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!

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

Today marks the last day of the 2017 Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair and if there is anything but coffee pumping through my veins I will be surprised. The last day of Toy Fair is traditionally always shorter; finishing up at 3pm. Originally I thought this sounded like a nice treat for our weary bodies; however, I was wrong. Most of the day was spent running around like a chicken with no head on double-checking that we had seen absolutely everything.

We started the day off with a little bit of magic at the Heebie Jeebies stand where we were shown how the Contact Juggling Ball works. This item will arrive in store shortly.

Not long after that, we became the magicians putting Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty to the test. The range has loads of different types of putty that are all unique. Elf Bec and I especially loved the UV phantom putty that glows and changes colour under a black light – exciting!


Here are a few more snaps from today. The first is me trying out the Slackers Ninja Line – it’s an awesome product, that I hope it makes its way to Entropy. On the right-hand side, we have Elf Bec and Teresa holding their favourite Kaloo items, an Oogi Pilla and a lovely display of Playforever items.
17176203_10155924529774447_383235693_oWhile the Toy Fair has come to a close, we will continue to share more videos and images from the event on our social media channels. Lastly, thanks for following our adventure we hope you enjoyed hearing about our 2017 Toy Fair experience.

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

Just when I thought that we had almost conquered the toy fair challenge I realised that we weren’t even close. Today was day three of the Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair and it was another whirlwind day. After a breakfast that more resembled a dessert, and with artificial energy pumping through our veins (coffee) we hit the stalls with a keen eye for something new.

Elf Bec and I made our journey through the maze of stalls while Chief Poobah headed off on her own mission. Luckily, I managed to capture a few of the best moments of today on video and have them here for you.

Modern Brands once again had an amazing Sylvanian Families display. I know that many of you have a deep seeded love for this brand. Therefore, I knew that photos wouldn’t be enough – I hope you enjoy this video.

Excitingly I got try out the Wobbel Board. This is one seriously cool product that astoundingly manages to handle my body weight with ease. While I only tried two different ways of playing with the Wobbel Board, you can imagine that the opportunities are endless. We cannot wait to have this product instore, and from the responses received on Facebook and Instagram neither can you!

Tomorrow is the last day of the fair and our last opportunity to sniff out some great products. Remember, if you want to see something in particular on our shelves let us know. You can contact me via Facebook, Instagram or email (johanna@entropy.com.au). I don’t bite, well not normally, and would love to hear from you!

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

Day two of the Toy, Hobby Licensing Fair is done and dusted. Elf Bec and I are feeling rather tired while Chief Poobah continues at a phenomenal pace. After a delicious and breakfast, we hit the ground running with meeting-after-meeting with different suppliers. As a picture is worth a thousand words and my tired brain is not willing to work I will let my astounding photography skills do the talking.

Day 2 - Toy Fair 2017First and foremost we have an elfie selfie. On the bottom left-hand side is Mike Reeves and Elf Bec. Mike is the Creative Director of Indigo Jamm – we have an exclusive interview coming later in the year. Next is Chief Poobah with a Gotz doll and last but not least we have Bec with two natural rubber squeakers by Tikiri.

We also took a few videos – because who could resist.

Here is Elf Bec testing out a new Magformer item called The Walking Robot Car Set. It features a power block, walking block and a watch style controller.

Here we see Bec and I playing a game called By The Book. The set includes 40 challenge cards, 12 different shaped books, 2 shelves, 1 cat and 1 level. The game is played by flipping a challenge card, selecting the books required and making the two shelves balance.

That’s all I have to report on today, stay tuned for more tomorrow!

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!

All board as Elf Bec talks Trains

Elf-Bec-WordPressLast week we interviewed the newest member of the elf family and this week we move to the oldest – Elf Bec! Elf Bec has been at Entropy since its inception almost ten years ago, since then she has worked in a variety of roles and is now Entropy’s buying elf. She is responsible for making sure that products don’t go out of stock and identifying new and exciting items to add to our range. As Elf Bec holds this power, it is no surprise that her favourite range is one that she picked and introduced to Entropy herself – Hape Wooden Railway and Train Sets.

“When I first saw Hape Rail I knew straight away that our toy lovers would adore this range. Firstly, the price point is fantastic. Secondly, Hape Rail is extremely innovative. The ingenious way they incorporate moving parts, musical instruments and more into each item is brilliant. Lastly, this is one of the first train sets that I’ve seen that features bright and bold colours that attracts both boys and girls. Also, the inclusion of sweet little animals does a great job at getting children who aren’t normally interested in trains playing.

Hape Rail Image

Before starting at Entropy, Elf Bec was a nanny for a family that had two young boys. The boys loved trains, and through watching them play, she realised that they were picking up heaps of new skills. “Problem-solving, imagination and creativity and fine motor skills and dexterity are just a few of the skills that children gain and refine through train play,” said Elf Bec. Bec is now a mother of a very handsome two-year-old boy who unsurprisingly LOVES trains.

“I have train tracks coming out of my ears at home. During my many years working at Entropy, I have collected a range of Brio wooden train tracks. The fact that my new Hape sets interconnect with my Brio tracks along with Thomas Wooden Railway, Chuggington Wooden Railway, Melissa & Doug Wooden Railway and BigJigs Wooden Railway is fantastic” said Elf Bec.

If you have a train addict at home or someone who might like Hape Rail makes sure you check out our range.