieces, out of a sturdy 3/8" cabinet-grade plywood. Many of the Real Good Toys kits are also offered in MDF, for a price savings. The Real Good Toys kits generally include all exterior components; additionally, if you want clapboard on your house, the kits can be purchased with milled siding. This means that the siding is actually part of the house walls (saving you the time and cost of purchasing, piecing and applying siding to a smooth exterior wall). These kits also offer the smoothest construction process. There are a variety of styles and price ranges available, and many of these houses also offer expansion options.
Being large manufacturers, both Greenleaf and Real Good Toys offer good customer service options.
Dollhouse kits can be purchased at miniatures stores, many hobby stores, or online. If you're fortunate to be near to a store, consider buying the kit close to home -- even if it costs a few dollars more than an internet-purchase, it may be worth the extra cents if you can get local support during your construction process. (Plus, it's important to support the small shops!)
Dollhouses are a hobby that can involve the whole family, and that can span the generations. Dollhouses and miniatures are one of the few hobbies that can be shared by a 90-year-old great grandmother, and her 8-year-old great-granddaughter.
Taking a bit of extra time, in your kit selection process, will mean that you choose the house that's right for YOU and your family -- and that you start a project that will hopefully offer you many years of enjoyment.