By now you’ve been asked a million times by your female children, no matter what their age, if they can have a princess castle for Christmas and you’ve taken a brief look and went into shock over the prices. I know, I know and no, I’m not to blame for this dilemma. Have you ever seen me push the oh-so-glamorous version of castles so far? Granted, I tend to show off the girly side of myself by using Disney images online or give a nod to Barbie every once in a while. However, if you think this foray into the fantasy realm is out of the question for your little tot or preteen I would have you know that some of the myriad of castle toys being offered on the market this year are not a waste of money. There are one or two offerings out there that will be downright educational and apparently, according to the product reviews I saw online, every bit as appealing to girls as to the boys. Go figure. Your little girl may be showing an early interest in boys, mind you, but I’ll put my money on the fact that she is just an exceptionally bright child who happens to make gaga eyes at boys for no apparent reason. Sure.
Anyway, I thought I would give you a little guidance based on the research I did very recently. First off, you might want to take a good look at Walmart’s Toyland Wish List Book that was a part of the newspaper inserts in November’s Sunday editions. (Just look under their beds- you’ll find it.) On pages 32 & 33 you’ll see two fierce competitors with competitive prices. Although the difference is minimal- only $5 mind you !- I would go with the Fisher-Price imaginext Eagle Talon Castle over the Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace on principle alone. All of the imaginext castles, including the 2001 model, are much more authentic to actual medieval castles along with surprisingly good working and highly interactive parts and features albeit without the optional and exceptionally expensive ogre and dragon accessories. Those are extra, of course and would depend on your toy budget for this holiday along with what your child considers reality or fantasy. With some children it’s okay to feed a fantasy but as a parent it’s your call on that premise. The Eagle Talon model offered this year can be changed and rebuilt and features Turn Tech technology with sounds, siege engines, projectiles, working drawbridges, etc. I would love to own one of these !
Interestingly, the companies are really pushing the castle toys to the extreme this year and there are possibilities for even the little tots in your life which are safe. The Mega Bloks Lil’ Princess Enchanted Castle will delight the little fry and will be completely safe as long as the tot is not extremely destructive. Once again, that’s your call as a parent. You can find that on page 12. Most of your savvy little girls found what they wanted on pages 4-5. The Barbie Dream House isn’t a castle but who wanted a castle anyway, huh ? It’s huge and that’s what counts. The Ultimate Dream Castle is equally as expensive at $139.97 but it is a beautiful pastel version of Neuschwanstein’s renaissance castle and one which I would have loved to own as a child. On the same page you see a scaled down and much more affordable version, the Disney Cinderella Magic Clip Castle at $49.97 with a matching Transforming Carriage at an equal additional price. Please take special note that you will not be getting any of the actual dolls with these purchases. Those are usually sold separately. Your old Malibu Barbie is going to look out-of-place in these abodes. Remember that your daughter will not be impressing the boys with these castles despite the size. When boys see pink and purple they run away.
Kohl’s has great deals on just about all of these including the aforementioned imaginext castle although the deal is slightly more expensive than Walmart. Kohl’s exclusive is that they are including the 17 piece Good vs. Evil Knight set which makes this particular castle much more exciting because there will be characters connected with the castle to interact with- very important ! They are also offering some of the same princess castles as Walmart at close to or the same prices including the Princess and the Popstar light-up castle and My Little Pony Royal Wedding Castle with many of the same accessories available- if not included. A very interesting Play-Doh Disney Prettiest Princess Castle is offered by both Kohl’s and Walmart with Kohl’s offering a slightly lower price. FAO Schwartz is offering the Princess and the Popstar for 39.99 with free shipping online ! This item is pitched toward tots as young as three but I’d watch my toddler very close when it comes to playing with that stuff. Ignore my advice and you’ll soon find out why. K-Mart, Target and Toys-R-Us is offering many of these same items with prices that are close but may be less or more. It’s a maze, I’ll admit it, but at least I’m giving you fair warning about how to work this thing to your advantage. If you buy online you’ll have more trouble getting at the bargains because the variants get very tricky. If you are confused check out this blog which is dedicated to the subject. www.rapunzeldoll.net or for more prices http://toytracker.co.uk or http://thetoyshop.com
One item, the Disney Rapunzel’s Deluxe Tower Gift Set caught my eye which impressed me with its simple but attractive concept. It’s being offered to a wide range of ages- three and up and is appealing as a princess castle but is also very, very authentic (many a woman- royal or no- ended up caged in towers during medieval times- TRUE !) I may take a look at the Tangled DVD to get the scoop on their version of the fairy tale. Your best deal on that might be on the internet but the Toy-R-Us price is unbeatable whether you buy it in the store or online. It can be purchased as low as $29.99 which is a fabulous price. Make sure you’re looking at the Deluxe Set which is inclusive of the dolls, horse, canoe and small accessories. It’s obviously not for toddlers.
If you want something that will appeal to both boys and girls alike I would stick with imaginext. If you feel those are too rich for your blood, price-wise, a couple more offerings along the same lines is the Playmobil line of castles which are available at Toys-R-Us or online at Happy Hen Toys whose web site is dedicated to boys toys to infinite delight. You’ve been warned. Squidoo had a couple of lower prices for Playmobil but not anywhere near the amount of various offerings. Playmobil has many versions of castles and you will get lost if you don’t focus.
Lego has a box set available of the Harry Potter Hogwarts castle. There are quite a few videos on the web showing the details on this project which looks very complex but will delight any boy that is heavily into castles or Harry Potter. An adult helping with the set up will be absolutely mandatory. Apparently it comes in so many pieces that it is almost like actually building a castle. There are several versions of this as well and I’m not sure if they can be incorporated. Check out www.Lego.com to find out for sure. What I do know for certain is that the newest version is already sold out online so check out a Toys-R-Us store to see if they’re sold out. You’ll find the Daigon Alley version at an astronomical price so unless you happen to be Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Ben Bernanke you may have to steer your little buckaroo toward some other toy. How does a Furby sound ? Da Noo Lah….Party Time ! Just kidding.
I found a wonderful kid-size castle on the internet that would mostly appeal to girls called the Mega Bloks Pink Disney Princess Giant castle which is more like a little girls playhouse but will be fun for a group of girls to share. For its size and scope the price is reasonable but I’d keep looking until I find a low price- perhaps on e-bay if nowhere else. I spotted a cardboard number at Walgreens tonight called the Discovery Kids castle and is being sold at the all time low price for castles at 19.99. Your child will actually have to color the castle her/himself but that could truly be the beauty in this concept. It will be readily recyclable after the first siege !
If you are on a poverty budget but came back from the fiscal edge, like the majority of the citizens of the United States, you might want to go over to Dover Books online. They have some fantastic books on everything to do with castles which will appeal to kids. I have some of the three-dimensional model books from Dover in which you can build authentic paperboard castles complete with towers, walls, gatehouses, etc. and it won’t break your pocketbook. It’s a great way for your child to find out about what castles really looked like and there are many versions. This link will get you started : http://store.doverpublications.com/0486254690.html