Holiday Wish Guide: Playmobil City Life Furnished Shopping Mall + 1-2-3 Santa Claus with Reindeer SleighWritten by James Zahn
When Christmas Day arrives, it's always been sort of a tradition to have one "big gift" hiding under the tree - perhaps "big" in size, but definitely big in fun. One recommendation I'm throwing out there in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide is something that hits on both of those notes and was a surprise even to us - a fantastic playset from Playmobil, the City Life Furnished Shopping Mall. This 535 piece set is massive - a two-level mall with everything kids need to stock and staff a couple of clothing and accessory stores for their Playmobil figures, a sporting goods store, a bridal boutique and even a food court-style ice cream shop. The attention to detail here is impressive, and the play value is huge, with our Playmobil Mall quickly becoming a part of the daily play routine here at Rock Father HQ with many different figures from well beyond the Playmobil realm shopping this location. Yes, I even spotted Holographic Obi-wan Kenobi looking for a handbag last week.
With Christmas just two weeks ahead, I'm still hearing from lot of parents that are looking for the right tablet for their little ones. Me being "technologically cautious" and fairly limiting in tech for my own kids, I evaluate a lot of items as they come, and this year has brought some great tablets into an increasingly competitive landscape. Competition is good, and one of the late entries into the race is the ClickN KIDS Tablet 2 by CNK Digital. This 7" Android Tablet is powered by Intel, and what's really intriguing is that it's the first tablet of it's kind to offer DPI (Dual Purpose Interface) technology, allowing kids and grownups alike to use and enjoy the same device under very different conditions. The folks at CNK and I have teamed-up for a Holiday Wish Guide Giveaway in which one lucky reader will receive one of these in blue (they're available for purchase in six colors, on Rollback at Walmart right now for just $69.99). The two caveats are that I can't get this to you in time for Christmas, so we're gonna keep this one running through winter break, and while I did receive one for review I just received it and have not had a chance to do a thorough review, so I cannot yet comment based on personal experience with it. That said, are you ready to learn more and enter?
This season, AEROSMITH guitarist JOE PERRY is cranking out the Holiday jams with the release of JOE PERRY'S MERRY CHRISTMAS, a four-song EP featuring rocked-up versions of “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” and “Run Run Rudolph" (featuring JOHNNY DEPP on rhythm guitar). Earlier today, Billboard debuted the video for Perry's cover of the latter song, a fresh take on Chuck Berry's classic. See it below, right here on THE ROCK FATHER...
For the past few years, I've been noting that Holiday music new releases have been getting smaller in number. While this year has seen a little uptick, things still aren't where they used to be, and on the non-Christmas side of the holiday season, new music is practically non-existent. Stepping in with a new Hanukkah offering this year is LISA LOEB, who along with RENEE STAHL has delivered a little bit of "Light." Listen below...
With just a few weeks left until Christmas, the window of time to search for that perfect gift is getting smaller and smaller. For those that have a gamer to buy for, there's some great options that I've featured here on the site over the past year - big hits like Disney Infinity 2.0 and CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE. But those are just the tip of the iceberg, and when it comes to gaming, your local GameStop store has a ton of great deals and new releases for every member of the family, from "big" gifts like a new XBOX One or Playstation 4, to stocking stuffers like the latest figures from Skylanders Trap Team. Now, GameStop and THE ROCK FATHER have teamed-up to highlight some great picks from the GameStop Holiday Hub in this Gaming Special Edition entry into my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide!
If you have a Whole Foods Market nearby, you may have noticed something new available over the past couple of weeks - a full line of products from PBS KIDS. This holiday season, PBS KIDS & Whole Foods are collaborating on a new collection of toys and products designed to give back to both children and our planet. From wooden toys made in Vermont by Maple Landmark Woodcraft, to Green Toys vehicles made from recycled plastics and organic cotton t-shirts (for kids and grownups), there's a lot to choose from - including over 40 plush animals from Aurora. As part of my gig as a member of the PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent) Team, my girls have a few of these here (a plush sloth, a Little Scoot wooden race car and airplane), and I'm showcasing the entire line as part of my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide. Act fast though, these item are only available in Whole Foods Market locations (selection will vary) and at PBSKIDS.org (where many have already sold-out).
For quite awhile now, Hasbro has been releasing versions of Mr. Potato Head that have been mashed with other pop culture licenses. While many of these are full-size Mr. Potato Heads (I have an Opti-mash Prime TRANSFORMERS edition from 2007-ish) or miniature (see the Playskool Mixable, Mashable Heroes I posted about recently), now comes something that's more of a medium-sized spud, and produced by PPW Toys under license from Hasbro. Mr. Potato Head Pop Taters are a starchy entry into a collectible realm that's currently being dominated by Funko's Pop! Vinyl - similar in size, but with that classic Potato Head action that kids and grownups tend to dig. With the latest assortment including characters from THE SIMPSONS, DOCTOR WHO, MARVEL and STAR WARS (along with some NHL and MLB-inspired pieces), we received a trio for review, and I've chosen to include them in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER.
I had a very "Christmas morning" type of moment here at Rock Father HQ not long ago, a priceless moment, yet one that comes with the unique position of running this website - I'm always afraid of messing up the timing with my little ones, if only because the stuff I write about can come seasonally ahead-of-schedule. Just a couple of weeks ago, I featured the Collector's Edition Hess Toy Truck (which is now sold out and going for insane prices on eBay) in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide, a special entry into the long-running series of Hess Toy Trucks that I'd written about in the past, but always had to admire from afar since they were previously an "East Coast" tradition. But that wasn't the only truck that the Hess Corporation released this year, but a companion to the 2014 50th Anniversary Hess Toy Truck and Space Cruiser with Scout a three-in-one toy that was just released for this Holiday season. Wouldn't you know, a rectangular box, neatly enveloped in Hess green wrapping paper arrived here at our home, and I gave it to Little Finley to open. Her reaction was beyond adorable.
It seemed like it was a slow-go at launch, but after being on the shelves for over a year now, Mattel's Monster High spin-off Ever After High has become a pretty big hit on it's own. With the dolls a hot item this Holiday season, role-play is catching on as well and the Ever After High Magic Mirror by Cartwheel Kids is the centerpiece item for any child's Ever After High collection. This talking mirror features lights and sounds, and comes packed with makeup tucked-away into "hidden" compartments for easy storage. Similar to the action of a Magic 8 Ball, kids can ask the mirror a question and then await a response. Royal or Rebel? That's for fate to decide, but fairytale dreams can certainly be enhanced by the destiny-revealing Ever After High Magic Mirror.
"How many radio controlled cars do you need?" That's a question posited by my wife not long ago, and one I can only answer with "as many as possible!" After all, they're "for the kids," right? Well, what I enjoy is innovation, and from Jada Toys comes the new line of HyperChargers RC vehicles, and they're definitely work a look. See, these things are not only fun and fast, but attack the problem of mass battery consumption though a novel approach - USB charging. While the controller still needs standard batteries, the cars themselves will never succumb to being the battery hogs that we're all used to. Aside from single cars and trucks, Jada has released a pair of "Heat" Chase Twin Packs that put a pair of cars against each other for under $40. Having checked out the HyperChargers Ford Mustang Boss 308 Police Car vs. the Chevrolet Camaro SS here at Rock Father HQ, I can confidently include these in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide.
2014 marks 50 years of A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS airing on television, first on CBS (boy, do I remember eagerly awaiting the start of it as a kid, when it would be prefaced by this groovy intro) and now on ABC. After making it's latest bow earlier this month, ABC will air A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS once more on Tuesday, December 16 at 8:00PM EST/PST (though it's always available on Blu-ray and DVD). To celebrate the big 5-0 ahead of next year's PEANUTS movie (see a trailer here), Kohl's, Target and Old Navy have rolled-out some exclusive Peanuts apparel for the holidays, and THE ROCK FATHER is proud to team-up with Santa Snoopy to help get your family outfitted! Check out the assortment below, and then enter for your chance to win!*
A few times a year, I tend to check out some of the latest in audio-based gadgets, several of which I report on here at THE ROCK FATHER. A couple of the coolest this year came from SOL Republic. Their RELAYS In-Ear Headphones have become my go-to set for use at the gym (trumping some other brands I'd been using), and their PUNK Wireless Bluetooth Speaker is a fine choice for being ultra-portable in that it fits in the palm of your hand and can be mounted onto a bike or backpack. I'm not only featuring both of these great items in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide, but giving all of you a shot at winning the PUNK Wireless Bluetooth Speaker!