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15 years ago, Ain't It Cool News posted a story about an "investment trailer" being shot for a movie called 5-25-77 - a film later touted as being "From the Producers of STAR WARS and LOST IN TRANSLATION." That 2002 news item was sourced from an assistant camera operator... yours truly. In the years since, I've written a few times about the semi-autobiographical tale from filmmaker Patrick Read Johnson, both on this site (here's one from 2012) and at one point, a feature for STARLOG Magazine that ran on 5-25-09. Now, after numerous false-starts and premature announcements, this film about Star Wars' "Fan #1" is finally, really coming out... just in-time for the 5/25/17 40th Anniversary of Star Wars. Starring John Francis Daley, Coleen Camp, Neil Flynn, Austin Pendleton and my late friend, Justin Mentell, 5-25-77 will be hitting theaters via Filmio Original Pictures. A new trailer debuted earlier today, appropriately back at AICN with some words from Mr. Harry Knowles.  Check this out...

Friday, April 28 2017 23:13

There's a New MOTÖRHEAD Beer on the Way...

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A lot of bands both current and past have had beers brewed in their honor of late, and I've sort of developed an affection for those limited-edition drinks. In fact, I have some Megadeth and Iron Maiden beers just a few feet from me here in the office at Rock Father HQ as I type these words about the latest brew to be inspired by MOTÖRHEAD. It's not the first beer to be licensed by the band, but the first in a series from Amplified Ale Works. The MOTÖRHEAD Born to Lose IPA is described as "a boldly aggressive West Coast-style IPA, befitting of the band's loud, aggressive style."

With Arbor Day marking the mid-point of spring, there's a focus on urban/suburban forestry and the importance of planting trees. Here at Rock Father HQ, we have two trees in our yard - the biggest of which is directly in the center of our front yard. That tree was pretty small when we moved here seven years ago, and with care (I prune it regularly and have fertilized it), it's now taller than our house. Planting a tree is a pretty easy way to revamp a yard, and it can add value to your home - but there should be some planning involved. My friends at Davey Tree have put together a helpful guide to assist homeowners in planting the right tree in the right spot.

As someone who writes about toys often (both here at The Rock Father™ Magazine and also over at The Toy Insider), I see a lot of new stuff. With that, I've been digging ABC's THE TOY BOX, in which independent toy creators find themselves vying for the attention of the judges in hopes of being crowned champion. At the end of the 8-week series, the winning toy will be produced by Mattel and sold exclusively at Toys "R" Us. Check out a preview of the week four toys below...

You may have already seen the headlines - an unusually large boom in ticks throughout the Midwest this year, all due in large part thanks to a relatively mild winter. The lack of a solid deep-freeze kept the tick population from dying off during their dormant state, and warm, wet conditions this spring are bringing them back en masse. We've lived in this house for seven years, and while I'd found the occasional tick while doing yard work (never bitten), we've never had an issue until now - and we've got kids and dogs. Two weeks, two daughters, two different species of tick - and last night we had an ER visit.

Thursday, April 27 2017 09:04

Cars 3: A Visit to Pixar Animation Studios

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Over the past few years, I've had the good fortune to have been invited to some fairly magical places that most of the general public will never have the chance to experience first-hand. Thanks to my friends at The Walt Disney Company, I've been able to go beyond the gates of several legendary facilities, including the famous lot of The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios and ABC. While I've spent a decent amount of time at all of those places in Southern California (even dropping by the Animation Research Library and the former Imagineering center), there's a couple spots further up the coast that I've always wanted to visit, and I finally crossed one of those off the list with my recent adventure inside Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California. As part of the promotional ramp-up to the theatrical release of Disney•Pixar's Cars 3, I was able to get a look at the campus where some of the most iconic animated films of the past few decades have been created.

If you're into Mattel's Hot Wheels, you may have seen the recent Forza Motorsport assortment of the Replica Entertainment Series that's been hitting stores, and now you could say that was just a little bit of foreshadowing. Hot Wheels has partnered with Microsoft’s popular racing game to create one of the coolest expansion packs – Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels – arriving on May 9 exclusively on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs (Xbox Play Anywhere) as part of the Forza Horizon 3 Expansion Pass or as a standalone purchase for $19.99.  A trailer just hit my inbox, and I'm sharing it below. Check it out, along with all the details on the new expansion. Something tells me that the recent addition of an Xbox One to my office is going to be commanding some more attention...

Updated with the Official Announcement and game details....

As teased last week, the Call of Duty franchise is returning to its roots this November with the release of CALL OF DUTY: WWII. At today's Worldwide Reveal Livestream (still happening as of this writing), Activision has unleashed the official reveal trailer for Sledgehammer Games' highly-detailed step back into the era of World War II. The team did extensive research for a war that they note still touches families (my own Grandfather served in the 82nd Airborne), and our first taste of that labor can be seen below. Check this out...

Having seen a big chunk of Disney•Pixar's Cars 3 during the early press days at Pixar Animation Studios and Sonoma Raceway last month, I can tell you one thing without giving anything away: Fans of Cars (and race fans in general) are in for an incredible treat come June. While I'll have more exclusive coverage and features rolling out in the weeks ahead, today comes something that we've all been waiting for - the official theatrical trailer. Sure, we've had a couple of "Extended Looks," some clips and TV spots, but this is the official trailer, just-posted by Disney•Pixar this morning. Take a look!

It seems that every day is [INSERT NAME HERE] DAY, and today is a day that I can get behind... #AlienDay! Indeed, today is a global celebration of the franchise launched with the 1979 release of Ridley Scott's Alien, and continuing on May 19 with the release of his latest film, Alien: Covenant. Now comes some news from my friends at PPW Toys that they're bringing the famed Xenomorph into an all-new form... that of Mr. Potato Head. But the Alien won't be alone, as Predator (or is that, Pred-tater?) will be in the PopTater mix as well, allowing toy fans of all ages to have a mighty Alien vs. Predator battle to see who ends up fried. Additionally, Ripley and the crew are also getting a set of Wooden Nesting Dolls as well! Check these out...

PJ Masks AmbassadorAs of this writing, National Superhero Day (April 28, 2017) is fast-approaching, and that makes for a great time to have a SUPER party. Parties don't need to be reserved just for birthdays, and sometimes it's fun to get the little ones and their friends together for an unexpected gathering. In fact, sometimes we even have parties here at Rock Father HQ that are family-only, but still a fun way to turn an ordinary day or night into something extraordinary... or super. One of our favorite themes here is PJ Masks, and after being requested by parents for over a year, official PJ Masks party supplies are now available at Party City! Paired with PJ Masks free printables from the official site and toys from Just Play, you can easily create a memorable PJ Masks Party for National Superhero Day, birthdays or any day!

For my annual Holiday Wish Guide last year, one of the hottest items featured came from Dynacraft in collaboration with The Toy Insider. Months later, the Dynacraft 24V Disney Princess Carriage (featured here) is still a hot item - and it's a head-turning ride whenever The Rock Daughters™ take it out for a spin. Available now as a Walmart exclusive (order here), the folks at Dynacraft are now asking kids - "What Does it Mean to Be a Princess?" In honor of National Princess Week 2017, kids (with the help of their parents) can create a 15-second video answering that question to be entered for a chance to win a Disney Princess Carriage of their own! Check this out...

The "toys-to-life" category has seen some ups-and-downs over the past few years, but the reality is that it's still an evolving thing - and probably always will be. Until now, it's been dominated by a mix of console video games paired with real-life figures, with Skylanders, LEGO Dimensions and the late Disney Infinity being the biggest players in the realm. This year, there's starting to be a shift toward mobile, with titles like TOMY's Lightseekers ramping up, but then out-of-nowhere comes Hasbro with a totally different spin on things. The Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio bridges traditional, hands-on imaginative and creative play with the digital world, allowing kids to craft real Play-Doh creations, and then scan them into the accompanying app. The folks at Hasbro (via Family Video Network) recently sent us one for review here in the Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ, and you can see our hands-on video below...

It's been rumored for a little while, and today it's official - Call of Duty will return to its World War II roots this fall with Call of Duty: WWII, developed by Sledgehammer Games. Little is known about the game right now, but more intel will be coming during the game’s Worldwide Reveal livestream on Wednesday, April 26 featuring Sledgehammer Games co-studio heads and founders Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield.  Fans will be able to tune in to get a first look at Call of Duty: WWII and get intel on the studio’s vision for the game. Personally, I'm two years behind on my Call of Duty playing, but since I finally have an Xbox One, I'm really looking forward to a return to "Call of Duty Season!"

As someone who writes about toys often (both here at The Rock Father™ Magazine and also over at The Toy Insider), I see a lot of new stuff. It's also very common for toymakers to send me pitches either for feedback, or in hopes that I will review them or cover their crowdfunding efforts. Tonight marks the second time that something once pitched to me shows up on ABC's THE TOY BOX, with Emotiplush (emailed to me during a crowdfunding run in 2014) vying for the attention of the judges in hopes of being crowned champion. At the end of the 8-week series, the winning toy will be produced by Mattel and sold exclusively at Toys "R" Us. Check out all of the week three toys below...

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