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One of my favorite places in the world is Legends Plaza on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. The first time I visited the studio lot, I had my picture taken right next to the famous "Partners" statue by sculptor Blaine Gibson. There are five versions of the statue, and visitors to Disney Parks know it well - a perfect vision of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, looking proudly in the distance, perhaps at what's been accomplished, but more intriguingly at what is yet to come.  When I saw the latest catalog for Hallmark's Keepsake Ornaments (a tradition in our family) ahead of the annual July release, many items caught my eye, but one stood out - a version of "Partners" set for release this fall.

They say that history repeats itself, and likewise so do trends. One trend in play that's back with some serious bite this year is everything jurassic.  Yes, the dinosaurs are back, and at the forefront of popular culture that's being driven by the release of Universal Pictures' Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  While they might own the rights to certain stories, names and places, Universal can't lay claim to dinosaurs, and that keeps the gates wide-open for other toymakers to ride the wave of renewed excitement for the long-extinct (or are they?) giants that have been captivating imaginations for millions of years. For Playmobil, The Explorers are their new line of archaeological adventurers who are making their way into stores and playrooms with tales of a mysterious island called Roca, where dinosaurs continue to live peacefully thanks to a magical fruit. At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York, I had a chance to see the new collection first-hand, and the folks at Playmobil recently sent us the new Hidden Temple with T-Rex Playset for a hands-on review.

The vinyl resurgence of the past decade has been an interesting thing to watch - particularly as my wife and I raise two daughters in an age where music is known for coming from a flat piece of glass and circuits in everyone's pocket. I grew up with vinyl, and as a kid it was played from a turntable housed inside a wooden stereo console that was probably six feet long and weighed a ton - it wasn't just audio equipment, it was furniture. Over the years, I would own my own turntables, from low-end Kmart style (actually purchased at Kmart) all-in-ones to high-end audiophile components and some of the more recent USB-connected models. But, like many, I parted ways with much of my vinyl collection somewhere in the mid-90s, a move that I now regret as our girls really like listening to records with us. In recent years, the biggest challenge has been finding turntables that legitimately have the right balance between quality, sound, price and size. Having owned a lot of turntables, I've been very surprised at how much I love the new Rock 'N' Rolla UFO turntable, one of which was recently sent to us for review.

Published in Music News

The Hess Toy Truck is a tradition that I've written about many times over the years, and after last year saw the return of the summer Mini Collection (pictured top), news has arrived that the lineup for 2018 will be even bigger! Hess Corporation has announced plans to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the company's founding with three separate toy releases this year, each available exclusively at www.hesstoytruck.com. Of course the annual holiday Hess is always the big one, but this year there's something really special. Take a look...

Published in Rock Father Rides

After taking a year off from Six Flags due to a hectic schedule for us, I surprised the family by purchasing season passes again - just in time for Fright Fest and Last Call for Fall last year. This year we plan to be there often, and one exciting announcement is for something that's looming far off in the horizon... for the first time in the park’s 42-year history, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois is extending its operating season and inviting guests of all ages to be a part of the festivities at the new Six Flags Holiday in the Park. It's an event that's been requested for ages, but the Illinois weather is cold and unpredictable, so it's always been a "wish list" item that guests to other Six Flags parks have enjoyed. The new Holiday in the Park will feature more than one million LED lights, beautifully adorned Christmas trees, thrilling rides, enchanting shows, delicious seasonal food and dazzling park décor. The fun begins on Friday, November 23 and run weekends through Sunday, December 23 and daily December 26 – December 31. 

When you think of Pharrell Williams' infectiously-upbeat "Happy," can you think of a person who not only wouldn't like it, but would absolutely 100% despise it? Of course that individual would be THE GRINCH, and on November 9, 2018, he's back in theaters as Illumination and Universal Pictures bring forth a new animated feature based on the holiday classic by Dr. Seuss. This isn't just a shot-for-shot re-telling, either - and we've got the first official trailer to show you!

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