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2017 Melbourne: Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair – Day One

Elf Bec and I (Elf Johanna) have been sent to Melbourne to attend the Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair. Chief Poobah will be joining us tomorrow to help sniff out the newest and greatest wooden and educational toys on the market. The Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair is Australia’s biggest and most important toy trade event occurring annually.

Each year we make an appearance at this event to ensure that we are up-to-date with the latest and greatest, talk one-on-one with our wonderful suppliers and rub shoulders with other like-minded retailers. Today marks the start of our four-day adventure, and we couldn’t be more excited. Admittedly, I am slightly more excited than Elf Bec as this is her 10th Toy Fair and this is my first.

If you’re a visual person, like me, you’re probably wondering what a toy fair looks like. Well wonder no more, located in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre imagine stall after stall of pure magic. Except for the carpeted walkways, there are toys absolutely everywhere – of every colour and every description. For a first time visitor, it is all a bit overwhelming and the day has been a whirlwind of colour, laughs and lovely people.

While there were many great moments squeezed into the eight short hours of today I won’t bore you and will stick strictly to the highlights.

First cab off the ranks was Jeremy from La Belle toys. Jeremy is an extremely nice man who kindly let me hammer him with a million questions first thing Sunday morning (poor soul).
La Belle - JeremyHeebie Jeebies was AMAZING luckily we had almost the entire stall to ourselves. We tried out heaps of new goodies and were even luckily enough to get a demonstration of the Liquifly Fizz Rocket. Click here to see it launch off.

We played a quick game of Slapzi with Sam from Divisible by Zero and looked at new Moluk toys.

We took an Ezyroller for a spin with Luc from Eureka Concepts – it turns out Elf Bec is WAY more coordinated than me :P
EzyrollerLastly, we met with Alice, Tom, Carmenand Jeff from Merrigold and had many laughs. Alice and Tom have sold the business to Jeff and Carmen after 18 years of operations, and the friendship that they have developed is wonderful to witness.
MerrigoldWhile we are feeling tired, we look forward to another exciting day tomorrow. If you want more details on our Melbourne adventures follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

The Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles

PuzzleToday we are taking a moment to focus on a classic toy that no toy shop could be without – puzzles. A puzzle is a game, toy or problem that tests a person’s resourcefulness and knowledge. “When completing a puzzle, the puzzler is required to put pieces together, in a logical way, to arrive at a correct solution.” While “jigsaw” is probably the first word that comes to mind when thinking of puzzles it’s important to remember that there are also crossword puzzles, word-search puzzles, number puzzles and logic puzzles! Considering that there are so many different types of puzzles and only a limited number of hours in the day we will shift our focus to jigsaw puzzles!
Jigsaw puzzles have been loved by children and parents all around the globe for centuries. They are not only fun and entertaining for children and adults alike, but they are also loaded with educational benefits.

Firstly, puzzles are a great problem-solving tool. Completing even the simplest of puzzles requires the puzzler to think and develop strategies on how to achieve their goal – finishing the puzzle. The process requires reasoning skills and a cognitive comprehension of the task at hand. Both of these skills can be directly and indirectly transferred into their personal, social and adult life.
Puzzles are also a great way for children to develop and refine their fine motor skills. When putting a jigsaw puzzle together children pick up, pinch, grasp and manipulate pieces until they find their correct position. Young children will start with large puzzle pieces possibly made of wood or with pegs attached (peg puzzles). As the child advances and as puzzles get more complex the size of the puzzle pieces will get smaller.

Unsurprisingly, cooperative and family play is also improved by puzzles. Younger children are put to the test along with their parent’s patience. Whether this is a once a year activity taken away on holidays or an ongoing project, the benefits are reaped by the whole family.

Lastly, how do you choose a puzzle that is right for your child?
If you’re thinking “aren’t all puzzles boldly labelled with a recommended age of play”, you would be correct. However, like puzzle pieces, we are all different and a ‘one-size fits all’ approach isn’t always best. Some children will have an inherent knack at jigsaw puzzles and others won’t. Understanding your child’s abilities and picking a puzzle that will challenge yet not deter them is key. One child aged four may find a 54 piece puzzle hard and need assistance, while another child the same age may complete the challenge with ease. No matter how your child is progressing it is important that children are always being challenged. Once they have completed a puzzle a few times, with ease, it’s time to increase the challenge. So long as you are always encouraging your child to conquer the next challenge it doesn’t matter what the number on the box says.

Colour & Win – A Tiger Tribe Colouring Competition

TigerTribe Colouring Comp

Do you have someone in your household who is a little bit creative? If so, get them involved in our Tiger Tribe Colouring Competition! We have two MASSIVE craft kit bundles to give away to two lucky winners. Please follow the below steps to enter –

Step 1 – Follow Entropy Toys on Instagram or “like” their Facebook page.

Step 2 – Colour in the attached image and upload a photo of your masterpiece to Instagram or Entropy’s Facebook page.

Step 3 – Include #entropytoys and #tigertribecolourcomp in your image description.

>>>> Click to download the colouring template <<<<<

Please note that this competition is only open to Australian residents. Entrants can only enter once on Facebook and Instagram.

For the terms and conditions of this competition please click here.

Entropy Named Australian Toy Retailer of the Year

Australia's 2016 Toy Retailer of the YearIf you haven’t already heard, we have been crowned Australia’s Toy Retailer of the Year, and we couldn’t be more excited.

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 last 12 months. The fact that we were voted number one blows us away and also gives us a really good excuse to reflect on 2016.

Firstly, loads of new products from many different locations around the globe found a new home on our shelves. Just to name a few, we introduced Meiya & Alvin, Caaocho, Hape Rail and Kinderfeets - who was named 2016 Preschool Toy of the Year. These products added to our already diverse range of quality, wooden and educational toys giving our customers an even better reason to shop with us.

We also held a record number of competitions, where we saw our customers get super excited about winning some very cool prizes. Our Easter and Christmas Wish List competitions are traditionally our most popular competitions, and if you didn’t get involved last year, we recommend that you do this year. All competitions in 2016 were run via our social media accounts meaning that toy lovers all around Australia could get involved.

Toy lovers proved that they are well and truly social in 2016. We had heaps of interacting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest; at all times of the day and on every topic under the sun. If you want to be one of the first to know about what is happening at Elf HQ follow us on a social media channel that suits you!

Lastly – the parties. If you haven’t noticed elves like to party, and I don’t mean to brag, but boy-oh-boy do we do a good job. In 2016 we threw heaps of parties which attracted old and new toy lovers. Unsurprisingly our Christmas and VIP party drew a sizable crowd; however, the biggest attendance rate was drawn by our teddy bears picnic. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many stuffed animals covered in craft glue and sprinkles in one location!

Importantly, none of this would have been possible without the support from our wonderful suppliers, business partners and associates. They willingness to bend over backwards to support us and our crazy ideas is invaluable.  We sincerely look forward to many more years working together to ensure we continue to create cherished childhood memories through providing the very best in wooden, educational, and traditional toys.

We hope you are strapped in and ready for another amazing year full of heaps of new and exciting twists and turns. We’re not entirely sure what the next 11 months will look like, but we promise it will be worth the ride.

The Manhattan Toy Company’s Skwish

Skwish (1)

If you are in the market for a hardy rattle and teething toy don’t look past The Manhattan Toy Company’s Skwish. The Skwish has been around for years and is still as popular as it was when it first hit the market.

As the name suggests the Skwish “skwishes”. However, as you may have guessed, there is more to this toy than just this funky feature. Made from renewable rubberwood and super strong elastic, this quirky toy will always bounce back to its original shape. Five wooden sticks are the fundamental structures of the Skwish. Elastic strings attach to the top and bottom of each stick magically transforming, the otherwise pile of wooden parts, into a three-dimensional toy. Each stick has a wooden bead threaded onto it which slides back and forth; making a soft jingle that is just the right volume to please your child and not bother you.

Finished in a bright, non-toxic, and water-based paint sore gums will find a happy relief on the many surfaces of the Skwish. With loads of different ways to move this toy little hands will never grow old of twisting, “skwishing”, plucking, moving and shaking this fabulous wooden toy.

Skwish MTC

With a tonne of awards under its belt, including being named one of the Best 25 Toys of the last 25 Years by Parents Choice, it’s not hard to understand why the Skwish is a crowd favourite. Check out the video below to see how the Skwish looks, sounds and moves.

Our Top Ten Bestsellers

Here is what’s flying out the door this week!

Top 10 Bestsellers (2)1. Janod – World Map Puzzle – $99.95
2. Miniland – Doll Caucasian Girl 38cm – $59.95
3. Magformers – Vehicle WOW Set 16 pieces – $74.95
4. Le Toy Van – Wooden Farmyard Play Set – $99.95
5. Fun Factory – Wooden Tool Box – $29.95
6. Janod – Pink Wooden Doll’s Pram – $129.00
7. Microscooters – Limited Edition Rocket Sky Blue – $239.00
8. Microscooters – Sprite All Rounder Special Edition Teal Owl – $179.00
9. Fiesta Crafts – Tellatale Puppet Theatre and Shop Front – $119.00
10. Fat Brain Toy Co – Balance Teeter Popper – $69.95

Our Top 10 Bestsellers

The Elves always get asked “what’s really popular at the moment?”, so we know you want to know what everyone else is snapping up! We are going to share our top 10 best sellers in the lead up to Christmas, so that it hopefully makes your gift-buying decisions a little bit easier. Spot any favourites?
Click here to download this Gift Guide

Top 10 Bestsellers

1. I’m Toy – Melody Mix Music Set – $99.95
2. Le Toy Van – Wooden Doctor’s Set – $79.95
3. Tiger Tribe – Patternation Pattern Making Board – $29.95
4. Le Toy Van – Honeybake Chococcino Coffee Machine – $49.95
5. Janod – ABC Walker Buggy – $139.00
6. Microscooters – Maxi Micro Scooter T-Bar Deluxe Purple – $229.00
7. Microscooters – Mini Micro Scooter Deluxe Aqua – $159.00
8. Quack – Hoppit Space Hopper Ball – $29.95
9. Wishbone Bike – $289.00
10. Wishbone Bike – Recycled Edition 3-in-1 – $299.00

The Entropy Christmas Guide: Snips & snails & puppy-dog tails

Looking for a unique gift for a brave knight? Here are our 2016 favourites!
Click here to download this Gift Guide

Snips & SnailsDjeco – Discovery Puzzle Crazy Park 35 Piece
Janod – Tool Trolley DIY
Indigo Jamm – Wooden Work Bench
Folkmanis Puppet – Macaw Hand Puppet
Djeco – Tap Tap Vehicles
Magformers – Carnival Set 46 pieces
Seedling – Design your own Bird Wings
Kid O – Go Car Glow in the Dark
Playforever – Bruno Racing Car Black
– Forklift Truck
Haba – Play Tent Knight
Hape – Multi-Level Wooden Fire Station
Djeco – Pop Up 3D Medieval Castle
Le Toy Van – Buccaneer’s Pirate Fort

Gender-neutral Doll Houses

Gender-neutral  Banner

Since the 18th century boys and girls in countries across the world have been fascinated, delighted and entranced by dolls houses – so why are they all pink? Processions of love heart adorned doll houses have saturated the toy market for years on end. However, is this long-running reign soon to meet its demise?

Gender-neutral doll houses are slowly starting to penetrate the market and they are being met with open arms. These houses do much more than omit pink, purple and hearts. They include elements that aren’t normally seen in a traditional doll house. Barbeques, garages, and dog kennels are just the start of a long list of modern additions that are making their way into these more realistic miniature homes. So let’s discuss the benefits associated with doll houses.

Untitled design

Doll houses do a brilliant job at engaging children’s imaginations and encouraging them to investigate the world around them. In the safety of their imagination, children explore dialogue and language that helps them develop emotional, social and intellectual skills.

During pretend play and role-play children gain and refine fundamental life skills. For example, when children open their pretend world to another they learn to share responsibility, take turns, and problems solve collaboratively. By pretending to be someone else (even if it is Batman), they learn to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’, which helps teach important moral development skills and empathy. On top of this, children build self-esteem when they discover they can be anything they want to be in their pretend world.

The amount of benefits that pretend and role-play has on children’s development is something that shouldn’t be underestimated or reserved for only one sex.  Hape’s All Season Deluxe Gender-neutral Wooden Doll House has just arrived here at Entropy, and it has been warmly welcomed by both the elves and our customers. This house is superbly made and entices both boys and girls with its multiple floors, quirky furniture and bright colours. Click here to inspect the doll house for yourself.

Follow the path to Grandma’s House and Arrive with Improved Cognitive Abilities

LRRH BannerSmart Games has long had a home at Entropy and in the elves hearts. Their games are notoriously innovative, stimulating and super fun. So, it’s no surprise that we were on the edge of our seats when they released their newest game – Little Red Riding Hood.

The game follows the premise of the traditional story, where Little Red is travelling through the forest to visit her Grandmother. Firstly, the player places Little Red, Grandma’s house and the trees on the game board; once this is done the game begins.  The player then creates a path for Little Red to travel down to reach grandma’s house. This is done with path tiles and is easier said than done.

LRRH 1,2,3

The complexity of the task varies with the placement of Little Red, Grandma’s House,the trees and the inclusion of Mr Wolf. There are 48 different challenges ranging from easy to expert – which is highly impressive given the size of the game board. While reinvigorating a love for fairy tales, the game also does a brilliant job at stimulating cognitive skills. Spatial insight, planning, problem solving, concentration and visual perception are all put to the test in this super fun game.

While the box clearly marks Little Red Riding Hood as a single player game, having a friend to point you in the right direction when you get stuck is helpful. The elves have, of course, played a few games but are not willing to publicly disclose how they did… Let’s just say they will tip their hats to anyone who can complete an expert challenge without a few sighs of frustration.

Overall the game is ingeniously thought out, beautifully crafted and something that will get pulled out of the game cupboard time and time again. Also like a beautiful red cherry sitting on top of this delicious sundae, the game includes a family-friendly picture book with a modern twist on the original story.

Have you played this game? Let us know what you think and leave a review on our website. You could even win $50 for your efforts! Click here for more information.