The holiday season brings with it a host of magical experiences and opportunities to make family memories that will last a lifetime. At the pinnacle comes the annual visit with Santa Claus, and this year the folks at HGTV and Macerich Shopping Centers have teamed-up for an all-new experience aimed at bringing holiday magic to kids and grownups alike with some flourishes that have been upgraded for the social media age. HGTV presents Santa HQ - open now at 15 different locations, including the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois - not far from Rock Father™ HQ! My wife and I recently took The Rock Daughters™ to visit Santa HQ first-hand, and you're going to want to schedule a visit, too!
One of the best toy lines out there for kids ages 3-8 comes from Mattel's Fisher-Price. Imaginext are exciting, themed toys that are age-appropriate for a younger audience that craves action and adventure, but they're crafted to aid in development. Little ones can feel like a "big kid," while exploring colorful worlds through incredibly detailed figures, playsets, vehicles and accessories. We first got into Imaginext a couple years back when our youngest daughter asked Santa for "a Space Station." What she wanted was the Supernova Battle Rover - something that Santa not only delivered, but a playset still enjoyed two years later. For Holiday 2017, Fisher-Price has some new Imaginext collections, and two of the best are their DC Super Friends and Treasure Hunters series'. Not only are they fun for kids, but they're also fun for grownups as they tap into interests like Justice League and Indiana Jones. Here's a look at some of this season's must-haves, sent to us for review as part of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine's 2017 Holiday Wish Guide™!
Wonder Crew dolls are something I've been writing about for ages. In fact, I first shared news of these toys nearly three years ago - back in March of 2015. Fast-forward a bit, and what we have is a repeat entry into my annual Holiday Wish Guide™ - a 2016 selection that's back for 2017. Launched independently via a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wonder Crew was eventually acquired by PlayMonster, and they've slowly begun popping up on shelves at more and more retailers as the movement has grown. They're dolls that were designed with boys in mind, but intended for all children... girls and boys alike.
My wife and I have been intrigued by the idea of a neighborhood library for awhile - an interest piqued by the growing Little Free Library movement. Perhaps you've seen them around - little boxes or buildings placed in a yard, each encouraging neighbors to take a book or leave a book for their neighbors to enjoy. Until now, those libraries were either built buy their caretakers or ordered from craftsman - but for inexperienced builders such as myself, none were really simple or affordable enough to make me pull the trigger. Then came some news out of Ohio that the team at The Simplay3 Company were working on a solution - a simpler option "for folks wanting to make a positive impact in their community." Their new Simplay3 Sharing Library is the end result of designers who found themselves inspired by the Little Free Library movement and wanted to get them into as many neighborhoods as possible.
Zuru's Hamsters in a House first hit the scene a couple of years ago - tiny, electronic, scurrying hamsters that roam around customizable plastic track. Now, the Hamsters are back with a second series, and it's following a popular trend: food. Hamsters in a House: Food Frenzy has launched at Target and Toys "R" Us for holiday 2017, allowing kids to expand the world of Hamtasia with a new collection of hamsters, playsets, track pieces and accessories!
Since 1964, the Hess Toy Truck has been an annual tradition of collectible holiday toys. For years, families on the east coast would look forward to the reveal of the annual Hess Toy Truck - which hasn't always been "a truck," but a high-quality vehicle offered at a great price and wrapped-up in signature green giftwrap, ready to roll for the holidays. Because it was an east coast thing, we'd missed out on it since we didn't have Hess Express gas stations here in the Midwest, but we really started getting into these around five years ago - ironically, just a year or so before Hess sold-off their gas stations. While the stores may be gone, the tradition of the truck lives on, and every year on November 1, a new Hess Toy Truck becomes available exclusively on HessToyTruck.com. We recently got our hands on the 2017 Hess Dump Truck and Loader (sent to us for review), and after seeing the girls eagerly crack it open, it's easy to see why it's a top pick in my annual Holiday Wish Guide™!