Reviewed by Louise Totton
Having two very ‘girlie’ girls, our house is absolutely stuffed full of dolls and all of the paraphernalia. The vast majority of this is baby dolls, with associated buggies, cots, feeding sets and toy changing bags. We were, therefore, really excited to be asked to review a slightly different doll type product, in the form of the John Crane Gourmet dolls kitchen, along with an 18 inch retro doll called Rose.
These products are aimed at children aged 3 and up, and I think that’s a really good guide; some of our other dolls said aged 3+, but we happily gave them to the kids when they were younger than this – this one really is for slightly older children.
The products came really safely packed in a large box, and I was initially a little concerned that it would be a huge product and we old have nowhere to store it. After we’d unpacked it, however, we discovered that it is actually a really good size; much smaller than a kids play kitchen, but still plenty big enough for little hands and fingers to play with all he bits easily.
When we opened it, I was really impressed by just how much came in the box. It was really attractively packaged and we could see all the various accessories that come with it. The other thing that really struck me was the weight / quality of the product. It is mostly made of a bright red plastic, but is very substantial in weight. The plastic is thick, and not the kind of cheap material that will split / damage easily. The lovely weight also means that the kids can play with it without knocking it over all of the time and becoming frustrated that the scene they have spent ages setting up is now spoiled.
The kitchen consists of 93 pieces including an American style fridge, sink, dishwasher, oven, microwave and hob. All of the individual parts have their own accessories, so there is a muffin tray with removable muffins for the oven, food and drink to pop in the fridge and a lovely little draining board to put the crockery on once the doll has washed up.
The high quality of this product is evident across the whole thing. For example, the racks on the dishwasher move in and out like a real dishwasher for stacking the dirty pots, and the salad drawers in the fridge move in and out for the storage of the plastic food.
Whilst the kitchen can be used with pretty much any doll (and my youngest likes her beloved baby doll to load and unload the dishwasher), it is a perfect size to go with the range of 18″ dolls made by John Crane. We were lucky enough to be sent one of their ‘retro dolls’ to try out with the kitchen.
Rose is a beautiful 18″ doll with stunning long blond hair. The retro range of dolls are quite beautiful, and remind me of the dolls of my own childhood. They wear fabulously old-fashioned but cool outfits. Rose wears a lovely red and white spotty dress, and even comes complete with removable shoes and knickers. She has a beautiful, porcelain complexion and eyes that open and close. Her hair is the most soft and silky of any doll I have ever seen and my girls were utterly enchanted with her from the very start.
Just like the kitchen, the quality of the doll is absolutely top-notch, she feels really substantial and well-made as well as being one of the most beautiful dolls I have ever seen. I was also really impressed that the other doll in this range, June, has dark hair. I have one blond child and one dark child, and my dark haired daughter is always a little disappointed that dolls tend to look more like her sister than they do her. Across the full range of John Crane dolls, there are dolls with various hair types and skin tones which I think is absolutely fabulous.
A range of outfits are also available for the dolls, and I would imagine my daughters will be asking for clothes for our doll for Christmas, and if the quality of the clothing she came with is any indication, I’m sure the separate outfits will be superb too.
The kitchen is a real favourite in our house. It is played with both with Rose and the other resident dolls and teddies, and the imagination play it encourages really is a pleasure to watch. The girls love carefully popping the muffins in the oven, serving their creations for either myself or any of the assembled dollies they’ve brought downstairs for a tea party, before carefully loading the pots into the dishwasher and tidying the kitchen up again.
My girls are 6 and 3½, and they each get very different things from the product. Because it is such high quality, if am confident it will last for an awful long time and as the girls get older, I am sure they will continue to play with it and enjoy it.
I know these products aren’t cheap; the kitchen is £79 and the doll £29.99. However, these really are special, top quality toys and are well worth the investment for a special Christmas or birthday gift. Even the tiny accessories that come with the kitchen are made to a really high standard; this really feels like a premium quality toy. I really can’t fault anything with either product, the kids love them and I love them.
Really, really excellent.
RRP: Gourmet Kitchen £79 / Rose Doll £29.99
For more information or to find stockists visit www.john-crane.co.uk.