Saturday, November 12, 2011

Instruction Sheets: The Magic Key Mansion - Page 2

Back in March I started a series of posts about Precious Places instruction sheets.  It was my intention to post photos of whatever instructions I could get a hold of so that we could all puzzle through them together.  However, as you may know, I didn't get any further than posting about the first page of the Magic Key Mansion instructions.

Until now that is....

So, sorry it's taken me eight months, but let's go on to page two, shall we?

Here is a photo of the Magic Key Mansion instruction sheet, page 2 (from my personal collection):

I know it's hard to read such tiny print, so I've taken close-ups of the top and bottom halves of the page.  Here's the top (click on the picture to view a larger image):

 And here's the bottom:

Since it may still be hard to read, here's what it says (starting at the top of page one, working to the bottom of the first column and then back up again and down the right side):

Find Pink House.
Find Porch Roof and Battery Box (Bagged Separately).
[Illustrations: Battery Box and Porch Roof]
Open Master Bags A & B.
Find Chimney, Power Wall And 3 Basement Walls In Master Bag B.
[Illustrations: Basement walls, Chimney and Power Wall]
Find Bags 1-9 (Content List Follows) And Line Them Up In Front Of You In Order Of Numbers.
NOTE: Parts are not all bagged in assembly order.  During assembly, we suggest keeping unused pieces inside the numbered bags so they are easier to find when required.

Contents Of Bags 1 - 9:

Bag 1
House trim (vertical) (7)
Fence (3)
Porch roof trim (2)

Bag 2
Windows (9)
Round windows (2)
Oval window (1)
Outside doors with frames (2)
Door trim for power wall door (1)
Corner closet door/frame/wall (1)

Bag 3 
Bird tower (1)
Mousetrap cellar (1)
Fireplace (1)
Clock (1)
Mailbox (1)

Bag 4
Brick pillars (2)
Steps (2)
"Stone" stairs (1)

Bag 5
Front porch (1)
Side porch (1)
Bedroom floor (1)
Bathroom floor (1)
Ceilings (2)

Bag 6
Large roof (1)
Small roof (1)

Bag 7
Roof trim (8)
Bird tower trim (6)

Bag 8
Lights (5)

Bag 9
Flower boxes (4)
Flowers (4)
Porch roof triangular pieces (2)

Remember to check off steps as you complete them!
Be sure BASE LABELS are all applied. 
Turn base upside down after labels are all applied.

Snap in mousetrap cellar (Bag 3) from underneath base. Be sure it is securely fastened.
Snap the three basement walls to each other, matching A to A and B to B.
Snap basement walls to base from underneath, matching up all tabs and slots and pressing firmly to make sure they are securely in place.  Pull green tabs out slightly while pushing down side walls.
Turn base right side up.
[Illustrations: Rotate and insert Mousetrap Cellar, and Basement Wall assembly]

Snap in 2 brick pillars (Bag 4) near front walk
Snap in brick stairs at front (Bag 4).
Snap in 2 sets of steps with railings (Bag 4) at side and at front (higher steps go at side).
Snap 3 pieces of fence (Bag 1) onto base.
Attach mailbox (Bag 3) to small fence piece.
Snap front porch frame (Bag 5) onto base.
Add side porch frame (Bag 5) to base.
Set base aside.
[Illustration: Porch, Steps & Fence assembly]

Place outside of house in front of you.
Snap vertical trim pieces (Bag 1) into outside of house as shown in illustration.  Note that notches in trim pieces line up with window frames.
Remove windows and doors from Bag 2.
Snap in 9 house windows, bottom tab first. Note that shapes and sizes of windows differ.
Snap in 2 round windows at gable ends.
Snap in 2 outside doors.
Set house aside.
Snap oval window into bird tower (Bag 3) and set aside.
[Illustration: Window and Vertical Trim installation]

And thus ends page 2.

Nothing earth shattering as far as I can see, but boy would it have ever been nice to have had these instructions the first time I attempted to assemble the Mansion.  Those trim pieces are a doozy!

What do you think?  Does anything jump out at you?  And on another subject, anyone giving or hoping to get Precious Places sets this holiday season? 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Most Wanted List Revisited

Last December I published my Precious Places Most Wanted List that detailed the five sets that are rare to the point that I thought they might be non-existent.  Since I wrote that post, I've gotten more information, so I thought it was time to revisit the list.

5) The Pretty Penny Wishing Well - Aqua Well with Pink Roof

Current Status: More rare than pink well with aqua roof, but definitely findable
Since writing my first list, two or three aqua wells with pink roofs have turned up on eBay including one that had a pink watering can.  (I still have yet to see a purple ladle though.)

4) Wendy and Her Ice Cream Cart with Aqua Wheels

Photo courtesy of eBay seller kcaparso22

Current Status: The picture says it all, this set is out there!  
Unfortunately my eBay app failed to remind me to bid at the end of this auction, so I missed the chance to actually own this set.  Grrrr..... But it is nice to know that it does indeed exist.

3) The Mother and Baby Pony in Pink 

Current Status: Still unsighted.  No further information available.

2) The Dining Room

Current Status: Still unsighted, but...
I've had one particular commenter give me good reason to hope that this set may yet turn up.

Anonymous commenter on 7-7-11 said:
"... about the dinning room set. i remeber my dad taking me to zellers in canada. i had the choice of the dinning room set or the purple bedroom set. i chose the bedroom! however knowing what i know now i woulda chose the dinning set lol!"

This is the first information I've gotten from anyone who remembers seeing the set in a store.  It's a promising sign, don't you think?

1) All the County Fair Sets

Current Status: Still unsighted by me, but...
Had a recent conversation with another collector who told me that about twelve years ago there was a Ferris Wheel prototype set for sale on eBay.  She didn't remember much about it except that it was definitely listed as a prototype (the seller said she got it from a friend who worked for Fisher Price) and that it sold for hundreds of dollars (no surprise there).

I also got information from an anonymous commenter on 8-4-11:
"I got news for those of you interested- I have spent the last hour on the phone with fisher-price and they said the county fair sets WERE sold to the public!! Only for a limited time and they are not sure how many but they ARE out there!! Also none of the precious places sets had more than 26,000 made and there are 4 sets that I have not found on any lists but that fisher price told me exist and were sold but in a smaller amount. They are number 5192 combo scene, 5179 special furniture, 5210 special kit and 6563 sign- that was all the info they had and they said they were promotional items. Also the dining room was also mass produced so those of you looking don't give up!!"

All this gives me just a glimmer of hope that whether prototype or mass-produced set, I may yet find one or (can I dare to dream) two of the County Fair sets to call my own.

(PS. If the winning bidder of the Ferris Wheel prototype set is out there, please contact me!  I'd love to know more about it.  You can reach me here:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another Precious Places Commercial

Thanks to A.Lewis for alerting me to another Precious Places commercial posted on YouTube:

This one has the theme song!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Precious Places Village Tour Stop 4: The Best Friends Pet Shop

Continuing on from the Pink Slippers Ballet Studio, our tour of Precious Places Village now leads us to #5155, the Best Friends Pet Shop (also called the Cuddly Friends Pet Shop according to the English and French version of the PP Village Map).

Here is a picture of the set from my personal collection:


I believe my set is complete, other than the fact that I do not have the box or instruction sheet.  

This set has a special place in my heart because it was the only PP building that I owned as as child.  I can't tell you how many countless hours I spent making Cuddly Kitty pace the floor and swinging Perchy Parrot on his perch.  I think my favorite part about this set as an adult is the fish in the fish tank that you can make swim around.  All the cute little extra touches like that are what make Precious Places such wonderful toys!

When it comes to collecting, the Pet Shop is not really a hard set to find on eBay.  However, one thing to watch for if you're considering buying this set is that the litho on the cash register does tend to go missing, so check for that before you commit to a purchase.

What about you?  Did you have the Pet Shop when you were a kid?  What's your favorite thing about it?  As always, I'd love to hear anything you have to say, whether it's a question for me to answer or just an observation about the set.  Please leave your input in the comments section of this post.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Instruction Sheet Spot the Difference

Let's play "spot the difference"!  You remember that fun game they always have in kids magazines where two pictures look the same at first, but when you look closer, you realize they are actually quite different.


Here's Picture 1 - The Silver Bells Wedding Chapel instruction sheet:

Here's Picture 2 - Another Silver Bells Wedding Chapel instruction sheet:

Photo courtesy of eBay seller azmusicsales

What's the difference!?!?

Okay, there are actually several, but the one that I'm the most interested in has less to do with the Chapel, and more to do with what's out front.

Here's another hint...

A close-up of the first sheet:

And here is a close up of the second instruction sheet:

Do you see what I see?  There are heart-shaped sidewalk connectors pictured on the first set of instructions, but none on the second set!

What does this mean?  Well, nothing for certain, but I think it's further evidence that I was on the right track in my previous post about sidewalk connectors when I said that I didn't think all shop sets originally came with the little heart-shaped buggers.

My current theory (and yes, it is just a theory) is that the sidewalk connectors were in the sets when they were first produced, but then later removed, since they are completely unnecessary for the sidewalk to stay together (and actually make it harder to move figures around on the sidewalk).  This theory might be helped a little by the fact that the eBay auction that contained the second set of instructions (the one not showing the connectors) also included the box which had a clearance price sticker still stuck to it.  It seems most likely that the toy would have been on clearance in 1990 after Fisher-Price discontinued the line.  But again, this is really just speculation on my part, especially since the auction also included a Village Map showing the 1989 sets. 

So as usual, I have nothing certain to say.  You'd think that Fisher-Price would have made the same toy the same way over a brief two year production period, but clearly, that is not the case.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rugs, Rugs, Rugs

So, here's a question I could really use some help answering... You know how some of the furniture sets have rug stickers (lithos) pictured on the front of their boxes?  Well, what I'm trying to figure out is, which of the furniture sets came with rug lithos?

Here's what information I have so far...

Of the eight Precious Places furniture sets, five of them have rugs pictured with the furniture on the front of their boxes.  These sets are the Bedroom, Bathroom, Baby's Nursery, Living Room and Canopy Bedroom.  The website (TOT) includes the rug sticker in the parts list for each of these sets, but says about the lithos: "This rug is pictured in the Fisher-Price dealer catalogue, but we are not sure if it was ever included in the sets sold in stores."

When I first began collecting PP several years ago (and was addicted to reading the TOT parts lists), I thought that I ought to investigate whether there were any rug stickers out there, so that I could add them to my collection if they existed.  There seemed to be a pretty simple way to answer the question, i.e. just buy an unopened furniture set and see if there was a rug litho in the box.  So that's what I did.  I found a fairly inexpensive, never-been-opened Living Room furniture set on eBay, bought it, and with great anticipation, I opened it... only to discover that there was no rug sticker in the box.

"Case closed," I thought, "Furniture sets did not come with rug lithos." 

And so for a couple of years, I had no reason to look any further into the mystery of the rug lithos.

Then one fateful day last August, I noticed this picture on a completed eBay listing:

Unfortunately, I didn't see the listing until after it was over, so I didn't get a chance to bid on this item, but as the picture clearly shows, there was an octagonal rug included with the Living Room furniture.  I contacted the seller who told me that a) it was indeed a rug sticker, b) she believed it originally came with the Living Room set and c) it could not possibly have come with the Mansion, since these were her childhood toys and she'd never owned the Mansion.

This got me on the hunt for rug lithos and what do you know, they are rare, but some of them can be found.  So far, I've got two in my collection, those from the Baby's Nursery and Canopy Bedroom sets.

Baby's Nursery Rug:

Canopy Bedroom Rug:

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "That Canopy Bedroom rug sure looks familiar."  And you'd be right.  It is the same rug litho that was included with the Mansion set itself.  But I have four reasons to be fairly certain that the one I have originally came with the Canopy Bedroom set.  

1) It was sold in an eBay auction with the Canopy Bedroom furniture

2) It is just the rug sticker by itself and as far as I know the Mansion lithos always came on a large sheet like this:

3) I later saw another Canopy Bedroom set listed with the same rug litho.

4) Most importantly, the rug litho has the numbers 5177 on the edge and that is the Fisher Price item number for the PP Canopy Bedroom set.

So put it all together and it means that I am nearly 100% positive that the Living Room, the Baby's Nursery and the Canopy Bedroom each have a rug litho that was included with some (but not all) sets sold in stores.  

Why wasn't a rug litho sold with every furniture set?  I really have no good answer to that question.  It is possible that only sets produced in 1990 had a rug litho.  Or maybe only sets sold in a certain location (the United States, Canada or Europe for example) had rugs.  I have so little information to go on, it's quite likely that we will never know the answer to the 'why' question.

One question I am still hoping to answer (and here's where I could really use your help) is...

Did the Bathroom and/or Bedroom sets also come with rug lithos?
I have not as of this moment, been successful in locating a rug litho (or picture of one) for the Bathroom or Bedroom sets.  It would be really helpful to me if anyone out there has more information.  Do you have any new in the box furniture sets?  If so, did they come with rug stickers (lithos)?  

I'd really love to get as much information as possible about these stickers so that we can all know what to look for when we're bidding on furniture sets!  Post your comments, please!!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wendy and The Irony of It All

Funny how I said in my last post that I've never spent more than $50 including shipping on any single Precious Places set and then a couple of days later this set is posted on eBay for $49.99 plus shipping:

Photo courtesy of eBay seller kcaparso22
It is the ultra-rare Wendy with Aqua colored wheels ice cream cart, a set that I've never seen on eBay before.  Not only that but it is new in the package, never been played with!  

But the excitement doesn't stop there, not only is it Wendy with Aqua Wheels, and new in the package ta boot, it comes with Amanda's personality card, which is just weird enough to make me want it even more!!!!

I feel that my principles are being sorely tried at the moments.  Part of me says, anything that you see on eBay will come up again another time at a better price and besides, when have you ever seen a single figure go for $50?!?  That's sort of insane for a figure set.  I mean, you can sometimes get a nice Mansion for less than that!

But the other part of me really just wants it no matter how much it is.

To bid or not to bid, that is the question....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Precious Places Pricing

I recently got this question from Sarah and I thought I'd make a post out of it so that everyone would be sure to contribute their opinions on the topic.  Here's her question:

So this is a little off topic but I was wondering what you and other users though would be fair prices for some of the more hard to come by sets or even just not as common ones. I always want to find a bargain and dont want to overpay even though I love these so much. Thanks!

This is sort of a tough question because the prices on eBay seem to fluctuate quite a bit, but I personally have never spent more than $50 (including shipping) on any single set.  My new in box Pretty Penny Wishing Well was less than that, and my complete (though not new in box) Sunshine Country Picnic was only about $30.  The only way I'd spend more than $50 to get a set would be if I could get a new in the box Magic Key Mansion, the Dining Room furniture or any of the County Fair Sets. 

If you really want deals, check the PP listings on eBay every day and be very patient (I've been working on my collection for almost four years now).  If you do those two things, you CAN get sets for a good price. 

What does everyone else think?  How much would you pay for rare sets?  What was your best Precious Places deal?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dad's Personality Card

Just a couple more to go before I have posted a complete collection of personality card pictures on my blog!  Today I give you... Dad at Work.

Front of card:

Back of card:

And here's what the back of the card says:

Dad at Work
Meet Dad! He teaches fifth grade math. Many nights he brings home papers to correct. He puts stickers on all the papers that get A's. In the evenings dad coaches our soccer team. We don't always win, but we have a lot of fun. Dad often brings home a bunch of violets for Mom and fun books for us. Dad also like to take us out for ice cream. He always orders a large chocolate soda - that's his favorite flavor.
Birthday: March 28
Favorite Sport: Soccer

What a great Dad, huh?  Again, I'm not totally clear who the 'we' is who wrote this glowing description of Dad, but since I'm assuming Dad at Work is married to Mom at Work, the 'we' must be the same group who lovingly penned Mom's personality card.  Rollerskating Sara and Skateboarding Andy look like they could be siblings, maybe they're Mom and Dad's kids?  

I probably shouldn't work too hard at figuring out the genealogies of plastic playthings, but I do have just one more question... 

What is a chocolate soda anyway?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Instruction Sheets: The Magic Key Mansion - Page One

As I'm sure you already know, the website is a fantastic resource for all things Precious Places.  There is no way I could ever have put together the database of parts that they have so kindly published for all of us collectors out there.  However, one thing they are lacking is pictures of all the different instruction sheets for PP sets, so I thought I'd start a  new series of posts and give you as much information as I can get a hold of regarding those instruction sheets.

I do not yet have all of the instruction sheets, but I have a couple, and most importantly, I recently acquired the instruction sheet for the Magic Key Mansion.  Because it is a large, four page document, I'm going to split up the instructions into a mini-series of four posts (one for each page).

So, without further ado, here is the Magic Key Mansion Instruction Sheet, page one:

And because I know it's hard to read such tiny print, I've taken close-ups of the top and bottom halves of the page.  Here's the top (click on the picture to view a larger image):

Since it's still hard to read, here's what the top of the page says:

Instructions                                                            Magic Key Mansion

(2 "D" batteries are required, alkaline recommended.)
CAUTION: This product contains small parts which may pose a choking hazard to children who still put objects in their mouths.  Keep all plastic bags out of children's reach.

No tools are required for assembling the Magic Key Mansion; however, the assembly instructions are very specific and need to be read carefully and followed exactly.  Because there are many pieces we suggest using a large clear work surface.

DO follow the steps in order.  Use the check-off boxes as you progress from step to step.  The pictures will help you recognize the various pieces.  DO take time to make sure all the snap-fits are secure.  When you have completed the mansion you should be able to lift it by the floors or by the base, but not by the roof!

Check off steps as you complete them.
Labels are to be applied to the GREEN BASE (not bagged) and to the BEDROOM and BATHROOM FLOORS (found in Bag 5).

Step-By-Step Assembly Instructions
Find Label Sheets.
Find Green Base (Not Bagged).
Apply Labels To Base.
(Bedroom And Bathroom Floors Also Require Labels.)

To Apply Labels:
Refer to label diagrams to apply labels correctly.
Be sure the areas where labels will go are clean and dry.
Remove labels from sheet and apply as indicated.
Carefully position each label and press in the center, smoothing outward toward edges to get air bubbles out.

Okay, me here again.  This is what the diagram on the bottom of the page looks like closer up (click on the picture to view a larger image):

Besides the amusingly schizophrenic use of bold, CAPITALS, and even an occasional underline, the most interesting part of this first page to me is that there is no mention of a label (or litho) for the Magic Key.  You would have to assume that with these "very specific" instructions, they would have mentioned the litho if there was one.  I'd like to be wrong, but it seems to me that it is yet another strike against my hope of ever finding the Magic Key Mansion's Magic Key litho.

I really am disappointed that the instructions don't say anything about a litho, I was so hoping they would, but I am still excited to share more of these and other instruction sheets with you.  So, stay tuned for more posts in my Instruction Sheets series!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Precious Places Love Affair

In honor of February, the month of love, I now give you my Precious Places love saga...

Do you know what I mean when I say that no one in my life understands how I can love Precious Places so much?  I find myself not wanting to admit to people that I collect them, that there are bins of toys in our storage room.  Why?  Because those who have found out almost always react the same way...

A good friend from childhood was helping us move a couple years ago.  As she carried a large bin of Precious Places into our new house, she asked me, "What's this?"  I told her it was my Precious Places collection, to which she responded, "I don't remember you having these when we were kids."  I replied, "I didn't.  I've been buying them on eBay lately."  She looked at me, eyebrows raised, and said, "Seriously?"

Yes, seriously...

She's not the only one who thinks I'm crazy.  My husband totally doesn't get it either.  He won't call my toys by their proper name.  He says 'Precious Places' sounds like a porno movie, so he prefers to refer to them as 'The Pink Village'.  Like, whenever a package comes in the mail from an address he doesn't recognize, he'll ask me, "Is this something else for the Pink Village?"

So now I find that my last and best hope for some support is my two year old daughter.  She thinks Precious Places are wonderful.  Like me, she is enchanted by the lights and the cute little animals, the pastel colors and most of all, the magic of watching the characters come alive with a flick of a key.  Perhaps you have to look through the eyes of a child to realize why Precious Places have captured my heart.  Maybe if everyone in my life could be seven years old again, they'd quit teasing me about my collection and discover what I already know, that Precious Places really truly are the best toys ever made.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Precious Places Village Tour Stop 3: The Pink Slippers Ballet Studio

As we move on from the Blue Ribbon Pony Stable in our Precious Places Village Tour, we come to set #5153, The Pink Slippers Ballet Studio.

Here is a picture of the set in my personal collection:

As far as I know, my set is complete.  I even have the box and instruction sheet.  (I'm planning on posting pictures of both in a different post at a later time.)

As a child I'm sure I wanted this set (what little girl doesn't dream about being a ballerina?) but as an adult, I think it's the least interesting of all the shops.  It is certainly cute, but it doesn't come with as many accessories or ways to interact with it as the other shop sets.

The Ballet Studio is probably the most common of the Precious Places shops and easiest to find with all its pieces.  However, I have noticed that the mirror is often scratched, even in sets that are otherwise intact, so that might be something to inquire about when purchasing this set online.

What do you think?  Is the Ballet Studio one of your favorite sets?  Did you have it as a child?  Please feel free to leave any questions, comments or further information about this set in the comments section of my post!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Introducing: Precious Places Market Square

I've just added a feature to my Precious Places Collector blog.  On the sidebar to the right you will notice the link to the new Precious Places Market Square.  This is a place for all of you other Precious Places collectors to post ads for sets or pieces that you have available for sale or trade.  Check back often so you can find the pieces you need for your collection.  And thanks to my reader Exousia for suggesting the page.  What a great idea!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sets That Never Were

Lately I've had several questions and comments about the County Fair Sets, so I thought I'd write a post compiling what little information I have about the non-production of these sets.

First of all, if you haven't read it yet, you should check out my post Introducing: The County Fair Sets.  There you'll find the photos and complete descriptions of the sets from the 1990 Fisher Price ToyFair Catalog.  Those two little pages are the best and most complete information that I have.  Moving beyond that though...

Most of you probably have already read the descriptions of the different County Fair sets on  There they put so well what we already know, "The Ferris Wheel is also the most heart breaking of all the Precious Places sets because it was never mass produced nor sold to the public."  I can't say how you might feel, but I know my heart is broken.

Thus far we have established that 1) The County Fair sets were fabulously fantastically awesome and 2) They were never mass produced.  So, what happened?

Unfortunately, there isn't much information you can find on the internet that specifically mentions the Precious Places sets themselves.  However, a couple things were going on with the Fisher Price company in 1990 that may have affected the production of these sets. 

The Fisher-Price company (and toy companies across the board) were facing increased pressure from consumer advocacy groups to increase the safety of their toys.  Evidence of this can be seen by the fact that in 1991 the Fisher Price Little People line was changed from the classic cylinder shape to the bigger 'chunky' style figure.  Could it be that Precious Places (the County Fair sets included) were another victim of the 'potential choking hazard' movement?

Another factor may have been the restructuring of the company that occurred in 1990-1991 at which point Fisher-Price Inc. became independent of the Quaker Oats Company.  The focus of the company narrowed from toys in general to infant and preschool products.  Perhaps the Precious Places sets were deemed 'too old' for their new marketing focus.  Of course, this is totally speculation on my part, but it seems possible.

I know it's not much, but these are the only possible reasons that I've been able to find for why production of Precious Places didn't continue past 1990 and why the County Fair sets were never mass produced.  If anyone has any other ideas or information, please feel free to leave me a message in the comments section of this post.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mom's Personality Card

Here is yet another post in my series on the Precious Places personality cards.  Today's featured figure... Mom at Work.

Front of card:

Back of card:

And here is what the card says:

Mom at Work
Meet Mom! She loves to be outside and exercise. She likes to garden and rides her bike everywhere. She's also a great cook and makes lots of different meals with food from her garden. In the summer, we have fresh fruits and vegetables like strawberries, corn on the cob, and tomatoes. Sometimes she makes us our favorite lunch - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After school Mom takes us to the park and we play on the swings with all our friends from the village.
Birthday: January 10
Favorite Dessert: Fudge brownies with chocolate chips.

I think Mom sounds like a genuine Martha Stewart.  The only thing I'm not clear on is who 'we' is referring to.  Who is writing the personality card?  Her kids?  Exactly which kids from the village are hers?  All of them??!?! Or maybe the owner of the Country Kitchen Cottage claims a few?

We may never know.