Monthly Archives: November 2013

Do you have the need for speed?

Micro Scooters are one of the most popular treasures at Entropy Elf HQ. They are a top quality piece of scootering bliss and there’s a model to suit every age and ability. Here we catch up Micro Scooters about their beloved rides, especially the mighty and versatile Speed+.

Micro Scooter Speed Plus

It’s known for its zippiness, but what actually makes the Speed+ faster than a speeding bullet (well, maybe not quite that fast)? The Speed+ has larger wheels than a standard scooter which means that lumps and bumps don’t slow you down! It’s also low to the ground so more of your energy is put into pushing along instead of crouching down.

Micro Scooter Speed+ Scooter

Who is the ideal candidate for a Speed+? The Speed+ is one of Micro’s most versatile scooters, suitable for people aged from six to 60. Matt from our office used one to scoot to work every day along the waterfront. It’s bigger than the average two-wheel scooter so adults can ride it, but not so big that kids can’t handle it too. It has a larger footplate; larger, more effective brake, and is easy to fold.

“Scooters have become a rite of passage for every child”

How durable is this scooter? Like all of Micro’s products, the Speed+ is built to be rugged and suitable to take riding daily. If anything does go wrong it’s covered by a two-year manufacturing warranty. We also have a full range of spare parts available for outside warranty repairs.

Micro Scooter Speed+ Wheel Micro Scooter Speed+ Close-Up

What other great features does it boast (besides good looks)? It’s tall enough for anyone up to 6ft to use comfortably while still being small and light enough to fit under your seat on the bus.

Micro Scooters are one of our most popular sellers at Christmas – why do you think that is? Scooters have become a rite of passage for every child and Micro Scooters have a reputation for being the best designed, most reliable products on the market with the best range; so there’s an option for everyone!

To WIN a Speed+, enter the Entropy Christmas Wish List Competition. It’s very easy… and speedy!

For more Micro Scooters see the full range on our website.

Wishbone Bike: Why every child should be lucky enough to have one

Who would have thought this multi-award-winning bike and childhood icon was born in a New York City apartment basin? Perhaps fittingly: After all; innovation, independence and confidence are big parts of the 3-in-1 Wishbone Bike’s story (and its little gorgeous riders). Entropy caught up with Wishbone founder, Jennifer McIver, who took us through the history, what people love about the Wishbone Bike, being eco-friendly and what other masterpieces are on the cards.

Wishbone Bike

You’re from New Zealand, but the bike was actually born in New York City. Can you tell us that story? My husband Rich and I moved to New York City in 2004. I worked at the United Nations and Rich looked after little Noah and Lulu in their apartment on the Upper East Side. More at home in the New Zealand hills, Rich would take the kids to Central Park every day just to stay sane. When Noah was 18 months, Rich designed him a bike out of a sheet of plywood, and cut it with a drop saw on the bathroom basin. Rich had made friends with the doormen who let him smuggle building materials and power tools in the back door. People would regularly stop Rich in the park and ask where they could get a bike like Noah’s. Once a couple of NYC cops stopped Rich to give back the little boy they’d found speeding through the park. Rich knew then he was onto something.

“It’s only the best-made, coolest-looking balance bike in the playground. Oh, and Jessica Biel’s little girl has one.”

How difficult was it to create a bike that evolved with a child’s development that still looked amazing, AND was eco-friendly? The evolutionary aspect of the bike was straightforward. Rich calls it a fluke, though I know the truth. Rich designed a two-wheel balance bike for little 18 month-old Noah, but realised it was too big and too hard to ride. He added a third wheel one evening, and the next day simply flipped the frame so Noah could reach the ground. Voila! The eco-friendly side of things is tricky and requires real commitment. We build strong relationships with suppliers we can trust, and visit them often to monitor and control their sourcing and production practices. We carry out frequent chemical and safety testing on all our products, and select recycled or low-energy raw material and packaging options wherever we can. We’re also a carboNZero certified organisation, which means we’re committed to an element of triple-bottom-line accounting – all carbon used by Wishbone is calculated on an annual basis and we invest in permanent native forest plantations to offset the carbon we cannot avoid using.

Wishbone Bikes at the Beach

From the feedback you get, what do people love the most about the Wishbone Bike? It’s a genuine thrill for every new parent to see their little one, at the ripe age of one, experiencing the joy of riding for the very first time. Our goal is to create designs that transform people just a little bit – hopefully their lifestyle is genuinely improved by their Wishbone design. The message we get over and over again is that a Wishbone Bike changes things – children adore their bike, because it gives them independence and confidence that they don’t get from other toys.

Do you hear stories about the treasured bike getting passed down through a family? All the time. And just as often we hear from families who can’t tear their kid off their bike in order to pass it on, and so instead they go right ahead and buy a second one!

“I think we couldn’t be prouder than we were this month to be recognised… as one of New Zealand’s Kiwi Kid Classics, right alongside the Buzzy Bee”

Has anything you’ve heard from customers that has particularly resonated with you? There’s so much; where to begin? Perhaps with the little boy in our hometown who was born with no stomach muscles: His mother bought him a Wishbone Bike, and then posted a picture on Facebook of him riding along the beach! At the age of two-and-a-half years, she said it was the first time he’d ever walked upright by himself.

Wishbone with little one

What are the top five reasons every family should have a Wishbone Bike?
1. Start early and get one at 12 months to help teach your baby to walk.
2. Free your baby from the stroller harness and watch their confidence blossom as they ride their own bike to the corner store.
3. Save money with Wishbone. You won’t need a baby walker, a plastic ride-on, a tricycle, a balance bike or a 12” pedal bike with trainer wheels… just get a Wishbone when she turns one and you’ll never look back.
4. It’s only the best-made, coolest-looking balance bike in the playground. Oh, and Jessica Alba’s little girl has one.
5. Wishbone Bikes are specially designed to be 100% repairable – that means every single component can be replaced or renewed. Your Wishbone Bike will literally live on-and-on-and-on.

Wishone Bike Trike

HR_lowrider_heatbrandWishbone Bike Balance

Why is sustainability so important to you? We believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure their activity has a net positive impact on our future. Wishbone Design Studio has a number of core values. One of those is to “do good” – we want to make sure that Wishbone is a role model business that does things differently and better.

You have won so many awards it’s almost impossible to keep count – which one means the most and why? Being listed by TIME Magazine in the Design 100 for 2009 was very special. That made Rich pinch himself. We loved being recognised by the Junior Design team in the UK for our eco credentials, and we’re extremely proud of our carboNZero certification award too. But I think we couldn’t be prouder than we were this month to be recognised by the Dominion Post, a leading New Zealand newspaper, as one of New Zealand’s Kiwi Kid Classics, right alongside the Buzzy Bee.

Wishbone Bikes riding in NZ

The Limited Edition Bikes also reflect Wishbone’s values of literacy and healthy eating – do you have plans for more Limited Edition designs in the pipeline? Absolutely! Our next top secret Limited Edition design will be launched in time for Christmas 2014. In the meantime, we have our Alphabet Limited Edition available and we’re happy to announce a very special new Wishbone Bike coming in autumn 2014 – our Recycled Edition. It’s made out of 100% recycled carpet!

Wishbone Recycled Edition

Wishbone’s Recycled Edition will be launched in 2014

You now have the Wishbone Flip – can you tell us about that? Wishbone Flip is affectionately known as “flippy” around our office [available in red and now white]. It’s a toy so full of character you can’t help but fall in love. We had the idea to combine a racy indoor ride-on with a gentle rocking toy for babies and toddlers. And we wanted the transformation of the two to be “child’s play”… literally. Children can switch the toy between rocking and rolling modes themselves, all day long if they want, without asking mum or dad to help and without needing any tools. The magic of the sliding mechanism that enables such an easy transformation was another one of Rich’s “flukes”.

Wishbone Flip

It’s time to PART-AY (like it’s Christmas 2013)!

It’s that time of year where all the Entropy Elves get a bit excited (understatement) and invite our friends to celebrate our favourite time of the year with us.

This Sunday, December 1, 2013 we have our annual Entropy Elves’ Christmas Party. Everyone is invited and it’s going to be AMAZING. Little toy lovers will get to meet Santa, plus his two very special helpers who are visiting especially from Sylvania; enjoy festive face painting, a bouncy castle and craft; and savour delicious sweet treats. There will be a special gift for the first 100 kids through the door.

Entropy Elves' Christmas Party 2013

Sylvanian Families visit Christmas Party

But before that frivolity, we have a special event for grown-ups on Thursday, November 28, 2013. We know how hard it can be to get your shopping done with little ones and still be ‘secret squirrel’, so we have opened our retail store for a VIP Shopping Night from 5pm till 8pm.

Leave the darlings with Grandma, enjoy a glass of wine and sushi and peruse our range of boutique toys, games and craft at your leisure.

Plus there will be some BUMPER specials. Now, we can’t reveal all because that would ruin the surprises, but let’s say it will be well worth your while to attend if you are in the market for quality and beautiful toys this Christmas. Plus every $50 you spend goes in the draw to win a $250 voucher, AND you get a free gift with each $100 spend – can it get any better?

Please RSVP to both events at rebecca@entropy.com.au Looking forward to seeing you there!

Entropy VIP Night 2013

The perfect height for learning!

We’ve all been there: Your little one has got frustrated that he or she can’t be part of the action; whether it’s ‘helping’ you with the cooking to being able to independently wash their hands or clean their teeth. Let’s face it – whatever the age, nobody likes to be left out!

The Learning Tower

The Learning Tower is a fantastic tool for helping children to develop their senses, gross and fine motor skills, creativity and problem-solving, while nurturing their independence. This wooden structure is also fantastic from the point of view that it can comfortably accommodate two children at once and suits littlies from as young as 18 months due to its user-friendly design, easy-to-adjust height platform, non-slip surface and stability.

Watch this great video about The Learning Tower in action – there are some great examples of what it can do.

But just as the Learning Tower helps children to become a ‘big boy’ or girl, it’s also about unleashing imaginations through play. The Playhouse Cover is a big hit.

The Learning Tower Playhouse Popcorn The Learning Tower Playhouse Puppet Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A puppet show and popcorn stand depending on what side you choose; this double-sided removal fabric cover easily attaches to your Learning Tower for hours of imaginative play with friends and siblings. Children can either become popcorn vendors at their favourite show, or — on the flipside — amuse the show’s audience with creative and enthralling puppet tales.

There’s also a wonderful wooden Art Easel that attaches to The Learning Tower, and features a dry-erase board on one side with a chalkboard on the other for twice the artistic fun.

Learning Tower Art Easel Learning Tower Art Easel Black

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some ideas about what you can do with your Learning Tower at various ages – it certainly enhances learning at every stage!

18 months to two years
• Challenge your child’s gross motor skills. Children this age love to climb: Help your child climb in and out of their Learning Tower
• Help your child learn about food by letting them watch you prepare meals
• Wash and dry hands with a bit of help from an adult – they’ll love their new independence!

Two to three years
• Let your child wash and dry their hands on their own
• Brush their own teeth
• Help wash dishes
• Help you wash and prepare food (if you make them part of the process, they are more likely to eat what they make!)
• Stimulate imagination and encourage creativity by introducing the Playhouse Cover

Three to five years
• Encourage your child to practise drawing and writing letters on the Learning Tower Art Easel
• Let them scoop/pour their own cereal
• Use a whisk to make bubbles in a sink of water
• Bathe their dolls/figurines in the sink
• Make homemade playdough
• Help roll out and cut cookie dough
• Help mix ingredients in a bowl

Over five years
• Let them perform a magic show with a sibling or friend for the family
• Do more complex craft activities
• Let them help make a homemade pizza
• Help your child follow directions by teaching them to read a cookbook for kids.

For more information about The Learning Tower visit www.entropy.com.au.

Dobbin & Drum – From a car tube and tin can to beating their own (parent-friendly) drums…

Dobbin & Drum is a small family-owned business in south Queensland that is devoted to nurturing children’s imaginations through play. Its beautiful toys are handmade in Australia using local and natural products, comprising everything from hand-crafted teepees and majestic hobby horses to vibrant and parent-friendly drums. With November being International Drum Month, we thought it particularly fitting to catch up with CEO (self-confessed “Certifiable Eccentric Oddbod”) Mervyn Langford to discuss these timeless childhood instruments.

Dobbin & Drum

How are Dobbin & Drum’s Mellow Sounding Kids’ Drums different? We set out to do the best we can on every single item: We source the best materials and design each drum so it is aesthetically pleasing, simple, robust, beautifully functional, and worth consuming some of the world’s precious resources. And we consider the ultimate criteria: Is it worth giving to a child? The icing on the cake is we have fun while doing it! But that’s only logical — our items are for kids to have fun with, so it all works better if we have an enjoyable time helping make that possible!

Where do you source your ideas? Lots of our basic ideas begin – unashamedly – in traditional toys: toys that have brought fun and creativity to generations; toys that have been the substance and soul of countless childhoods. We’ve just incubated it in our own way.

“Most get a tap, just to make sure they all have that elusive magic!” – Mervyn Langford

What’s the secret to a good drum in your opinion (you would have seen and tested a few!)? We’ve had the privilege of handling and listening to a wide range of drums, percussion and music! I’d say it comes down to tone, useability, tone, using what your environment provides, correlating aesthetics and function, tone, matching size with the user – and did I mention the importance of tone? Percussion is about rhythm and tones – not noise. In 1994, Joan [Mervyn’s soulmate and Dobbin & Drum’s co-founder who sadly passed away in 2010] and I made over 4,400 drums. I can’t begin to imagine how many we have made in 30 years! And most get a tap, just to make sure they all have that elusive magic!

Dobbin & Drum stack

How important is music and percussion for children? Einstein said that his best ideas came to him when he was playing the fiddle – and he was a pretty good thinker! For us, drums and percussion are about having fun, making music, being creative, exploring changing and increasingly complex rhythms and combining that with manual dexterity and stimulating memory.

With encouragement and a whole range of music to listen to, kids can’t help themselves: they’ll tap along, sing along, and dance along. It fires the mind and brings laughter and fun into their lives. Creativity and fun are contagious! Plus percussion and dance improve balance, physical skills, and increase a person’s ability to concentrate. The benefits just keep compounding into a wonderful spiral of being creative – of being alive!

“And to think it all started in August 1983 with an old tin can, an old car tube, some plastic washing line, and a creative young mother deciding to make a first birthday present for a boy who lived in an old cow bale”

Have your drums left a particularly memorable mark on someone? There’s an unknowable amount of music and pleasure that have come out of our little Mellow Sounding Kids’ Drums: There are so many individuals, so many families, and so many stories. There are many professional musos – of all genres – who started on the kitchen floor with one of our drums.

And it gives us an immense pleasure to have been such a wonderful part of so many people’s lives. Our drums are used in music schools, kindergartens, play groups, and on kitchen floors all over Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US. They have been posted and crammed into suitcases and boxes to just about anywhere in the world. One of the cutest stories was a pre-school teacher in Bedford, Indiana (USA), who bought 26 drums from us. Her class formed a guard of honour and played her and her groom down the aisle. Then there’s the boy in Kent who got a drum, clapsticks and a guiro at aged seven. At aged 12 he got a music scholarship to Tonbridge College — a prize at a fairly prestigious school. The stories are endless as our drums have left a myriad of rifts wafting through households, concert halls and wherever people get together to play music.

Dobbin & Drum boys

Aidan (centre) and Piers (left) have been Dobbin & Drummers since birth. They are with long term friend and mentor Elliott Orr (right).

Are your own adult children musical? Certainly are! The eldest plays classical music on the piano (as a paramedic he finds great solace in tickling the ivory) and the other two have travelled the world to learn percussion and other musical instruments, including kora and mbira. Piers, my son who now does so much of the hard grunt in the workshop, has about 100 CDs of African music. He says at least 70 of these are drumming. A couple of years ago he went to Zimbabwe to learn more mbira. On his return, I asked him if he had danced at all, and what they said about it. His comment was that the older women said it wasn’t him dancing: it was the “spirits using him”. The depth of that compliment is hard for us Westerners to understand.

Is the Dobbin & Drum team planning to celebrate International Drum Month in any way? Hey! We celebrate drums every day of our lives! But, as you’ve brought it to our attention, I’d just like to say, thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about something that has generated an immense amount of pleasure in our household – and zillions of others as well! And to think it all started in August 1983 with an old tin can, an old car tube, some plastic washing line, and a creative young mother deciding to make a first birthday present for a boy who lived in an old cow bale, 40 kilometres from the small country town where we lived. I knew I should have thrown those old spare tubes away (laughs)!

Dobbin & Drum patterned Dobbin & Drum solid colour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more Dobbin & Drum treasures visit our website.

The benefits of water play

While it’s a fantastic activity for those hot summer days, dive beneath the surface of water play and you will discover its ability to buoy childhood development.

Whether it’s something more structured like experimenting with a water table or water park, or splashing around in the paddling pool or backyard sprinklers, water play fluidly fosters learning in many developmental areas. According to research into early childhood learning, water play helps with:

  • Concentration and problem-solving
  • Maths and scientific concepts (e.g. measuring, estimating volume, concepts of heavy/light, float/sink, full/empty, shallow/deep etc)
  • Fine and gross motor development, coordination and stimulating senses
  • Social development
  • Language
  •  Creativity

There are so many options for embracing water play, so the Entropy Elves asked HABA Toys’ Australian distributor Michele Blanshard what her favourites were. Along with the Sand and Water Spilling Funnel and Sand Bucket Scooter, she loves the Archimedean Screw. Featuring five tracks that can be connected together or combined with other water park elements to form a closed circuit or open water way; the star of the show is the screw – when you turn it, the water flows upwards! Magic (or physics?)! Watch the video about HABA’s super-cool water parks here – they are just like marble runs, but with water!

Haba Archimedean Screw Water Play Set

 “It’s a simple and fun way to introduce a scientific concept and it’s made of robust and fade-resistant plastic that will last and last,” Michele says. “The great thing about many of the HABA water play toys is that you don’t need a beach or even a sandpit to use them. Steps or a small outdoor area is all you need to start creating amazing water ways.”

For more information about Water Play, including some fun outdoor ideas, see this article from Early Childhood News.

Here are some more great water play toys we love at Entropy. For more, see our Bath and Water Toys category.

Scrunch Bucket Bilibo Haba Sand-Water Trowel Green toys sand set Kid O Nesting Cups Haba Sand Bucket Scooter Sun Bistro Sand Play Bakery Large Water activity toys

 

Week 1: Pin to Win Entropy Christmas Wish List Competition – Sylvanian Families Tree House

It’s competition time and the Elves are getting into the festive spirit! All you need to do is create a Pinterest board called ‘Entropy Christmas Wish List’. Include your top 10 picks from our 2013 Christmas Catalogue to go into the draw to win the contents of your Wish List!*. Find more and how to enter on our Competition page.

To build even more festive excitement, we are giving away a very impressive prize each week.

This week you have the chance to win the super-popular Sylvanian Families Tree House (RRP $89.95).

The Entropy Elves just LOVE this slice of Sylvania:

The multi-level Tree House has so many fun components! Near the top of the four-level structure (if you include the protruding branch complete with bird box!) there is a separate little house that can be detached and played with separately on the ground; a basket that pulls up and down so the children of Sylvania can take toys right to the top, and a slide and rope swing to play on all day.

A very clever detail is that the Tree House slide becomes a walkway to connect it to the Log Cabin (sold separately), or you can use the ladder.

Here are some wonderful ways that you can enjoy your Sylvanian Families Tree House (and Log Cabin if you have it!). Please note that figures and furniture are sold separately.

Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House Sylvanian Families Tree House

*To the max retail value of $500.

Happy pinning!

Haba soft dolls – a must-have piece of childhood

In the toy business, dolls reign supreme. Most of us remember that special doll from childhood that we may have even kept.

World-famous German company HABA takes doll-making very seriously, displaying the utmost care in the design and assembly of each doll, and including many high quality features that ensure a HABA doll will last several years as a companion for its owner.

The dolls in the HABA collection are designed for the two to five-year-old preschool age group, with some products specifically manufactured to be safe for children as young as 18 months.

Dolls are an important part of play and learning as children absorb knowledge and engage in role playing in the preschool years. Through play children practise their linguistic skills, and learn to deal with their emotions and relationships with others. They also learn about established patterns of behaviour and invent their own rules of play.

Here are some special features of HABA dolls:
• Removable outfits so children can practise dressing and changing clothes
• Character-filled facial designs are embroidered with thread that will not fade or scratch off during play
• Fabric bodies are filled with polyester wool stuffing so they hold their shape and are soft to cuddle
• HABA doll hair is made from strands of chenille that can be ‘combed’ with fingers
• HABA dolls are machine washable on a gentle cycle
• You can enhance play with prams and carriers, and combine with HABA foods for kitchen role play
• International dolls, Yui (Japan) and Sihu (American Indian), come with cultural dress and accessories.

Haba Dolls

Clockwise from top left: American Indian Doll Sihu, Doll Charlotte, Doll Mali, Doll Elise Florentine, Doll Fay FinjaDoll LilliDoll Philippa.

For more HABA dolls, see here.

Thanks to Rose & Lily for this article.