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For my annual Holiday Wish Guide last year, one of the hottest items featured came from Dynacraft in collaboration with The Toy Insider. Months later, the Dynacraft 24V Disney Princess Carriage (featured here) is still a hot item - and it's a head-turning ride whenever The Rock Daughters™ take it out for a spin. Available now as a Walmart exclusive (order here), the folks at Dynacraft are now asking kids - "What Does it Mean to Be a Princess?" In honor of National Princess Week 2017, kids (with the help of their parents) can create a 15-second video answering that question to be entered for a chance to win a Disney Princess Carriage of their own! Check this out...

The "toys-to-life" category has seen some ups-and-downs over the past few years, but the reality is that it's still an evolving thing - and probably always will be. Until now, it's been dominated by a mix of console video games paired with real-life figures, with Skylanders, LEGO Dimensions and the late Disney Infinity being the biggest players in the realm. This year, there's starting to be a shift toward mobile, with titles like TOMY's Lightseekers ramping up, but then out-of-nowhere comes Hasbro with a totally different spin on things. The Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio bridges traditional, hands-on imaginative and creative play with the digital world, allowing kids to craft real Play-Doh creations, and then scan them into the accompanying app. The folks at Hasbro (via Family Video Network) recently sent us one for review here in the Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ, and you can see our hands-on video below...

It's been rumored for a little while, and today it's official - Call of Duty will return to its World War II roots this fall with Call of Duty: WWII, developed by Sledgehammer Games. Little is known about the game right now, but more intel will be coming during the game’s Worldwide Reveal livestream on Wednesday, April 26 featuring Sledgehammer Games co-studio heads and founders Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield.  Fans will be able to tune in to get a first look at Call of Duty: WWII and get intel on the studio’s vision for the game. Personally, I'm two years behind on my Call of Duty playing, but since I finally have an Xbox One, I'm really looking forward to a return to "Call of Duty Season!"

As someone who writes about toys often (both here at The Rock Father™ Magazine and also over at The Toy Insider), I see a lot of new stuff. It's also very common for toymakers to send me pitches either for feedback, or in hopes that I will review them or cover their crowdfunding efforts. Tonight marks the second time that something once pitched to me shows up on ABC's THE TOY BOX, with Emotiplush (emailed to me during a crowdfunding run in 2014) vying for the attention of the judges in hopes of being crowned champion. At the end of the 8-week series, the winning toy will be produced by Mattel and sold exclusively at Toys "R" Us. Check out all of the week three toys below...

As some of you might know, I recently visited Pixar Animation Studios for an early look at Disney•Pixar's Cars 3, after which I got to hit the track at Sonoma Raceway. As the June 16 release of the latest Cars film fast-approaches, back here in Illinois, families will be able to "meet" life-size, character look-alikes of five-time Piston-Cup champion Lightning McQueen, tech-savvy Cruz Ramirez and the sleek next-gen racer Jackson Storm THIS WEEKEND. The crew will be rolling into town to celebrate Cars 3 with local fans as the Cars 3: Road to the Races Tour hits the Chicagoland area for a stop at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, April 21-23, 2017.

Autobot or Decepticon? For years my wife and I have had both sitting in our driveway - each of our cars displaying separate factions of Cybertronian allegiance. Which faction would you choose? That's what Hasbro wants to know, as that've just announced “REVEAL YOUR SHIELD,” a TRANSFORMERS celebration that will offer fans five days of TRANSFORMERS content and product reveals, beginning on April 24th with the release of Hasbro’s first wave of toys and consumer products inspired by the TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT film. Throughout the week fans will be encouraged to “reveal their shield,” using social media, TRANSFORMERS.COM or the official TRANSFORMERS mobile app to declare their allegiance to the Autobots or Decepticons.

For the first time, I will be attending C2E2 in Chicago this year, and one booth on my must-visit list is that of Dark Horse. Some news came in tonight that following the success of 2016’s Star Trek: The Next Generation Adult Coloring Book and Star Trek: The Original Series Adult Coloring Book, Dark Horse will be launching two more volumes for Star Trek fans to enjoy: Star Trek: The Original Series Adult Coloring Book—Where No Man Has Gone Before and Star Trek: The Next Generation Adult Coloring Book—Continuing Missions. Personally, I may have to get the latter, as the phrase "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" is now in my head once more...

Fact: I have never placed a bet on a sporting event, and unless I happen to pull a Marty McFly and head back to the future for a copy of the Grays Sports Almanac, I never will. I'll also never place a bet on a pop culture event, but as recent years have shown, handicapping movies and tv has become a big business, and people will throw their money at anything. That said, I do love to speculate when it comes to the events of a galaxy far, far away, and this morning an email landed here at Rock Father HQ with some predictions from Jim Murphy - an oddsmaker, sportsbook consultant and handicapping theorist - who had some thoughts on STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI... specifically, who will become "one with The Force" first.

It's that time of year again - the First Wave lineup announcement for my favorite music festival, Chicago's RIOT FEST! This morning, the crew behind the fest (taking place September 15-17 at Douglas Park) unveiled over 70 artists including Nine Inch NailsQueens of the Stone Age, and the exclusive reunion of Jawbreaker. Additional highlights include New Order, Paramore, Prophets of RageM.I.A., Wu-Tang Clan, a DJ set from Beastie Boys’ Mike D, Bad Brains, Ministry and Vic Mensa. Check out the full First Wave lineup below, along with my personal "Rock Father Picks" for who I'm most looking forward to seeing, highlighted in bold.

Tuesday, April 18 2017 23:18

Mini Hess Toy Trucks are Making a Comeback!

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I've written a lot about the Hess Toy Truck over the years, and while that remains a Christmas tradition, I don't think I've ever said much about their summer tradition - the Hess Mini Truck. For 17 years, Hess released a mini version of their iconic holiday toy truck - most recently offered for sale in 2014. Funny enough, that's the only Mini we have in our collection here at Rock Father HQ, as we picked one up at a Hess Express in Pennsylvania while in the midst of an epic road trip.  In the three years since, fans have been demanding a relaunch of the Mini Hess Toy Truck, and today the Hess Corporation answered the call. Not only is Hess bringing back the Mini Hess Toy Truck, but they’re doing it as a special release on an exclusive basis in a way they never have before.

The late 80s and early 90s were a fun time for Disney television animation, and as the forthcoming Disney XD reboot of DuckTales should indicate, audiences are ready for a throwback. At the same time those classic cartoons were delighting kids after school, the age of 8-bit and 16-bit gaming was hitting hard, and titles based on the television series were being released on a regular basis. Now, those looking for a new burst of retro gaming goodness can delve into Capcom's The Disney Afternoon Collection - a value-priced bundle of six classic games, perfect for parents like me to introduce a new generation to some NES classics via PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.  Check out a preview below...

I've been gardening nearly my entire life, but vegetables are still a tricky thing here. As we prepare for another growing season here at Rock Father HQ, we'll be planting more veggies, and part of the challenge is always the harvest. What's properly ripe? Square Foot Gardening: Growing Perfect Vegetables (out May 8, 2017 via Cool Springs Press) aims to help home gardeners take some of the mystery out of things.

Netflix Stream TeamOn May 5, the latest Netflix Original Series from DreamWorks Animation Television begins streaming with the debut of Spirit Riding Free. Inspired by the Oscar-nominated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron the trailer for the series has just arrived and looks to enchant a whole new generation. Check it out below...

Monday, April 17 2017 10:50

The Maine - "House of Blue Déjà Vu"

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I know I tend to always overthink

But tonight it’s as simple as this

All I need is a lovely little lonely kiss

I have a friend who’s always playing bands I’ve never heard of, Catfish and the Bottlemen, The 1975, Acceptance, Jimmy Eat World, Saves The Day, Bad Suns, and State Champs, to name a few. Ok, so I've heard of The 1975 and Jimmy Eat World but never listened to any of their music until she mentioned how much she loved them. I respect her opinion and want to understand the world through her lens.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s, I used to ramble thoughts into a cassette recorder - something that by 1992 would lead to me (at age 15) conducting interviews with bands on cable access, all captured by low-res VHS. After seeing my daughters do similar rambling on video, I realized that this is the 2017 version of what I used to do circa 1983 with that tape deck. The raw video embedded below inspired our latest YouTube series, "Finley's Thoughts on Things." She'll be telling you about all kinds of stuff that interests an almost five-year-old, starting with why Daddy (me - "The Rock Father") hates Snapchat, Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories and any other use of vertical video. Seriously, Vertical Video Syndrome (VVS) is a terrible plague that needs to be completely eradicated. Finn is much cuter in how she explains it, though. Take a look...

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