Tuesday, November 15 2016 09:25

Chicago Toy & Game Week: Rock Father Picks for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair!

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#ChiTAGIt's Chicago Toy & Game Week, and that means we're once again counting down the days until the annual Chicago Toy & Game Fair (ChiTAG) once again takes over Navy Pier.  Kids and families can go hands-on with some of this year's hottest holiday toys, get a jump on shopping, or simply come out to play! Tickets are on-sale now (Click here to register with a $3 Off Coupon) for Saturday & Sunday, November 19 & 20, and as we look toward what aims to be the biggest year yet, I'm throwing down some "Rock Father Picks" for what to check out. I've done this in the past, but this year is the first that we've made it official - I'm a 2016 "Play Influencer!"

Radio Flyer Mini Tesla Test Track: This year, Radio Flyer entered the battery-powered vehicle space in a big way - partnering with Tesla to create kid-sized replicas of the famed Model S. With performance and accessories that place the Radio Flyer Tesla Model S for Kids in a class all by itself, families will get to see a fleet of these as kids can get behind the wheel at Navy Pier. And grownups? Yes, you can see the adult model, too! 

PlayMonster - Meet Alice Brooks, Inventor of Roominate: I've actually already met Alice, having caught up with her at The Toy Insider's HoliDAY of Play in NYC earlier this Fall. After appearing on ABC's Shark Tank and finding an investor in Mark Cuban, Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen's Roominate was eventually acquired by Wisconsin-based PlayMonster Toys, who've positioned it as one of 2016's hottest STEM-based offerings geared toward girls. We have a few sets here, and here's a quick clip of our oldest daughter giving her Ferris Wheel a trial run...

Unique building sets that include wired motors, this collection fosters creativity with some real engineering involved - and they've secured a spot in my own 2016 Holiday Wish Guide. Meet Alice this weekend, and go hands-on with Roominate! You can bet PlayMonster will also be showing off some other Rock Father Picks, like their new line of Fairy Garden play sets.

Spin Master: What will the folks from Spin Master be showing off at ChiTAG this year? While I'm not 100% certain, they're the team behind Hatchimals - one of 2016's hottest, and most hard-to-find holiday toys. The creators of PAW Patrol and Rusty Rivets will also likely be showing-off some of their other most-wished for toys including Zoomer Marshall, Spy Gear, Air Hogs and more. Whatever they have planned, it's bound to be good.

The Rock Daughters with Chase and Marshall from PAW Patrol

Razor Test Track: For as long as I can recall, Razor's up-front presence at ChiTAG has been a destination - with kids and families lining up to get a chance to try out some of Razor's newest rides. I've even gotten into the action on occasion, but our girls have become old pros!


A video posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

Educational Insights and Learning Resources: A pair of sister companies based locally in Vernon Hills, Illinois, their booths are always worth a look. Learning Resources has their Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set gaining critical acclaim (including my own stamp of approval) as one of this year's hot STEM offerings, and Educational Insights has so many great toys - many of which I've featured over the past year. Dino Construction Company, Design and Drill, Once Upon a Craft and more - you have to see what they've got!

But that's far from all! Dozens of toy and game makers will be present (click here for the full exhibitor list), and there's so many I'm looking forward to checking out with the kids. 

Other Highlights:

Walk inside the World's Largest PomPom!
Interactive Exhibits
Test out New Products Before They Hit Retail Shelves
Meet Toy & Game Inventors from Around the World
Shop for the Hottest New and Classic Toys for the Holidays
Yo-Yo Championship - Contestants from Coast to Coast
Attend the Star Wars Lunch
IllumiCraft STEM-based Craft Party with Gift
Upon A Craft Line Holiday Project
Be entertained by Ben’s Giant Bubble Show
Giveaways, Stage Events, Magic Shows, Contests, Laser Tag, Ride-on Vehicles, Crafts, Characters, GameTruck, Knockerball and much more!
James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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