Sunday Coffee with Qtoys

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Jun 032012
 

As you probably know by now I am a huge fan of wooden toys. We have wooden toys in all shapes and sizes, old and new ones, and they are able to withstand the tough play of our kids very well. I love how durable, timeless and versatile they are, they simply offer fun, quality playtime for children encouraging them to learn and explore. Cathy from Qtoys fell in love with wooden toys too and she decided to start designing her own range of educational and fun wooden toys for Australian children to enjoy.

Come and meet Cathy, and find out a little more about Qtoys, in today’s Sunday Coffee:

What does your ideal Sunday look like?
I love to have a lazy Sunday with a tea pot, some nice snacks (dried fruits, home made cakes) and a magazine or a good book! I still prefer the traditional paper book and magazine so we can digest images and words slowly and comfortably.

Why did you start Qtoys?
I finished my Master degree in education at the University of Queensland in 2003. After that, I went back to Vietnam for a year. When I came back to Melbourne in 2005 I lived near a local toy shop in Prahran and I fell in love with the German wooden toys. Although they are beautiful, the prices are not really affordable to everyone! Then I thought of making a range of affordable wooden educational toys that promotes ‘learning through play’ for Australian toddlers and kinder children. With my knowledge in education and intensive research I started with a few traditional designs and had them made in Vietnam. My first few toys were a great success. The brand ‘Qtoys – Learning through play’ was born!

Where do you find inspiration for new Qtoys designs?
The inspiration mainly came from daily interaction with customers. Firstly from the feedback and conversations we have with our retailers, as well as some direct feedback we have with parents who buy Qtoys. As a parent myself, seeing my daughter play and learn is also a valuable source of inspiration for designs. Now that Qtoys has a Facebook page, information and feedback we have from our fans is a great source of information for the design team to generate new designs or improve the existing lines.

What is your favourite Qtoys product?
I have many favourite items actually, but the one I like most and recommend to a lot of parents is the Cuisenair Learning Rods set. Although there are many different versions of this well known set available on the market, what makes the Qtoys Cuisenair set different are the activity cards that come with it. There are six activity cards from 3 levels for children to play with and develop basic concepts of maths. This set is great for kinder age to lower primary school age.

What features should parents look for when selecting new toys?
There are many toys to choose from in the market now. To me, the most important standard to choose a toy is the safety! Parent should pay attention to the small parts that can be detached (if there are any), strings etc that can pose choking hazards. Choosing toys that are suitable for the age group is also important. However, the concepts of age put in each toy is relative as some children develop faster in a certain skill and can be slow in some others. Therefore, the best is choosing the toy that best suit your children in their development stage. I think the best toys are those that allow children to think and act when they play with them, rather than just have fun by looking and watching the toy itself work.

To find out more about Qtoys, to browse the range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.qtoys.com.au. For reviews on Qtoys products visit www.toychoice.com.au.

May 292012
 

When we bought our house 3 years ago we picked a so called ‘renovator’s delight’. Of course we could have bought a smaller ‘finished’ house, but I am really happy that we went for a house with character and plenty of space. Although far from finished my kids just love their playroom, a little domain of their own filled with toys, dress ups and plenty of other things to keep them busy. They especially enjoy cooking up scrumptious meals and treats in their toy kitchen, perfect entertainment for rainy winter days. So what’s on my little masterchefs’ menu?

The hot favourite at the moment are these adorable Wooden Macarons (Bright Buttons Toys, $14.95) by French brand Djeco. This set of six mini macarons comes in a cute wooden storage box so your little baker can keep them neatly together. The twins are always serving us and any visitors their ‘homemade’ macarons, they even ask you which colour you would like. What flavour makes your tastebuds tingle, is it chocolate, strawberry or lemon perhaps?

As little as they are they know very well that a healthy breakfast is the best start to the day and after the kids have finished their real breakfast they often continue their healthy habit in the toy kitchen. With this cute Qtoys Breakfast Kit (Coccinella, $27.95) kids can make their own toast in the toaster without the risk of burnt fingers. They absolutely love slicing the butter and bun, just like mummy. The set even comes with its own serving tray.

Now this gorgeous Educo Rise ‘n Shine Wooden Coffee Maker Set (Bright Buttons Toys, $34.95) has not arrived in our kitchen just yet but I have put my name down for one as I am sure they will absolutely love it. I am not a coffee drinker myself but hip daddy is, one in the morning to take to work and one at night when he sits down for a rest. Once our set has arrived he will no doubt be taking an extra cup to work.

Toy kitchens come in all shapes, sizes and budgets, see them as an investment as kids will play with them for years. These beautiful pretend plan kitchen toys will definitely add to the cooking fun and being made of wood they are durable and environment friendly.

What meals does your little one prepare for you in the kitchen?

Feb 272012
 

As you know the twins recently graduated from their high chairs and are now eating at the big dining table using their Toosh Coosh support seats. After more than 3 years their high chairs were looking rather battered and were broken in several places so this was the right time to say goodbye. I have written before about my regrets about the high chairs I purchased for them, a high chair is something you use every day (even multiple times a day) for several years and maybe multiple children too so you want to get it right. I know we have definitely got it right for the baby, who sits in a beautiful, sturdy, high quality high chair from Qtoys.

The Qtoys Frog High Chair is sure to add a bright and fun touch to mealtimes. The green frog seat looks very inviting and the baby is often trying to climb on even when it is not dinner time. The clever design is durable, versatile and timeless and it grows with your child, carrying up to 20kg. The tray is adjustable and removable with a non toxic finish so perfectly safe. Speaking of safe, it is also fitted with a five point safety harness and complies with the highest of Australian/NZ safety standards.

The Frog High Chair is beautifully made with eye for even the smallest details. All Qtoys product are made exclusively from plantation and/or recycled timber, which means you are making a brilliant choice for the environment. Except for the backrest and the feet the wood grain is left exposed instead of hidden by paint or stain, celebrating the true beauty of real wood and adding to the handcrafted look Qtoys is famous for.

There are a lot of things I love about this high chair, and for once I don’t have to compromise. The chair folds down nice and flat for storage yet is not flimsy and wobbly. The chair is safe for babies with a nice snug fitting five point harness and rounded corners yet it is also perfect for older children, who can use the chair with and without tray just like a dining chair. The wood is smooth, easy to clean and of course eco friendly, what else can you ask for?

If you are a big Qtoys fan just like we are make sure you check out the competition Qtoys is running at the moment. There are 5 fabulous prizes to be won and the first prize winner will take home this absolutely gorgeous Rocking and Bouncing Kangaroo valued at $160. On top of that 9 other people will win a prize too just for voting on the Qtoys Facebook page. A good reason to give their page the thumbs up!

To find out more about QToys, to take a closer look at the Frog High Chair ($119.50) and to locate a stockist near you visit www.qtoys.com.au.

Jan 242012
 

As a child I used to love doing puzzles, we had a cupboard full of them and it was a perfect way to get through rainy days and lazy sunday afternoons. The older we got the more pieces our puzzles would have and the bigger the challenge was, if I wasn’t so busy being a mum of three I would probably still be doing puzzles. My kids take after me and really enjoy their puzzles too, simple ones for the ‘baby’ and trickier ones for the twins. My littlest one is crazy about the latest addition to our puzzle collection from Australian brand QToys.

Melbourne based QToys designs and makes educational toys, teaching equipment and furniture for children up to 7 years old. They use high quality materials and all toys have passed the highest Australian safety standards so you can rest assured you are making a good choice. In store you’ll find things like puzzles, games, pretend play toys, counting and reading toys, building toys, musical toys, furniture and much more. If you are looking for classic, durable, well made products this is the store to bookmark.

I was surprised to see how many times the twins have already reached for the baby’s new Two-Sided Kangaroo Jigsaw. You’d think that a 5-piece puzzle is not that interesting but they just love the fact that it makes a kangaroo figure. Made from rubber wood and non toxic paints this a fun and safe gift for little ones, and of course very Australian! There are lots of similar styles available, my other favourites are the whale and the hen.

Speaking of Australian, say goodbye to the traditional rocking horse and hello to this typical Aussie rocking (and bouncing) kangaroo! Isn’t he absolutely gorgeous? Just this morning my youngest daughter climbed on the see-saw in the park and I heard her little baby voice sing see-saw see-saw. I know she would hop on this friendly skippy in an instant, the red seat looks so inviting.

To find out more about QToys, to browse the range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.qtoys.com.au.