The Real Good Toys Beachside Bungalow was my first project, so I was an absolute newbie. I just opened the box and began.
One of my first impressions was it had a lot of small parts–mostly due to the dormer brackets–all of which needed to be primed and sanded. Beyond that, the kit was complete and there were no warped pieces.
The house body itself was solid, made of 1/4″ MDF. It was heavy once it was assembled, not easy to move from place to place, but it felt sturdy.
I did find the MDF hard to work with when it came to electrification. As I mentioned in a previous post, I used a spring tool for starter holes and the opposite side of the tool to punch the eyelets into the tapewire. The physical effort to seat the eyelets in the dense MDF damaged the outside of the house. Later, I had better luck making starter holes with a Dremel using a mini-bit, but this didn’t work in tight spaces. The Cir-Kit pilot hole punch was a better option. At that point, I could follow up with the spring tool, which was also good in close quarters.
The outside of the Beachside Bungalow was milled siding. The instructions said to prime it first, and then sand each board back-and-forth two or three times. I found it needed quite a bit more effort than two to three passes. Even with more sanding, the fibers rose and my finish wasn’t as smooth as I’d hoped. I believe there is an adage in actual house painting about prep work being 80-90% of the job. The same was true here. I recommend going slowing and putting in the extra time sanding. It will pay off in cleaner, more satisfying finish.
The next challenge came in the form of the house’s “hardwood flooring look” that came pre-installed. I’d seen examples of others’ work online and their floors looked great. Mine didn’t work, I think, in part, because I was trying to go too light. The instructions said to brush on a coat of PolyShades, then wipe it off, let it dry, and apply a second coat. I repeated this process several times. I’m not sure if it was my multi-coat process, or if the original floor was just too slick for proper adherence, it was fragile and easily damaged during the subsequent construction. I ended up using floor paper over it, although I wasn’t happy with this choice, either. If I had it to do over, I’d follow the instructions for the PolyShades, choosing a shade close to the original floor, or use sheet wood instead.
The instructions were fine, although, I learned I have zero sense of spatial awareness. Despite decent enough line drawings in the instruction manual, I glued on the second floor backwards resulting in my stairs facing in the opposite direction of the design. This made for a challenge in building my stairway, but in the end, I liked the floor plan better than the original.
The room sizes were probably on par with a house this size, so no complaints here. I made some adjustments, though. I opened up the entire downstairs (the whole “open concept” thing) to make a larger living room/kitchen. I was going to do a similar thing upstairs. I experimented with using the partitions as described in the instructions, and then tried removing one completely, as well as experimenting with a half wall, but ended up keeping the kit’s original design. The rooms had 9″ ceilings. I came to appreciate this height because my next house had 8″ ceilings, and a few warped boards cramped the space even more.
The kit came complete with a staircase, windows, front door, and chimney. The stairs did not include banisters or a landing set and, like the kit, it was MDF. I bought a wooden one in its place. I also replaced the front door with a Dutch door, and I bought interior doors. I kept the windows, but spaced the interior trim differently. I assembled the chimney, but didn’t install it since I didn’t add a fireplace to the interior.
The kit included 950 square shingles, enough for the roof with some to spare. I was apprehensive about shingling the roof, but the instructions were great, and I found it a relaxing and satisfying process. I bought an Easy Cutter from My Doll’s House, where I bought my kit, to ease cutting. It worked fine for straight cuts as well as angles. I found it an essential tool, but I don’t necessarily recommend this brand.
Although Real Good Toys does some manufacturing in the United States, not all of its kits are made here. Mine came from Taiwan. I prefer US manufacturing, so this may factor into my purchase of future Real Good Toys products.
All told, I liked the kit. It was easy enough for a beginner and it had just about everything you needed. Completed, the house looked pretty; it was sturdy and well-made. The interior was fine for a medium-sized kit. The house was a doable size to make, display, and store. It was fairly priced, but, keep in mind it was an import. Made in USA costs more but it’s worth the extra.