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It was over a year ago that I first featured SOCK PUPPET PARODY here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine, and they've kept busy in that time, racking up millions of plays on their send-ups of popular songs. Now comes a very special "Halloween Episode" of the show, and it's a good one, finding the sock puppets taking on the WHITE ZOMBIE classic, "More Human Than Human." Since the album it came from turned 21 this year (Rob Zombie actually performed ASTROCREEP 2000 in its entirety at Riot Fest), it's a track that can be considered timeless at this point. Check it out...

A great road trip is one of the most exciting activities to enjoy with family, and a getaway during fall is one of the best times to do it. I say that, of course, with the American Midwest in-mind, but any locale that boasts the true seasonality of autumn, complete with falling leaves and a robust color palette will make for a beautiful drive. When it comes to hauling family, there's only been a few occasions where I've actually driven more than our immediate crew, fully complete at four. Sure, I've driven plenty of larger vehicles with third-row seating and plenty of people-moving power, but seldom have I actually had a full load. This trip was an exception, one in which I could use the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited (on-loan from Toyota USA) to it's potential, heading straight out of Illinois and heading north to our relatives' lake house.

Monday, October 10 2016 09:04

31 Days of Halloween: 2016 Halloween Hot Wheels

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Mattel has a long tradition of releasing themed-versions of their popular toys, and holidays have been a big part of that over the years - particularly with Hot Wheels. When fall rolls around, there has usually been a limited-edition Halloween-themed series available as a retailer exclusive, and for 2016 that's true once more... but the exact locations have been a bit trickier to pin down. This year's 8-car Halloween line has been popping up at select grocers (many Kroger-owned chains are rumored to have them) and drug stores. Check out this year's assortment below!

Back in the 1980s, Galoob Toys' Micro Machines first hit the scene and became a massive success for a number of years, eventually fading a bit before the small, West Coast toymaker was absorbed by the large, East Coast-based Hasbro. Along the way, Hasbro also acquired TONKA, since licensed out to Funrise Toys, current manufacturers of the iconic yellow vehicles and their many spinoffs. The reason why these acquisitions and licensing deals are important to this story is that the newly-released TONKA Tinys seem to carry a lot of DNA from all of these companies' past endeavors. While there have been plenty of Micro Machines copycats over the past three decades, none have felt as close to the real deal as these new Tinys from TONKA, and that's a pretty cool thing as nostalgia plays so heavily into what parents of today are introducing to their own kids. One decidedly modern spin, however, is that TONKA Tinys are essentially "Blind Boxed," and they tap into the very now trend of micro collectibles.

'Tis the Season for the annual arrival of the iconic Hess Toy Truck! Hess Corporation today announced that the 2016 Hess Toy Truck will be revealed and available for purchase starting on November 1 at 10:00 am EDT exclusively at www.hesstoytruck.com. This year's holiday truck will retail for $31.99 with free standard shipping and five Energizer® batteries included. The 2016 truck marks the 52nd year for the toy - a tradition that began back in 1964 with the release of the very first Hess Toy Truck. Despite "truck" being in the name, the annual release hasn't always been a truck, with past vehicles including helicopters, boats, RVs, race cars and more joining the fleet. 

Monday, October 03 2016 10:13

Rides: TONKA Classics Vintage Diecast (Review)

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Of all the vehicular interests here at Rock Father HQ, one of the most timeless has to be that of TONKA. While the line has evolved over the years to encompass many different types of vehicles in varying sizes and materials, nothing beats the classics - those made of steel or diecast. In last year's Holiday Wish Guide I featured some of the modern diecast singles, but this year I'm focusing on a few different versions, including this TONKA Vintage Diecast 3-Pack. Featuring a Vintage Fire Rescue truck, Vintage Police Cruiser and Vintage Police Wagon (along with a pair of safety cones), the classic styling and sturdy construction will make these a big hit for kids and grownups alike.

Saturday, October 01 2016 13:21

Toyography: Matchbox "This is Mattel" Billboard Truck

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When I was little, there was a Hot Wheels truck that I always loved, called the "Highway Hauler." 40 years later, the Highway Hauler still exists in a modernized form, and one of the cool things about it is that since it's a box truck, the box on the back can be used to create an "advertisement," just as they were back in the day. When i'd play with friends, it was always cool to see which version the other kids had, because these trucks would often reflect the real world with brands like Pepsi, Pennzoil, and even other Mattel lines like MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. On a similar note, Matchbox first released their "Billboard Truck" back in 2003, and since then there have been several versions stamped with everything from Scooby-Doo and DC Comics to Nintendo and Roswell, New Mexico. What I found most striking, however, is a recent version done very simply in red-and-white, stamped with "This Is Mattel" - an ad for the parent company, complete with their mascot, "Matty," hanging in the back. Available as part of a Matchbox City 5-Pack, it's a really cool ride that I actually swiped from The Rock Daughters' collection to sit near my desk here in the office, though they're certainly welcome to play with it at any time...

Friday, September 30 2016 01:00

Review: Hot Wheels Star Wars Carships - Wave 1

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The folks over at Mattel made some waves this summer when they rolled into San Diego Comic-Con International with a fully-functional, life-sized "Carship" based on Luke Skywalker's "Red Five" X-Wing Fighter.  The real-world ride was to help launch the new Hot Wheels Star Wars Carships line, officially hitting stores now as part of the ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS Story product launch. These new vehicles are four-wheeled toys (cars) based on famous vehicles (ships) from a galaxy far, far away, and while there's been a total of nine cars revealed thus far (see my regularly updated checklist here), there's just four in the first wave. Instantly-recognizable to all-ages of STAR WARS fans, the first wave consists of vehicles based on some classic ships including Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, Boba Fett's Slave I, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter, and an Imperial TIE Fighter. My youngest daughter, Finley, and I recently got our hands on a set, and here's what they look like in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ, complete with video...

The Polaris® Slingshot™ has been turning heads ever since it hit the streets back in 2014, a three-wheeled roadster that prompted many to question what exactly it is (car? motorcycle? spacecraft?). Now, Peg-Perego has announced the official launch of its kid-sized Polaris Slingshot battery-operated riding vehicle. The ride-on Slingshot is modeled after the grownup version, and is powered by a 12volt battery. It can hold up to two children ages three through eight and has a top speed of five mph. Available now at Walmart stores and select Polaris dealers, manufacturing for the battery-operated Slingshot is taking place right here in the United States, at Peg Perego's Fort Wayne, Indiana factory! While we haven't gotten our hands on one of these in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ™, the folks at Peg-Perego recently issued a pretty cool video preview that highlights some intriguing features (like traction tires!). Check it out...

It's been pretty-much determined that it was Disney•Pixar's CARS that inspired the love of vehicles that both of The Rock Daughters™ share with daddy here at Rock Father HQ.  It started with Addie fairly early into things, an interest that spread to little sister Finn - who just may be the more octane-inclined at this point. Regardless of who has the bigger "need for speed," our daughters have a collection of Hot Wheels, Matchbox and CARS vehicles that has already eclipsed that of my own youth, and these girls are just 4 & 7. One common thread is that all of those brands are produced by Mattel, and something that came to us recently through Mattel's Play, Rate & Review program is the Disney•Pixar CARS Piston Cup Collection - an 11-car box set of fan favorite vehicles from the famed Piston Cup Championship.

The Rock Father is a paid ambassador for the #KBBDads program, brought to you by Life of Dad and Kelley Blue Book. As always, all opinions are that of James Zahn.

Over the past few years, I've spent a fair amount of time testing new cars and sharing my experiences here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine. The qualities that make a good car great can be a subjective thing, but I have some specific points that I'm always looking at any time I get behind the wheel of a new ride - a mix of style, function, performance and price: four key points. My friends at Kelley Blue Book also have four key points that they look for on new cars (occasionally a fifth, "Special Circumstances" i.e. payload on a pickup), but under each - Driving It, Living in It, Living With It and Owning It - they dig even deeper, with five sub-points to keep things consistent across the board, their team doing detailed reviews on over 300+ vehicles each and every year, the most of any site out there. That experience and detail makes Kelley Blue Book the trusted resource for new (and used) car buyers to make the best possible buying decisions, and this month I went hands-on at the KBB headquarters in Irvine, California for a look behind-the-scenes at how it all comes together.  I joined the first-ever crew of #KBBDads to hit the road in the five vehicles that KBB has chosen as their Top Picks for Dads this year - each hand-picked from KBB's list of the 16 Best Family Cars of 2016, putting the KBB picks against The Rock Father method to see how they all stack-up.

Thursday, August 04 2016 09:49

Five Essentials for a Late Summer Road Trip...

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias

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In just a few weeks, the school bells will be ringing as kids prepare to rock the halls for another year of learning. While that means that the Back-to-School season is officially upon us as families shop for school supplies and new clothes for fall, it also means that we're just about to "the dog days of summer" - a time when families will be out there rockin' the road once more for a late summer road trip. Whether it's a far-off locale or a quick weekend run to a fun spot just hours away, it's always important to hit the road prepared - both the family and the ride. For me, that means a trip to the Walmart Auto Center for an oil change

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