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Monday, September 21 2015 22:51

The 2015 Hess Toy Truck is about Ready to Roll...

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2015 Holiday Wish GuideWhile the Hess Corporation sold their gas stations to Speedway last year, the tradition of the Hess Toy Truck continues, and the 2015 Edition is about ready to roll. Like last year, the 2015 Hess Toy Truck will be sold online (beginning November 1), and will include five Energizer batteries and free standard shipping. What's different this year is that the trucks will also be sold at 10 select shopping malls in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and 100 lucky fans will unwrap a surprise this holiday season – a Silver Edition 2015 Hess Toy Truck, which will be randomly awarded in place of the 2015 Hess Toy Truck. Sorta like Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket, but with a cool toy instead!

2015 Holiday Wish GuideHaving seen all the various incarnations of the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES over the years, it's been fascinating to see the waves of popularity levels rise and fall over time. I was front-and-center the first time the TMNT crew jumped from animated to live-action, and I tend to think that they're actually more popular now. TMNT has been firmly-established as a multi-generational interest at this point, one enjoyed by parents and kids, girls and boys alike. When a character becomes so loved that they wind up being sold on little girls' underwear (and yes, The Rock Daughters' do have Ninja Turtles undies), that's a big deal. From the beginning, Playmates Toys has held the master license, and I think that their toys just keep getting better. This year, they've launched a new sub-line that places the Turtles and their enemies in a new aisle at the toy store - the diecast section. Enter the T-MACHINES.

I've seen the first two episodes of ABC's THE MUPPETS, and they're pretty fantastic. While the series doesn't make its official debut until next week, many already know that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy have been on the outs - but now comes word that they've been seen together again (again). Seems Piggy's been tipping off the TMZ crowd, and it's all coming just prior to the 67th Emmy Awards - airing Sunday, September 20th, live on FOX... just two days prior to THE MUPPETS premieres on ABC. In a new video just-posted by The Television Academy, Piggy and Kermit meet Viola Davis (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, though I'm looking forward to SUICIDE SQUAD) and Julie Bowen (MODERN FAMILY), while Joel McHale (THE SOUP) shows up to throw down a little automotive knowledge. Take a look...

We're pretty big fans of the "Character Cars" that Mattel has been releasing as part of their Hot Wheels line for the past few years, and while we're not quite "completists," there is one pairing that was quite hard to resist. When a car inspired by GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY's Rocket Raccoon hit the streets (featured here back in January), it didn't even cross my mind that the big blastin' Rocket would eventually gain a true companion vehicle based upon his tall friend Groot. While the idea of a Groot car was certainly a given, making it into an actual, functional companion piece is what the designers at Mattel pulled off, and the results are fantastic. Hitting the pegs of your favorite toy emporium this month is the Hot Wheels Groot, and he's joined our fleet here at Rock Father HQ. Take a look!

Craftsman CrewTHE ROCK FATHER has partnered with Sears as a paid member of the Craftsman Crew. Are you #MADEtoRACE?

As a grownup, one thing I really wish I had the skill to do is fix up some old cars and take them out for a little old-school racing action. The only engine that I ever personally rebuilt was one for a go-kart, and I did that back in high school. I wish I'd learned more years back, but one thing I know for sure is that it's not only vehicles that can be "Made to Race," but people as well. Looking back, I'm fairly confident that I was #MADEtoRACE from the get-go - circa 1976. Just look at that little Renault Racing suit...

Wednesday, August 26 2015 20:08

The Mystery of the Topper Toys Johnny Express Truck...

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Update: Sold the truck, and what a miserable experience it has been. Buyer turned out to be a seller at toy shows, and decided to send me harassing messages since I can't mystically control the USPS shipping process - despite having a tracking number available that showed transit progress.

Last week, the girls and I did something that we rarely do - we stopped at a garage sale. Truth be told, we actually turned around to go back to a garage sale we'd already passed, just because I'd spotted some big, old TONKA Trucks sitting out there. The sale was actually at a construction company, so it was pretty perfect that they'd have toy construction gear, but most of the TONKA stuff (some dating back to the 60s) was in pretty rough shape - except for one. With the sandbox in mind, the girls and I selected a completely working 1991 TONKA Mighty Crane that still has a lot of play left in it. As I put it in the trunk, the guy came over and pointed out the shell of an old Buddy L truck, and something I'd never seen before... a flatbed truck labeled "Johnny Express." I wasn't really interested at first, but when he showed me a box of parts for it, I figured it was worth a shot - again with the sandbox/outdoor play in-mind. I had no idea I was purchasing a legend.

Mattel has been doing some really fun things with Hot Wheels lately, one of which are multiple series' of vehicles with themes rooted in pop culture history. Many of these are retailer exclusives that are offered as sort of a "one-and-done" thing - a big shipment arrives in one shot, and when they're gone, they're gone. For families and casual collectors, sometimes completing a full set is a challenge, as there tends to be one or two hard-to-find cars in the set. Recently, Hot Wheels issued a six-car, Tom & Jerry 75th Anniversary Series that was created to commemorate the MGM Cartoons that won Academy Awards from 1940-1957. I've recently acquired a set, and I'm giving all of you a chance to win it, right here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine!

I don't often talk "business" publicly, but when it comes to sponsorships on this very website, I've told a few folks that I look at it a lot like running a NASCAR Team. You look for partners that are a great fit, and you do good for them, because at the end of the day, the sponsors are there to help achieve a goal - and that's to keep on racing (or in my case, writing). On the actual racing front, Danica Patrick's "ride" was in question for a bit, but now any uncertainty has been put to rest as Nature's Bakery has joined Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to become the primary sponsor of driver the No. 10 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning with the 2016 season. Hopefully my girls and I will be able to see the new car in-action when it hits the track next year...

When I placed my special-order for one of the very first 2005 Scion xB's delivered to the Midwest back in 2004, I was exactly the kind of buyer that Toyota was hoping would jump into their Scion brand. Launched a year prior with availability only in California, I first laid eyes on the iconic "box" on a trip to Las Vegas in the Fall of 2003 and was immediately enamored by the vehicle. My wife allowed me to indulge my ongoing KNIGHT RIDER fixation by ordering an xB in Black Sand Pearl, complete with all the red adornments that we could afford - from red racing pedals to red LED light bars under the dash and seats. There would be LED cupholders, along with multi-color LED cycling on the in-dash Pioneer stereo head - one that would power the custom Bazooka Tube in the trunk. 11 years and 160K miles later, that little xB is in a lot of ways like my R2-D2 - sure, there's better options out there, newer models available, and mine is essentially battered, beaten and somewhat broken in some places - but we've had a lot of adventures together, and I'm not ready to part with it just yet... though it's days are extremely numbered. Being a longtime Scion fan that was there in the beginning, I've always had my eye on their latest offerings every year at the Chicago Auto Show (and the special vehicles that they create for the SEMA Show), so it was exciting to be invited to join the Scion Team in Grand Rapids, Michigan to get up to speed on where the brand is at age 12, and to go hands-on with pre-production prototypes for the Scion iM and iA - both of which will go on-sale beginning September 1, 2015.

I've been sort of obsessed with the idea of a life-sized TONKA truck ever since I saw one of the custom FORD TONKA's at the Chicago Auto Show a few years back. Then, someone that lives relatively close to me bought one - a fact I know since I see it on the road a few times a month, so there's a TONKA being stored somewhere new Rock Father HQ. But when it comes to life-sized TONKA trucks, the folks at Funrise Toys, who manufacture TONKA under license from Hasbro, have a long-running relationship with TOYOTA, and this week they've unveiled the life-sized TONKA 4Runner - a power-packed truck that joins a family of life-size TONKA marketing vehicles including the TONKA T-Rex, the TONKA Tundra and Off-road vehicles – Pro 2, Pro 4, Pro Lite and Pro Buggy, which compete in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. 

It's an odd synergy that Tesla Motors decided to release the video that they did today - on the eve of the release of FEAR FACTORY's GENEXUS (out 8/7 via Nuclear Blast Entertainment). For over two decades, Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares have been bringing us tales of robotic uprising that often makes THE TERMINATOR look tame, and today comes this - a Tesla "Charger Prototype Finding its Way to Model S." Watch the video below, and then we'll discuss this a bit more...

I spent the past week cruising around the Midwest in a Black 2015 Lexus GS350 F-Sport, falling in love with Lexus engineering and appropriately speeding along while thinking about the future. When it comes to the future, 1989's BACK TO THE FUTURE II sure planted some seeds of things to come, and this October, when the date arrives that the fictional Marty McFly would've traveled to, many will look back on the innovations that really did arrive as predicted by that film. Perhaps none have had as lasting an impact as the Mattel Hoverboard that was featured in the film - for years a punchline, and later made into a non-functioning "Prop Replica" sold through MattyCollector.com, last year the Hoverboard was the inspiration for an elaborate hoax carried out by Funny Or Die and featuring Tony Hawk. Who could've predicted that it would be Lexus who would create the first true, working Hoverboard - and that they'd been working on it while others were creating fakes. The Lexus Hoverboard is called SLIDE, and it's here...

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