Our love for online shopping seems to know no bounds. With just a couple of clicks, you'll feel like it's always Christmas morning. That warm and fuzzy feeling you get might be enough to convince you to treat yourself on a random Tuesday afternoon -- and for a child, the temptation might be irresistible. At least, it was for six-year-old Katelyn Lunt, who took it upon herself to go on an Amazon shopping spree via her mom's credit card.

There's a scene in Disney's Christopher Robin in which Christopher and Winnie the Pooh are racing through a train station and the little bear just has to have a red balloon. After making it to the train just as the doors are closing, the balloon gets caught and Pooh is disappointed. He asks Christopher something to the effect of, "but don't balloons make you happy?" to which Christopher quickly shrugs off with "not really." That is me. Ask my children and they will tell you that "daddy doesn't like balloons" - and that's fairly accurate. But balloons really do make little ones happy, and with that comes International Balloon Month (remember, everything has a month now) and some new tips from the folks at The Balloon Council, who stress that releasing the inflatable allergy terrorizers balloons is a bad idea. They wish to share smiles and smart balloon practices together.

I do believe that the toy wars have begun... and that's a great thing for kids, parents and everyone who loves play! Following the sudden and spectacular collapse of Toys "R" Us earlier this year, a huge void was left and that means that other retailers have been ramping up to serve their customers while capturing a part of that business (fact: TRU still sold $11 billion in toys in 2016). Walmart (an affiliate) is one of the first out of the gate, rebranding their toy departments as "America's Best Toy Shop," promising an expanded assortment that includes 30 percent new toys in stores and 40 percent more toys online. That means new brands that kids may not have seen before, and they're adding some fun new experiences and special in-store events to get families excited. Along with this news comes the unveiling of Walmart's annual hot toy list, their 2018 "Top Rated By Kids" - 40 must-have items for this holiday season - and layaway is back! Check it out...

The X-Files has now been around for 25 years, and when it was at its peak, I was a massive fan. I was that back in 1998, I was that guy that had to have The X-Files Movie on "letterbox" VHS to preserve the widescreen cinematic format in the time before DVD and flat screen TVs. At that same time, I distinctly recall purchasing a set of X-Files Barbie dolls by Mattel - Ken and Barbie as Mulder and Scully. Fast-forward two decades and I believe our set is long gone (sold at some point along the way, or stashed in a box somewhere), but now it's happening again... but this time it's not Ken and Barbie doing cosplay, but new X-Files Barbie dolls crafted to resemble Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). The duo are available to order right now.

Wednesday, August 29 2018 16:32

Video: The Toy Insider Takes You Inside TOY CITY!

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In the toy world, one of the biggest happenings of fall is the arrival of Toy City. Launching now alongside Halloween City pop-ups in around 50 cities (I revealed the store list exclusively last week), this is Party City's big foray into filling the seasonal gap left behind following the collapse of Toys "R" Us this year. There've been many questions from both consumers and industry players alike, and as I mentioned in my recent feature at The Toy Book, the launch of Toy City was a hot topic during the Future of Toy Retail panel that I took part in at San Diego Comic-Con. So what will these stores look like? The Toy Insider's Jackie Breyer gives us a tour in this new video showcasing a Toy City location in the former Toys "R" Us in Rockaway, New Jersey. Check it out...

Wednesday, August 29 2018 10:14

Horror Icons go "Savage" Just in-time for Halloween...

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There's quite a bit of savage news out of Funko lately, and the latest is seasonally-perfect. On the heels of their Savage World Thundercats announcement comes an assortment of action figures that reimagines some of the biggest icons of horror in an unexpected way - buffed-up and ready for battle! The Horror Savage World collection will launch with Freddy Krueger from ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, Jason Voorhees from ‘Friday the 13th’Leatherface from 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'Michael Myers from 'Halloween' and Pinhead from 'Hellraiser' - each presented in the muscular 5.5" action figure style that was made famous by Mattel's Masters of the Universe line back in the 1980s. As Funko points out, these horror villains are "ready to haunt your dreams and chase you down." If you want these in time for this Halloween, get your pre-orders in via my affiliate, Entertainment Earth!

At Toy Fair in New York this past February, one of the interesting things spotted in Funko's massive booth was their line of Savage World action figures. These 5.5" figures are familiar in shape and stature to anyone who played with Masters of the Universe toys back in the 80s, or the REMCO toys that "borrowed" the distinct body style of Mattel's more famous collection. Among the prototypes were some familiar characters that were being sculpted in the style of perhaps their greatest enemies of the era... former competitors in the action figure aisle. Thundercats have been officially brought into the Savage World, and if the He-Man influence isn't obvious enough, just check out the environment being used to display these figures - that's a tweaked and re-painted Evil Horde Fright Zone playset (which I used to have!)... a lair that used to be home to Hordak! The first wave is coming, and my affiliates at Entertainment Earth have the figures available for pre-order...

2018 continues to be a unique and challenging year for those in the business of play. While sales are up and there's no shortage of places to buy and sell toys, the rapid collapse of Toys "R" Us in the United States and other countries continues to cause collateral damage. While major players like Mattel have taken a beating, it was always expected that some smaller toymakers would suffer catastrophic damage. Today's casualty is Toy State, a Hong Kong-based company with a long history of making some fantastic toy vehicles, including their Road Rippers brand and the iconic Nikko RC line, but also toys with a ton of top licenses and strategic partners like CAT, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barbie & Hot Wheels, DC Comics, MARVEL, WWE, Thomas and Friends and more. In fact, they just announced a partnership with 20th Century Fox to become the master toy licensee for the animated film Spies in Disguise, which hits theaters next April. 

It's been 24 years since the release of Streets of Rage 3, but now there's been an unexpected awakening in the world of the classic SEGA game. Streets of Rage 4 was announced this morning - complete with a reveal trailer - yet full details on the return of the side-scrolling platformer are still scarce. Developed by Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games and Dotemu for SEGA, check out the early details on Streets of Rage 4 below!

Back in June, Party City  officially announced that they'd be going after some of the business left behind in the wake of the Toys "R" Us collapse by opening 50 Toy City pop-up stores this holiday season. By pairing them with existing Halloween City pop-ups, they'll be able to test the waters for future seasonal expansion by utilizing locations where they already have great deals on short-term leases on the space. While it's been quiet over the summer, customers and those in the toy industry have been eagerly awaiting news on where these locations might be - something I keep getting asked about. Though the official announcement hasn't come down just yet, I can exclusively reveal the locations of 46 Toy City pop-up stores, with the list being published for the first time anywhere right here on The Rock Father™ Magazine. Is there a Toy City opening in your town? Find out below...

Believe me when I tell you this, because I say it at this same time every year... the Holiday toy rush is about to begin, so if you want to get the good stuff at list price, you have to start shopping now. For those of you with kids that are into L.O.L. Surprise! (or maybe you're into it yourself - that's cool too!), the long-rumored and much-anticipated L.O.L. Surprise Dollhouse is hitting retail right now. In fact, as of this writing, Amazon and Walmart (both affiliates) has the L.O.L. Surprise House in-stock and ready to ship! It's made of real wood and comes with over 85 surprises, including an exclusive family (other dolls sold separately). Check out all the details below...

It's that time of year again... where the General Mills Monsters emerge from their crypt and start to haunt the cereal aisles once more. As in recent years (with the exception of 2013), Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute are being left behind on the grocery end of things, but they are joining Franken Berry, Boo Berry and Count Chocula somewhere else... the toy department of your local Target (an affiliate) store! Thanks to Big G Creative (oddly enough, no relation to General Mills' Big G cereals), the whole crew is present for Monster Crunch! The Breakfast Battle Game, officially launching on August 26th.

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