For years, tales of haunted toy stores have spread as urban legends, like the fabled Toys "R" Us in Sunnyvale, California - one said to be so frightening, it's inspired decades of theories and once appeared on an episode of Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories, directed by Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist) and narrated by Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy. While the iconic retailer closed its doors here in the U.S. back in June, there is a chance for you to take a stroll through a Toys "R" Us once more, but not one of the many currently inhabited by pop-up stores like Spirit Halloween or Party City's Halloween City / Toy City combos... a haunted Toys "R" Us. For one month only, those who are brave enough have the opportunity to visit ZOMBIES 'R' US - "A New Haunted Experience" located inside the former Toys "R" Us location in College Point (aka Flushing, NY) Queens.
We're big fans of PLAYMOBIL here at Rock Father HQ, one of our most-played-with toys of the past couple of years being the furnished shopping mall that I featured on the site a year ago (still played with every single day). With SUPER 4 on Netflix (#StreamTeam represent!), and new figures being released all the time, there's a lot of new stuff that we don't always get around to picking up, but still admire from afar. One such piece is the PLAYMOBIL Play Box Haunted House (5638) that was issued just in time to make my annual 31 Days of Halloween here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine. While we don't have this particular set in our personal collection just yet, the Play Box collection has always been pretty cool, and this one is no exception.
After playing host to numerous haunted attractions during every Halloween season for the past couple of decades, the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, Illinois has been given a cinematic overhaul for 2014 as the new location of Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare. After making it's debut in California last year, 2014 finds the Great American Nightmare (GAN) taking on two cities, with Scottsdale, Arizona joining Chicagoland for the newly-annual celebration of macabre entertainment with a rock and roll flair. THE ROCK FATHER was invited to check out the opening night festivities - complete with a full-blown Rob Zombie concert at the Odeum, and a trip through all three haunted houses, each based on one of Zombie's feature films: HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE LORDS OF SALEM and THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO. Here's some thoughts...
Originally Posted July 12, 2013 - Updated, October 9, 2015
I often feel like the "odd man out" when it comes to my views on the current state of childhood play. Despite covering the latest and greatest in tech toys and apps here on The Rock Father, I'm not keen on making them a big part of our daily lives. I've touched on that before, and sure, I like to know about the "cutting edge," but here's the reality: As plugged-in as they are, the current crop of kids are largely missing out. They're missing out on using their minds - experiencing new worlds through imaginative play and interacting with the real world. What happened to playing dress up and creating adventures in your own neighborhood? A lot of kids aren't getting those experiences, and I think it's because some grownups have forgotten about their own experiences, and now they need a reminder.