Over the past year or so, I've noticed an uptick in the amount of simple toy vehicles being released - specifically ones that are character-based, or include a non-removable character behind the wheel. Geared toward the preschool crowd, there's some cool ones out there, and one of the newest players is Jazwares, who've served-up a new collection of miniature vehicles including Peppa Pig Mini Buggies, Chuggington Train Cars, Chuck & Friends (featuring a crossover with Marvel Comics) and Dinosaur Train. Sent to us for review here at Rock Father HQ, here's a look at some of what's in stores now...
Universal's Fast & Furious franchise roared back into theaters this year with THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, the eighth feature film in the series. While there have been several different toy lines released based on the individual films, aside from the occasional Hot Wheels release, there hasn't been a really kid-focused collection of toys until now. Mattel's Fast & Furious collection includes several sub-lines of vehicles and playsets in different scales, one of which is the Stunt Stars assortment - 1:32-scale plastic vehicles, each paired with a small action figure and packed with special "stunt" features inspired by scenes from across the various films in the saga. Kids can now recreate their favorite Fast & Furious scenes, or create completely new adventures in small-scale.
When it comes to the rides of a galaxy far, far away, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more legendary vehicle than the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Indeed, the Millennium Falcon is the most famous example of the Corellian Engineering Company's YT-1300 Light Freighters - albeit a heavily-modified ship that managed to consistently defy the odds under Captain Han Solo and his Wookiee companion, Chewbacca, along with Lando Calrissian and most recently, Rey. To celebrate the legacy of this ship during the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, the folks at Mattel have issued the Hot Wheels Collectors Millennium Falcon Special Edition - a highly detailed Metal/Metal fully-diecast version of the ship as it appeared in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The latest addition to the "I wish they had this when I was a kid" department here at Rock Father HQ comes from Radio Flyer, who've just announced their Star Wars Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder Ride-on toy. Geared toward kids ages 4+, this two-seater hits a top speed of 5mph, and bears a weight limit of 130 lbs. Modeled after the iconic X-34 craft from 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope, this ride features an interactive dashboard with movie-accurate lights and sounds, and provides the perfect craft for chasing down your pesky run-away R2 unit. Just watch out for Sandpeople, though - the Jundland Wastes are not to be traveled lightly, and Tusken Raiders often travel single file to hide their numbers. See the Radio Flyer Landspeeder in action below!
This feature has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser, Shell. #PennzoilPerformance
When you think about racing, you might not automatically think of "street racing." Likewise, when you hear "street racing," the term probably conjures images of the Need for Speed or The Fast and The Furious - with groups of racers skirting the boundaries of law while pushing their souped-up rides to new limits. Off-screen, street racing is a very real thing, and there's a grassroots movement of racers that are on a quest to see just how far they can push their cars - but still have them be entirely street legal. So how does street racing relate to every day driving and running around with your kids? It's all about performance and what's under the hood. Check out the video below...
I'm a big fan of Greenlight Collectibles, particularly their Greenlight Hollywood Series (see my hands-on features here). They've been busy this summer, securing new licenses, and that means there's some new rides in the pipeline, including some that you wouldn't immediately think of - which makes these even more fun. After the recent announcement that they've teamed with Stephen J. Cannell Productions to produce diecast toys based on The Greatest American Hero, Hunter, Riptide and fan-favorite, The A-Team, today brings a double-dose of news involving new deals with Lionsgate and SONY Pictures Television.
This Cars 3 feature is brought to you in collaboration between The Rock Father and Disney•Pixar. Interviews edited for clarity.
"I have two daughters, and one day my daughters told me rather abruptly that certain things were for boys and certain things were for girls," recalls Cars 3 Director Brian Fee. "And if something was, quote 'for boys,' they automatically didn’t have an interest in it or didn’t feel like they could have an interest in it. That was a red flag and it just kind of killed me that society puts those kind of labels on things, and that they, at such a young age, were already feeling those labels." Sitting in on a press conference at Sonoma Raceway ahead of the release of Disney•Pixar's Cars 3, I couldn't help but flash back to something that I'd written on this very site back in 2011, and how much things have changed in just six years. It was then that I asked, "Is Cars 2 Forgetting that Little Girls Like Cars TOO?" In the years since, I've echoed that sentiment, as the father of two daughters myself. While it wasn't necessarily the film at the time, the merchandising of Cars 2 was aimed firmly at one segment of the audience. With Cars 3, Pixar crashes the gate on all levels, delivering a movie that's truly for everyone.
If you've seen the trailers for Disney-Pixar's Cars 3, then you've no doubt seen the down-and-dirty world of demolition derby on display. But this isn't any demo - it's "Crazy 8's," and like many things in Pixar films, face value isn't always what it seems. "Have you ever been at a crossroads in life where you feel really out of place?" asks Supervising Animator Bobby Podesta during a presentation on Pixar's Production Pipeline, held during a media event at California's Sonoma Raceway. "That’s the point of this scene," he says. "The audience ends up feeling out of their element, just like McQueen does." Much of Cars 3 is focused on that those crossroads, and how to move beyond them. For the production, that was mirrored by how intertwined the technical team was on bringing this new story to the screen, moving well beyond everything that they'd pulled off in the past.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Lexus in general, so I was excited to drive the 2017 CT 200h F SPORT when it arrived here at Rock Father HQ some weeks back. Packing Lexus style and F SPORT performance into a small, hatchback package, the immediate draw of the CT 200h is that it's a hybrid - a fuel-efficient, gas-powered luxury vehicle that carries a combined fuel economy of 42mpg.
As of this writing, Paramount Pictures' big-screen BAYWATCH has just hit theaters for Memorial Day weekend, ushering in summer with a new spin on the syndicated TV favorite. With Dwayne Johnson stepping into David Hasselhoff's iconic trunks as lifeguard Mitch Buchannon, a new generation is getting a taste of slow-mo beach running as Mitch and the crew (which includes Jon Bass as Ronnie, Alexandra Daddario as Summer, Zac Efron as Matt Brody, Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker, and Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden) take down some baddies that threaten the bay. For the new BAYWATCH, the coast is flipped - with Los Angeles County out, and Florida's Broward County in. While you might not think that an R-rated BAYWATCH screams "toys!," the folks at Greenlight Collectibles are here with a 1:64-scale offering as part of their Greenlight Hollywood series.
With the amount of options available for kids in the diecast aisles, it's often easy to overlook some of the most creative ones in the mix. From Mattel's Hot Wheels Super Rigs Collection comes the Pencil Pusher, a removable cab semi-truck that's inspired by the creativity of a child. This isn't just a toy truck, though - it comes packed with a gold chrome edition of the famed "Hot Wheels High School" bus, and the truck itself is sized right to haul crayons. But that's not all...
In my adventures over the years, I've had the opportunity to drive a lot of different vehicles. What I've come to realize is that I'm definitely a "car guy" - meaning that I have little interest in motorcycles, and a limited knowledge of trucks. That doesn't mean that I haven't driven them, as I've been behind the wheel of many, but surprisingly it's full-size pickup trucks that have largely eluded me. That's just one reason why I was so intrigued by the chance to get behind the wheel of the 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Double Cab - a full-size pickup, and a ride that feels just gigantic compared to what I'm used to. The quick take? I loved it.