Re: Calico critters
My son has the older Calico Critters and Sylvanians (which are the same thing) from when I was a child. I collected them but didn't really play with them. He also has an old CC house. He adores them. Now if it were me and I were purposefully buying a house I might buy a nice wooden house vs the CC house as I don't think the one I have is that well made, but I have no idea how well they are made now. The animals themselves and all of the furniture are very well made and sturdy, it was just the house that I worry about should a child fall on it or handle it roughly. I would have preferred one of the wooden fairy houses from Nova Naturals but it is hard to argue with free and I already have this one.
I don't think there is anything wrong with buying a doll house for your son, my son has two, the CC one and a playmobil one. In the past my boys also had a vintage sesame street house and a Little People house. Tharen also has a bunch of snap together Hello Kitty Houses. It is just what he likes to play with. He also has a large wooden castle.