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Sunday, December 04 2011 18:00

Caillou Tree House (2011, Famosa Toys) Review

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If you've been following along here, then you may already know that CAILLOU has been somewhat of an obsession for my daughter since she was only a few months old. Now, at 28 months - the little one is fully immersed in all-things-Caillou, so she's been getting some of the toys here and there, and loves to have the little guy hanging around as she follows his adventures on Sprout and PBS Kids. Having just come from an early Christmas with Grandma & Grandpa in Michigan, it pains me to have to share with you this review of the new Caillou Tree House by Spain's Famosa Toys. Knowing that a lot of kids are going to be asking for or getting one of these very soon, there's some things you need to watch out for.

It really does hurt to have to speak ill of a gift that we as parents told the Grandparents was a good idea. On the surface, the Caillou Tree House looks fun and adorable. On a pass through the Caillou section at Toys R Us last month, the little one showed interest in it, so we pointed the Grandparents in that direction. Saturday night, the little one was pretty excited to unwrap one:

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While she wanted to crack the box right open and dig in right away, we made her wait until we were back home last night to put it together. The first thing I notice right out of the box is that there's a ton of pieces. The second thing I notice is that the plastic is of really poor quality. For the most part, everything is made of that very brittle plastic, while a few pieces such as the blue "floor" are almost too flimsy and pliable. The base is cardboard, as is the interior "wrap" which features the inside detail and a drawing of Clementine. The few stickers are glossy, and nice-looking, and the four included figures - Caillou, Rosie, Gilbert, and Leo are all very nice and well-made.

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The total assembly time was about twenty minutes, during which it was apparent that certain things were pretty cheaply done. The cardboard interior just kind of pops in there; the railing barely attaches to anything - nor does the ladder; and some seemingly random accessories don't really fit very tightly. Despite this, the little one was hanging around just waiting to get her hands on it.

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Immediately she took the set with detailed inspection. She named the characters one-by-one, then proceeded to start naming the parts. "Slide." "Swing." "Window" and so on. Not even five minutes into playtime and the first piece to fall off is a little sign that says "Caillou" on it. I put it back - she pulls it right off. Next thing is the ladder - then the railing, the latter of which she was really frustrated with. I mentioned gluing it into the barely-existent slots, but my wife wasn't big on the idea.  Everything just kind of ended up on the floor.

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The little twirly thing was a hit - and the figures stayed on it relatively well due to their having the old STAR WARS-style holes on the feet/pegs on the base deal going on. The swing within the tree was a different story. While you'd think the figures would sit on the swing, Rosie is pictured on the box standing up - a small plastic wedge going between her feet. Upon cries of "Help!" from our daughter, neither I, nor my wife, could get the figures to successfully attach to the swing.

Honestly, as I'd mentioned to my Dad over the weekend, I'd read a couple reviews for this that seemed nit-picky in the past (gripes about the tire swing, etc) - but this is by far the biggest disappointment that I've run across so far in regard to a toy for my daughter. I feel like I was duped into having my parents waste $33 at Toys R Us for something that will ultimately wind up broken down the line. Famosa Toys should be ashamed of themselves to have allowed this to hit the market in it's current form. It's sad to run across anything that might disappoint a child, but for a beloved character like Caillou, this is exceptionally foul.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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