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At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, I was in the room for the February unveiling of Hasbro's first-ever HasLab project - a crowdfunding effort meant to bring to life one of the most-requested Star Wars toys of all-time: Jabba's Sail Barge (The Khetanna). While I support the idea of this project and the methods behind it, I have questioned whether this particular toy is being produced 30 years too late, as the $500 price tag put it firmly in the collector realm. Additionally, it needs a minimum of 5,000 backers by April 3 to become a reality, and as of this writing they're still 2,000 away from that mark with 13 days to go. I've been saying that this is something special that needs to get in front of a different audience - not necessarily those who collect Star Wars toys regularly, but those who might be looking for one high-end piece to display, possibly for an office or theater room. With a photo debut on EW this morning, that may have finally happened, but my friends at Hasbro just sweetened the deal. They just provided me with a timelapse video showing the prototype being painted, along with a full gallery of photos (see them on The Rock Father™ Facebook page). Check out the video below, and if you want this to become a reality, hit up the HasLab website and #BackTheBarge!

Despite all the great stuff I had a chance to check out at Toy Fair in New York City last month, there were still some companies that I missed, and one that I really wish I'd had a chance to see was Mezco. I've long-admired their detailed collectibles, and today comes news that their One:12 Collective Ghostbusters are suited-up and ready to hit the streets! This fantastic five-figure deluxe set features all four of the original Ghostbusters plus a supernatural bonus figure: Slimer! Aimed at the adult collector, each Ghostbuster comes with their own light-up proton pack and is packaged in a special edition metal tin. Check out all the specs below...

If you thought it was sad when Toys "R" Us filed a motion to liquidate its remaining U.S. stores, that was just the beginning. The memes circulated quickly with images of a tearful Geoffrey the Giraffe, often accompanied by a viral video of the iconic Toys "R" Us jingle performed "in a minor key" (I'd share it here, but frankly, I just didn't think it was very good). Nearly a week has passed since that motion was filed, with the fate of over 33,000 jobs hanging in the balance. Retail workers on the front lines had to deal with an onslaught of rude customers this past weekend, many fussing over a "lack of sales" at the 735 stores that hadn't already been slated to close. The customer abuse from deal hunters was reported from coast to coast, with some stores placing makeshift signs at their doors and on their store-run Instagram accounts to remind the public that those responsible are not at store level, and to please tread lightly in dealing with workers who will soon be out of a job. On Sunday came word to cancel all upcoming store events... and on Monday the call went out to hire temporary workers to fill 60-90 day positions to assist in purging warehouses and closing stores. The moves were happening without approval from the Bankruptcy Court... but now that approval has been granted. After an 8+ hour hearing on March 20, Judge Keith L. Phillips ruled that Toys "R" Us could proceed with the liquidation plan that they'd filed on March 15. What will take place in the days and weeks ahead is already being called "the largest retail liquidation in U.S. history." 

My inbox has been exploding since Sunday, and yes - things are getting weird. Last weekend, THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine was the first to report on the plans of Strategic Marks, LLC's plan to revive the KB Toys brand in the wake of the Toys "R" Us collapse. The news spread quickly, leading to excitement, speculation, and mostly the question of "how?" Over the past few days, I've exchanged messages with Ellia Kassoff, head of Strategic Marks, who promised more news soon on the launch and how they plan to "revive and rebuild" the once iconic retailer. Now we have a little more insight, and it came from an unexpected source - the New York Post. Turns out, some familiar players in the pop-up game just might be getting in on the action.

As we continue to fly through 2018, toys with a "surprise" or "reveal" are still proving to be a massive success. With more hitting the shelves each and every month, we're starting to see some new spins on things, and from Zuru Toys comes an action-packed take on the genre: Smashers. With an assortment sent here for review in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father™ HQ, we had a chance to go hands-on with Series One, fully embracing the tagline - "Smash the Ball & Collect 'Em All!" as each new Smash Ball was cracked open to reveal a micro-collectible figure inside. Take a look at the video below to see how the action unfolded...

3/20/2018 For an update on this story - click here!

With the recent news that Toys "R" Us has filed for liquidation in the U.S., there's been much discussion on what the future will hold for toymakers, the ever-changing retail landscape, and most importantly - the 33,000+ jobs currently at stake. While some are trying to craft a save that could keep the Toys "R" Us brand afloat in some manner (such as an investment group led by MGA Entertainment's Issac Larian - just one player in the mix), others are looking to the future by taking pages out of the past. Now things have gotten a little weirder as Ellia Kassoff of Strategic Brands, LLC has entered the fold with a bold claim: "We're going to save the toy industry!" His plan? To resurrect KB Toys

Last month, while browsing the massive Funko booth at the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, one of my favorite finds was the new line of SNL POP! Vinyl Figures. The first wave will bring forth characters from some classic sketches - from Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg doing "Dick in a Box" to Will Ferrell breaking out some "more cowbell" as Gene Frenkle, there's even Tom Hanks' recent cult icon, David S. Pumpkins. But out of all the characters being brought into plastic for the POP! series, there isn't one that's scene more airtime than Bill Hader's Stefon. Since Hader recently made his return to Saturday Night Live to host for the first time, Stefon returned with him, and that makes this the right time to let you know that if you're a fan, you probably need his POP! These are available for pre-order now via my affiliates at Entertainment Earth, and will be up soon on the official Funko Shop.

The Original Whiffer Sniffers have the distinction of being included in my annual Holiday Wish Guide twice - making the list in back-to-back years for 2016 & 2017. Of the countless collectible backpack clips out there, Whiffer Sniffers win across the board, with adorable characters, great design, and scents that are actually pretty good (I love last year's pumpkin spice offering). For 2018, Series 6 is here and it's rolling out with new characters in two parts. There's also some Super Sniffers along with an Easter offering as well. Curious what the kids will want next? Take a look at the latest additions to The Whiffer Sniffers' roster... personally, I think Series 2 is gonna be perfect for summer, and I've got my eye on Apollo Freeze for myself!

A week ago, despite all the rumors of doom and gloom surrounding the fate of Toys "R" Us, my wife and I took our girls to our local store on a Friday night. Our visit was multi-fold - the main interest being that we needed a very specific birthday gift for our nephew (my wife = "the cool aunt"), and our girls wanted to pick out a little something with their own money. They receive a modest amount that caps at $5 per week based on performance at school as tracked by the Class Dojo app, and at five and eight they've reached the point of really enjoying the opportunity to pick something out and pay for it themselves. For our youngest, it was one of MGA Entertainment's L.O.L. Surprise Lil' Sisters, and for our oldest a small case of eye shadow from the Claire's Boutique store-within-a-store. What I was impressed with was that the attitude at the store was not gloomy at all - the employees were friendly, the store bright and clean, and it was still well-stocked with new items. Along the way, we received a demo of a Mattel classic - the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash (the girls love their Hot Wheels, just like daddy), and checked out the full assortment of Hasbro's new toys from Avengers: Infinity War. There were quite a few customers, and if you didn't know the backstory, you'd think all was well at Geoffrey's house. We got what we came for - an Imaginarium Ride-On Train that was priced at $149.99 in-store, but $104.99 on the TRU website. A quick mention at the check-out and it was price-matched and we were out the door. Less than a week later, rumors began swirling again that the folks pulling the strings on Toys "R" Us were considering a full-scale liquidation, and one that could come as soon as today - Monday. I drove by the Toys "R" Us in Gurnee, Illinois again on Saturday, and the parking lot was so packed, it could've been Christmas Eve. As of this writing, no news came through from TRU, but now all signs are pointing to something happening on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War recently got a bump, moving into an April 27 release date for the much-anticipated film... the biggest comic book movie ever. With  that, the toys started hitting retail a little earlier as well, and Hasbro has been leading the charge as the master licensee, bringing forth new ways to play as the Marvel #UniverseUnites. In celebration of the new toy launch, Hasbro sent over a special delivery to Rock Father HQ - a box packed with a sampling of new items from across their product lines - a little of everything that will excite families from kids to collectors. While I'll be sharing formal reviews in the days and weeks ahead, here's a quick edition of UNBOXED in which I crack open the case to find new Titan Hero Power FX figures, Nerf Assembler Gear, Marvel Legends 6' action figures, characters from the basic figure assortment and the new Iron Man Hero Vision - an AR experience that was really being touted at the recent 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City. Check this out...

It was nearly two years ago that I first mentioned  SUPER MONSTERS here in the virtual pages of The Rock Father™ Magazine, and last Halloween it came roaring onto Netflix, where it became a surprise hit of the spooky season. It's become a common thing that I've heard both here at Rock Father HQ and echoed among other parents when a show becomes a hit seemingly out of nowhere... "are there toys?" With Super Monsters, the answer is now a big YES, and thanks to Hasbro, a new collection of Super Monsters toys will be hitting retail just in-time for Halloween 2018. While these toys are bound to delight preschoolers and small children everywhere, I'm predicting that these will see some big crossover success with certain grownup collectors as well. Fans of the Universal Monsters, classic horror films, Halloween enthusiasts and even those who were big into Monster High are gonna dig these - and I've seen similar enthusiasm around another recent property, Disney Junior's Vampirina. At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, I got a first-hand look at the prototypes for the new Super Monsters toys, including their School Bus (which was sculpted in clay)!

There's certainly no shortage of collectible figurines available out there, and it seems that everybody has something cool going on. My friends at Entertainment Earth sell many of those, but they've also gotten into the action as a toymaker themselves, putting a decidedly retro spin into action for their own line: Pin Mates. For those looking to build a massive collection that's light on price and small on size, Pin Mates bring pop culture licenses into the realm of tiny wooden figures that recall the old Fisher-Price Little People of the 60s and 70s. With prices starting at just $4.99 a figure, they're really affordable, and one of the coolest recent assortments ties into a film that's just hitting the in-home market - Marvel Studios Thor: Ragnarok. Now available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD, DVD and Moves Anywhere, fans can bring home the galactic adventure of Thor and Hulk as we charge toward the coming Avengers: Infinity War. But how about something to play with, too? The crew at Entertainment Earth recently sent me a box of Pin Mates for review, and inside were some extras that I'm going to pass onto one of you! One lucky friend of The Rock Father™ will receive a pack of five (5) Thor: Ragnarok Pin Mates! Ready to Ragnarok?

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