The Toy Box


NETS 2012 Gold Star Award Winners

A Doll House and Castle with Exceptional Play Value

Did you know the cardboard box is in the National Toy Hall of Fame in the U.S.?

Even so, we don’t think that will make you feel any less disappointed when you purchase a rather expensive toy only to find your children are more enchanted with the box, than the toy that came inside it.

This is why we take time each year to evaluate the toys and games available and select ten of those that we feel deserve a ‘Gold Star’ based on the exceptional play value they offer. These are toys that are sure to engage as well as educate your children for years. They are durable enough so that new arrivals, as they come along, will have their opportunity to play with these as well. These are the types of toys that earn a Gold Star Award from the retailers belonging to Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada (NETS).

Doll houses and castles are no exception. There are plenty to choose from that, at first glance, have that magical ‘wow’ factor you are looking for. But how can you be sure that the one you buy will appeal to your children more than the box it came in, engage their imaginations and stand up to the beating of repeated hours of play?

Someone who knows a product well is a good place to start. This may be another parent who can make a recommendation based on a good or bad experience. Or it may be an independent toy store retailer, who has assessed the various options before ordering for their store, and can share first-hand feedback from other parents.

This year Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada (NETS) retailers gave a ‘Gold Star’ to both a furnished doll house and a castle.

The castle is the Princess Fantasy Castle by Playmobil. The Playmobil name is synonymous with quality and imaginative play so it really comes as no surprise that this item was chosen as a 2012 Gold Star Award product by NETS retailers this year. With turrets, gilded entrance gate, grand staircase, lots of rooms, a ballroom with revolving dance floor, two figures, throne, chairs, chaise, chandelier, jewellery box, tea set, goblets, flower bushes, and a life-size tiara, bracelet and ring it promotes hours of imaginative play that appeals to children between four and 10 years of age. The set is 29.5x28x26 inches (L x W x H). The suggested retail price is $179.99. That may make you utter ‘OMG’ but the appeal to both boys and girls over a six year age range should ensure that this rather ‘extravagant’ toy will, over time, cost you pennies per day … or per play! 

The doll house included in this year’s 2012 Gold Star Award winning products is the fully furnished All Season House from HaPe. This is another brand name you can equate with quality and exceptional play value. Constructed primarily of wood and using water-based paints, the house is comprised of six rooms, moveable stairs and a reversible winter/summer-themed, solar-paneled roof inspiring year-round imaginative play in tune with the seasons. There are four room sets including Master Bedroom, Family Bathroom, Media Room and Kitchen. 

The All Season House is designed for children 3+ to encourage imitative and imaginary play, promote fantasy storytelling, role playing and creativity. From a learning point of view this type of play fosters the development of communication, cooperation, and collaboration; encourages trust, friendship and language development. Phew! That all sounds a little intense, doesn’t it? Not to worry. Your children will be having tons of fun letting their imaginations soar while all the learning and development is happening. The suggested retail price is $199.

Stay tuned and we’ll be back again soon to offer you more on the 2012 NETS Gold Star Award winning products! If you want to have a sneak peek in the meantime click here.

Until then we hope you enjoy and share the merriment of the holiday season!

Neighbourhood Toy Stores of Canada (NETS) is a network of local independent specialty toy stores, and their suppliers. NETS retail stores are owned and staffed by people who live in your community and are usually parents themselves. NETS retailers and their suppliers are passionate about connecting children with safe, fascinating, quality-made toys and games to engage them in fun and learning.