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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.

Last year, PLAYMOBIL surprised audiences by getting into the realm of pop culture licenses for the first time. Now in their 44th year, PLAYMOBIL is entering their second year of licensed product by expanding upon the first to launch - PLAYMOBIL Ghostbusters. That line was a huge hit right out of the gate, and we were lucky enough to have received the Ecto-1 for review last year, along with the iconic Firehouse Playset as a gift from The Toy Insider. My girls and I were so into it that we eventually purchased all of the other sets. So with a collection based largely on 1984's Ghostbusters, it's only logical that the next step would be 1989's Ghostbusters II and the folks at PLAYMOBIL have done just that... but they're also looking for inspiration in a more unexpected place: The Real Ghostbusters.

In addition to my work here on The Rock Father™ Magazine, I veer off in many directions. As some of you may know, I am a member of The Toy Insider's extended family - contributing to their website as a member of their Parent Advisory Board, and a frequent participant in their excellent toy-based Twitter Parties. When it comes to the holiday season, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Holiday Gift Guide as expansive as the one that The Toy Insider puts together, one that exists in print (together with Family Circle) and online, with selections chosen by a team of experts and sorted by age and interest. Even I chip in with a "Rock Father Pick!" Now, despite the fact that we're often swimming in toys here at Rock Father HQ (much of which we donate), my girls do have a small "wish list," and with that The Toy Insider sent a surprise. In fact, all of the Toy Insider parents received a mystery box, and with ours we did a little early preview of Christmas morning here at home. With just four items, the response from all girls is all that a parent could hope for - and one that makes me really think about the "less is more" approach to Christmas. A few well-targeted gifts will beat the "piles of stuff" any day, and the video below shows just that. Take a look at the video, and then read on for some thoughts on these four Hot Holiday Picks!

wishguide125My love of Playmobil runs deep - a toy line that I didn't personally have as a child, but one that I've long-admired as among the best toy brands in history. In the course of more than four decades of success, one thing Playmobil never really did until recently is enter the world of pop culture licensing. Launching into those waters among their hit Ghostbusters collection is one based on the world of DreamWorks DRAGONS - the hit Netflix Original Series spawned from the popular How to Train Your Dragon films. An Official Selection in my 2017 Holiday Wish Guide™, Playmobil DreamWorks DRAGONS Hiccup and Toothless brings the famous duo together in a classic style!

I never realized it until I was an adult, but if I were to create my own "Rock Father Toy Hall of Fame," PLAYMOBIL would be guaranteed a spot as one of the greatest toy lines of all time. Providing countless hours of imaginative play for kids since 1974, PLAYMOBIL has surprisingly steered clear of the licensing market (with few exceptions, like sports), but for 2017 they've jumped into that realm with Ghostbusters and How to Train Your Dragon - a couple of lines that are both unexpected, and ripe for some fantastic toys. For the former, PLAYMOBIL has created a new collection with cross-generational appeal, bringing Ghostbusters back into toy departments where kids of all ages can strap on their Proton Packs for some serious supernatural fun. PLAYMOBIL recently had their new Ecto-1 action vehicle sent to us for review in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ™, and it's everything we'd hoped it would be... and more. Check out the timelapse build and hands-on action in the video below!

First revealed at New York Toy Fair back in 2016, the collaboration between Funko and Playmobil was a bit of an unexpected one. Playmobil is one of my favorite toy lines of all-time, producing quality, German-designed toys since 1974. Funko is a more recent success story, the Washington-based maker of Pop! Vinyl ever-expanding their footprint into the pop culture world and beyond. For Funko x Playmobil, the two toymakers have partnered for a series of 6" collectible figures that are scaled more in-line with what Funko is known for, but with the iconic Playmobil look and feel. What makes these special is that they're the first-ever pop culture licenses to appear in Playmobil form, and while they're bigger than the norm, they also serve as a preview for Playmobil Ghostbusters, which launches in May of 2017. With the first wave of Funko x Playmobil officially released, my friends at Entertainment Earth sent over an assortment of figures for review here at Rock Father HQ, and one duo that I was really excited to see was Doctor Emmett Brown and Marty McFly from Back to the Future!

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