Ready to let your little ones rock the block in a ride unlike any other? One of my top picks in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide is something that I'm excited to be helping launch as a Step2 Brand Ambassador - a ride that I've had the rare chance to have seen evolve over the past year, the all-new Step2 Spin & Go Xtreme Cruiser. Available now Exclusively through Walmart.com, the Spin & Go Xtreme Cruiser is a unique, six-wheeled, two-speed, 12-volt vehicle recommended for ages 4-8. The initial reaction on my block? Everybody wants one. Take a look...
Now, it's a not-so-secret piece of information around here that I don't like Spongebob Squarepants... at all. I've never been fan of the Nickelodeon series, and I don't let the girls watch it. Despite being such a big "thing" over the years, the world of these characters is lost on me, and it probably all goes back to the time I rented THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE for one reason only: An appearance by David Hasselhoff. Even Michael Knight himself wasn't enough to win me over when it comes to Spongebob, so I have little knowledge of what the little yellow guy is up to... aside from the fact that MEGA Bloks has turned out some pretty cool building sets as part of a new line based on the hit series. That said, the MEGA Bloks Krusty Krab Attack Building Set arrived here for consideration for my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, and you know what? It makes it - because Spongebob or not, it's a cool building set and a lot of fun!
It could be said that the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES have never been more popular. While they were huge the first time around (I practically wore out a TMNT movie t-shirt I had back in '90) the TMNT crew is attacking all fronts these days, with a hit movie in theaters, a fantastic line of figures from Playmates Toys, and the hit animated series on Nickelodeon. Now comes something a bit different - Blueprints Paper Craft TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES sets from the folks at Jazwares. Based on the animated TMNT adventures, these craft sets present kids and grownups alike with the opportunity to build detailed figures, vehicles and environments from pre-scored, high-quality paper. While these are just getting out there to retail right now, I'm including them in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide as a great gift idea that blends much-needed screen-free craft project time with action play.
Is it safe to say that girls love mermaids? I know it's a generalization, but with my own two daughters and their friends, mermaids seem to be a can't-miss mythical creature - and there certainly seems to be a trend of adding mermaids into the mix with plenty of popular shows and toy lines. In fact, mermaids have shown up on SOFIA THE FIRST (and not just The Little Mermaid, Ariel), Barbie has become one (on many occasions), and I've spotted half-fish versions of Lalaloopsy, Monster High, Dora the Explorer, Mooshka and more over the past year. The big question for me has become, "At what age do I show the girls SPLASH?" - the 1984 classic that for me, shaped how I'd forever view mermaids (sans that "Murmaider" song from METALOCALYPSE/DETHKLOK). Bottom line is, when it comes to kids and mermaids, they're a pretty good combo, and thus I'm adding Zuru Toys' MY MAGICAL MERMAID to my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER. There's a good chance you've seen it on television or in-stores, but I'm gonna show you real video of it in-action here at Rock Father HQ.
The folks at Wicked Cool Toys have served-up a couple of oddities this year (see: CAT PAW), and today comes a Holiday Wish Guide feature on a toy line that I didn't even expect to like... much less see land a spot in the annual rundown of cool Holiday Gifts. CRASHLINGS (Meteor Mutants from Outer Space) are a collection of micro figures, vehicles and playsets that come with "poppable" meteors - the idea being that these little creatures from another world crashed into earth inside of said meteors. The poppable action sends these things flying, and in our experience has become dangerously-addictive - for the entire family. If you have father, mother and two daughters popping little meteors around the house... you get the picture.
A new entry into the world of larger-scale dolls, Global Girl is unique for a variety of reasons - starting with the 21" size, but that's just the surface. The dolls were inspired by children's curiosity about different cultures around the world, and rather than make the doll look similar to the child, each doll has it's own mold and traits indicative of the land from which it represents. Accompanying stories are meant to be "inspirational and empowering," with hope that "the ongoing collection of dolls and books will pique girls' interest and excitement about other cultures at a young age and help prepare them for the future." That's something I can get behind, and Global Girl secures a spot in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER.
When it hits November, you know it's CALL OF DUTY season, and this year's launch of CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE has ushered-in a new era for the long-running franchise. For older kids (17+) and grownups, I'm including the latest COD game in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER - and as in years past, I'm gonna give you a chance to win one - but this year, this game is a little bit different: Five (5) lucky readers will score CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE on their choice of system - Xbox One, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 or Playstation 3.
The countdown is on! Lalaloopsy's World's Largest PJ Party will be taking place on Saturday, November 15th from 7-10pm ET as an attempt will be made to break the Guinness World Record for "Most Slumber Party Participants in Multiple Locations" - a record that currently stands at 34,000. With home base set for the Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando, kids around the world can take part (with grownup assistance) by joining the fun with hashtag #LalaPJParty on Twitter and Facebook, where the Lala crew will be live tweeting and posting from the event. We'll be taking part from here at Rock Father HQ, but in the meantime - I'm launching another Holiday Wish Guide Giveaway, partnered with my friends at MGA Entertainment to give all of you a shot at winning one of 2014's most-wished-for gifts, the LALALOOPSY BAKING OVEN!
When I was a kid, I had a playmat for my toy cars. It was a thin sheet of plastic that rolled out to display a cool scene involving roads, towns, cities, and countryside. It got a ton of use, and each time it would be put away, the more tattered it would become. Three decades later, playmats have evolved into a market of their own, with many options available from printed area rugs to textured rubber tiles. The big problem tends to be that they're not portable, and that's something that Prince Lionheart has addressed with their new Everywhere playMAT - a 6.5ft x 4.9ft reversible foam mat that folds into smaller configurations and then slips neatly into it's included carrying case for travel and storage. Reversible, with a city scene on one side and a zoo on the other, it's a perfect backdrop for adventure for Ages 0+, with plenty of fun for babies, toddlers and younger kids. It's a unique addition to my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER.
For the past couple of years, DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD has been such a fixture here at Rock Father HQ that the characters of the Neighborhood of Make Believe feel like family. Having written about The Fred Rogers Company-produced series even pre-dating my own work with the PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent) team, there's an inexplicable feeling of warmth and goodness that occurs just from hearing the music alone. When the JAKKS Pacific toy line was first announced, the girls and I were excited to get our hands on some, and in the year or so that's passed, we've bought some and we've received some along the way. Heck, I've even taken Daniel with as a traveling companion, and since the girls play with their figures almost daily (they're regularly intermixed with a core group of toys here), I'm including the entire DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD line in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER.
Last year, when we took the girls to visit Santa Claus at Macy's on State Street in Chicago, there were only two things that Addie asked Santa for, the first of which was a MOOSHKA Doll (which I wrote about here). At the time, Santa wasn't very familiar with Mooshka, but he must've gotten acquainted, because sometime during the night between December 24-25, a Mooshka appeared under our Christmas tree. For those unfamiliar, a Mooshka is a very traditional-style cloth doll that is irresistible to little ones, the story being that a group of paper doll friends once held hands and through the power of friendship "sprung to life" as huggable girls called Mooshka. For Holiday 2014, the Mooshka girls are back, with new friends including the Goodnight Starlight edition, one of which (Dasha) arrived here for review this Fall courtesy of MGA Entertainment. With a light-up belly and musical, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" action, Dasha quickly became a much-loved addition to my girls' Mooshka family, securing a spot in my 2014 Holiday Wish Guide.
There is only DOC McSTUFFINS, or so said the wise Ron Swanson once upon a time... a oft-quoted meme around these parts. As much as the kids love Doc McStuffins, it's quite parent-approved here at Rock Father HQ as well, and as such, the girls have a full collection of items that could easily be found in Doc's clinic. Last Christmas, the Get Better Checkup Center was the hot item of the season, with scalpers hoarding them and re-selling as if it was the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of 1983. Luckily for us, "Santa" was scoping out the local Walmarts in the weeks preceding Christmas, and after visiting countless remote stores, he happened to stop by the closest to HQ around 11pm one night just as two were being stocked on the shelves. While the odds of lightning striking twice are slim, Just Play Toys is back with another must-have Doc McStuffins toy this Holiday Season, with the Get Better Talking Mobile - which I'm calling my #1 Holiday Wish Guide toy of the year.