Pros: Fun! Fun! Fun! Kid-powered imaginary fun
Cons: A little large to carry
My daughter loves animals and the zoo of stuffed and interactive plush toys she has pretty much shouts that story loud and clear. She recently received this Animal Hospital toy from the Parents Magazine brand manufactured by Battat and it is absolutely a favorite. Target carries this Parents lines of toys pretty much exclusively though you can purchase them online from other e-tailers for jacked up prices. For example, this Animal Hospital is priced around $19.99 at Target but Amazon.com has it listed for twice that price.
About the Parents Animal Hospital
Recommended for ages 2 and up, this sturdy and colorful toy geared for preschoolers is a mix between a veterinary kit and a kennel. It is the shape of an old-fashioned doctor's kit (medical bag) complete with a carrying handle on the top. The lid (which is textured to look like shingles of a roof), is hinged and opens up to hold an assortment of medical tools including: a stethoscope, vitamins, boo-boo cream, thermometer, syringe, flashlight, water dish, tweezers, water dish, and a ring of color-coded keys. The keys are for the 6 different colored doors that are on the front of the hospital and actually lock and unlock the doors to the cages. The color scheme is gender neutral with the hospital/carrier itself being a very light grey/lavendar with a golden orange lid. The cage doors and keys are red, green, yellow, orange, purple and blue and the instruments are a variety of these colors as well as a faux metallic silver on the stethoscope, medicines and flashlight. I personally know more girls who have this toy but I see absolutely no reason why it couldn't be gifted to a little boy since both my older son and my daughter's best friend who is a little boy both play with it as much as she does.
The Animal Hospital comes with 3 small plush animals that are small in size - approximately 4 inches or so, like the teeny beanie babies size. The animals that are includes are a black and white cat, a beagle like puppy, and a bright red parrot (that both of my children have named Scralett after a dear friend of ours bird by the way!). Any of the animals can fit in any of the cages leaving you with 3 empty cages to fill up as you wish. As luck would have it McDonalds was having a 'Furreal Friends' promotion a while back and these Happy Meal toys animal/accessories have moved right into the animal hospital - even the black and white kitty cats look like they could be kittens of the slightly larger animal included with the Animal Hospital. My daughter likes to look at the cats that are up for adoption at the local PetSmart store so she tends to fill the cages up with the tiny cats and even manages to stuff more than one per cage!
What I really and truly love about this Animal Hospital is that it inspires my daughter to really use her imagination and play. There are no uneccessary sounds or lights and it is a nice quiet toy. The only instrument that needs a battery is the small flashlight which requires a single AA in order to actually light up, I can totally deal with that. She loves to pretend Doctor and tend to her little animals - especially enjoying the stethoscope and the flashlight.
I think it is so cool that the color coded keys actually lock and unlock the doors to the cages. I was equally amazed how quickly my daughter figured out that she needed to match the key to the door and how to turn it in different directions to lock or unlock it. This is really great preschool skill that works on matching as well as motor-skills in an incredibly fun way. Both my 3 year old daughter and my 7 year old son who is on the Autism spectrum enjoy this.
At the end of the day, when it is time for the toys to go away - all of the animals can get locked up in their cages and the instruments store in the top compartment. With as many pieces and parts that this has, some could easily go lost but I love that everything does fit inside nice and neat. Really the only negative thing I have to say about this is that it is a little bulky (about a foot wide, a little less than that high and maybe 5 inches or so deep) making it a bit unwieldy for a little child to carry around using the carry-handle on the top. Still, my daughter manages to do so - so this obviously isn't much of an issue.
I absolutely give 5 stars to this fun preschool toy!