Friday, July 26, 2013

Kitchen Notes and what's coming in August

BLOG POST CORRECTION

 In my previous blog post review of the Campus Snack Cart, I erroneously pronounced the cart as being entirely made of plastic.  Upon further inspection I have discovered that all,  is in fact, not rotten in the state of Denmark! (Sorry for the random Shakespeare reference.) Actually the cart is not made of all plastic- the base is constructed of some type of wood or composite material.  So I stand corrected.  Sorry American Girl.


Now onto what's new at the Pippaloo kitchens....  


After taking a few very relaxing, yet busy months off from making doll food, I am back, firing up the ovens.  I have a few new dolls that have joined the dollhouse this summer and hope to do a blog post on them soon.  Also coming up will be several tutorials- one for making snow cones and the other for pop corn.  Lots of things on my plate so I hope to accomplish them all before September hits.

For August 15th my theme will be Midway munchies and frosty summer treats.  I know, more junk.  We should all eat vicariously through our dolls.  I will update with a menu list in the coming week. 


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Product Review: Campus Snack Cart


I have to hand it to the American Girl product designers- the Campus Snack Cart is another clever alternative to offering a kitchen set.  They love doing baking and prep tables and food carts, yet still no kitchens.  This set gives AG the vehicle with which to offer food stuffs and kitchen accessories, all while keeping the price reasonable-  and keeping the product from becoming enormous, which is what I would imagine a kitchen in the right scale for the dolls being. 

Speaking of enormous, I was expecting the box to be larger.  But it was surprisingly compact.



At first glance I thought that the snack cart was completely constructed from plastic, minus a few screws here and there that hold it together.  In my original  blog post on this subject  I did post that the entire unit was made from plastic.  I want to correct this statement, though, as after closer inspection- it does appear that the sides are constructed of wood or some type of a composite material. So I spoke in error!  I have the Sweet Treats Bakery Case that American Girl offered from several years back.  It is comparable to this set in theory: cooking theme with foods and accessories.  However, no parts of that bakery case were made from plastic.   Some of the foods and accessories that accompanied it were, but not the case it's self.   So this new set is somewhat similar in construction.  Sorry, I apologize for any confusion.  

There was very little assembly required.  The plastic canopy frame came in three parts and easily connected together.  The canopy legs snapped into the cart base and just like that- it was ready to play with basically right out of the box.  The canopy cover is made from a vinyl material. The counter top with the sink area is made from plastic as well.  

Let's first discuss the cart.....



                My doll Charlotte asked if she could  show off it's finer points.



   

 The wheels on the bottom are just for show,  they are not functional.

                                                 What I love about it:

The microwave.  The dials actually turn!  The hinged door opens to reveal a little compartment that's generally what I would consider the size of a small microwave.  So they got that right.  The door snaps shut and opens easily.  The little shelves below the microwave are a perfect addition to the design and are great for storing all the little accessories. 

The cash drawer.  It does slide out kinda wonky- it's a little pesky to be honest, but it makes up for it with having an interior that slopes up toward the handle, just a like a real cash register. 

The sink.  It could have looked a little more "stainless" in nature, however, the faucet rotates side to side and the little handle next to it rotates forward.  That was a pleasant surprise.
 
The freezer.  Great compartment for storing those ice creams.  The door snaps shut and opens easily as well.







                      What's going on at 11:45 over at American Girl, hmm?  



Before I continue on to the accessories, I want to say a word about the general quality of American Girl foods:  Some are good, but most are bad.  Some are in scale, but most are not.  Some look appetizing, but most are awful.  All good reasons why I started making foods out of clay for my dolls.

Having said that I was pleasantly surprised by the scale and quality of a few of the foods in this set.

                                   What I like:

The corn. Aside from the green tassel looking thing protruding from one end, it's pretty decent.  The color is right and I love that it has random white kernels. Nice touch.  



The ice cream.  Okay, I admit, I am still a bit partial to my own version, but AG's isn't half bad.  I wish they would have either been heavier handed with the sprinkles or just excluded them altogether.  But that's being nit-picky, isn't it?



The remaining foods in the set all get a big thumbs down from me.  Big surprise. :) I could not  even bring myself to photograph them, sorry. 

The remaining foods include:
- two hot dogs-  color is just wrong
- two ice cream sandwiches-  color and scale are very off
- two fruit kabobs- just not appetizing at all


Honorable mention goes to the two servings of french fries. They don't look half bad, in spite of the color being a bit too yellow. I wish they were removable from the little red basket trays underneath.  Those would have been very useful on their own.




Now onto what I love most about sets like these:  the accessories.

                                 What I love:

the tongs:  Yes, they are plastic,  I just have to see past that.  They are a mini version of the real thing.  Too cute.

the hotdog steamer:  When I first saw pictures of the snack cart, I thought the hotdog steamer was a blender and I was beyond excited.  So I was naturally disappointed when I learned instead that it was for hot dogs. It does light up and the hot dogs do twirl about inside when the top is spun, so I've warmed up to it.  (no pun intended)

the ketchup and mustard containers:  As simple as they are, I cannot help but find them so gosh darn cute!  The tips are flexible so they wont snap off from use or abuse.




The paper trays:  They come in a set of 10 and seem to be made from a medium weight card stock.  I like the scale.  Of course note the AG logo and their trademark star pattern.




the ice cream scooper:  Mini scaled replica of the real thing.  Classic design- and I am quite partial to the orange color.   




                             What I was lukewarm about:

the money:  The coins are completely off scale.  I did not even take them out of the package. Indeed if  they were in the right scale they would be teeny- and with little girls they would be quickly lost in some alternate play universe somewhere,  so I understand the need to make them larger.  Just not on board with it.   The bills are not bad.  But they can be easily printed off at home with a computer.  I dislike buying accessories from AG that I can make myself. 





the apron:  Heavy, quality fabric that I would expect from American Girl.  Glad to see the Innerstar U logo was not used.    It's an apron. 

the smoothies:  I've seen much more appetizing versions from Etsy sellers.  I do like the faux bendy straw though.




the ice cream cones box: It's a little small.  But perhaps I'm being nit-picky again.   Did it have to be pink though?   And that's coming from someone who loves pink.



the towel:  It does match the design on the outside of the cart, and fits the rack perfectly.  I see it and the apron as filler pieces that help to round out the playability of the set.  It's nice to look at, but honestly the towels never get used here.  





Overall I give the set an enthusiastic thumbs up.  I love the design and some of the accessories enough to see past it's plastic exterior and various accessory missteps to warrant buying it and recommending it.

         Here you can see three dolls fit around it with lots of room to spare.