I received the Daniel Tiger Treehouse playset free to facilitate this review, any opinions are my own. Last year I professed my undying love to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an animated show inspired by Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids that features Daniel Tiger and his friends O the Owl, Katerina Kittycat, Prince Wednesday, and Miss Elaina. Through routines and catchy songs, this adorable show helps teach preschool children and their parents about self-help and social emotional skills. It even has some amazing parenting strategies embedded in each and every episode.
This year, several new Daniel Tiger toys and games were designed aiming to engage children in pretend play experiences utilizing their imagination skills featuring their favorite characters from the show. The Daniel Tiger 3-in-1 Treehouse from Tolly Tots is the most expensive item in the lineup of toys and it is recommended for children ages 3 and up.
The treehouse has a swing, dance podium that plays a short song from the show that characters can twirl around on, a slide, and an elevator in the tree trunk. Small pretend play items for use when it is set up as the treehouse include a bookshelf, sofa, umbrella, ride-on toy and wagon. By pulling down a divider at the top of the tree and removing the slide, the set transforms, allowing children to imagine Daniel and friends in a space station. The bookshelf (pictured below on the right) transforms into a rocket ship and there is a covering over the elevator that allows Daniel to travel up the tree trunk to the moon in his rocketship.
When removing the toy from the packaging, make sure to remove the 2 small, clear plastic bands that hold the swing in place, otherwise the swing won’t move back and forth smoothly. I didn’t see them initially and couldn’t figure out why the swing wouldn’t work correctly for several days.
You don’t often see this with many playset toys, but there are a lot of accessories, and while most can be stored inside the top of the treehouse behind the divider, not all will without some time consuming re-arranging. By placing the stairs and other tall items inside the trunk of the tree I got almost all of the accessories inside, but you may want to consider utilizing a separate bin or container to store the pieces if you prefer that your children clean up their toys themselves.
It can be difficult for young children to manipulate the pieces when attempting to transform from treehouse to space station. There are multiple steps that need to be completed in order to complete the transformation. First the slide needs to be removed and put to the side, or re-attached, and there is a small shelf that inserts onto the divider (which is supporting the telescope in the picture above), which also needs to be removed. I tend to find that Gavin doesn’t transform the toy, because of having to maneuver to many pieces, so he tends to leave the space station open, with the slide attached.
I didn’t use the set with any other children, so it might just be Gavin’s preference as a 4-year-old who is beyond his years at times, but my heart broke a little the day we opened it when his first comment to me was, “Mom that’s a baby toy.” While he still loves watching the show, when using the toy he has been more interested trying to figure out how to place his toy vehicles down the slide, on the swing, or in the dollhouse rather than playing out the themes of the show with the included accessories and characters.
What I really enjoy about this particular toy, which I haven’t seen in other sets from different manufacturers, is that you can tell that a lot of attention was provided in designing a toy that has a lot of pieces with multiple functions, really encouraging children to focus on using their imagination. The pieces are nice bright colors, which are very true to the visual appeal of the show.
Certainly there are some difficulties transforming the set, and though Gavin hasn’t enjoyed playing with it as much as I hoped he would, as a parent, you know your child’s likes and dislikes. While you may have to use your imagination in helping your child problem solve some of the transformation features, for kids who are huge fans of the show and enjoy the characters, the set will certainly provide you with a lot of creative, pretend play ideas.
Have you been wondering, “where can I buy Daniel Tiger toys?” Toys, figures and playsets that are part of the Tollytots line are available exclusively at Toys R Us.