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Things to Consider When Purchasing a Dollhouse Kit

Updated on January 25, 2013

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:

-style

-size

-price

-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.

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    • wordsmith2418 profile image

      Veronica Lewis 5 years ago from Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

      Great advice! I purchased an inexpensive house at a flea market. It was only ten dollars. But I will probably never put it together for just the reason you stated, it's all splintery and each piece needs to be glued and the pieces don't fit together all that well. I might as well have purchased plans and cut it out with my jigsaw! I wish I had read your hub before my purchase.

    • nextchapter profile image
      Author

      nextchapter 4 years ago from NC

      Belated thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope that your flea market experience hasn't discouraged you on miniatures in general. Now that (hopefully) you're past the frustration of the splintery pieces, it might be time to re-evaluate buying a "decent" kit. You might even be able to use some of the trims from your flea market kit, to personalize the "better" dollhouse. (Lots of times the inexpensive kits, have pretty gingerbread trims that can be used otherwise -- you can almost certainly get your $10 worth out of the pieces in the kit).

      As a ps, with respect to your jigsaw comment :) - for readers who are tempted to cut house pieces themselves, that's fine. But, if you're going to cut plywood pieces yourself, and then purchase components (e.g. windows, doors, etc), you might find that it's less expensive to purchase a kit that includes components, than to purchase the components individually.

      You can always "kit bash" and personalize any kit.

      The bottom line is that dollhouse/miniatures is a terrific hobby. Learn from your flea market experience, but don't let it discourage you from the hobby in general.

      best of luck!~

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