Review: Mrs. Goodbee Talking Dollhouse

Photo of my daughter playing with the dollhouse.

Learning Curve made me an irresistible offer. Send me two doll houses, keep one to review and give one to charity. Oh, but my daughter already has a dollhouse. So, both are being donated to a local domestic violence shelter, one to be kept for communal play in a safe house and one to go under a Christmas tree later this month for some very deserving girl.

It’s the Caring Corners Mrs. Goodbee Talking Dollhouse. Regular Thinga-readers know electronic toys usually aren’t my thing, but it’s been very interesting and revealing to watch my 4-year-old daughter enjoy this innovative dollhouse over the past month.

Photo of the front of the dollhouse.

Photo of the back of the dollhouse.

An Introduction

This is an accordion dollhouse. It folds out with two hinged edges for play and folds together for compact storage. There are rooms on both sides of the house. A storage compartment holds the three included figures — a girl, a baby and a puppy, with room for perhaps one or two additional dolls.

It is rated for ages 3-and-up.

The floors fold down to provide a larger playspace for optional furniture and there are other folding features, such as a bunk bed and a changing table.

The dollhouse’s compactness is also aided by objects molded to the walls, such as an oven or computer desk. Additional room features, primarily decor, are provided by factory-applied stickers. A sheet of garden-themed stickers is included for your child to apply to the garden depicted on the outside of the dollhouse.

The child and adult dolls are jointed at the waist, shoulder and neck, and adults have a knee joint as well. The included dolls have blue eyes and blondish hair and their skin is a sort of tan color, ala Dora the Explorer, passable as white or dark skinned if you don’t think about it.

There is a website component, the Good Deeds Garden, you access with a code provided with the dollhouse (you can browse it now by clicking the “Just Visiting” button).

Photo of a girl doll in a baby's room in the dollhouse. A baby doll lies in a crib.

What’s Special

The dollhouse talks with the voice of Mrs. Goodbee, a Mary Poppins-like British lady who sings and praises.

Praises? Oh, yes. Press a button to flush the toilet, then stand a doll in front of the bathroom sink, triggering a floor plate, to hear her say, “Flush, wash, wonderful. Good job!” or “You washed your hands, good job!”

But if you use the sink without using the toilet, Mrs. Goodbee says things such as, “Early in the morning or late at night, it just takes 2 minutes to brush your teeth right,” “You look marvelous, darling!,” or “Sparkling clean.” Sometimes you simply hear teeth brushing.

Rock the baby in his crib and you hear a baby cooing, or crying or Mrs. Goodbee humming a lullaby.

Flip a window from night to daytime, and birds will chirp. Open the oven door and a cylinder inside rotates to display one of several dishes — cookies, muffins, a pie, turkey, etc.

Open the refrigerator and your head “If you’re looking for something to eat, fruits and vegetables are a tasty treat.” Or, there are munching sounds or an arctic breeze blowing from the freezer.

Mrs. Goodbee is personified with a large face that graces the front of the house. Her eyes start in a closed position, and pop open when you press the doorbell, spurring her into a brief ditty. Her lips light up when she talks and her eyes can be moved via a lever on the backside. That backside is a living room with a fireplace. When her lips light up, flames in the fireplace and a heart hanging above the hearth sparkle.

Virtually every room has sounds, or objects you can move — a toy box lid, a swing set, kitchen cabinets and so forth.

Even the expansion sets have nice touches. The A Book at Bedtime set includes a bed with a removable comforter, a mother, a book she can hold, an ottoman, kittens, and a nightstand that has a lamp that really lights up. (The bed and adult figure shown in the photo below are from this set.)

As a father, I appreciated that the house is bathed in pastels instead of pink tones (like Barbie dollhouses). Sure, Mrs. Goodbee is targeting girls, but a little brother or male friend could join in play without feeling overwhelming hit by marketing messages telling him this is a girl’s toy.

Would I buy this one for my son? No, but I could see him playing along at a friend’s house.

Drawbacks

  • Additional dolls are sold with furniture or gear, not individually. One of the dad dolls comes with a TV set. *cough*
  • It is difficult to store additional furniture inside when the dollhouse is closed. You’d probably use your own bin to store extras if it’s an issue.
  • The dollhouse is bulky (in terms of picking up by a young child), 15″L x 25.5″T x 8″W when closed and lacks a strong latch. I recommend an older child or parent pick up the dollhouse, although sliding it along a carpet is reasonable.

Photo of a girl doll opening a fridge in the dollhouse kitchen.

Hold on One Darn Minute

Do we need a dollhouse to encourage kids to wash their hands or eat healthy? I’d say that’s a parent’s job. On the other hand… Mrs. Goodbee is an influence that is a gazillion times better than most messages that mainstream toys and media convey to our kids.

It’s easy to not see this when you’re a parent of a toddler because the most you usually contend with is whether you want an Elmo who giggles or one who doesn’t, or no Elmo at all. But in a very short time you’ll be surrounded by slutty Bratz and stick-with-boobs Barbie and rockstar band sets and “pink” labeled shorts and video games and a whole load of other crap that works against you as a parent.

Why can’t we have a dollhouse whose main theme is “a caring, sharing home”?

Mrs. Goodbee is a positive influence that is especially useful for modern kids who spend time in daycare or with babysitters, or whom play with friends that do so. Remember, friends are a big influence, so this toy helps guide friends as much as your own kids, while they play together.

And in my case, I’m especially excited to see two Mrs. Goodbees going to kids who are victims of domestic violence, where one’s sense of right and wrong is so beat up that Mrs. Goodbee will be a real benefit to them. Thanks to Whitney Moss and the Caring Corners crew for sending two dollhouses and several additional room sets and dolls.

Photo showing a rooftop playground with a baby and puppy on a bench swing and a girl doll standing nearby.

A Personal Note

I briefly owned an accordion Barbie dollhouse purchased by my mother from a garage sale, which I’ll forgive her for because she also gave our daughter a wooden Plan Toys playhouse last Christmas.

The Barbie house was cheap, making a handful of sound effects and overall not being remotely interesting, unless you love a pink house and fantasize about naked bathing with Barbie in a walk-in shower. Seriously, the house was just bland, and now totally in contrast to the very pretty Mrs. Goodbee.

Meanwhile, I’ve never reviewed the Plan Toys house because its wood is warped, as was the wood in two potential replacements inspected at the toy store where it was purchased. I couldn’t recommend such quality control. It’s also not as sturdy as I expected a wood house to be.

Daughter Speaks

I’m proud of my 4-year-old daughter. I explained before Mrs. Goodbee arrived that we would be donating the dollhouses to girls who don’t have one, and she would be temporarily playing with one to let parents know whether it’s worth buying.

In keeping with her usual spirit, she hasn’t gotten upset even though she really, really likes Mrs. Goodbee. The electronic sounds are particularly powerful at encouraging solo play. She doesn’t play with her wood dollhouse unless someone is playing with her.

I asked her to describe why she liked the dollhouse. I’ll spare you her meticulous description of every component. Here are her more salient comments:

  • “I like it because it has a chimney and most houses don’t have chimney.”
  • “It can fold up so it doesn’t take too much space.”
  • “There is a dog, a baby and a big sister and if you want, you can get a Mama.”
  • “There’s a swing set up high, and I liked it and there’s a little place for the dog in the swing.”
  • “There’s a bedroom for each person and for the baby there is a bed and a changing table and under the rocker there is a music maker that makes baby noises and baby songs. Two more pushes then there will be some more baby noises.”
  • “I like the sounds because they are the real noises for what they are supposed to be. And the toilet flushes, and the sink makes noise.”

Why do you think parents will want to buy this dollhouse?

  • “Because it has lots of stuff that other dollhouses don’t and they would be surprised to see it and like it more than if they had a different dollhouse.”

Photo of a mother doll sitting on a bed reading to a child doll who is under the bed covers. A nightstand in the background has a lit table lamp on it.

Comments

11 Responses to “Review: Mrs. Goodbee Talking Dollhouse”

  1. Christy says:

    Is this dollhouse comparable to the Fisher Price Loving Family line? It seems to have some of the same features, including sounds and sayings.

    We have a Plan Toys dollhouse. My daughter loved it for all of 3 days. Now, it sits unused in a corner. She plays with my mom’s dollhouse (the Fisher-Price one) constantly though. I haven’t found any defects in workmanship with the Plan house, but I am sad that it does not have the same “thrill in use” as my mom’s dollhouse does. Live and learn, I guess.

    December 4th, 2008 at 8:28 am

  2. AJ says:

    Christy, Mrs. Goodbee offers a whole lot more for the same price range.

    1) Mrs. Goodbee has the auditory praise/advice and sound effects. Near as I can figure, Fisher-Price has none of that. Right there, it makes them entirely different products.

    2) Mrs. Goodbee has 12 rooms instead of 8.

    3) Fisher-Price is an empty house, except for two chairs and two cribs. Goodbee comes with features attached to the walls, a kitchen, bathroom, family room with fireplace, computer workstation, etc. And some of those inset features have moving parts (a fridge that opens, etc.). There are also some in-room 3D objects — a rockable crib, a sliding door, a bench swing, bunk beds, etc.

    4) Fisher-Price default dolls include Mom, Dad and twins. Goodbee includes daughter, baby and puppy. Yeah, Goodbee could use some additional dolls.

    5) Fisher-Price’s empty house pretty much looks like you need to buy a lot of expansion kits to have a usable space. If you don’t buy any Goodbee furniture, you still have inset furniture that makes the house a home.

    6) Amazon sells Goodbee for $70, $80 at Toys R Us. Fisher-Price sells for $70 at Toys R Us. You may be looking at more expensive Fisher-Price sets that include furniture, and to that I’d say, yeah, well, you can buy furniture for Goodbee too, but you don’t need to.

    December 4th, 2008 at 9:02 am

  3. Kelly says:

    I’ve walked by Goodbee many times in Target and I continue to think the face on the house is a little creepy.

    December 4th, 2008 at 10:03 am

  4. AJ says:

    Wow, really? I thought it was what really sets Goodbee apart. Maybe I’m tainted from my Barbie dollhouse experience, but I love the colors and composition.

    Oh, that’s one more thing I hate about the Fisher-Price house. Someone dumped a can of pink over it. When a toy maker plasters pink on a girl’s product it tells me that probably not much thought went into making it.

    December 4th, 2008 at 10:18 am

  5. addy says:

    interesting review I also am a bit put off by the face…I find it kind of creepy. Reminds me of a horror movie…you know talking house helpful at first then offs you in your sleep…besides that just wondered if it comes in ethnic versions for the dolls or just caucasian. thanks

    December 4th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

  6. AJ says:

    You can buy a dark skin/black hair girl doll and a tan skin/brown hair girl doll, but not a complete family, so yes, there’s room for improvement there.

    The children are 4 inches tall and the mother is 5.5 inches tall, which gives you a size reference if you’d like to use non-Goodbee dolls with the house.

    December 4th, 2008 at 12:21 pm

  7. anjii says:

    This has deepened my desire to add a daughter to our family of me, hubby and two boys… seriously, I WANT this dollhouse!!! Too bad hubby would never let me buy this one for the boys… I’m still looking for one that’s “cool” and gender neutral enough to pass his test. But don’t fault him too much for his macho tendencies. He didn’t put up TOO much fuss when Wyatt opened his gifts from my mother-in-law two years ago to find a boy baby doll and a navy blue, pooh bear themed stroller/playpen/highchair/carseat set (that I had handpicked while shopping with her), despite the flowers and butterflies on it ;)

    December 4th, 2008 at 9:31 pm

  8. Nani says:

    As adorable as this dollhouse is, I find it annoyingly “tipsy”…..stand a figure up….it falls down! Try to sit a figure on the bunkbeds, at the table, on the swing, at the edge of the double bed…..good luck! they fall! Put the boy on his skooter…Ha! forget it. And the rooms are so narrow….put the kitchen table in there and it fills the entire area….the whole thing is just designed poorly for little kids to manage. Anybody else agree?

    August 18th, 2009 at 4:32 pm

  9. Nani says:

    A follow up to my earlier review:
    I returned Mrs Goodbee and bought the Fisher Price Loving Family Dollhouse…the super or deluxe set. Wow what a difference! It’s designed much better..perfect! First of all it’s huge!The rooms are wide and deep and hold many pieces of furniture and accesories! The dolls are a little bigger and actually stand and sit without falling! I could go on and on about its many wonderful features…it has music and lights too! The Family Van has four wide doors that open, a radio and working horn! I honestly suggest checking it out…and highly recommend buying it! Your little ones will get years of play out of it!! Parents and Grandparents too :)

    August 31st, 2009 at 8:15 pm

  10. Elizabeth says:

    My biggest concern with the Mrs. Goodbee dollhouse is one of your biggest advantages – all the built-in furniture and decor and whatnot. It leaves very little for the imagination. I mean, if you are on a very strict budget, I could see how this might be a good value for what you could get for $70, but I see a dollhouse as an investment toy – one that my 3 year old will play with now and for years to come and if it is well made, one that my grandkids will play with. I can’t see Mrs. Goodbee fitting that bill. Future plans aside though, when you have furniture and decor attached to the wall like that, there is very little flexibility. Each room’s purpose is clearly defined and like I said – no room for imagination or even for much rearranging within the room itself. When I have observed my neighbor’s daughter and my sons playing with her dollhouse, at least half if not more of the time they spend in placing and rearranging furniture and rooms. Mrs. Goodbee takes all this fun away. Certainly playing with the dolls is fun and creative too, but I really value (as do my children i’ve observed) the flexibility of less structured dollhouses. For some people, as you’ve said, who don’t mind pink plastic monstrosities, maybe the Loving Family house will fit the bill. For my neighbor it was an unfinished wood dollhouse from the craft store that they painted and filled with a mish mash of Loving Family, IKEA, Dora, and other furniture and dolls that they found at thrift stores or on sale (also an economical option I might add). Our plans this Christmas are to get a dollhouse for my daughter and after lots of research, we are going with something sturdy and wooden and will probably end up with a mish mash of accessories like my neighbor.

    November 22nd, 2009 at 10:10 am

  11. Elizabeth says:

    One more comment – I concur with previous posters in that the face is creepy. WHY does everything have to have a face these days? The little toy kitchens have faces on the refrigerator and the toy phones have a face. Why? Why? I don’t like household objects looking at me LOL…

    November 22nd, 2009 at 10:12 am