Krooom is a very clever little company that makes fabulous playsets – from the coolest of garages to the prettiest of castles. Defying the pre-built nature of many playhouses, these are toys you not only get to play with, but that you build and then play with. Double the fun!
The playsets cover a super selection of interests, from space adventure in rockets and magical fairy trees to pirate ships and hardworking garage shops. And not only does each set come with a magnificent centrepiece ‘playhouse’ but also with somewhere between seven and 20 additional pieces to bring it all to life, as well as a ‘playmat’ that allows play to flow out from the actual playhouse and into the surrounding world.
Brilliant as a Boxing Day construction project, these gorgeously designed playsets will have your mind boggling at the ingenuity of their paper engineering and – once constructed – offer endless combinations of imaginative play
If you’re feeling edgy about the assembly job, relax! The entire set has been ingeniously designed to simply fold in upon itself (with a dozen or so plastic studs to ensure it’s super secure). We also love a company that is savvy with its packaging, and every element of the Krooom playset box has been used for something practical, from the front of box showing the fully made up set (front and back) to the comprehensive visual instructions on the reverse, along with a QR code linking you up to step-by-step video instructions that can assist you with the construction (see the example, above).
When we put our Willson Brothers Garage together we enthusiastically ignored the QR code instructions. Instead, our building team of Mummy, Daddy, Four-year-old Master Engineer, Nonna and 12-month-old Assistant Engineer took a sweeping glance at the instructions on the box and eagerly launched into the build. Between us, it took around 90 minutes (and a few rebuilds) to put the garage, two cars, two characters, and three accessories together. My advice is, watch the videos… I did so after the fact; they were brilliantly clear and would have ensured we had been somewhat more efficient. Nonetheless, the box set instructions themselves are pretty intuitive, and even without the QR code instructions, we got there.
Knowing this playset is made from a minimum 60 per cent ‘post consumer’ reinforced cardboard, you might be surprised at just how sturdy this playhouse is, but once you’ve folded and locked all the elements together, the set is ready for some serious action (just no sitting/standing/jumping on it please!). And if in all the fun of play there are spills, the laminated board can easily be cleaned using a damp cloth.
So, what are these playsets? Well, here’s the roll call:
Willson Bros Garage This is the one that we tested and it is a super exciting garage with a mechanics workshop, a staff room, a roof top parking space (with ramp), petrol and air bowsers, as well as a car wash. There are two mechanics to save the day, as well as a towtruck, a car (with opening hood) and scooter. We loved the details in all the graphic design – the workshop comes complete with oil marked floor the brilliant car wash with two fluffy revolving wash tubes, and all Lego City vehicles are a perfect scale to stop in for a check up.
Murielle City Dollhouse With three storeys and five rooms, this is a fabulously modern dollhouse with a kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, playroom as well as outdoor patio and garden. Accessories include bathtubs, beds, bookshelves, sofas, a white picket fence as well as tables and chairs, a sun lounge and umbrella.
Cooper’s Pirate Ship A brilliant pirate ship with a row boat, a four-man pirate crew and their monkey, a cannon, a bottle (for those secret messages), a treasure chest, as well as a cell where kids can upload their very own treasures. We love the skull-and-crossbone flags as well as the marvellous spinning steering wheel.
Trinny’s Castle This sweeping pink castle with flowers, balconies, a rooftop terrace and gingerbread trim turrets plays home to unicorns, rabbits, swans, fruit trees as well as a carriage with four fairy princesses.
Space Station First build a galactic space station that’s over two feet tall, then launch the probe missile, search for radar messages, welcome robot guests, have a meal in the kitchen and nap in the bunk room. The elevator on this playlet moves up and down the three levels of the rocket, and there are more then 20 pieces in the set. Plenty to keep imaginations rocketing for the whole year!
Dylan Fire Station A two storey, four roomed fire house, this station comes with a fire truck, four fire fighters, as well as street signs and barricades to keep the public safe. There are bunk beds in the upper room, as well as a fridge, stove, plus all those lifesaving essentials – hoses, axes, hydrants.
Melrose Dollhouse A luxurious house with three storeys, five rooms and a pink gingerbread roof, this dollhouse has a host of interior design features already printed on walls. But the 3D accessories also available to add include a sofa, bed, rocking chair, a baby rocking chair, coffee table, stool, dining table and chairs, as well as a bookshelf and nightstand.
Animal Farm This set includes a large playmat as well as a large red barn, windmill, corral and shed where five pairs of farm animals – cows, sheep, pigs, ducks and horses – all live. The playmat has gorgeous details including hay, a pond a garden as well as tiny turtles to help make even more of an adventure for all the animals.
Artur’s Castle A magnificent building with parapets, turrets, a sliding prison door, lowering drawbridge, ladders and royal crest. There are five knights who patrol the wall tops, two dragons, accessories of ladders, trees, a fire as well as the noble Artur himself.
Noah’s Ark This sturdy boat sits on a big play mat where pairs of lion, giraffe, alligators, cows, zebra, elephants and horses line up to make their way into the boat Noah and his wife have prepared.
Fairy Tree Home to four magical fairies, this tree house also has a wind vane, a camp fire, as well as ladders and birds to place in the tree.
Obviously your child’s interest will determine which of these you would lean towards, but our picks are the Willson Bros Garage for its very different take on playhouses as well as its potential to work with the Lego City vehicles, Arturs Castle for its amazing sliding and lowering elements as well as all those characters (plus it also would probably work to the scale of Lego Castle theme), Trinny’s Castle for its utterly delicious fairy magic prettiness (plus it could also work with the Lego Disney Princess sets), as well as that magnificent Space Station with all its many characters and exploration possibilities.
Good For… The Build: fine motor dexterity | The Play: vocabulary, communication skills, comprehension, role play, problem solving, reasoning, scientific concepts, reading, counting, imaginary play, story telling, role play
Keep in Mind… Like any model that you build yourself, it does require some dedicated time, and if your little cardboard engineer likes to get busy with the pieces it could quickly get out of hand. Plan your time and the order of your build to ensure you can complete the build in one sitting, and have a place ready to keep any bits that don’t get completed due to an unforeseen mid-build tantrum (from parent or child!).
What Kids Love The vibrant and detailed designs are great for inspiring imaginative play and the scale of the sets fits well with the cute 3D figures and accessories. But, for my money, the camaraderie that seems to blossom as your child helps figure out the building of their playset is gold!
What Parents Love The satisfaction you’ll feel while watching your child play with the set you’ve built together. Plus the fact that these playsets seem to work with the scale of other toys, whether that is Lego vehicles and buildings or Duplo characters.
Designer Details Krooom is an American company set up in 2006 that designs and manufactures products from laminated print board that can be put together without the need for tools. They’re big on being green with our planet and safe with our kids using at least 60 percent post consumer paper and are free from hazardous chemicals. They’re also 100 per cent recyclable.