Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sydney: Day 3 – Reed Gift Fair

Our third and final day of treasure hunting in Sydney has come to an end – would love to see how many kilometres we’ve clocked-up! The Elves are just unwinding in the Qantas Club before we zip back to Santa’s Workshop.

We had a day meeting with existing suppliers to discover the latest additions to their ranges, plus had our ears pricked for any new finds. Elf Bec – our retail manager – had a productive day in particular, canvassing ideas for the layout of our store and new ways to display stock, plus getting rather excited by an 8ft Christmas tree that will certainly take pride of place in December.

One very exciting find for our new craft class area was some felt-covered toadstools – they are adorable and rated to hold the weight of big kids too! Also in this felt-laden line-up were super-cute tooth fairy houses – a wonderful place to store a tooth before a little visitor pops in during the night (and a lot easier than trying to prise a tooth from under a sleeping beauty’s pillow!).

Other standouts included PurePoppet – a range started by a South Australian mum who wanted to bring non-toxic, mineral and Australian-made play make-up/face paint to little ones who tend to run off with Mum’s good eye shadows and lipsticks. Special stencil sets are also available to add a particularly creative touch to little faces.

We think Top Model will be popular for tweens – it’s a range of paper design books with great illustrations and reusable stickers that are great for creative play and travel.

We were very excited to discover that Wheely Bugs are now available with removable covers! Just get the little Wheely base and pick either a panda or hedgehog soft cover – or both and rotate – to bring your little wheely friend to life. We are anticipating that more covers will become available later on so stay tuned!

For lovers of Lego, children aged from eight will love NanoBlocks – they are like a ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ version of traditional Lego. The small pieces make building the structures and animals particularly challenging (and rewarding!). Nothing beats holding a rocket in your hand that you’ve fashioned out of hundreds of little pieces.

There is of course more, but the Elf fingers are getting like the feet (in need of a rest), so you will just have to wait and see what we have in store 🙂

All in all, a very successful trip for Team Elf and we look forward to seeing what you think of our finds!

Sydney: Day 2 – Home and giving Fair

After a long but very productive day, Elf Carly is off to enjoy some well deserved R and R with her old Sydney friends. So it’s the chief Poobah here in her place. I know I am a poor substitute for her amazing writing skills, but I’ll do my best. Today we spent the day out at Homebush for the Home and Giving fair. I always get a little bit of a lump in my throat when I see the Olympic stadium and grounds. In my former life as a sports scientist this was my old stomping ground, and it brings back wonderful memories of Sydney 2000 to be here again.

The Home and Giving Fair is just like you would expect, focused on home and giftware. There is no separate section for children’s products, with these stands scattered throughout the show. This means you really do have to put your walking shoes on. A pedometer would have been interesting, all three of us would have chalked up the recommended 10 000 steps today. We used a divide and conquer strategy. I spent the morning meeting with our existing suppliers, whilst elves Carly and Bec worked together; examining every aisle and stand, looking for what we refer to as ‘wow’ moments and gems. It’s a little like looking for a needle in a haystack, as these gems can shine in the most unlikely of places.

After a quick caffeine fuelled debrief; we all then set off together to share finds and see if each of us was equally enthused about said discoveries. Three opinions are better than one, and it’s valuable to be able to toss around ideas. If all three of us are enthused, then it is obviously a goer.

Carly received special permission to take photos at this fair, which are normally strictly prohibited. She has shared some of our fab finds on facebook and instagram. We’d really appreciate your feedback, so please head on over and take a look.

Now it’s time to relax and enjoy some of those Adriano Zumbo macaroons we picked up on the way back to the hotel; bliss…..

Sydney: Day 1 – Kids in Style

By Elf Carly

The Elves get excited over Fairy Doors...

Well, it’s been a big day for the Entropy Elves as we’ve toured the aisles of one of the country’s leading boutique trade shows in search of the latest, greatest and most beautiful creations to bring to our wonderful toy-lovers.
Unlike the well-initiated Chief Poobah and Elf Bec who have frequented many-a-trade show before, it was a first for me. I was told to swap my heels for comfy shoes and I can see why: We certainly covered some ground (after being fuelled by a delicious breakfast overlooking the Dragon boat races at Darling Harbour – a great way to start a great day)!
Our mission was to find the gems hidden amongst a plethora of beautiful homewares and stylish children’s ware, and we certainly succeeded. We were chuffed with some of our treasures (have a look at some pics on Facebook and Instagram).
Elf Bec made no attempt to hide her delight over the Fairy Doors and insisted an order was placed straight away (the little footprints that lead to the door are particularly cute). The Chief Poobah was bowled over by the unique creations from Quirky Birds – children aged 8 and older can make the cutest animals by needle felting the pieces of soft wool – a traditional French craft that’s simple with impressive results. I personally loved Seedling’s spy glasses – look sideways and you can see behind you – literally eyes in the back of your head! Just try sneaking-up on the wearer of these glasses!
Us elves also managed to bring a few smiles to guests’ and exhibitors’ faces with our custom-made green elf ears – I suppose it’s one way to stick in people’s minds! Sometimes we forgot we were wearing them and wondered why we were getting strange looks…

So all-in-all: Day 1 – a success.

Our top five Easter toys

Why give chocolate for Easter when you can give little ones something they can keep and treasure? Boutique toy store Entropy’s top five Easter toys are outlined below. These are goodies that would make even the Easter Bunny jealous…

1. Haba Dancing Eggs Game
Haba’s Dancing Eggs is a fun game that helps develop motor skills. Easter morning will be spent catching the ‘dancing egg’, and then running around the table with it tucked safely under your arm, chin or be-tween your knees. Just be careful not to drop them…

 

2. Schleich Farm Life Chicks
Schleich is famous the world over for its finely-detailed hand-painted figurines. The designs are researched extensively to en-sure each animal is as realistic as possible. These beautiful chicks would make a lovely find on an Easter treasure hunt.

3. Janod Rabbit Skipping Rope
This delightful rabbit-themed skipping rope from Janod has a sweet bunny at one end and carrot on the other. It’s set to be the most coveted toy in the playground this year!

4. Chocolate Rabbit Sylvanian Family
Get a dose of a different kind of Easter chocolate with the gorgeous Chocolate Rabbit Sylvanian Family. As confectioners of the highest calibre (and also bunnies), they certainly know a thing or two about Easter.

5. Folkmanis Mini Rabbit in Hat Puppet
A little Easter surprise is waiting for you – out pops a rabbit to say hello! Folkmanis’ puppets have delighted imaginations since 1976, winning nearly every industry, child development, and kid-tested award – many repeatedly. Compare that to the performance of, say, an Easter egg…

 

For more Easter inspirations, see here.

My Favourite Entropy Toy Competition – Winners!

After much deliberating by the elves, we have completed the excruciatingly difficult task of choosing the three winners of the My Favourite Entropy Toy competition; plus one ‘wildcard’ winning entry we couldn’t resist (dogs Chloe and Ruby)! Thanks to everyone for entering your beautiful photos!

Aengus and Finbarr Considine can’t get enough of their Mini Micro Scooters and Nutcase Helmets since Santa brought them at Christmas. Mum says the best part is they actually want to wear their helmets!

Little Elodie Sexton loves her ABC Walker from Janod – a present from her great grandmother. We love her gorgeous pink tights!

 

Cute two-and-a-half-year-old Maddie loves her Pintoy Dolls Cradle – it’s super comfy (“Maybe a little too comfy?” questions her Mum). She also adores her Pintoy High Chair and Wheely Bug that are in the background.

Two-year-old Zoe Matheson was having a snooze, so her best friends Chloe and Ruby filled in to pose with favourite toy Dirty Dogs.

Toy fair time – how we bring you the best

Entropy’s elves are gearing-up to travel to Sydney later this week and to Melbourne soon after to have a sneak peek at the latest and greatest toys and games for the year. After making these pilgrimages for almost seven years, Entropy’s Chief Poobah Deborah Latouf offers an insight into the sea of amazing toys, the treasures we hope to find, and the importance of wearing comfortable footwear…

Entropy's Deborah Latouf

Entropy's Deborah Latouf

 

 

Can you paint us a picture of what the trade shows are like? The fairs are all similar, but – at the same time – quite different. On a similarity level; it is all about suppliers showcasing their products. But of course, how they do this varies considerably, and the fairs have a different ‘feel’ to them. The gift fairs that we’re going to at the end of this week can be overwhelming, as there is just SO much there. Children’s products are only one section of the gift fairs and, while the organisers try to place these booths around each other, inevitably there are some in what appear to be obscure places. So you do end-up walking a lot. Flat shoes are a must – you learn that after your first fair!

What is the most exciting aspect for you about attending these annual events? The single most exciting thing I look forward to at these shows is what I call ‘wow’ moments. When you see something new and just know it is going to be a hit. I always judge a show by how many wow moments there are in it. Even just one ‘wow’ is enough to make a show worthwhile. Sometimes it’s a product, a range, a stand (that is beautifully merchandised), or an exchange with a colleague. There are hidden gems at trade shows in the most unlikely of places. That is why you need to walk each and every one of the aisles.

Is it great being one of the first to see the latest and greatest toys, craft and games for the year ahead? Absolutely! You can do lots of research online about new products, but there is still nothing that replaces being able to see a product first-hand. We are always trying to bring our customers the very best, so it is essential for us to invest in attendance at these shows.

Do you have your eye on anything in particular this time? I am always on the lookout for fab products for the tween market. One of our points of difference to other stores is that we work right across the age range and do not stop at age eight or 10. Children at this age may have grown out of what we traditionally think of as toys, so I am looking for science kits, craft kits, accessories, funky sports and activity gear and family games. I also really like to find toys and ranges with a ‘story’ to them. Where are they made? What inspired them? What is their carbon footprint?

It is also at the trade shows that we negotiate some of the special offers we bring you throughout the year, so that is important. Believe it or not; some of our Christmas orders are also placed at this time so that we can make sure stock is secured for our customers.

What top three things do you look for when choosing whether to stock a new product, product range or brand? Play value is always the number one thing I look for. This is a combination of things – how well the toy is made, its value for money, and how long it can be played with. Some items may cost a customer more initially, but if they can be played with for 10 years, then the play value is exceptionally high. I look at it as ‘cost per play’ and I rate the products accordingly. Haba blocks and ball track marble runs are a good example of this. They really can be played with for life and then handed on to the next generation, so the play value is extremely high.

Do you talk to parents in the lead-up to get their feedback about what they’d love to see at their favourite toy store? Yes, we are always chasing parent feedback about products that we would like to see in store. That is why we have decided to take three staff members to each of the trade shows this year. This way we can focus on looking at new products, but also have one staff member dedicated to reporting back to our customers through the blog and social media, so we get your feedback. When we started we weren’t in a position to do this, so it’s nice that we are large enough now to be able to invest in this for our customers.

Is your radar/gut feeling getting more finely tuned about what will work and what won’t as the years and shows go on? Absolutely – you definitely get a feel for what will work and what will not. I still make mistakes, but nothing like I used to. Plus, I always say it is OK to make mistakes, so long as you learn from them. You only make the same mistake once. Also it’s important to remember that what works for one store may not work for another, and who knows why. That is the nice thing about retail – it’s always a challenge and you constantly need to be on top of your game.

What’s something that may surprise people that have never attended these momentous events? That no children are allowed! There is some irony in the fact that you have the latest and greatest toys to play with at Toy Fair, yet you will not see a single child in there (other than the very big kids playing!).

Elf Gab has always been crafty!

We asked our elves what their favourite toys were growing up. For Elf Gab, her ultimate activity was craft and she has a particularly soft spot for Djeco’s craft kits.
“I’ve always loved craft, and painting in particular – it was the first thing I chose to do at school. It’s a lot more fun than drawing… I think anyway! I grew up in Normanton, which is a remote town in North Queensland’s Gulf Country and VERY hot. I have one younger brother who wasn’t much fun, so doing craft inside was an ideal activity that I could do by myself away from the heat. I never had the pleasure of owning Djeco craft kits (they weren’t invented then!), but I would have loved one of these – in particular this Gouache Workshop Studio, which is a paint-by-numbers kit. Each craft kit is so different – from stamps and collage to drawing and painting – so they suit children of all ages and interests. I love how each pack comes with everything you need so you’re ready to get creative wherever you are. Every box is so pretty as well, with artists being used as the foundation, and they have useful pictures and instructions on the back. Once you’ve finished, you can always use the left over materials to do your own thing.”

Find the Gouache Workshop Studio and other Djeco masterpieces at entropy.com.au

As seen in Shop4Kids Magazine…

Is it really coming up to that time of year already? Shop4Kids Autumn-Winter issue is out and features a bevvy of Entropy’s toys. Grab yourself a copy to have a peek, but we particularly like the Dinosaur Mad page as part of the ‘Totally Obsessed’ feature… RAWWWWR…

Entropy dinosaur toysCan you spot Haba’s Dinosaur Digging Claw, Haba’s Dinosaur Expedition game, Moulin Roty’s Dinosaur Shadow Puppets and Robotime’s Walking T-Rex?

COMPETITION: My Favourite Entropy Toy

It makes our day hearing how your little ones love playing with their Entropy toys and games. Some of you even send us photos which we elves get a big kick out of – it’s so wonderful to see our little treasures going to beautiful homes. So much so, that we’ve decide to do a mass call-out for your photos in the form of a competition. The elves will think all their Christmases have come at once!

The idea is that you email the photo(s) to us via our competition page with a note about why the toy is so treasured. We will collect your beautiful images and after the competition closes at 11pm AEST on Monday, February 18 we will commence the very difficult task of judging the winners (Don’t worry – the photos do not need to be professional by any means).

The three winners will each get a $50 gift voucher to spend in-store or online.

We will put the winning and runner-up photos on Facebook and also may use them on our other social media sites (like Pinterest and Instagram) – if you’d like to be tagged, just let us know your details.

We may also use the images in our e-newsletter, but will contact you beforehand to get your permission.

For full terms and conditions, see the competition page.

Good luck and can’t wait to see your gorgeous snaps! Any questions, just email carly@entropy.com.au.

 

Wishbone Bikes are one of Entropy's most popular products

Birthday party bags to brag about

We’ve all sent kids along to a birthday party to see them come home happily exhausted, full of cake and cordial, and accompanied by a plastic ‘lolly bag’ full of sweets and other contents that are ultimately destined for the bin.

In an age where many of us are trying to be more responsible about wastage (including limiting plastic packaging where possible) – coupled with escalating rates of childhood obesity – Entropy’s chief Poobah Deborah Latouf suggests packing some substance into your next party favour bags.

“I’ve seen my sons come home with numerous lolly bags that are full of the typical sweets and plastic items that they have little use for,” the mother of an eight and 10-year-old tells. “It’s such a shame because it’s a waste – not only are there so many plastic bags that get thrown out, but the contents are cheap plastics too that either go straight to the bin or end up shoved in a draw collecting dust. Why not give children something they can really enjoy after the party’s over?”

Whether it’s a crafty creation they can instantly use, or a collector’s item they can keep and play with, creating memorable party favour bags needn’t be an expensive exercise. Here are a few tips from Deb and her Entropy elves:

Pick a main attraction
Choose a key item and build the bag around it. It’s better to include a ‘wow item’ of $5-$10 that will be collected, treasured and played with, rather than wasting the same amount of money on five things that will get thrown out. Here are some ideas that will hit the mark in your next party bag:

Captain Sharky Pirate Kaleidoscope – $7.95

 

Schleich Farm Life Dwarf Lop Rabbit – $5.95

 

Papo Figurine Centaur – $9.95

 

Le Toy Van Budkins Doll Princess Francesca – $9.95

 

Vilac Elastics – $6.95

 

Seedling Amazing Spitting Frogs – $9.95

 

Hape Magico Kaleidoscope Eye Spies – $4.95

Moulin Roty Foldable Binoculars – $8.95

 

Fun Factory Egg Maracas – $3.95

 

Don’t be afraid to share
Consider buying a pack of good quality stickers, magnets or creative tattoos and splitting them up across each bag. That way, each child will get something a bit different and you’re spreading the cost but not compromising the quality (or fun!)

Face Art Face Paint and Stencils for Boys – $9.95 (6 stencils = $1.65 each)

Micador Metallic Markers – $9.95 (5 markers = $2 each)

Melissa & Doug Wooden Animal Magnets – $19.95 (20 magnets = $1 each)

Djeco Knights Stickers – $5.95 (4 sticker sheets = $1.50 each)

Melissa & Doug Sticker Collection Pink – $9.95 (10 sticker sheets = $1 each)

 

Kiss plastic goodbye
There’s so much you can do with party bags that are budget and eco-friendly and look fab. While we elves don’t specialise in party bags (just the contents of them!), there are plenty of places that do. We love the look of the paper beauties at Pulp Creative Paper (everything from gorgeous paper treat bags to paper cups and tissue ball decorations). For those who are handy and love to add a personal touch, this video is very helpful. It outlines how to turn an envelope into a very stylish party bag…just be warned that scalpels are included, so it’s an activity more for the adults than the kids. Also, don’t forget the power of the humble paper lunch bag (remember those?). They can make a great party memento with the addition of curling ribbon and stickers to personalise them. We love Djeco’s ABC letter stickers for this finishing touch, but you’re only really limited by your imagination.

For more birthday party favours and ideas see our party supplies section.