In the roughly four-and-a-half years since I became "The Rock Father," it's been interesting to see just how much innovation and change has come to the toy aisles (actually, all the baby/kids sections) in such a short period of time. While it's easy to say "they didn't have that when I was a kid!," the same can be said for my two girls - who arrived just three years apart. You don't think that building blocks and bricks aimed at the youngest of architects would change that much, but they sure do, and the latest offerings from MEGA BLOKS certainly show that. It was just about four years ago when we first purchased a big bag of basic, pastel bloks for Addie, and now there's a whole FIRST BUILDERS line just bursting with possibilities.
With the amount of MARVEL action that takes place here at Rock Father HQ, it's always weird to think that I grew-up a diehard DC Comics Kid. But, when you've got the superhero film series that all others are judged by (the MARVEL Cinematic Universe), having the widest variety of toys in the aisles just goes along with it. If "battling" was the action trend for 2013, then "mashups" are the action trend of 2014... with kids finally being able to indulge their creativity by mixing-and-matching bits and pieces of their favorite heroes to create something new and original. While the GI Joe figures of my youth wouldn't have handled too much tugging on their limbs (and there were a few casualties, R.I.P.) the new series of MARVEL Super Hero Mashers by Hasbro have been designed with... planned limb removal in mind. Think of it as enabling the creation of some superpowered FRANKENSTEIN's monsters - without the "Abby Normal" side-effects or unsafe lightning required.
In the year or so since MEGA BLOKS began issuing building sets based on licenses from fellow toymaker, MATTEL, we've seen a lot of great sets that have been centered around those brands, namely, HOT WHEELS and BARBIE. The building category is massive right now, and with kids of all ages spending more and more time assembling these sets, it's always interesting to see where they'll go next. One of the first Spring 2014 sets to emerge pre-Toy Fair combines two of my oldest daughter's greatest loves - dolls and vehicles. The MEGA BLOKS Barbie Build 'N Play Luxe Camper arrived at Rock Father HQ for review, and since it has wheels, it rolls into Rock Father Rides for an early look at this new set. Oddly, this build introduced me to a term that I wasn't familiar with: "Glamping."
You could say that I know a thing or two about Zombies. While my first exposure to the undead hordes came courtesy of John Landis and his iconic longform video, MICHAEL JACKSON's THRILLER, it's sort of unfortunate that my daughters' first exposure came via a phone commercial for Sprint. Thus is the new age, and it expedited the process of Daddy having to throw down a little knowledge about what exactly these creepy folks are... and how to take care of them. It's hard to be tactful when explaining the Zombie elimination process to children, as I tend to get a little messy, and violent. But, in the interest of being both tactful and tactical, something arrived courtesy of my friends at Hasbro that I had to give a shot... or five. The new NERF Zombie Strike FUSEFIRE Blaster.
If you follow me on networks like Instagram and Twitter (and like Wooderson said, "it would be cooler if you did"), then you probably already know that I'm digging MEGA BLOKS' Collectors Series Line of CALL OF DUTY building sets. Unlike most of the other MEGA BLOKS products that I often cover here on The Rock Father, these are geared toward "older" kids... like me. Technically, the CALL OF DUTY collection is recommended for ages 10+, but I'm filing them as sets "For Grownups," and having built three of them already: Mountain Recon; Drone Attack; and Chopper Strike (all sent to me for review) - I'm already looking forward to doing more.
If my math is correct, next year will mark the 30th Anniversary of BARBIE AND THE ROCKERS, a line of fashion dolls released by Mattel in 1985 as a direct response to Hasbro's JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS. "Who came first?" has always been something of debate and folklore over the years, but the general story is that when Mattel found out that Jem was on the way, all of a sudden, Barbie had a band. Growing up in the 1980s, we had both bands in our house, but I tend to remember The Rockers having the better toys at the time (though JEM had the awesome show). I, playing as "Derek," spent a lot of time jammin' out with my sister as we enjoyed her "Hot Rockin' Stage" playset. Turns out, my wife and her sister had one, too. Long-gone like most of our now-prized childhood possessions, something interesting happened last month... when my oldest daughter found a brand-new Hot Rockin' Stage awaiting her under the Christmas tree. BARBIE AND THE ROCKERS hadn't just resurfaced in 2013, but were awaiting a "rebirth" of sorts right here at Rock Father HQ for 2014.