Sylvanian Families

Sylvanian-Fam-HeadingOur mid-year sale has just kicked off. If you haven’t already heard, we have 25% off Sylvanian Families, Schleich, Ravensburger, Playmobil, Siku, and Melissa & Doug until July 31st. To celebrate, the elves decided it would be a very good idea to delve further into these six brands to learn more about them. For the next four weeks, we will focus on a different brand, revealing all that you need to know about them and MORE.  To kick things off, we are going to put the limelight on, Sylvanian Families.

Sylvanian Families is a range of collectable anthropomorphic (i.e. having human characteristics) animal figurines made of textured plastic. The world ‘sylvan’ is a Latin adjective meaning ‘of or from the woodland’. Sylvanian Families were created by the Japanese gaming company Epoch in 1985 and distributed worldwide by a number of companies.

Originally named Pleasant Friends of the Forest Epoch System Collection Animal Toy Sylvanian Families, Epoch sensibly shortened the brand name to the brand we know today – Sylvanian Families. The first releases of the Sylvanian Families dollhouses and playsets were made from porcelain, with wooden furniture pieces. Later versions of the products replaced these materials with plastic and metal. By 1988, Sylvanian Families had become a major success around the world, winning the British Association of Toy Retailers award for “Toy of the Year” three years consecutively, in 1987, 1988 and 1989 (the only brand to ever do so).
Sylvanian-FamIn 2014 Sylvanian Families announced that since inception the brand had produced 61 different families, 37 different houses, 66 theme items (199 including medium sized items), and 368 furniture and accessories pieces. The total number of Sylvanian Families figures sold worldwide since 1985 is approximately 120,000,000; which is equal to about three characters per second!

The characters are grouped into families. Most families consist of a father, mother, sister and brother; many continue to add family members such as grandparents, babies, and older siblings. The biologically diverse range of figurines, originally just depicted typical woodland creatures such as rabbits, squirrels, bears, beavers, hedgehogs, foxes, deer, owls, racoons, otters, skunks and mice. The brand later expanded to include other animals such as cats (Persian, silk and “Celebration”), dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, penguins, monkeys, cows, sheep, pigs, elephants, pandas (red as well as giant), kangaroos, koalas and meerkats.

All of these animals “live” in a fictional village Sylvania; which is based on 1950’s Great Britain.  The majority of the families that live in Sylvania are rural middle-class, who own their own family business or have a white-collar job. These families can live in large houses, or small dwellings, that are designed highly realistically. They also indulge in many stereotypically middle-class leisure activities such as sailing or horse-riding, and often host garden parties or go on short camping holidays.

Sylvanian Families has a friendly appeal that attracts people from different age groups. Based on three concepts, nature, family and love, children are encouraged to explore the power of their imaginations while learning to care and share with one another. The play value of the Sylvanian Families range is huge as children can interact with the dolls in a number of different ways, such as playing-doll, decorating homes, collecting furniture and changing outfits. Sylvanian Families products are brilliant tools to help children acquire essential social skills while promoting wholesome play and developing thoughts and emotions.

With so many play and educational benefits, it’s not hard to see why Sylvanian Families has always had a home here at Entropy (ten years this coming August). I hope that this entry has provided you with more of an insight into the world of Sylvania and the animals who call it home. Our mid-year catalogue sale finishes up on July 31st. If you would like to introduce Sylvanian Families to your child’s play or add to their growing collection we recommend you do it before then! Until next week,

Our Mid-Year Catalogue is HERE!

Mid-Year Catalogue = Mega Savings!

Our mid-year catalogue is here – yippee! Enjoy 25% off Schleich, Sylvanian Families, Ravensburger, Playmobil, Melissa & Doug, and Siku until July 31st. These brands boast with awesome toys for children of all ages. Believe it or not, but Christmas is only 25 Fridays away, and there is no such thing as being too prepared.

If you would like to peruse out Catalogue specials there are two ways you can do this. Firstly you can view our Catalogue Specials on our website – there are over 500 products to choose from! Or, you can view an electronic copy of the mid-year catalogue by clicking on the image below.

5603_ITSA Catalogue 2017-cover

Townsville Families – The Hardings

The 2017 is zooming by. It’s hard to believe that we have already heard from four fantastic Townsville families. We hope that our Townsville readers have become inspired to head out to enjoy some of the excellent local public places and events. For our readers who are located elsewhere in Australia, we hope that you have enjoyed learning more about Townsville and the people who call it home. This week, unfortunately, marks the end of this series of blog posts, for now. To finish this series off with a bang, we have interviewed the head of the Harding household – Natalie!

Natalie is a full-time working mum, who just returned to work after finishing up her maternity leave. Her husband, William, also works full-time and the couple are just starting to grasp the concept of juggling the “9 to 5” with prep and day-care. With three beautiful boys under the age of five in the house, Natalie has a hard time keeping their bottomless tummies and her fridge full.
The Harding BoysWilliam is a runner who loves to spend time with his boys while getting active. Of a morning William barely has time to sit down after his run before one of the boys is asking to be taken out. Natalie and William’s oldest boy Henry, 5, takes after his Dad. Henry is a very reserved character who is intrigued by all that surrounds him. He would like to be a researcher when he grows up, so he is constantly collecting leaves, dirt and anything that looks interesting. Robert, 3, is an easy-going happy child. He will happily talk to anyone, always has to say “hello” and is full to the brim of charm. Much like his father, Robert loves getting active. He loves to run, ride his bike or scooter and, much to Natalie’s dismay, climb trees! Last but certainly not least is John, 1. John is a perfect mix of both his brothers; he has completely skipped the baby stage and wants to be doing everything his brothers are doing. He is always smothering them in cuddles instead of the other way around. Whether John is playing with them or not, he loves just being around his brothers. While the boys are all very different, the one thing they have in common is that they are on the go and never sit still from the moment they wake to when they pass out.

The Hardings are a Defence Family who first came to Townsville for work. The family lived in Sydney for a period of time, where two of the boys were born, before they chose to come back to Townsville. “Although we liked living in Sydney we knew we wanted to come back to Townsville. Having such active boys, and wanting to be outside all the time, the thought of being able to access places like the Strand, Riverway, parks and so many paths appealed to us. Also, having the weather to facilitate so many outdoor activities also helps”, said Natalie.

“We love everything about Townsville. I love how diverse our weekends can be without spending a lot or travelling too far. We will spend one weekend at the Museum of Tropical Queensland and Perc Tucker Regional Gallery. The following weekend at the Strand playing on the beach, the next weekend at Riverway on the bike paths. Then finish the month off at the Heritage Range Tea Rooms bushwalking and having a relaxing meal while the boys play”, said Natalie.

So how does this super mum do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Natalie would like to share with you –

1. Think outside the box when trying to entertain kids, especially if you’re on a budget. Townsville has amazing parks spread all around – even in some random suburban streets. Park hopping is a fun way to fill in the weekend. Plus a great way to get kids looking and reading maps.

2. Life is so crazy and stressful. So much more seems to be expected from everyone; kids, parents and especially mums. Try (easier said than done) to slow down and spend as much time as you can with your children; they do grow up so quickly.

3. After being asked to sit for this blog, I realised we have no family photos! I have lots of images of the boys, lots of images of William and the boys and myself and the boys. However, not a single photo of all of us together. Make sure you take a family photo often.

With that, sadly our Townsville Family Series has drawn to a close. I would like to thank our five Townsville families for sharing so much with us and thank you for reading. If you would like to read more on a certain topic send me an email (johanna@entropy.com.au)!

Townsville Families – The Stephensons

The Stephenson FamilyIf you weren’t aware last month, we held an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea event and raffle. We set out to raise $300 and with the support of our wonderful toy lovers we raised just over $1,000. The winner of this raffle was a local woman Kellie Stephenson who scored herself $500 worth of toys and a spot in this week’s family feature!

Kellie is the head of the Stephenson’s home, mum to three gorgeous boys, wife to husband Corey, daughter of two amazing parents, sister and a friend. Kellie is the runner of the household, making sure everyone is organised, clothed, fed and healthy.  She works casually at a local university (James Cook University), helps her husband run their Concreting Business and runs her own business ‘Support Local Townsville’. How Kellie does it all I have no idea, however, she assures me that she likes to keep busy!

Corey, Kellie’s husband, is the ‘yin’ to her ‘yang’ as he brings the ‘zen’ to the family and helps restore the ‘crazy’. Together the couple has three boys: Zac, Brett and Will. Zac, eight, is head chief and the couple’s oldest child. Kellie describes him as a rule follower, who is a terrific big brother and helps to keeps the little ones occupied. The next in line is cheeky Brett, two, who is the Stephenson’s “spirited child”. Will is the youngest of the boys; he turns one next week and while being young is very serious. “He is an old soul who seems to take everything in, doesn’t give much away.  Makes you work for a smile, but I tell you what when he gives you one it is heart melting”, said Kellie.
Stephenson Family
Kellie and Corey lived in Charters Towers (a rural region of Townsville) for just over six years before they embarked on a journey of a lifetime. The couple sold everything and decided to travel around Australia. They fell pregnant with Brett while on their travels and came back to Townsville for his birth. During this time they fell in love with North Queensland all over again and decided to stop travelling ‘pull up stumps’ and make Townsville their permanent home.

“There is so much to do in Townsville and so many great locally owned businesses.  From the school holiday programs, the parks, the weather, we find that there is always something to do with the kids and there are always options that suit every budget (just look at the list of activities that Entropy organise).  Our Southern friends are very jealous of our winter lifestyle, and I love that kids can be outside and play every month of the year”, said Kellie.

So how does this super mum do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Kellie would like to share with you –

  1. “My biggest tip to Mums in Townsville is you never have to feel alone. Being a very transient town with Defence and FIFO population, I have met a lot of mother’s that have expressed they feel alone because they move here not knowing anybody.  There are so many groups, activities, etc. that welcome all Mums, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.”
  2. “To mums across Australia, you are doing an amazing job. Speaking with different Mums from all walks of life through a blog my sister and I run ‘OMG I’m That Mum’ we come across so many Mums who feel judgement and criticism, I want to reassure you that you are doing a wonderful job.  It’s ok to have a rough day from time to time, nobody is perfect.  Trying your best is enough, you are enough. Let’s rally behind every Mum and instead of bringing other Mums down, raise them up and know that they are amazing, #lessjudgementmoresupport.”

To finish things off I have a tip/treat for our Townsville readers. If you aren’t already following Kellie’s ‘Support Local Townsville’ pages then you are missing out. Kellie does a fantastic job at unearthing local business and encouraging others to support the local economy. Her social media platforms are always full of fun and helpful treats for locals. I hope you enjoyed learning about another local family, I know the elves did! Until next week.

Townsville Families – The Roberts

The Robert Family (2)The elves are enjoying learning about local Townsville families, and they hope you are as well. Thus far we have talked to two unique families and picked up some super handy tips and this week is no different. This week we had the pleasure of talking to Meg from the Roberts family.

The Roberts Family is made up of Mum and Grandma (Meg), her four children, their partners and her five grandchildren. Meg’s children have all grown up with her youngest being twins now 28-years-old. However, with over 40 years of mothering experience, Meg has loads of phenomenal parenting advice to share with us.

Twins run heavily in Meg’s family, with her grandmother, cousin, daughter and self all being proud multiple birthing mothers. While running her own business and working as an Entropy Elf, on the weekends, Meg also lends a helping hand with her daughter’s brand new twins. Meg shares her home with her daughter (Elle), partner and their three children. Together they do a great job at raising the children. Elle’s partner spends every second week away for work, so Meg steps in to help out more on these weeks and has a “week off” when he is home.

Meg lived in New Guinea for work with her husband and daughter and decided to move back to Australia in the early 80’s to grow her family. When looking for a place to call home Meg and her husband agreed that anything south of Townsville would be too cold. Together they decided on settling here for its lovely tropical climate and the fact that it had all the facilities they required to raise a family.

So how does this super grandma do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Meg would like to share with you –

  1. Enjoy your children. It is very easy to get caught up in providing for your children that you forget to stop and enjoy time with them. They grow up so incredibly quickly, make sure that you make time to appreciate them before they grow up and move out.
  2. [For those with or expecting twins] Accept that life is going to be pretty hectic with new or young twins around. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done every day.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel, the first year is crazy, but after that, it will be a bit easier (most of the time) because they have each other for company.

Next week we will focus on another local family and why they love Townsville. Thanks for reading and bye until then!

Townsville Families – The O’Donnells

The O'Donnell Family

There is no better way to learn about a city than from those who call it home. Therefore, to learn more about Townsville, we are asking some local families why they picked Townsville to raise their children. This week we had the pleasure to talk and learn from the beautiful and unique O’Donnell family.

The O’Donnell family is made up Mum (Sharon), Dad (David) and their seven children ageing from 9 to 18 years. Sharon is a 40-year-old mum who holds the impressive titles of full-time mum and full-time worker – talk about impressive. On top of this Sharon is an artist at heart who loves to create pottery!
Sharon PotteryThe O’Donnells are a blended family, with four boys from Sharon’s previous marriage and three children from (David’s). Along with being a blended family, the O’Donnells are also an international family. Sharon’s four boys are half Jamaican, and David’s daughter was adopted from the Philippines. Sharon describes her children as all being unique with different talents in different areas. “As you might expect blended families work differently to nuclear families. As the children come from two separate households, and two different ways of life you need to evolve to create a different way of parenting”, said Sharon.

Sharon parents were born in Townsville and migrated to Canada in the 1970’s. Ever since then Sharon has been back and forth describing herself as a “Professional International Mover”. Nowadays the O’Donnells are happy to call Townsville home. Townsville’s warm weather, Strand and family support are the major draw cards for the O’Donnells along with the cities family-friendly atmosphere. Together the family regularly frequent the Strand for exercise, leisure or both.

So how does this super mum do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Sharon would like to share with you –

  • Always have a beach blanket in the boot of your car. You never know when you might spot a patch of grass or sand that family can enjoy a few hours of fun on.
  • To make mornings easier make school lunches the night before. This clears out the kitchen for the early morning rush. Also, wake up before the rest of the household (obviously were not talking to parents of two-year-olds) and enjoy a few moments to yourself.
  • There are heaps of fantastic local markets in Townsville. Get out of the house and support local artists.

Next week we will focus on another local family and why they love Townsville. Thanks for reading and bye for now.

Townsville Families – The Needhams

Needham

In the spirit of International Day of Families, which was last Monday, we have decided to delve into our local community and interview some of the families who call Townsville home. For those who are somewhat unfamiliar with Townsville, Townsville is a coastal city in Queensland north-east.

Considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland by locals, Townsville is surrounded by a myriad of natural wonders and relishes in over 300 days of sunshine each year! Currently, there are over 192,038 people living in Townsville, five of them being the adorable Needham family.

The Needham family is made up of Mum (Lesley), her three boys and her long-term foster child. Lesley is a 44-year-old single Mum who describes herself as a slightly quirky, boring introvert who owns her unique qualities “like as boss”! Having previously worked as a nurse Lesley had to give up her job to become a full-time carer to her children.

All three of Lesley’s boys are on the autism spectrum, and her long-term foster child has special needs. “The children’s early years were tough as we adjusted to life with autism, but through love, patience and early intervention the boys are now doing amazingly well.  We certainly aren’t your typical family, but we are a very happy household. We share a love of geeky things, chocolate, and being silly. The children range in ages from 8 – 13 so they are at a wonderful age to enjoy life with,” said Lesley.

After living in Townsville on-and-off in her early adult life, Lesley decided when her children were small to move back to Townsville. Townsville’s calm and family-friendly vibes coupled with its large array of free family activities and outdoor play areas is what ultimately brought Lesley and her family back. Her boys also love that in Townsville it is warm enough to go swimming nearly the entire year long.

So how does this super mum do it all? Here are a few hints and tips that Lesley would like to share with you –

  1. Always try to have a round of sandwiches, cake slices and poppers frozen in the freezer. If you want to do an impromptu outing, you can just grab them out and go. It certainly saves the wallet and stress.
  2. Keep a few little toys hidden away ready as gifts in case someone is having a bad day or is sick.
  3. Make a printed photo book for each of your children outlining all the skills and things that they need to learn before they become adults. In the book, include everything from cooking skills, cleaning skills, to general life skills – such as opening a bank account. Then every now and then pick something from the list and focus on learning that skill.

Next week we will focus on another local family and why they love Townsville. Thanks for reading bye until then!

AQUA – the power of colour

AQUAThe elves have noticed a trend occurring in Elf HQ – AQUA. This gorgeous colour seems to have overtaken the rest and is our most popular colour for 2017. Being neither masculine nor feminine aqua is tickling the fancy of boys and girls all around Australia.

This trend is most notable in our range of Micro Scooters with our Aqua Mini and Maxi Scooters consistently scootin’ out the door. Currently, parents seem to be moving away from the “blue for boys and pink for girls” way of thinking, and this is reflected in an increased number of sales in aqua, purple and green.

Admittedly, the increased number of sales in aqua might be attributed to the release of the Disney film Frozen and increased popularity of mermaids. However, the consistent strength of aqua throughout the end of 2016 and the first four months of 2017, reflects more than just a generation obsessed with these two fads. Aqua, unlike like bold red or electric blue, is easy to coordinate with. As you see below anything from a pirate themed Nutcase Helmet to a pure floral design looks brilliant with aqua.

Aqua match

Our range of Aqua products extends further than just scooters with watches, games, ride ons, musical instruments and more. If you’re aqua obsessed, you have stumbled across the right website click here to have a look around!

Folkmanis Puppets are Elf Meg’s Favourite

Elf-Meg-WordPressLast but certainly not least on our mission to uncover the elves favourite products and brands we have the magical Elf Meg. Elf Meg is our wonderful weekend retail assistant who you will find in store every single Saturday. She does a brilliant job at looking after our weekend shoppers while the other elves put their party pants on! Excitingly Elf Meg just became a Grandmother to twin siblings, so were very excited to uncover what her favourite brand is.

Having problems picking just one brand Elf Meg finally settled on Fagus and Folkmanis. As Elf Ang has already picked Fagus as her favourite brand, we will focus on Folkmanis.

Folkmanis is a brand that has been at Entropy since day dot. Widely regarded as the most innovative puppet-maker in the world, Folkmanis consistently designs beautifully crafted toys. The puppets inspire creativity, promote hands-on discovery, encourage interaction, teach fine and gross motor skills, and help develop early language. The company’s line includes a virtual menagerie of plush pets and friendly wildlife friends with new designs constantly on the drawing board.

So with so many domestic, wild and fantasy creatures to choose from which puppet does Elf Meg rank number one? “It’s a hard decision to make; however, I do love the Chameleon and the Great Horned Owl. I particularly like the way that these puppets animate and the number of moving aspects that they both have. I’ve not yet decided which one I am going to buy from my new grandchildren,” said Elf Meg.

“Puppets will always have a special place in my heart as my son always wanted to be a puppet maker when he was little. It was a dream that he aspired towards for a very long time and something I encouraged. Unfortunately, he found a new dream and passion, but it is something that I always think about when I play with a puppet,” said Elf Meg.

We hope that you enjoyed reading about the Entropy elves and Chief Poobah’s favourite brands and products. Stay tuned for more news from Elf HQ.

The Cherry Tree Hall loved by Elf Gaby

Gaby-WordPressMoving on from Elf Bec and Hape Rail this week we are focusing our lovely Elf Gaby. Elf Gaby is our beautiful and bubbly eStore Manager. Gaby has the mammoth task of making sure that our eStore customers are happy and that all parcels arrive ASAP (easier said than done)! So what is Elf Gaby’s favourite item? Well for those who know her it will be no surprise that it is the Le Toy Van Cherry Tree Hall.

Elf Gaby is the proud godmother of three beautiful children who she likes to spoil rotten. Being very generous in nature, Elf Gaby seems to enjoy giving more than receiving. From observation she appears to have bought almost every item we stock – I over exaggerate, however, only slightly. One of her favourite toy that she has ever gifted is the Le Toy Van Cherry Tree Hall to her goddaughter.

“The WOW factor of this doll house put it at the top of my ‘must buy’ list. The size of the house along with the fine detailing that all Le Toy Van houses have is what makes this such a fantastic item. The educational benefits of doll houses also impacted my decision to pick this product for my goddaughter, and I am very happy to say it’s her prized possession,” said Elf Gaby.

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. Not to mention all the benefits of collaborative play.

“A benefit that is not reaped from the child but friends and family is the add-ons that go with the Le Toy Van dollhouses. Buying for children can be tough; doll houses with furniture sets make an awesome collaborative gift that can be a whole family affair. I did this when gifting the Cherry Tree Hall, I bought the house, and my mum bought a few furniture sets”, said Elf Gaby. Accessories also increase the play value of doll houses. By adding a new doll or furniture children start to interact with the doll house in new ways, extending the interest and life of the toy.

Stay tuned for more news from Elf HQ!