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James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and writes a regular Star Wars column - Transmissions from a Galaxy Far, Far Away for The Pop Insider. He also regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

Connect with James on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, October 02 2018 11:41

Is "Geoffrey's Toy Box" the New Toys 'R' Us?

Updated 10:51pm with more details at the end of the article...

Less than 24 hours before the official start of The Toy Association's annual Fall Toy Preview in Dallas, court filings revealed that the long-awaited Intellectual Property Auction for Toys "R" Us had been cancelled. Reported on here (now updated with a statement from the company), the new chapter in the long saga of the TRU closure would see a new company rise from Geoffrey, LLC under control of the lenders. Having been rumored for months, one question raised is how long ago in the bankruptcy process were the lenders planning to relaunch the company themselves rather than sell the assets? Backing-up to the June 29th final closure of the remaining Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us locations in the United States, there were some cryptic messages posted on the TRU social accounts using the hashtag "#TRUBeContinued..." inviting followers to "stay tuned for news and information on the next chapter for Geoffrey and the iconic TRU brands." While the Facebook page has been deactivated and the Instagram account has gone dormant, someone recently did a clean-up on the TRU Twitter account, deleting all the liquidation posts and tacky video ads going back to March 9th - a message thanking customers for their support. So why is the June 29th date so important? Because on June 20th, just nine days prior to the doors being closed, Geoffrey, LLC filed for a trademark on a new name: Geoffrey's Toy Box. And just who is exhibiting in Booth #13-3229 at the Fall Toy Preview? Geoffrey's Toy Box.

It's true that SpongeBob SquarePants may indeed still be one of my nemeses, but there comes a time to lay down arms and come together in celebration of a mutual interest... in this case, Halloween. New from Nickelodeon and Paramount Home Video comes  SpongeBob SquarePants: The Legend of Boo-Kini Bottom the acclaimed stop-motion animation special, now available for the very first time on DVD. As part of our annual 31 Days of Halloween here at The Rock Father™ Magazine, Nickelodeon DVD and I have teamed-up to get three readers hooked-up with copies of the DVD just in time for the spooky season!

How many Spider-People are out there? That's the question put forth in the new trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the new animated film from Sony Pictures Animation and Marvel. For those unfamiliar with the storyline beyond the usual "Peter Parker is Spider-Man" routine, there's long-been other tales about other people putting on the mask - something that extends throughout the multi-verse (other dimensions). In this new film, audiences will see many of these legendary Spider-folk come together on the big screen for the very first time. Check it out below!

UPDATED BELOW with Statement from the Company...

As I've said before, the saga of the Toys "R" Us collapse just continues to get stranger as time goes on, with new layers of unusual and in some cases, unheard-of activity still being revealed. Following the announcement that Bain Captial and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) were setting up a $20M fund to provide some severance to a portion of the 33,000 workers that were left jobless following the closure of the toy retailer in the U.S., now comes word that plans are in motion for a revived Toys "R" Us that could be run by some of the very companies that drove the company into liquidation in the first place. One theory that's been floated in back channels and among former TRU employees and business partners in recent months has been that the long-awaited IP auction has been intentionally delayed, having been postponed from June to August and then again to October. Now that auction has been flat-out cancelled, and the reason may come as a surprise (or not) to many: some of the same lenders that forced the company into liquidation have been plotting to revive both Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us under a new retail entity.

If there's a poster company for toy industry consolidation, Basic Fun! just might be it. As the industry of play continues to evolve and more companies jockey for position in the wake of the Toys "R" Us closure in the U.S. and elsewhere, team-ups and mergers are where it's at, and that's something that Basic Fun! saw coming. Announced during Toy Fair 2017 and reported on here, Basic Fun! was formed by combining two smaller companies - The Bridge Direct and Tech 4 Kids. At the time, Tech 4 Kids CEO Brad Pedersen said that the new company had the "expectation to acquire or merge with new businesses every twelve to eighteen months" to fuel growth. Indeed, the company has grown, but at an accelerated rate, having already absorbed K'NEX, Uncle Milton and Good Stuff. Today comes word that the company just pulled another PAC-MAN, gobbling-up Playhut, maker of indoor and outdoor play structures.

There have been a lot of hard-to-find and limited-edition Hess Toy Trucks over the years, but none have been more limited than what's just been released today. After months of teasing it online, Hess Corporation today announced that the special limited Collector's Edition Truck, commemorating Hess Corporation’s 85th anniversary, is now on sale exclusively at www.hesstoytruck.com. This Collector's Edition First Hess Truck has been designed "as an enhanced replica of the original fuel oil delivery truck used by Leon Hess when he founded the company back in 1933." While the actual numbers are never revealed, Hess promises that this one is being offered at "the most limited quantity ever for any Hess Toy Truck." I have the honor of helping to debut this ultra-limited ride, having gone hands-on right here in my office at Rock Father HQ this past weekend - check it out!

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