January 13, 2012

Unboxing the Lalaloopsy Treehouse, Part 2 (Treehouse features)

We interrupt this review to bring you a special news bulletin: Mittens can control the weather! (Okay, not really.)

Now that that's out of the way, let me just state for the record that I am probably not the best at taking actual pictures of toys. Moving on to the Treehouse tour!

The Treehouse proper can be divided into two major parts: the "Bigger Tree" and the "Smaller Tree." The Bigger Tree carries the bulk of the playset's special features. Both trees can be connected by a bridge made of popsicle sticks and a yellow zip-line rope (more on those later).

As has been mentioned a bunch of times throughout this product's marketing, the playset is "double-sided" so to speak. All that really means, though, is that the "leafy" section of both trees is hollow enough to carry a couple of vaguely-defined platforms for the dolls to sit semi-comfortably on, not to mention hang a twee "walnut hammock" from. (The Smaller Tree has its own slightly smaller walnut hammock.)

The Bigger Tree's walnut hammock.
As you have probably already noticed, the walnuts aren't exactly well-designed for the dolls themselves to snuggle up in. We can therefore conclude that the hammocks fulfill one of two purposes:
  1. They're for the dolls' pets to sleep in.
  2. They're for hanging food in the trees to keep out of reach from bears.
One thing I like about this playset is that the door and window shutters really work. A minor detail, I know, but I take what I can get.

Backtracking for a second, let's look at the few features to be found on the Smaller Tree. Aside from the aforementioned canopy cavity, the Smaller Tree also has Poppin' Gophers, two pegs for the zip-line (I think), and the crow's nest I mentioned in the previous post.

In keeping with the Lalaloopsy aesthetic, the crow's nest looks like it was either a barrel or a wooden bucket in a past life. Here you can see how the telescope hooks onto the lip of the crow's nest. It took me some serious pose finagling for it to look like Dot's staring out of the telescope, so I can only imagine what luck you'll have with any of the other minis.

Alternatively, you may also go the lazy route and have your lookouts "sleeping on the job."

I seriously believe that the only reason the Poppin' Gophers exist is to take up some space at the bottom of the Smaller Tree. (Also, I totally taught myself how to do animated GIFs in PhotoShop just to produce this helpful visual aid.)

Now let's move on to the features of the Bigger Tree.

A doll basket on a rope, one of two(!) elevators that figure in this playset. Unless the basket magically transports you to the treehouse's secret wormhole entrance, however, this elevator oddly seems to lead to nowhere. I have to ask, toy manufacturers: why the obsession with pulley-operated elevators?

Going back on topic, this weird design quirk of the basket elevator lead me to believe that it may also double as a swing. I find this a bit strange, since there's already a swing in this playset.

A second elevator can be found on the other side of the Bigger Tree, and uses a simple sliding mechanism that travels up and down the trunk. Unlike the basket, this elevator actually leads somewhere -- namely the mini-clubhouse perched on one of the branches.

The clubhouse is possibly one of my favorite features in the entire playset. You have a real door, working shutters, and enough room inside for one or two dolls to have an impromptu tea party in.

The best part (to me, anyway) is that the clubhouse is detachable, and thus can also be used as a regular ground-level house. Detaching the house from the branch platform does take some effort, and may test your child's dexterity skills.

This also lead me to inadvertently discover one of the playset's hidden "easter eggs." The roof of the clubhouse is designed to look like it was made from splayed-open books with some popsicle stick shingles thrown in. (Though to me the shingles looked more like otap. That or lengua de gato.)

Anyway, looking closely at the spine of the top book reveals a fun (and hilarious-in-hindsight) detail:

... thus supporting my theory that Lalaloopsies are also Borrowers.

As far as "connecting" the two trees goes, you may use either the zip-line or the ground-level popsicle bridge. I would've liked if there was also a mid-air bridgeway that the minis could use, but I'm quibbling at this point.

Each tree has two button-shaped pegs you can use for suspending the zip-line rope from. Dolls may use the enclosed tire donut swing on the zip-line. If you must see how the zip-line works in real life, you may refer to one of the official TV spots.

When not in zip-line mode, the donut swing may also be used as a regular swing by hanging it from one of the more height-friendly pegs. I use the lower peg on the Smaller Tree, though this does pose the mild risk of the swingee hitting one of the Gophers in the head.

Because of its slightly limited design, there is exactly one way for you to connect the popsicle stick bridge to both trees. Of course, this doesn't mean you can't come up with other ways to have fun with it. By attaching the bridge to just one of the trees, you can give Patch his own gravity-defying wooden plank for scurvy scallawags to walk from.

Or if you're mildly nuts like me, you may also act out your own scene from The Book of Bunny Suicides.

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