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It's feels a little weird posting this - the first news out of The Step2 Company to arrive here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine after my gig as a Step2 Brand Ambassador crossed the finish line at the end of a fantastic three-year run. While I'm no longer on the payroll, I'll still be sharing updates like this one - something right up my alley, and a product that I saw first-hand during my last visit to Step2 HQ in Streetsboro, Ohio last year: The Step2® Z06 Chevrolet Corvette Toddler-to-Twin Bed. Kicking off 2016 in style, the realistic looking bed will have children racing to sleep with a sleek design that even parents can enjoy, bringing a world-class American Supercar into kids' bedrooms.

My inbox has been blowing up with news out of Kia Motors America today - one of my favorite automakers, and one that's turning out some interesting things. While they're at CES in Las Vegas right now with the stunning Kia NOVO concept that debuted in Seoul last year, they're also touting autonomous rides (more on that shortly) and looking ahead to the next stop - Detroit. At the 2016 North American Auto Show, Kia will reveal a new concept car that was conceived at the automaker’s California design studio, one that they promise to offer "an abundance of advanced technology – including state-­of­-the­-art health­ and wellness technology," while "suggesting styling of a possible future premium large SUV in the brand’s lineup." I'm intrigued, are you?

As it was once written: "For centuries, the Legend of Santa Claus has evolved. From Saint Nicholas to Kris Kringle, Father Christmas to simply, Santa - this mysterious giver has taken many forms, appearing throughout the world under countless names to delight and inspire families by doing for others each and every holiday season. For many, the spirit of “Claus” is held within, a shining light that burns with the desire to do for others, particularly for those less fortunate."

When I became "The Rock Father" upon the birth of our first daughter back in 2009, I had no idea where the road of parenthood would lead. Eventually it became clear that my path is branching, and just as becoming a parent led to the birth of this digital magazine - this site led to the opportunity to do more. My job has allowed me to do some good our local community, and last year the opportunity arose to partner with General Motors and OnStar to hit the road to do some "Black Friday Shopping for Good" - the end result of which provided gifts for 37 children across 15 families right here in our township. Regardless of sponsorship, I made a decision that we'd do it again this year - and bigger, if possible. The Rock Daughters and I began amassing gifts in our garage, and as the holiday season began, we started ramping up a bit. Then, I'm happy to say that we partnered with Chevrolet and OnStar once more, and for 2015 #ChevyShopsForGood!

Since becoming parents for the first time 6½ years ago, my wife and I have spent a lot of time indulging our little girls' interest in cars. Actually, vehicles in general are a big thing - and the faster, the better! When it comes to fast vehicles with a ton of flair, Hot Wheels has that market on lock, and it was Addie's playtime that first rekindled my own love for those little 1:64-scale diecast rides a few years back. Now, little sister Finley is in on the action as well, and with the girls now 3 and 6, it's interesting to see two distinct types of play taking place. Finn likes speed, imagination and adventure - while Addie has shifted into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) elements of track construction and building unique structures with the pieces we have available. Over the years, we've discovered that our girls are hardly alone in their love of Hot Wheels - and some gigs of my own have led us to today... when it all comes full circle with something very special we've put together with my friends at The Step2 Company and Mattel. We're giving readers a chance to win The Ultimate Hot Wheels Holiday Giveaway - complete with an assortment of vehicles, tracksets, an Ultimate Garage, and something that you can't buy anywhere: A "Rock Daughter Edition" Hot Wheels Toddler-to-Twin Race Car Bed produced exclusively for this promotion! Only two were made - one of which is here at Rock Father HQ, the other awaiting shipment to one of you!

Tuesday, November 24 2015 22:51

Holiday Wish Guide: Meguiar's Car Care Products

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When it comes to keeping your vehicle looking great, one needs look no further than Meguiar's. I've been using Meguiar's products since the mid-1990s, and with something for every level of automotive enthusiast from first-time car owners, to those with prized showroom-worthy collectible rides, there's something that's just right for any application. Featured in my 2015 Holiday Wish Guide are three Meguiar's kits that make great gifts for any car lover on your Holiday list. 

For over 50 years, the Hess Toy Truck has been a tradition for families on the East Coast - one that's spread Nationally, and even Globally as its legendary status has continued to grow. Originally launched in 1964 as an affordable, high-quality toy to be sold at Hess Gas Stations, many worried about the fate of the annual truck when the Hess Corporation sold their Hess Express Gas Station business to Marathon last year - the stations converted to Speedway locations, something we've long-had here in the Midwest. The good news is that the Hess Corporation has made a pledge to keep the tradition alive, and while the trucks will no longer be available at the neighborhood gas station, they're available to families throughout the U.S. on HessToyTruck.com, and at Kiosks at 10 Malls across New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Just how popular is the Hess Toy Truck? The November 1st online launch led to a massive site crash and a virtual queue thousands of people deep... and when the Mall Kiosks first opened for in-person pick-up, lines were lengthy - hours long. The good news is, Hess has plenty available for the next few weeks, and the 2015 Hess Fire Truck and Ladder Rescue is a featured pick in my 2015 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine!

I've said it before, but let me say it again - there has never been a better time to be a STAR WARS fan than now... aside from when the Original Trilogy rolled out from '77-'83. With J.J. Abrams' STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS hitting theaters on December 18th, The Force is being felt in a big way, and today comes something from FIAT. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, FIAT unveiled a custom-painted Fiat 500e Stormtrooper Edition by Garage Italia Customs. It's the latest vehicle to roll out from FCA following the Force Friday promotion that had Mattel's Hot Wheels brand offering Uber riders in NYC the chance for a free ride in a Custom Dodge Charger Stormtrooper based on the popular Hot Wheels STAR WARS Character Cars.

We're pretty big fans of the MINI around here - as much as you can be by admiring them from afar, my wife especially lusting over them since they made their entry into the U.S. market back in 2002. While we've yet to own one, I check them out every year at the Chicago Auto Show, and have been known to have a toy or two around.  This week, MINI USA is unveiling two new models out at the Los Angeles Auto Show, with a new Convertible and Clubman set to roll into the L.A. Convention Center. Here's a preview...

Have your little ones been watching Nickelodeon’s Blaze and the Monster Machines? The Rock Daughters have, and they're loving the high-octane STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) goodness that's packed into every episode. Now comes word that Blaze and the crew will be speeding across the seven continents in “Race to the Top of the World,” an hour-long special featuring guest voice appearances by Emmy-nominated actors Anthony Anderson (Barbershop, Black-ish) as Pegwheel the Pirate and Mayim Bialik (Blossom, The Big Bang Theory) as the Sphinx. The special will be simulcast across Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., NickJr.com and the Nick Jr. App on Monday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m. (ET/PT). 

Out of all the vehicles that I've had a chance to pilot this year, the 2015 Lexus GS 350 F Sport stands above all as my favorite. The perfect mix of style and performance, the GS 350 F Sport is a comfortable family car that's loaded with enough luxury and sport features to scratch just about any itch that this driver happens to have. I managed to spend an extended amount of time in the GS 350 F Sport - one loaned to me for a trip from Northern Illinois to Michigan and back - and by the end of my run, I'd determined that this is a car that I would like to own... and the family agrees.

Saturday, November 07 2015 14:48

Test Drive: Rockin' the Road - The 2016 Scion FR-S

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As an unabashed fan of the Scion brand since its launch back in 2004, each new release has captured my interest. I'm a first-generation owner that took possession of a special-ordered 2005 Scion xB back in the summer of 2004. At the time, I was exactly the target market for the affordable, customizable ride - part of the "under 35" crowd that Toyota's Scion nameplate has always embraced. Having owned one model and driven many, one that escaped my hands on the wheel until recently was the Scion FR-S, and my first driving experience for that one came in the cockpit of the 2016 edition. The 2016 Scion FR-S is the latest U.S./Canada edition of the vehicle sold elsewhere as either the Toyota 86 or Subaru BRZ. 

Tuesday, November 03 2015 22:14

Holiday Wish Guide: The PAW Patrol PAW Patroller

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If you've been checking out the annual lists of 2015's Hottest Holiday Toys, one item that's been consistently appearing is Spin Master's PAW Patroller - the rolling command center from the hit Nickelodeon series, PAW Patrol. The PAW Patroller is making an appearance on my 2015 Holiday Wish Guide here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine as well - and I'm declaring it to be not just one of the hottest toys of the season, but one of the year's best overall. After going hands-on with our review sample for over a month as of this writing, the PAW Patroller has proven itself to be worthy of its acclaim - a perfect mix of vehicle and playset, and while it's scored big with The Rock Daughters, it recently hit me that it's sort of a toy that I've been waiting for... since 1982.

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