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If you happen to take a peek at the selection in your local retailer's aisle of toy cars, there just might be a holiday surprise hidden within the mainline Hot Wheels (the ones that are priced around $1). One sub-collection this year is the 2017 Holiday Racers - a series of five cars, four of which have been revealed. There's Halloween (Poppa Wheelie), Christmas (16 Angels), New Year's (Poppa Wheelie) and the one that I'm sharing since it's Valentine's Day: Rodger Dodger. This classic Hot Wheels ride was originally issued back in 1974 and has been done in many variations since, but for 2017 it's presented in candy apple red with gold accents to celebrate Cupid's favorite day.

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The folks at InRoad Toys have been making PlayTape for a few years now - innovative peel-and-stick road pieces and train tracks that allow kids to use their imagination for creating new layouts to use with their favorite toy cars or train sets. Last year, they partnered with Mattel for a licensed assortment of Hot Wheels Playtape Track, bringing the iconic "Orange Track" to the PlayTape realm for the very first time. Touting hours of open-ended play that kids can "unroll, stick & race," the folks at InRoad sent some samples to the Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ™, and The Rock Daughters™ were more than happy to go hands-on! Check out the video below...

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STAR WARS 40th AnniversaryAs we enter 2017, we're now less than five months away from the 40th Anniversary of George Lucas' 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope. One of the looming, and most often-asked questions here at Rock Father HQ pertains to an area of my specialty, and that's toys. "What new toys are on the way for Star Wars' 40th Anniversary?" Quite simply, I don't know... yet - but I do have some ideas for how it'll all go down.

When it comes to sweet rides, Mattel's Hot Wheels brand is iconic - providing kids with countless hours of high-octane fun on the orange track since 1968. Like myself and the kids of many generations before, The Rock Daughters™ are well-versed in orange track adventures, often building elaborate course layouts anchored by Epic playsets like the incredible Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage. This year there's something new in the mix, and it comes to us from The Step2 Company, who under license from Mattel has created the Hot Wheels Car & Track Play Table. Available now as a Toys "R" Us Exclusive, this Play Table puts an automotive spin on Step2's famous Train Tables, re-working the play environment into signature Hot Wheels orange and blue, with a self-contained play space that kids absolutely love. As a featured pick in my 2016 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine, I'm thrilled to give you a chance to win one, presented in partnership with Step2!

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Mattel has a long tradition of releasing themed-versions of their popular toys, and holidays have been a big part of that over the years - particularly with Hot Wheels. When fall rolls around, there has usually been a limited-edition Halloween-themed series available as a retailer exclusive, and for 2016 that's true once more... but the exact locations have been a bit trickier to pin down. This year's 8-car Halloween line has been popping up at select grocers (many Kroger-owned chains are rumored to have them) and drug stores. Check out this year's assortment below!

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When I was little, there was a Hot Wheels truck that I always loved, called the "Highway Hauler." 40 years later, the Highway Hauler still exists in a modernized form, and one of the cool things about it is that since it's a box truck, the box on the back can be used to create an "advertisement," just as they were back in the day. When i'd play with friends, it was always cool to see which version the other kids had, because these trucks would often reflect the real world with brands like Pepsi, Pennzoil, and even other Mattel lines like MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. On a similar note, Matchbox first released their "Billboard Truck" back in 2003, and since then there have been several versions stamped with everything from Scooby-Doo and DC Comics to Nintendo and Roswell, New Mexico. What I found most striking, however, is a recent version done very simply in red-and-white, stamped with "This Is Mattel" - an ad for the parent company, complete with their mascot, "Matty," hanging in the back. Available as part of a Matchbox City 5-Pack, it's a really cool ride that I actually swiped from The Rock Daughters' collection to sit near my desk here in the office, though they're certainly welcome to play with it at any time...

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