Last week Lydia announced that she wanted a princess castle for Christmas. She must have seen one on TV or her friends at school have been talking about them, but she wasn't very specific about the details. I kept insisting that Santa would need some guidance about the type of castle, but she just kept saying "you know, a castle!"
I quickly realized that there were numerous different scales of princesses that needed shelter and asked my Facebook friends' advice on choosing between a big castle for Barbie princesses or a small castle for the little figurines.
Based on price and size concerns, I quickly vetoed the Barbie option only to realize that there were still a few different options in the small category. I was familiar with the little princesses that wore rubber dresses similar to Polly Pocket dolls.
Apparently, the rubber dresses are now being replaced by hard plastic "magiclip" dresses that open like a clothespin and envelope the doll. I now believe they are all the same size, but it took a trip to Toys R Us to figure that out.
Unfortunately, those aren't the only two kinds of small princesses in stores. There are castles for magiclip and regular (rubbery) dress dolls. Then there are also some smaller princesses with realism strands of doll hair (compared to the plastic hair on the slightly larger magiclip sized dolls). I found castles that came with one small doll, but then the main option for adding princess doll friends was to buy the slightly larger dolls. It's probably not something Lydia would care about, but it would drive me crazy to spend all this money and not have all the dolls match.
And then I saw THIS castle. It's a Disney store exclusive and I thought it was gorgeous! I really liked that it wasn't pink and it looked more detailed than the typical toy castles I had been looking at. It also came with ALL the princesses, and their princes, and furniture, and lights and sound.... BUT several reviews referenced how SMALL it was. Then I realized it was populated with figurines, not dolls. They didn't have clothing to change and I started to worry about it being too fragile. And then I read some reviews on this castle and all those other castles. Regardless of their size, everyone mentioned the cheap flimsy plastic and how pieces kept breaking. Considering that most of the castles started at $50 and went up oner $100 that was unacceptable to me.
My cousin suggested that I look at wooden castles like those made by Melissa and Doug. Sure enough, they are the right size for the Disney Princess dolls. They are sturdy, inspire imagination, and come in colors other than pink! My favorite was the Deluxe Medieval Castle. It has some neat features like a drawbridge and a trap door, but my favorite thing is that it folds up when not in use!
They do make a similar Deluxe Princess Castle if you want something more girly. I really really like this one, but think the Medieval Castle will work fine AND will also interest Joshua someday when, instead of princesses, he can fill it with Knights .....
And dragons, like these gorgeous figurines from Papo. They are almost the same size as the Disney princess dolls that I am getting, so we may even let them play together.
In fact, I think at least one dragon will be in the castle when Lydia gets it on Christmas. The way I see it, her dolls can't be true damsels if they aren't in a little distress!