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...)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Moulin Roty Les Papoum - new jungle range for 2015

Every year Moulin Roty introduce a new nursery range, and for 2015 they have created a lovely new jungle themed collection.

Meet Les Papoums - released June 2015. An elephant, hippo and lion.


Colours are muted, with lots of soft naturals, but there is a lovely blue running through the hippo characher, and splashes of warm reds, yellows and oranges pop up here and there.

Those of you who are long standing fans of Moulin Roty will remember 'Les Loustics', their safari range from a few years ago (lion, giraffe, monkey and elephant). I was sad to see that one go (and still get asked for the comforters) so am delighted there's a new, fresh collection of more exotic animals available.

As ever, the range includes soft toys, rattles, comforters, musicals, slippers and activity toys, and here at Cottontails I am stocking the lot! You can see the range here - and please do email me if you have any questions.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Just Trade jewellery - and why I had to order some for Cottontails

Cottontails Baby is a toy shop. It's not a jewellery shop. I shouldn't really be stocking jewellery. But...

I just couldn't resist! And anyway, this is hardly fine-delicate-jewellery-shop-type jewellery - these are sweet, funny, quirky little pieces, and in that sense they fit on pretty well at Cottontails.

I have admired Just Trade jewellery for years now, smiling whenever I wandered past their stand at trade fairs or their brochure dropped into my inbox.  I even have a rabbit necklace of my own from them. And what is more, Laura at Just Trade has rabbits of her own - a kindred spirit!

So after years of admiring from afar, I have just placed a little order. Just a few things...
I am starting with a couple of veggie and flower brooches, a crochet guinea pig and rabbit, a rabbit pendant carved from a nut - oh and a couple of hand knitted baby things. You can see them all on the website here.

They're all adorable, and if my customers like these there are lots more little creatures and brooches I can stock. And if they don't sell, I will be wearing lovely crochet things myself.*

Win win!

What is more - and as the name implies - Just Trade is not just another gift company. It is a small, ethical, fair trade project. It has real heart. Each range they produce has a story behind it involving real people, and real change in people's lives.

So if you are looking for quirky little gifts that make a difference, choose a Just Trade brooch from Cottontails. In doing so you'll be supporting two independent businesses and a fair trade project. That has to be better than buying something mass produced on the high street...

Oh one last thing - I read a lovely customer review on the Just Trade webiste for the bunny brooch. It made me smile because it's the kind of thing my customers write - only I don't get many male customers. But here it is... what a star this husband and dad is!

 "Bought two of these at Easter - one for my wife and one for my 2 year old daughter. And made my two ladies very happy indeed. Such a perfect little gift. Really great quality, funny, durable (if they get left on for a wash by accident!), and very sweet design. I think the Just Trade broaches are a really special way to let someone know you're thinking of them."

(*Although I'm going to struggle to get into the 0-3m hat and booties set...)