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.
In doing what I do, I've been fortunate to see a lot of great toys cross my path over the past few years. For 2017, there's certainly been some highlights, but one of the best new toys was a late entry, and one that had escaped me until its makers hit me up earlier this fall and sent over one for review. When it comes to playsets, I grew up in an era that had a bunch of them - iconic sets from Star Wars, G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe, to name a few. While there's no doubt that kids want the biggest and best, the grownup mentality is that there's a real problem with those awesome playsets... storage. Our girls have some incredible sets here, ranging from the Barbie Dream House to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer Lair. They're massively fun, but also massive in size... big, bulky plastic sets that aren't easy to store in-between adventures. Now, the makers of ReadySetz have emerged with their first playset - one that both provides a fun environment for imaginative play and solves the space problem. It's one of 2017's coolest new toys, and one you've likely never heard of.
As a guy whose earliest years were well-documents on his parents' Super 8mm camera (which I'd later use for "filmmaking" purposes), I will forever hold a place in my heart for Kodak, and as the film company continues to reinvent itself in both film and digital worlds, today comes news of a partnership that will see some vibrant Kodak imagery come back into the toy department this fall. Cra-Z-Art has entered into a strategic brand licensing agreement with Eastman Kodak Company to produce and distribute puzzles in the U.S. The puzzles will feature beautiful photo imagery and be available in various size piece counts from 100 to 2000. Those puzzles will be Made in the USA.
The Hot Wheels Car & Track Play Table from The Step2 Company has been a favorite here at Rock Father HQ for awhile now, a staple of daily play that we've recommended to many friends and family members over the past year. So what did they do for a sequel? Created by Step2 under license from Mattel, the new Hot Wheels Road Rally Raceway is a new way to play Hot Wheels in a space-saving design, that features zig-zagging molded track, and the ability to connect additional orange track to the table to extend the racing fun. Check this out...
Blame Canada. At least in this instance, the title of the Oscar-winning 1999 song from the South Park motion picture might ring true, if only for those individuals that happen to have been a part of the angry social mob that just attacked Spokane-based RESCUE! Pest Control over the past couple of days. This angry, misguided gang of idiots also decided it was worth attacking yours truly based upon a 2014 review that I'd written about the TrapStik Non-Toxic Wasp Trap, followed by some social posts over the past few years - most recently, this past May. Part of my mission is to guide families toward products that work, and when it comes to controlling the Wasp population, there is nothing that I've found that works as well as the TrapStik - and it does so without pesticides of any kind. Now, they're being voluntarily pulled from the market pending a redesign, and that's a decision I don't agree with. The reason for the fiasco? The occasional unintended creature (bird or bug) may get stuck on the TrapStik. Personally, that's a risk I'm willing to take.
At Sweet Suite '17, otherwise known as "The Biggest Night of Play," I had the opportunity to host a segment on The Toy Insider's live stream - straight from Chelsea Piers in New York City. The task at hand? Unboxing a few of the newest toys from K'NEX. Expected to be among 2017's hottest holiday toys, I took a live look at the Budding Builders Tub from Kid K'NEX, along with the Power & Play Motorized Building Set, and the all-new Web Weaver Roller Coaster Building Set from the K'NEX Thrill Rides Collection. Captured during the livestream, the full video can now be viewed below!