Monthly Archives: February 2014

Tips for drawing kids outside

By Nicole Pierotti, psychologist + baby sleep and child behaviour expert

Tired of seeing your kids sit hour-upon-hour in front of the television, or totally immersed in their PlayStation? Sure! But what actually happens when you ask them to turn it off? Usually nothing. And that’s the problem. Kids need about two hours of physical activity every day.

So how do we get them away from technology, and outside? Well, the best method is to set a time limit on the amount of TV or computer games they use. An hour a day of screen time is plenty for kids of all ages. Less is even better. TV has no place in the learning domain of children younger than one year — they have so much to learn from their world, the people in it and the goings on around them that TV is not needed.

It’s worth remembering at this point that you are the parent and, at times, that means making your own judgments and decisions and sticking to them for the benefit of your child. Hopefully you are wisely choosing what programs are suitable for that hour — Home and Away isn’t one of them; no matter what your child says to the contrary.

Giving a warning that the hour is nearly up is a sensible way to let your child know that it’s nearly time to turn the screens off…five minutes before is enough. Setting a timer is always helpful. Then on the hour ask your child once to turn it off. And only once, or else you become the nag of “turn that TV off now”. If they don’t switch it off immediately, then it’s time to stop what you are doing and go over and turn it off yourself.

Now, how to get them outside? Simply make the commitment to go out yourself. If you initiate and join in a game of soccer or jump on that trampoline, looking like you’re having fun, in no time at all they will join you. Take yourself outside — you’ll be surprised at how effective it is.

You can find this article and other helpful parenting advice on Babysmiles.

Here are some great toys and games you can enjoy together outside:

Seedling Nature Bingo Yoga Game ABC wishbone_wagon4 Touchable Bubbles Swirlies Flying Saucer Goki Mouse Skittles Giant Log Toss Balloon Ball Big Boppa Pogo Stick Discovery Kids Walkie Talkies Djeco Hopscotch Set flying_wing_prop_top_web

Entropy crowned Australian Toy Retailer of the Year

NORTH Queensland-based traditional toy store Entropy has been crowned Australian Toy Retailer of the Year by its industry peers.

Deborah Latouf with Folkmanis Seal

Opening a single store in 2007 in Townsville; Entropy moved three times in its first five years to accommodate growth, and is now the most extensive independent online toy store in Australia.

Sports scientist-turned-toy-store-owner Dr Deborah Latouf attributed a large part of the success to being committed to supplying quality toys that educated and entertained; plus developing and building relationships with customers through consistently strong service, and leveraging off multichannel retailing.

“We are always trying to do things a bit differently and I’ve always been very clear about our point of difference,” Dr Latouf said of the store that stocks traditional, wooden and educational toys and games that are designed to stimulate physical and intellectual activity.

“A lot of this is through our product range — we cater for babies through to teens, and even adults; plus we have treasures that customers do not see everywhere else… we like people to come into the store and say ‘WOW’. We’re all about creating those treasured childhood memories.”

Deborah Latouf with Haba Rose Fairy Tent

Entropy goes to great lengths to ensure it stocks the best toys and games from all over the world, with Dr Latouf attending the world’s leading toy fair, Spielwarenmesse, in Nuremberg earlier this month.

Also this month, the independent retailer launched a new state-of-the-art website, which offers a series of improved functions to enhance customers’ shopping experience.

Dr Latouf said taking the store online in 2009 had been a huge milestone, with order volume since increasing 10-fold.

“The combination of having a physical retail premises and an online store has worked particularly well for us in terms of being able to offer such a diverse and huge range, but we have also been very careful not to compromise our service,” Dr Latouf said.

“After all, we are a full service toy store and our customers expect that extra touch of magic; especially during that busy Christmas time.”

The Retailer of the Year award is an annual accolade conducted by Toy & Hobby Retailer Magazine where industry peers vote on who and what has made the biggest impact in the world of toys in the past 12 months.

“The Toy & Hobby Retailer Industry Awards recognise the product, business and service excellence that companies bring to this dynamic market,” publisher Lindy Hughson said.

“Entropy has, since its establishment, consistently demonstrated strong business acumen and a forward-thinking approach to toy retailing that anticipates consumer demand and delivers a memorable customer experience in-store – be that online or in the bricks-and-mortar outlet.

“Entropy’s successful integration of digital and physical retail platforms has played a large part in its achievement of this accolade.”

Deborah Latouf in Entropy's Townsville store

Dr Latouf has also personally won several business awards, including North Queensland Business Woman of the Year and the Australian Institute of Management’s (AIM) Townsville Owner Operator of the Year, both in 2012.

The Toy & Hobby Retailer 2013 Industry Awards will be presented at the annual Toy Fair in Melbourne which starts on Sunday, March 16, 2014.

Entropy is based at Hyde Park Shopping Centre in Townsville, but can be visited from anywhere at

Just one last visit back to the wood!

Day 4 of Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse

How quickly four days have passed! I am sitting at Munich airport waiting for my first flight on the long trip home, reflecting on my first Nuremberg Toy Fair. Today was a day of revisiting, revising and remembering. I spent most of the time in Hall 3 again, because of my love affair with wood. One thing I am not having a love affair with at the moment is my suitcase. It is now somewhat heavier than when I came. I’m sure I look like I am suspiciously dragging a person along in there; it is so heavy. If only online catalogues were as nice as paper ones.

I’ll write just a short update now to go with a few photos to wrap up this amazing experience.


Mobiles with Swarovski Crystals at Spielwarenmesse

I just love these mobiles with Swarovski crystal elements. They are handmade by a married couple who have been fashioning them for 30 years. The wood used is from pear and apple trees. Not exactly a toy, but such a striking display that I had to take a photo of it.


Wooly ride-on toy at Spielwarenmesse

Believe it or not, this is a ride-on! They are handmade in Germany and the artisan even joked about the wool coming from New Zealand!


Handmade mobiles at Spielwarenmesse

These are handmade mobiles – again the artisan responsible is the one on the stand. Love interacting with stands like this as they have such passion about their products.



A very cute form of marble run. One thing I have learnt is that the Germans love their kugelbahns!


Petitcollin dolls at Spielwarenmesse

The latest additions to Petitcollin – aren’t these French dolls just gorgeous?


Wooden mobiles at Spielwarenmesse

Finally, here are some more décor items to add a unique twist on your nursery. They are exquisitely handmade, and the bottom two are nativity scenes.

Well, that’s it folks. Look forward to bringing all this knowledge and new-found treasures back to the Elves and our discerning toy lovers. Thanks for following my updates.

A day of dolls, reindeer hair and insect hotels (you’ll see!)

Day 3 of Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse

It was a day of dolls, dolls and more dolls. I did not ever imagine that there could possibly be so many different manufacturers of dolls in one place. Soft dolls, vinyl-bodied dolls, rag dolls, porcelain dolls and collector’s dolls – they were all here. Below are some pictures of the typical stand you would see here and the collections on offer.

IMG_1918 IMG_1919 IMG_1920 IMG_1921 IMG_1922 IMG_1923 IMG_1924 IMG_1925 IMG_1926 IMG_1927


I wish I could show you the new Corolle range, but they had a strictly ‘no photos allowed’ policy. Suffice to say, they are beautiful: Parisian-themed, and therefore very stylish. I loved seeing the latest from Kathe Kruse. These dolls are still handmade in Germany, and they had three of their artisans working on the stand.

Kathe Kruse Dolls getting stuffed

This picture shows the dolls being stuffed. Can you believe that they use reindeer hair to do this? They have experimented with different materials and found this to be the best as it ‘warms’ up when touched, giving dolls the feeling of being ‘alive’.


Kathe Kruse dolls having faces painted

This above picture shows the artisan painting the dolls’ faces. There is a real art to this, especially getting their eyes right.


Kathe Kruse doll hairdresser

This is the doll hairdresser – you can see she has the typical hairdressing tools of the trade!


Moulin Roty

Hands up who loves Moulin Roty? These stunning animal dolls are always a popular choice. What do you think of this crib and accessories?

The rest of the pictures below are from the Haba stand, and I have tried to show as many of the new items as possible.

New Haba collection

One of the new themes through Haba this year is Eastern Countries…


Haba tent

Plus there’s a flower theme shown with this tent and matching accessories…


Haba Terra Kids newbies

And we certainly can’t forget Terra Kids’ outdoor range. I love when you are interacting with someone who does not speak English as their first language – this was described to me as an “insect hotel”; while we would likely call this a “bug house”.


Haba Puppet Show

The merchandising on the Haba doll display was lovely – all the dolls are watching the puppet show.


Haba doctor doll

Finally! A doctor doll that’s female. I have longed for this, as I am well past the tired old cliché of the male doctor and female nurse.


Haba Play Roll

Introducing Haba’s multi-faceted play roll…


Haba Water Play Rug

This is Haba’s play rug – just add water to bring the elements to life.


Haba decor

The final picture from Haba – the very cute new décor range.

Also today, I was fortunate enough to spend some time on the Djeco stand. This is a ‘closed’ stand (only accessible by appointment – very secret squirrel!) and no photos were allowed; but of course there are some beautiful new products that will be coming to Entropy Elf HQ very soon!

That’s it from me for now! My last instalment will come tomorrow.

Huge innovations for Micro Scooters, weird and wonderful stalls and… blisters

Day 2 of Nuremberg’s Spielwarenmesse
Pass the toothpicks please so I can use them to prop my eyelids open! I am absolutely shattered after walking Halls 4 through to 12 today. Actually, that’s a bit of a fib, as I skipped a couple that we don’t focus on (hobbies and model railways) – yes, there is a whole hall of model railway stands. I said to one of the other Aussies here that I was going to walk through all the halls that I had not already been in this morning, to get a feel for them. I told him I would see him in a couple of hours. I should have realised at the time that he was laughing under his breath… it felt like the halls just went on forever and ever. Don’t laugh, but by the time I got to Hall 12 I had to go to first aid to get my blisters dressed, and I was wearing flat shoes! I’m pretty sure I have sacrificed a couple of toe nails as well; and that reminds me too much of my marathon running days. So I hope you all appreciate that I really did bleed for you today 🙂 Once again, it was totally worth it. Here are a few of my favourite finds.


Moustaches Stand at Spielwarenmesse

It’s amazing how specialised some of the booths here are; you wonder how there could possibly be a market for a company that only produces glass eyes for teddy bears. Lots of colours, lots of sizes, but all they do are glass eyes. Another company just produces dice, or is that die? Every possible type that you could imagine, and there were hundreds of them. However, the esoteric award must surely go to this stand – have a look: all they’re selling is… moustaches. And don’t you just love the merchandising with the guy in the chair? Yes, his moustache was real.


Six-seater pram at Spielwarenmesse

The silver award in the esoteric category goes to this product – it’s a six-seater pram. I am not sure how many sets of sextuplets are born in the world annually, but I’m figuring the market is not terribly big. Seriously though, this pram would be a hoot in a child care centre or for family day care.


Tightropes at Spielwarenmesse

And the bronze award? Well, it goes to this manufacturer of… tightropes. I think this would look pretty cool in our play area; I’m just not sure what our insurers would say.


The next pictures are of all the new Micro Scooters products, and there are plenty. It has two booths here – one I saw yesterday in the baby/toddler hall, and today I spent time on the main stand. Here’s a summary of the exciting newbies I found:

Swiss Ball Mini Micro Scooter at Spielwarenmesse

This photo shows a prototype of Micro Scooters’ latest add-on to the Mini Micro. It’s kind of like a small Swiss Ball that attaches with Velcro to the base of the scooter. The child sits on this to start off with, and then once they are ready to stand and scoot they remove it.


Mini Micro Scoot & Go at Spielwarenmesse

This is the Mini Micro Scoot and Go. You can see the removable compartment under the seat. Your child can pull this out and fill it with their toys and treasures to take with them on their adventures. The whole lot is removable when they are ready to stand and scoot.


Micro Skiddy at Spielwarenmesse

Introducing the Micro Skiddy. It’s a fab product designed for when you are shopping or walking: just push your child along. The whole thing folds up compactly.


eMicro at Spielwarenmesse

Next we have the eMicro which is a motion-controlled electric scooter. Give a push, and it starts the motor. Apparently it is Hugh Jackman approved, and — well seriously — that’s good enough for us!


Pedal Flow Micro Scooter at Spielwarenmesse

Here we have the Pedal Flow – a combination of a scooter and bike. It’s foldable, sporty and a whole lot of fun.


Micro Suspension at Spielwarenmesse

Next is the micro suspension – as a mountain biker I can really appreciate the smoothness of this ride.


Floral Micro Scooters at Spielwarenmesse

The cute floral designs on these scooters are a product of a mother and daughter partnership.


New Maxi Micro colours at Spielwarenmesse

And the final Micro Scooter pic – new colours in the super popular Maxi Micro (we already have a couple of these colours in stock).


Schleich stand at Spielwarenmesse

My prize for the best stand merchandising today? It would have to go to Schleich. Oh, and did I mention that they had a coffee bar with barista built into their stand?!


Treeblocks at Spielwarenmesse

Next up – meet Treeblocks. These are definitely on my ‘to order’ list. It’s a fab natural construction toy.


Deb on a giant rocking horse at Spielwarenmesse

And finally, well who can resist riding a giant rocking horse? Not me!

More tomorrow…