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Danica PatrickI've long held that girls and racing are two things that are underserved when it comes to toys and playthings. With few exceptions, there haven't been a ton of racing products aimed firmly at young girls - surprising since there's profile drivers out there such as Leilani Münter and Milka Duno, youngsters like Johanna Long, and then the thousands of girls honing their skills in various youth programs and small track circuits around the globe. No doubt the most well-known right now is Danica Patrick, and she's been involved with most of the few merchandising exceptions, having made an appearance in a recent SONIC THE HEDGEHOG video game, for which Mattel produced a limited-edition Hot Wheels "Danicar" that was offered as a Gamestop Exclusive (one that my oldest daughter Addie proudly owns), and even getting her own halloween/role-play costume. Now, the folks at Madame Alexander are stepping-up to go a little bit bigger, teaming with NASCAR and driver Patrick for some new collections of play dolls featuring the driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. While my experience as a parent and observer has shown that girls love racing, Madame Alexander has some solid numbers to back it up...

Published in Rock Father Rides

For the past few years, Mattel's BARBIE line has been dwindling in the sales and interest department - trumped in large part by their own MONSTER HIGH and  EVER AFTER HIGH doll collections. While we have quite the Barbie collection here at Rock Father HQ, day-to-day interest isn't as big as some of our other toys... until a new movie comes along. The Barbie animated films from Universal Studios Home Entertainment are a big deal around here, and while nothing has come close to the PRINCESS & THE POPSTAR film in terms of popularity with my girls (they're still into it a few years later), I have a feeling that it's about to be knocked-down a few notches by what's coming next: BARBIE in PRINCESS POWER - a full-blown superhero adventure. Due on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on March 3, with the toy line hitting stores right now, this just may be the perfect Spring movie for kids that dig both royals and superheroes.

Robot Chicken'Tis the season... to be mischievous! Or so says that annual visitor from the North Pole, the jovial chap in the red stocking cap, but not the man named 'Claus." I'm speaking, of course, about The Elf on the Shelf. While a family tradition for many, these "scout elves" are known to move around one's home acting as a sentry for Santa Claus himself, reporting on who's been naughty and nice in the weeks ahead of the big day, Christmas. These good elves are noble in their duties, but as sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post (who practically has an entire section of Elf-related snark) have shown us over and over again... there's some bad elves in the bunch. With that, THE ROCK FATHER has teamed-up with ROBOT CHICKEN and [adult swim] to give YOU a chance to say #EffTheElf! This is your chance to have some fun taking pictures of your own dolls and action figures out-elfing those effing elves, and in the process gain a chance to win an ultra-rare [adult swim] stocking packed with ROBOT CHICKEN goodies, including the new ROBOT CHICKEN CHRISTMAS SPECIALS DVD from Warner Home Video! Get out your camera and your toys... it's time to play and do a little toyography!

Holiday Wish GuideA new entry into the world of larger-scale dolls, Global Girl is unique for a variety of reasons - starting with the 21" size, but that's just the surface. The dolls were inspired by children's curiosity about different cultures around the world, and rather than make the doll look similar to the child, each doll has it's own mold and traits indicative of the land from which it represents. Accompanying stories are meant to be "inspirational and empowering," with hope that "the ongoing collection of dolls and books will pique girls' interest and excitement about other cultures at a young age and help prepare them for the future." That's something I can get behind, and Global Girl secures a spot in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER.

Holiday 2014Last year, when we took the girls to visit Santa Claus at Macy's on State Street in Chicago, there were only two things that Addie asked Santa for, the first of which was a MOOSHKA Doll (which I wrote about here). At the time, Santa wasn't very familiar with Mooshka, but he must've gotten acquainted, because sometime during the night between December 24-25, a Mooshka appeared under our Christmas tree. For those unfamiliar, a Mooshka is a very traditional-style cloth doll that is irresistible to little ones, the story being that a group of paper doll friends once held hands and through the power of friendship "sprung to life" as huggable girls called Mooshka. For Holiday 2014, the Mooshka girls are back, with new friends including the Goodnight Starlight edition, one of which (Dasha) arrived here for review this Fall courtesy of MGA Entertainment. With a light-up belly and musical, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" action, Dasha quickly became a much-loved addition to my girls' Mooshka family, securing a spot in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide.

Holiday 2014As a Step2 Brand Ambassador, I've often spoken of the great items that they make - most of which are MADE IN THE USA at their headquarters in Streetsboro, Ohio. On an August trip to their HQ, I spotted something in the showroom that I knew my girls had to have - the Step2 Love & Care Deluxe Nursery. A fantastic addition to playtime that helps foster imaginative play, this is a unique piece of doll furniture that works many elements that mimic how Mommy & Daddy care for baby into a small footprint suitable for many different homes. There's a changing table (with mobile), a high chair, sink, storage bins and real dual-door cabinet, and what really pushes this into unique territory - a laundry station. My little ones LOVE pretending to do their dolls' laundry, and the included "washer" here even has a trio of hangers and a place to hang the "clean" clothes.

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