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Both my kids are huge Puppy In My Pocket fans, owning a vast range of the puppies, plus some of the smaller more affordable sets. So when I had some spare cash a few months back I decided to have a browse on Ebay for toys, and I came across this Pocketville Hospital, and while it was second hand it looked to be in excellent condition, so I put in my highest bid and won the item. I think I paid about £11 for it, and it retails for over £20 I think so I was pleased with my purchase. When it arrived, I gave it a quick onceover and then stored it away in the back of my wardrobe for Christmas...However; my kids started using my wardrobe as a hiding place, and uncovered my stash! So Christmas came early this year.
When you buy things from the internet, they are never quite what you expect, and this hospital is no exception. I expected something a bit larger, especially when you consider the size of the box it came in. However, this is not a problem because my kids love it despite the size. The hospital is about 28cm high and approximately the same in width, but it opens out so once opened it will be double that - about 55cm wide.
Inside the hospital are three different levels/platforms, plus a moving lift and a moveable flight of stairs. There are also a few smaller sections down both edges of the hospital, the perfect size for the little puppies. Included with the set are a Dalmatian family of dogs - Mum and 3 babies (with colour changing nappies, but they need to be dipped into ice cold water before any change happens); also included are hospital beds, cots and something which looks like a table, a drip and a sofa. These are all fairly small but fit perfectly with the style of the unit. You also get a piece of cardboard which is intended to be the hospital floor when you open the unit, but this is rather flimsy, and whilst it was in good condition when we received the toy, it is now bent and creased, and does not get used with the hospital, it is easier to use the hospital without this item.
My initial thoughts on the hospital were that it was smaller than expected and it looked quite basic and flimsy, but I liked that it came with decent accessories, and of course a dog family. My fears about it being flimsy were quashed once my kids started playing with it, because it does get a lot of regular use and nothing has been broken off, or come apart, everything is still intact, and to say that it was second hand when we received it, says a lot about the quality of the toy. Obviously there is a large hinged section in the middle of the hospital to enable it to be opened and closed, and this is a very secure hinge, there is no worry about this coming apart, it is not one of those hinges that are just a couple of plastic locating pegs - this has a metal pin running right through the centre of the hinge, so I don't think even I could prize it apart.
With both my girls already being big fans of Puppy In My Pocket, they had no issues with getting straight to play with this set. There is plenty of space within the hospital for them to put their dogs in various positions (depending on how poorly they are). The stairs and the lift add another dimension to the amount of play they can have, enabling them to transport their patients from one area of the hospital to the other, the possibilities are endless.
To look at the hospital you would think it was quite basic, but if your children are into this sort of thing then they can really enjoy themselves with it. My children love role playing with their little dogs and it is this type of toy that they really thrive on, and it also encourages them to play together. They both have their own dogs, but when they play with this hospital, all the dogs (and my two children) come together to play and get themselves better! I think it requires a good imagination to able to enjoy this toy, but it will also encourage a child to become more imaginative if they are lacking in that department. The fact that it is a no frills type of toy, leaves the rest up to the child, and it is this type of thing that I like the best, it lets the child do all the work and lets their imagination run wild.
I think this toy is a winner, but it will depend on whether your children are into little dogs and similar toys. I think it is great for boys or girls, but the box is bright pink and hospital is mainly pink so it's a shame that it is clearly directed towards girls, when a boy could get just as much enjoyment from it. If you were interested in buying this for your children, I would recommend buying some extra dogs to go with it, you can usually pick up packs of the dogs from toy shops such as Toys R Us, or The Entertainer, and I have also seen them in place like B&M Bargains. I would say it is suitable for children from ages 3 up to about 8 or 9 (although my youngest got a lot of enjoyment from it when she was still 2), so it really depends on what type of child you have!
You will find the hospital on Amazon for £23.99, and you will also find many other items from the same range on there. If you want to get it cheaper, have a look on Ebay, there are usually a few on there going for varying prices. I wouldn't want to pay any more than £25 for the set.
Around about November or December last year, when the bombardment of toy advertising was at it's peak, my daughter kept going on about wanting "The Dalmatians what bums change colour". I was completely confuddled as to what on earth she was going on about, until I happened to be present when an advertisement for 'Puppy In My Pocket Pocketville Hospital' came on the TV. Armed with her £20 gift card for Argos, we set off to purchase this much coverted toy.
~~ The Toy ~ ~
Well, 'Puppy In My Pocket Pocketville Hospital' does indeed contain 3 newborn Dalmatian pups, wearing nappies that, when dipped in cold water will turn either blue or pink to indicate whether it's a boy or girl. They also come with mummy Dalmatian and are part of a plastic play set dogs hospital.
The hospital itself is made with pink plastic and folds up and closes like a case. It has 3 floors, a set of foldaway stairs, a working lift, cots, sofas, drip stand, scales and a bath. It comes undecorated but a sticker pack is included with trees, flooring and hospital like signage.
Despite the picture above, the only puppies provided are the Dalmatian family (mum and 3 pups). When we purchased this set we also received a set of around 12 other dogs which would normally cost £9.99!
When my daughter bought herself this toy, it was £19.99 from Argos. It is now actually half price, but doesn't include the 'free' 12 puppies.
~~What my daughter and I think ~ ~
This is one of the most poor quality toys my daughter has had the misfortune of owning. Disappointed is the word most suited to describe how my daughter felt about the set.
The plastic hospital is very thin plastic, the stairs snapped off almost immediately and the lift jammed and broke when I tried to fix it. It's tiny as well, I know it's 'In My Pocket' but this is the first item I bought from the range and wasn't expecting it to be so small. However this could also be a positive depending on how you look at it as it takes virtually no storage space. The accessories are minute, you could almost do with a microscope to see them as are the dogs themselves. This toy does come with an age recommendation of 4 years up, I'm pleased they didn't go for 3 years up as it's just too small and fiddly so I really wouldn't recommend ignoring the age guide on this occasion.
Now to the amazing colour changing backsides of the Dalmatian pups. What a con this is. Obviously this novelty was going to be a huge selling point to kiddies, but it barely works. Firstly the water needs to be a certain degree temperature before it will even slightly work. I mean, come on, this is for 4 year old girls...they just want to dip it in any old water, not constantly checking the fridge with a thermometer. Even when you do reach the correct temperature, the results are very unimpressive. What you get is a dirty grey either tinged with a hint of blue or pink. After managing to change the colour of the nappies once, my daughter hasn't bothered to try again.
At £19.99 I feel this was extortionate, but thankfully we had the 'free' 12 puppies chucked in, which usually retail at £9.99. However, they are as uninspired a the rest, being badly made and painted, doing nothing but just sit. In fact apart from sit the dogs at strategic places around the tiny hospital, there's not a lot you can do with this. There's no toy medical equipment to simulate hospital/veterinary play apart from the pathetic little drip stand, which actually does nothing but stand there and is so tiny we lost it straight away (probably up the hoover). It really is pretty uninspiring
My daughter played with this for perhaps an hour total, then left it in favour of her more interesting Christmas gifts. Like mentioned earlier, the only redeeming quality it has, is that it's tiny so easy to put in the toy cupboard and forget.
Now half price at £9.79, that seems a more reasonable price until you consider your only going to get the Dalmatian dog with the hospital, to add more is going to cost another £10 making it the same price I paid anyway. My advice would be don't bother, there's miles better toys out there.
Hospital specialises in looking after Puppy mums & newborn babies. Exclusive Dalmatian Mum & Babies family with colour changing nappies.