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I do believe that the toy wars have begun... and that's a great thing for kids, parents and everyone who loves play! Following the sudden and spectacular collapse of Toys "R" Us earlier this year, a huge void was left and that means that other retailers have been ramping up to serve their customers while capturing a part of that business (fact: TRU still sold $11 billion in toys in 2016). Walmart (an affiliate) is one of the first out of the gate, rebranding their toy departments as "America's Best Toy Shop," promising an expanded assortment that includes 30 percent new toys in stores and 40 percent more toys online. That means new brands that kids may not have seen before, and they're adding some fun new experiences and special in-store events to get families excited. Along with this news comes the unveiling of Walmart's annual hot toy list, their 2018 "Top Rated By Kids" - 40 must-have items for this holiday season - and layaway is back! Check it out...

Update - 8/27/2018, 8:02pm - “The safety of our customers and associates is a top priority. We take this seriously and work closely with law enforcement whenever these claims arise, however this particular claim is unsubstantiated. If any customer feels unsafe or uncomfortable while at our store, we encourage them to contact police or an associate so they can assist as appropriate.” -- Tara Aston, Walmart spokesperson.

Original story: Earlier this morning, I woke up to a notification that my mom had tagged me in a Facebook post, as she sometimes does when something might be interesting. The post was a share from Sandy Davis (Dankmeyer), a woman in northern Wisconsin. She claimed that while visiting Wisconsin Dells on Wednesday, August 22, 2018,  she and her children were put firmly into the sights of would-be abductors or human traffickers while shopping at the Wisconsin Dells Walmart store. In her post, published at 1:12am on August 23, Davis claimed to have been "beeped at" by a white van in the parking lot, after which she was approached by a Walmart Associate who informed her that this is how abductors are signalling their accomplices. She goes on to mention being followed by "2 black guys" and discussing this situation with a member of store management. Davis' post has already garnered more than 6.6K shares as of this writing, but the thing is... her rambling account sounds eerily similar to a number of other recent Walmart abduction stories that turned out to be hoaxes. I immediately reached out to local law enforcement along with the Walmart Corporate Communications team to learn more about the situation.

Published in James' Journal

When The Rock Daughters™ and I paid a visit to The Toy Insider's Sweet Suite in New York City this summer, we saw that the folks at Kid Trax were upping the ride-on game with new offerings like Rideamals (more on those shortly). But now they've got some fresh product rolling into retailers for the Holidays and one for the younger crowd (ages 1-3) that stands out is a whole new spin on an old favorite. In partnership with Hasbro, the Kid Trax HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS 3-in-1 Activity Rider is available now, exclusively at Walmart (an affiliate). Check out a video of it in action below!

Published in Rock Father Rides

The first-ever Hot Wheels Legends Tour is currently making its way across the U.S. in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Mattel's iconic Hot Wheels brand. After kicking-off at the Hot Wheels garage in El Segundo, California back in April, this traveling car show is popping up in Walmart parking lots from coast-to-coast, and by the time it wraps back in Los Angeles on October 20th, 15 real-life cars will have been chosen to head out to the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where one car will be crowned champion and immortalized in diecast form as an actual mainline Hot Wheels toy car! For the Chicago date, I was invited by Mattel to serve as a guest judge, checking out the field with The Rock Daughters™ (my little Hot Wheels enthusiasts) along for the ride. It was a hot and rainy morning in Bedford Park, and while the rain may have scared away some participants, a great time was still had by kids and grownups alike, celebrating that after 50 years, Hot Wheels are no longer just a toy - but a lifestyle. At the end of the day, I had the honor of rockin' the mic to say a few words to the hometown crowd, including the introduction of the winner of the day - Brian Bergeron and what began as a 1987 Porsche 944,  now completely redesigned for racing as the Widerstandsfahig #001-15. Check out the video below from Donut Media to see highlights from Chicago, the winning car and to hear more of Brian's story...

Published in Rock Father Rides

Presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ and Mattel

There’s several trends in toys for 2018, and Mattel has managed to tick the boxes on many of them with one new line - Pooparoos Surpriseroos, available only at Walmart. Coming out of Toy Fair back in February, the world knew that bathroom fun would be a big deal, and here we see that combined with squishy collectibles, micro-collectibles and the ever-popular element of both blind boxes and blind bags. Kids will love the unboxing experience that these provide, with each adorable toilet playset including one squishy Pooparoos character paired with three blind Surpriseroos. Check out our hands-on video to see five-year-old Finley (youngest of The Rock Daughters™) cracking some open!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Snyder’s-Lance. All my opinions are that of James Zahn, The Rock Father™. #pmedia #Pop4Captain http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Are you ready for adventure? This summer, Captain Underpants took a flying leap from the printed page of the best-selling book series, landing on cinema screens to the delight of families everywhere. Now, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is coming home on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD September 12, and now is the perfect time to pre-order the movie from Walmart and make plans for an epic early fall movie night. I've got a few tips to help you make the most of it, with snacks from Pop Secret and Lance, along with some free printables that the kids will love!

Published in Movies, TV and More
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