A Special Veterans Day Feature to Kick-off the 2018 Holiday Season...
At Toy Fair in New York earlier this year, I finally had the opportunity to meet Tom Murdough, founder and CEO of The Simplay3 Company. Launched in 2016 and based in Ohio, the name reflects the power of simple play, but the "3" is indicative of the fact that this is the third toy company from Murdough, who famously founded both Little Tikes (1969) and The Step2 Company (1991) before taking a detour into "retirement" (at least from toys) for a portion of the past decade. While Simplay3 is a rare example of of an American toymaker that actually produces American-made toys (along with "grownup" items like mailboxes and wheelbarrows), it's also unique in that it's a privately-held, Veteran-owned business. Mr. Murdough was a member of the United States Marine Corps, having served from 1961-1964.
For Veterans Day 2018, IAmElemental, pioneers in the female action figure category, will debut a new children’s activity book, the Elements of Power Workbook. The books are being Made in America, printed by Auch Printing, Inc. - a second-generation veteran-owned business based in Glenside, Pennsylvania. All profits from workbooks sold during the month of November will support United Through Reading, an organization that connects military families who are separated -- for deployment or military assignment -- by providing the bonding experience of shared storytime. In addition, on Veterans Day, observed Monday, November 12, all profits from all sales at IAmElemental.com will benefit the charity.
It's not often that I get fully behind a Kickstarter project, but there's one going right now that I really believe in and they could use your help! One of our favorite toys of the past year came from a small company in California that most people have never heard of: ReadySetz. Their Urban Playset (reviewed here) quickly became a favorite with my girls for imaginative play, and for me as an environment for action figure and toy photography. For their next endeavor, they're going out-of-this-world with a much-requested Space Base Playset. I mentioned it recently in my Star Wars column over at The Pop Insider, and since then I've been brought on-board to photograph one of the handmade prototype playsets. As with the Urban Playset, the girls and I were blown away - so I can't wait to get our hands on an actual, fully-realized production model down the line. As of this writing, the clock is ticking and they're just shy of the halfway mark with just 10 days to go. Similar to when Hasbro crowdfunded their massive Jabba's Sail Barge earlier this year, the ReadySetz Space Base is seeing a slowdown in backers, so my fingers are crossed that we'll see an uptick here in the final days. By my math, they'll need to see another 250 pre-orders of the $65 large playset to meet their all-or-nothing funding goal. These sets are MADE IN THE USA and offer a durable, eco-friendly, easily-stored fold-flat design that's a perfect play space for all of your space-themed figures and vehicles! Will you back the base?
This Tub O' Towels special feature is presented in collaboration with Federal Process Corporation...
It's a rare occasion that it actually happens, but once in a great while, something comes along that becomes so essential, you find yourself wondering how you got along without it in the first place. Even more curious are the times when things manifest themselves as the unintended side-effect of something else. In the art world, Bob Ross might've called those "happy accidents," but in the physical realm I always think of those instances of accidental awesome - like the creation of Silly Putty. Sometimes you set out do to solve one problem and you end up solving something else. That's essentially what happened in the case of Federal Process Corporation and Tub O' Towels. They set out to create a product capable of removing industrial sealant, but ended-up with something so versatile and safe that it can be used to clean-up household messes with shocking ease. Tub O' Towels (available at my affiliate, Amazon) has been a staple of garages for years, but it needs to crossover to the household radar. For parents, grandparents and anyone with kids and pets, I'm here to tell you that Tub O' Towels has become an absolute essential here at Rock Father HQ, and they should be at your house, too!
At the 115th North American International Toy Fair this year, I happened to come across the Imperial Toy booth and some of their latest offerings on the bubble front. For years Imperial's bubbles have been a staple of outdoor play, but one new spin on the classic is something that's been kicking around since 2015, gradually being improved and readied for its major public push. Created by a pediatrician and allergist,Lick-A-Bubble is a special solution that allows kids to create flavored bubbles from just about any drink (just stay away from dairy, pulps, and steer non-carbonated). And for the grownups, yes - you can use this with your favorite "adult beverage" - and that's exactly how I first tried them.
One of my favorite toys of 2018 thus far is one that's perfect largely because of just how simple it is. The Simplay3 Carry & Go Track Table is a one-piece, 2-in-1 play space for cars, trucks and trains. The first side is an off-road race course that's filled with hills, valleys, curves, ramps and straightaways. Flip it over and you have a train table with built-in universal tracks, a figure-8 layout and a lake and quarry in the middle. With its lightweight plastic construction and molded-in handle, kids can easily carry this themselves, and because it's only 4" tall, the design is truly space-saving - easily stored underneath a bed or in a closet. I caught this on-display at the 115th North American International Toy Fair in NYC back in February, after which we received one for review in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ. Check out the video below to see this in-action!