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Toy State Test DriverAs Aerosmith once said, we're "Back in the Saddle" again when it comes to new rides from Toy State (I'm one of their "Test Drivers"). With Spring here, the new models are hitting the streets, and this month brings the first vehicles that Toy State has created in partnership with Mattel under the Hot Wheels brand. One of the most exciting lines to be featured is the "Extreme Action" collection, a subset of three unique Hot Wheels that have been given a larger size, and infused with light, sound, music, and motorized functions. Included in the first wave are SCORPEDO, the SHARK CRUISER, and the iconic STREET CREEPER. The latter just arrived here for review in our State-of-the-Art Toy Testing Facility (our house and neighborhood), and here's the lowdown...

Published in Rock Father Rides

It's hard to believe, but it was over a year ago already that MEGA BLOKS announced a partnership with MATTEL to create a series of HOT WHEELS branded building sets (MATTEL recently announced that they've straight-up purchased MEGA Brands). They started rolling out to retailers last Fall, and in that initial wave, we received the first assortment of their Turbo Tubes Build & Collect Vehicles for review here in our State-of-the-Art Toy Testing Facility (our house). Those rides were an immediate hit, so we were pretty excited when a trio of new rides rolled up to Rock Father HQ a few weeks ago, part of the 2014 Spring assortment. Up for review this time: BAD TO THE BLADE (Team Blue), FAST FISH (Team Green), and a new Team Yellow version of TWINDUCTION.

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NETFLIX Stream TeamLast month, a mysterious new program appeared parked in the virtual garage over at Netflix. TEAM HOT WHEELS appeared for viewing, but what exactly was this 22-minute episode? With my two car-obsessed girls at my sides, we pressed play and opened the doors to "Larry's Garage" to check out this new adventure, based on Mattel's long-running line of diecast cars... the same ones that we have several hundred of here at Rock Father HQ. The show - focusing on four, go-kart riding kids that transform into TEAM HOT WHEELS to cruise a world lined with bright, orange track - was a ton of fun, but it played like a "pilot episode," and a quick web search came up largely dry. Today, that mystery has been solved.

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I think ever since I returned to Chicago from Los Angeles a few days ago, some of that Disney Magic has been sprinkling from my shoulders like golden pixie dust. That said, I've been in a Disney kinda mood, and have been enjoying a peek at some of the marketing materials for Mattel's upcoming Disney products for 2014. With many of these making their debut at Toy Fair in New York and headed for retailers later this year, I'm sharing with all of you right now. From SOFIA THE FIRST to PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE, to Disney Princess and beyond, here's select highlights of what your kids will be asking for later this year...

As sales on BARBIE continue to slide, it's those monstrous teens from down the hall that continue to pick up the slack, with Mattel's MONSTER HIGH seeming to gain steam on a regular basis. While we're still in that spot where I'd figure my oldest is a tad young, she's fast-approaching the right age to go Monster-crazy, and some of her friends already have. What's new for 2014? Here's the product listing released by Mattel this week, showing off a few items that are in the doll aisles now, along with new offerings headed for stores this summer.

Raising a pair of vehicularly-inclined daughters, I tend to find myself in a position to rekindle some of my own childhood interests. Toy cars, racing and yes, even Monster Trucks are a part of that, so when Feld Entertainment and Windy City Kids Guide asked us to check out MONSTER JAM, Addie and I couldn't pass it up. Little Finley sat this one out since she's still a tad too young for it, but Addie and I, along with her friend Richard and my friend, John, headed for Allstate Arena in Rosemont, a familiar location that we typically visit while ice-covered. But last night? It was all about dirt, metal and octane.

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