Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Christmas 2015 - Five Forthcoming Favourites from Moulin Roty Memoire d'Enfant range

Christmas. It's coming and I can't ignore it any more.

The reality is I've been planning Christmas at Cottontails for a few months now - oh the insanity of retail, pouring over Christmas decorations during a heatwave - but I try to keep it quiet during the summer months.

However, September is here. There's a nip in the air, the children are back to school and.... well, I'm going to take a deep breath and quietly mention a few of my favourite picks for the festive season ahead.

A lot of my customers are incredibly well organised so I know they'll be thinking about this already, and may even have a present or two squirreled away in the wardrobe.

And for those of you more like me in their Christmas shopping approach (think very last minute) perhaps this is the year for us to do things differently... Remember last year and the stress of shopping in the week running up to Christmas, when you swore you would never again leave things to the last minute? Well here's our chance to start doing things differently.

So, in the first of a series of posts, here are my top picks from Moulin Roty's ever inspiring 'Memoire d'Enfant' catalogue. Think quirky, creative, thoughtful design... nothing plastic, nothing electronic, just engaging, traditional toys.

The kind of thing that every childhood needs.

1. Cinema Box 


This creative little box set contains everything you need to open your own picture house.

At the heart of the gift set is a Story Book Torch which projects images via a series of insert discs. The gift box opens up to double as a projection screen, and also included in the box are cinema tickets and 'Now Showing' cards for your to complete and decorate.

All beautifully illustrated of course and presented in 25 x 18cm gift box - I think it would be a really nice idea to give this as a gift with a bag of pop corn!


2. Super-hero Shadow Makers

New to Moulin Roty's eternally popular Shadow Maker range is a collection of super heros.

The shadow makers are such a simple but effective idea - little black cut-out shapes are mounted on to sticks and used to cast shadows on the wall.

Lovely for interactive bedtime play and making up stories. The new Super-hero collection joins the existing range of shadow makers - dinosaurs, fairy tales, and circus.

3. Traditional teddy bear



This chap is a classic - and looks like he could have been made in Victorian times (but with lovely contemporary softness and safety of course). Fully jointed, he will turn his head to look at you, sit nicely and so on.

He is quite a substantial bear (but 'just the right size') measuring 40cm from head to paw and has a sturdily stuffed round tummy.His body fabric is lovely, soft and fluffy, his face is embroidered and he has soft velvet pads on all four paws. He is wearing a soft check shirt and fleecy cardigan - both of which come on and off.

He is, quite simply, a classic.

4. The Once Upon A Time Music Hall Toys

Not a single toy but a collection, I just had to include these new arrivals to the Moulin Roty family.

Inspired by the characters of old music hall, this quirky - and incredibly detailed - collection of creatures really captures the imagination.

Each individual character is a lovely standalone toy, or if you have access to an unlimited bank account, buy the collection and let your imagination run wild with stories, plays and performances.

5. The Parisiennes Ragdolls

And in at number five, the oh-so-French range of Parisienne rag dolls.

Delicate little dolls, measuring 25cm in height, with slim bodies and elegant long limbs. They all wear pretty outfits with which they can be dressed and undressed, and have lovely embroidered faces with pink stars on their cheeks.

Oh just imagine one of these little dolls poking her head out from a stocking on Christmas morning....!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Cottontails goes to the Royal Welsh Show

Last week I left Rudolph in charge of the office and took myself off to the Royal Welsh agricultural show.

Now, I'm probably not your typical show-goer - I glared at the Countryside Alliance stand, sought out pretty much the only veggie food stand there (LOVELY veggie platter from the Welsh Creperie) and actively avoided the 'fur and feather' area as I can't stand to see show rabbits in tiny cages.

BUT as regular readers might know, I have a couple of goats and and I just LOVE to visit the goat stand. And as a member of my local goat club I know just how well the show goats are loved and cared for - many of the owners actually camp beside their goats for the five day show to keep them safe and sound. As someone who doesn't camp under any circumstance, this, to me, equals extreme dedication.

So off I went to the show, and of course  I took my camera and managed to capture a few pictures...

First I called in to see the pigs:

 This Danish beauty took 'best of breed' in the Maileg class - you can buy her offspring here

Then off to the sheep, where I was lucky enough to see some judging taking place...

This fine sheep went on to take first prize in his class - the judge was very 
taken with his soft fleece and 'line of his ears'. His offspring are available here.

And finally my favourites - the goats!

I was particularly keen to see the new Moulin Roty goat. She is a brand new breed and her kids will not be available to buy until September...


 (My favourite photo as the lovely girl on the left is spitting image of my girls)

So, all in all I had a lovely day out. Oh and I must just mention one particular highlight - a woman  with a an otter sleeping up her jumper. Yes really. Photographic evidence below...

 Amazingly, this one isn't photoshopped

 If you too would like to keep an otter up your jumper, this one definitely won't nip.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sylvain the travelling rabbit - "On the road again..."

Well it's been quite some time since his last adventure and after a few months resting and helping out in the Cottontails office, Sylvain the Travelling Rabbit is back on the road...

Sylvain: on the road again

Truth is he's been languishing in the office for ages, waiting for me to sort out some new destinations, so imagine my delight / relief when Sarah from Brighton emailed me today, out of the blue, offering to host him. Wonderful. Thank you Sarah! 

So... Sylvain has already packed his suitcase, and he is off today on the overnight train (first class post) for a few days down on the south coast. 

And after Brighton... who knows...! Perhaps he could come and stay with you? 

If you would like to host him please email me...  His needs are simple... I just ask that you take a photo or two (or a hundred!) so I can share his adventures, and that you send him back to me or on to his next destination. He has a passport and is more than happy to travel overseas too.... 

So if you fancy taking care of a very well behaved bunny for a week or so - just let me know. So far his diary is blank, so if you want him - he's yours! 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Nellie the elephant packed her truck...

...and off she went to the circus a picnic !

My lovely new Moulin Roty elephants headed off for a picnic this weekend.....

 Mummy and baby elephants packed up their trunks and headed
into the countryside to find a nice spot for a picnic

Mummy elephant unpacked her trunk.
She had brought her cheerful red dotty crockery.

And baby elephant unpacked the cake!

They had a lovely afternoon - which, being elephants, they
will never forget!

If you'd like to create your own adventures using any of the toys featured here, I used the big musical elephant and little elephant rattle from the lovely new "Les Papoum' jungle range by Moulin Roty, the Moulin Roty Grand Family crockery tea set in a suitcase and a little Maileg tin suitcase with cups and cakes. Details, prices and links below...

 a. Moulin Roty Les Papoum little elephant rattle - £17
b. Moulin Roty Les Papoum elephant musical - £31
c.Moulin Roty Grand Family tea set in a suitcase - £24
d. Maileg tea and cakes suitcase - £21.50

Monday, 22 June 2015

Little Sprig Maileg Mouse goes Grocery Shopping

Oh no! Little Sprig mouse has run out of food....

 Little Sprig: hungry

Time for a trip to the village shop...

Mr Mouse is working behind the counter today - Hello Mr Mouse!

 Mr Mouse: working hard 

 Little Sprig browses the shelves. There are lots of things to choose from.

She bumps into Charlotte Rabbit, who is choosing some carrots for supper. Hello Charlotte Rabbit!

 Charlotte Rabbit: selecting carrots.

Little Sprig chooses some bread and cheese to make a nice lunch for herself.

On her way to the counter she nearly picks up some pretzels. (Mr Mouse has merchandised them right in front of the till, to try and and encourage an impulse purchase... but she resists)

No pretzels today = willpower

 Mr Mouse rings up the bread the cheese in the till, and puts them into a bag for Little Sprig.

Mr Mouse makes a sale 

 He even thows in a free leek for Little Sprig!

And Little Sprig takes them home for a delicious lunch!

 Little Sprig - bread and cheese for lunch!


If you would like to recreate your own retail experience the following items are all available to buy...

1. Little Sprig Mouse - £12 
2. Mr Mouse in a matchbox ('the shopkeeper) - £20
3. Grocery Box from Maileg - £20
4. Maileg pretzel decorations - £14 £5
5. Fabric Vegetables from Maileg - £11.50 
6. Maileg tiny paper basket - 75p 

Oops, forgot to put Charlotte Rabbit into the picture. Here she is. 
Maileg Charlotte Rabbit - £25.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Moulin Roty discontinued... The ranges we have loved and lost

I have been selling Moulin Roty toys for 12 years now. I still remember the first ever delivery back in 2003 - it came to my home (then a little cottage in Oxfordshire) and I remember unpacking the Grand Family animals. I didn't even know their names back then but oh how times have changed!

The Moulin Roty range has also changed over the years. Like all companies, they need to keep things fresh and interesting, which means they introduce a new range or two every year. Which is great!

BUT sadly, this also means that a range or two has to be 'dropped' or discontinued.

Sometimes the discontinuations have really surprised me - ranges that seem to do so well! - but we must remember they are naturally led by the French market, and sometimes the ranges that do well here in the UK, just one of their export territories, don't perform so well elsewhere.

So this blog post is dedicated to some of the toys that have come and gone over the years. (I feel it should have a bit of a sad sound track playing in the background)

And for those desperately trying to track down old toys, the very best place to try is the French ebay site - - they have lots of older stuff on there.

Edouard the Duck
Edouard was such a lovely little chap. Red check, linen and a cream plush body. He was a bestseller for me for years and I couldn't believe it when he flew off into the distance

Les Loustics
A lovely safari range of lion, giraffe, monkey and elephant. Happily Moulin Roty have just introduced 'Les Papoum' a new jungle range for 2015 which shares some characters.

Ah, Lila. I still remember when she was brand new! Such a gorgeous little  grey mouse, in a really rosy print dress. She was sort of replaced by Myrtille et Capucine (a pair of pink bunnies) but they're about to go too now...

Bright  strong colours and quirky magical characters - Dragobert himself was a dragon but his little clown / jester friends were also very popular.

Louna the bee and lots of little insect friends. Bright, fresh colours - greens and pinks and oranges. Popular for years and apparently a big big hit in France so not sure why this one went... but everything changes. 

Aime et Celeste
Not around for that long, but I always loved this range as it seemed so very French to me. Classic navy and silvery grey - doll, rabbit, mouse.  I suppose it was rather grown up, but I loved it.

Balthazar et Valentine
Two cheerful beret wearing mice, grey plush and bright cheerful outfits.There was also a lovely turquoise hen who outsold the mice at Cottontails.

Koko La Lune
Another favourite of mine - soft neutral colours, creams, greens and oranges. Koko was a little doll with a fox friend. I think the idea was they lived on the moon? The bestseller for me, by a long way, was the sleepy cat...

Malo et Mila
Ah I loved this pair! Bathing bunnies dressed in blue... I think the range was called Une Dimanche sur la Mer (or something like that) - meaning a 'Sunday by the Sea'. This is another range I was asked for long after Mila and Malo swam off into the distance...

Lise et Lulu
A lovely blue and yellow collection of rabbit and mouse. Gosh I remember selling lots of this when I first opened my little high street shop, so we're talking well over 10 years ago now. 

Zoe et Zephir
An insect collection - crickets and dragonflies and ladybirds. The real big seller for me was the ladybird on a leaf comforter.

Collette et Pinpin
A doll and a dog. It's funny, this range never really took off at Cottontails, and yet after it was discontinued I had so many requests for replacements. People must have been buying the originals somewhere else!

Very gentle nursery colours in this bunny and mouse. I was asked for this range for years and years after it was discontinued, but not for a couple of years now - guess those babies are all grown up (sorry about picture quality - this is real archive stuff!)

Crockery and kitchenwear
One of the things that drew me to Moulin Roty in the first place was their *amazing* range of lovely quality French toy crockery. They still do a couple of bits, but nothing like the entire kitchen they used to make. I have some bits at home, I use them in my kitchen. And Rudolph rabbit often has his dinner on a miniature fruit stand!

Rag Dolls
Limited edition rag dolls - Gaspard was the boy, TingTing and Suzanne the girls. Gaspard didn't do that well and was replaced by Rosalie. They only made so many of the them at a time (was it 5000? I can't remember) and they came in a lovely box.

Gertrude & Lucien
Just two bunnies, but they were really special and I loved them. I still have a Gertrude here (she had a faulty neck so I couldn't sell her - something had gone wrong in the joint) and she lives in a dolls cot, looking beautiful (again sorry about the picture quality - from the archives!)

Monsieur Alexandre
I always described him as a 'gentleman bear' as he was so nicely dressed. He came with some great furniture too...

The Petitpas
A lovely eclectic collection of creatures presented in their own gift boxes. I always loved the sheep best, he has fabulous fleecy fur...

The 'long legs'
I always called this range the 'long legs' because they were so dangly, and I can't for the life of me remember their official name! Anyway, whoever they were, there were three of them and I do remember their individual names - Polo. Gege and Momo.

Les Toustous
I loved this scruffy band of dogs! There were three of them: Roger, Raymond and Robert...

Well there we have it, a little trip down memory lane. This is not completely comprehensive, even as I type and assemble images other toys are coming back to me... there was a range called The Stray Bunch I think, and Paul et Virginie... but I'll be here all day if I keep going!

Finally, as I write in June 2015, there are a few more ranges 'on their way out' - so stock up now if these include your favourites:

Myrtille & Capucine, (they've almost gone, I just have a couple of items left),

Biscotte & Pompom

Basile et Lola (again just a few items left, only Lola...)