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VTech's Go! Go! Smart Wheels have been something that my wife and I have regularly given as gifts over the past few years - some really cool vehicles and playsets that weren't quite on the scene yet when our girls were toddlers, but ones that arrived just in time for some other kids we know. Now the line is expanding again, with new sets like the Launch & Chase Police Tower, Tow & Go Garage and the Take Flight Airport. These sets can spark toddlers' imaginations and offer engaging play experiences while teaching first words, letters and more, and each features innovative SmartPoint technology. One of my favorite features is that they can all hook together for a large and immersive play environment. Check out the new sets below!

This story is brought to you in collaboration with Mitsubishi Motors USA...

This summer, some Nashville flavor came to Illinois in a pretty unique way. No, I'm not talking about that "Nashville Hot" chicken (though that's picking up steam in the north as well), but my sister's country wedding. Though she grew up in Illinois as I did, Nashville has always been in her sights, and that's where she ended up. But for her wedding, she was back up north for a barn wedding in Hebron, Illinois. What was unusually cool is where some of the decor came from... not just from City of Nashville, but from the television series. After a six season run across ABC and CMT, Nashville came to an end this summer, which meant that the time had come for the production to wrap things up with a three-day "Set Decoration Public Sale." Actor Charles Esten even shared a video preview of the event some months back, and as luck would have it, decorations that may have dressed the set when Rayna Jaymes (Connie Brtitton) and Deacon Claybourne (Esten) tied the not wound up as part of the atmosphere for a real-life wedding.

For those wondering why Ellie Sattler wasn't released during the first wave of vintage-styled Jurassic Park Pop! Vinyls from Funko, she's finally rolling in! As the latest release in the Funko Pop! Rides series, the Jurassic Park Jeep with Ellie Sattler just went up for pre-order today via my friends at Entertainment Earth. Following the release of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Vice Admiral Holdo Pop!, I do believe that this is the second time that a character portrayed by Laura Dern has been given the vinyl treatment. 

Monday, September 10 2018 07:48

Cars Are Getting Older: Who's Buying What?

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Happy birthday, cars: many of the cars you see on the road have some of the longest lifespans ever. The average age of vehicles across different types of models and brands have significantly risen, but who's buying what?

In the 1980s, a car reportedly lasted an average of around eight years before it was sent to the scrap heap. With new innovations in technology and car designs, however, this age has reached an average of over 11 years old, a never before seen milestone.

It's been awhile since I've featured Kia in the virtual pages of Rock Father™ Rides, but today's news brings a throwback to my top picks for what to see at the Chicago Auto Show back in 2016. One of the concept vehicles that I photographed and very much enjoyed was the Telluride SUV - touted at the time as an idea of what a modern, full-sized SUV from Kia might be... but one "not intended for production." In recent weeks, however, spy photos have been traveling in the automotive circles of pre-production Telluride vehicles that were barely disguised. Now comes the semi-official debut, the first public appearance of Kia Motors America’s "largest and most refined SUV" – the all-new 2020 Telluride, and it happened during fashion designer Brandon Maxwell’s New York Fashion Week show. Created by Kia’s U.S. design studio in Irvine, California, the customized Telluride that appeared on the runway drew influence from Maxwell’s inspiration for the Spring Summer 2019 collection: Texas. This special preview comes ahead of the Telluride's "official" debut at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

If you're like me and have always wanted to own a Hollywood-inspired "star car," a chance to do so is on the way. Volo Auto Museum in Illinois is clearing out their storage vault to raise money and create room for their forthcoming Punishment and Crime Museum, set to open in 2019. The auction will be held via eBay beginning on September 19, 2018. Those who visit Volo often know it to be a museum where the collection is ever-changing, and sometimes that means some surprises will come up for sale... and when they do, it's because the museum is getting ready to buy. Among the items headed to auction this September are screen-used vehicles from Furious 7, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Ant-Man & The Wasp, American Gangster, Tucker: A Man and His Dream and more, along with replica vehicles based on famous rides from Scooby-Doo, Mad Max, Knight Rider and Back to the Future.

When The Rock Daughters™ and I paid a visit to The Toy Insider's Sweet Suite in New York City this summer, we saw that the folks at Kid Trax were upping the ride-on game with new offerings like Rideamals (more on those shortly). But now they've got some fresh product rolling into retailers for the Holidays and one for the younger crowd (ages 1-3) that stands out is a whole new spin on an old favorite. In partnership with Hasbro, the Kid Trax HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS 3-in-1 Activity Rider is available now, exclusively at Walmart (an affiliate). Check out a video of it in action below!

When we last heard of Oregon Trail, it was getting a rebirth of sorts thanks to a new handheld game from the folks at Basic Fun! Toys. Indeed, I played the original version on the green-and-black CRT screens of my elementary school circa 1980-something, so the new game has an appeal (I've not yet played it). But for those wishing for a more true-to-life experience with the Oregon Trail, you can now pretend you're an Oregon Trail settler who just spent six months "on the dusty, bumpy and downright grueling journey west" - and you won't even have to die of dysentery to do it! For a limited time, those in Portland, OR can snag a ride in a covered wagon courtesy of Travel Oregon and Lyft Portland. It's a rare chance to enjoy a wagon experience in the Rose City in honor of the Oregon Trail's 175th Anniversary. Check out all the details below...

Sponsored by Hot Wheels, all opinions are that of The Rock Father™

There’s certain things that tend to appeal to children almost by default - things like dinosaurs, wide-eyed cartoon characters, sandboxes and large vehicles. For the latter, monster trucks are a big thing with cross-generational appeal. Once a side-show act at local motorsports events, monster trucks are now an arena-filling main event spectacle that is truly a global phenomenon - reaching families far beyond their roots in the garages and dirt tracks of the American Midwest. Kids have long held the desire to bring that excitement home, and for years the team at Mattel has been crafting diecast replicas that have become sought-after by kids and collectors alike. But just as the real-life monster trucks have evolved over the years, so have those in the toy world, and now comes the time to fire up the engines and raise the garage door on the next big thing from the crew in El Segundo… Hot Wheels Monster Trucks!

The first-ever Hot Wheels Legends Tour is currently making its way across the U.S. in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Mattel's iconic Hot Wheels brand. After kicking-off at the Hot Wheels garage in El Segundo, California back in April, this traveling car show is popping up in Walmart parking lots from coast-to-coast, and by the time it wraps back in Los Angeles on October 20th, 15 real-life cars will have been chosen to head out to the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where one car will be crowned champion and immortalized in diecast form as an actual mainline Hot Wheels toy car! For the Chicago date, I was invited by Mattel to serve as a guest judge, checking out the field with The Rock Daughters™ (my little Hot Wheels enthusiasts) along for the ride. It was a hot and rainy morning in Bedford Park, and while the rain may have scared away some participants, a great time was still had by kids and grownups alike, celebrating that after 50 years, Hot Wheels are no longer just a toy - but a lifestyle. At the end of the day, I had the honor of rockin' the mic to say a few words to the hometown crowd, including the introduction of the winner of the day - Brian Bergeron and what began as a 1987 Porsche 944,  now completely redesigned for racing as the Widerstandsfahig #001-15. Check out the video below from Donut Media to see highlights from Chicago, the winning car and to hear more of Brian's story...

The 50th Anniversary of the "Great Race" from Trinidad to Tobago will get underway early on Saturday morning, August 18. 43 entries, including "#77 Lucas Oil SilverHook" running in the top A-Class Division, will challenge the 100+ mile course between the two islands.

The last time a USA entry competed in the "Great Race" was in 1989 when "Dollar Marine Special" took the victory in a time of 1:48. Last year, "Mr Solo Too" took top honors with an elapsed time of 1:12:35.

29 years later, Lucas Oil #77 SilverHook will have its work cut out to claim victory for the USA in the A-Class. Top contenders include "Mr Solo Too," "Jumbie," "Paramount," "Ironman," "Monster," and "Cat Killer."

Friday, August 10 2018 18:30

4 Easy Auto Repairs You Can Do Yourself

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A vehicle is considered one of the biggest financial commitments you'll make in your lifetime. While there are only half as many cars in the world as there are bicycles (more than one billion bikes), your car is still a costly commodity. Not only are vehicles expensive to initially purchase but they have recurring expenses that will add up significantly throughout the life of the vehicle. Repair bills, insurance, gas, and anything else that it takes to keep your car on the road can amount to a shocking total. That's why so many people try to save money where they can. They refinance their auto loans, subscribe to a gas station membership for three cents off the gallon, and learn how to do a few simple repairs on their own. While the first two are really one time things you'll end up learning on your own, here are a few tips to making simple auto repairs at home.

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