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We've had this toy for about 4 or 5 months now I think. It was bought to go along with the Puppy In My Pocket Husky Ski Lodge (which I have previously reviewed), so then my daughters would have one set each. This play set is called Puppy In My Pocket Beach Hut and comprises of a plastic beach hut with a Mummy dog and her 3 puppies.
***The Beach Hut***
The hut is a plastic contraption that resembles a holiday beach hut which opens out to reveal 2 platforms - a sun terrace on the roof with a big parasol to relax underneath, and the lower level has a fixed table and 4 fixed stools, and what looks like a beach bar. When the beach hut is closed it is quite a small toy - 6cm x 6cm with a height of approximately 12cm. Once you have opened out the sides and lifted the roof back, then it becomes 20cm wide and just 6cm high, with a depth of 12cm. It is basic and very minimalistic compared to what you get with the Husky Ski Lodge. The only accessories that come with this Beach hut are the 4 dogs.
The 4 dogs you get with this set are a Chocolate Labrador family, mum Jemma and her three babies Java, Brownie and Choco. I have a problem with these dogs, and indeed do my children; that is because all 4 of them are curled up and asleep and I find that this limits the enjoyment and play factor of the dogs. I mean, who wants to play with some sleeping dogs?! The babies are very small and it is actually quite difficult to make out that they are actually dogs, especially the puppies.
Although this is practically the same toy as the Husky Ski Lodge, only decorated differently and with different dogs, is it by far the more inferior toy. Whereas the Ski Lodge is played with regularly, the Beach Hut tends to be left to its own devices quite a lot. I think this is because there are no accessories to play with, and there is only the one platform where the dogs can fit which is on the roof beneath the parasol, there is not room for the dogs to fit in the table area, and actually the Mum dog is too big to fit anywhere. Once you open the house out it just seems to open out into nothing, I don't know if that makes sense but it just feels like an empty space!
To be honest when my kids are playing with their Puppy In My Pocket toys, they do occasionally play with the Beach Hut as well but the actual dogs are pushed aside because they are just deemed as boring because they are asleep, and other favoured dogs are pulled in to play. Even when they take their entourage of puppies into the bath, the sleeping dogs get left downstairs.
This morning I actually asked my kids what it was that they preferred about the Husky Ski Lodge over and above the Beach Hut. My 4 year old piped up with "because the ski lodge is snowy, and the Beach Hut is just a bit beachy." Not exactly rocket science and not a particularly valid reason either; but that's kids for you!
There is one mechanical fault with this toy too; the roof. It is loosely hinged by a very flimsy plastic hinge which does not hold the roof on very well at all. Almost every time the roof is lifted, the hinge unhinges and you are left with a 2 piece set. This is very frustrating because the kids can never get it back together again.
This is a poor toy, it's badly designed, badly thought out, and the dogs are dull. My children love their Puppy In My Pocket toys and yet this one is rarely played with. If you are thinking of buying a play set such as this, then I would recommend the Husky Ski Lodge rather than this Beach Hut, you get a lot more for your money and I'm quite sure it would be your children's preferred choice.
***Price and Availability***
You can buy this on Amazon for £6.75 which is reduced from its RRP of £11.99. (April 2011). It's also available on Play.com for £10.33.