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The #RockFatherTour is back on the road this week. I'm currently in Grand Rapids, Michigan getting ready to hit the road in pre-production models of the all-new 2016 Scion iM and Scion iA. These new vehicles will be available for sale beginning September 1, and I'll be serving-up some sneak-peeks on social media throughout the day.

With our girls turning 3 and 6 this summer, it's easy for my wife and I to see the difference in skill level between "The Rock Daughters," and to consider the difference in development when comparing how our oldest was when she was the same age as our youngest. In a few spots, Addie was undoubtedly presented with vehicles that were ahead of her age and skill level - something that's easier to see now. She received a 12" bike for her second or third birthday, then a 20" for her fifth birthday, and now here she is about to turn six and there's still training wheels on both. Little Finn on the other hand is working both a Radio Flyer Tricycle and the 12" Huffy Cinderella bike that she's inherited from big sister, but the game just changed. When the folks at STRIDER approached me about having the girls try one of their famed "balance bikes" (no pedals, no training wheels), with the idea that both of my girls could soon learn balance to graduate from the trikes and training wheels, I was skeptical at best. Does the STRIDER Bike really teach balance?

The Step2 CompanyOn my recent trip to the Ohio headquarters of The Step2 Company, I turned a corner to find something mysterious... large... and previously only rumored to exist. The legend turned out to be true... and there it was - headlights shining at me - glaring in front of an iconic blue and orange color scheme that can only be claimed by one of America's biggest and best-selling automakers. Granted, they're usually 1:64 in scale and made largely of diecast metal, but I don't know if any car brand has moved more units than Hot Wheels since the first "Redlines" rolled-out in 1968. The odd thing here is that I found myself staring at what may be one of the biggest Hot Wheels items ever to be produced... and it wasn't in the famed Southern California Design Studio that Mattel has established for Hot Wheels, but in the Ohio testing facility of fellow toymaker Step2. Take a peek at this, and look very closely...

2016 is already shaping up to be a huge year for fans of DC Comics, with DC SUPER HERO GIRLS rolling out, BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE hitting theaters, and the grownups-only SUICIDE SQUAD following down the line. For the toy aisles, there's a new addition that's just been revealed, and it comes from some old "friends."

Guests at Comic-Con International in San Diego last week got a first-look at the latest real-life vehicle to be spawned from the world of Mattel's iconic HOT WHEELS brand. The BATMAN v. SUPERMAN Twin Mill was inspired by the forthcoming BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, and will be reproduced as a 1:64 scale diecast car that kids and collectors will be able to find next spring as part of a larger BvS line of vehicles. Check out the making-of video below, along with some words on the styling direct from the Hot Wheels Team...

Tony Scott's 1990 film DAYS OF THUNDER is a personal favorite - one that tapped into my love of racing and inspired me to build the official model kits of the cars driven by Tom Cruise (Mello Yello) and Cary Elwes (Hardee's) in the film. Paramount Pictures released that film 25 years ago this year, and it's still a very quotable piece for NASCAR fans. To celebrate the anniversary of the film and the return of M&M's® Crispy, Kyle Busch - driver of the #18 M&M'S® Crispy Toyota is starring in a new spoof/tribute alongside his new crew chief Adam Stevens and others. Check out the short film and some bonus features below...

When it comes to iconic, American toys, one of the few brands that immediately springs to mind is TONKA. For me, simply hearing the word conjures images of those five bold letters standing out in the stamped, embossed metal form that I grew up on as a kid in the 80s. My cousins and I had many adventures with our TONKA Trucks and construction vehicles - the original-style metal versions that were built like tanks. From the sandbox to the garden, and even at one point an actual construction site (my aunt and uncle had a property being built that had some cool ditches we used as a "quarry"), we were there with TONKA, getting dirty and having fun. In fact, "Gettin' Dirty Since 1947" is TONKA's tagline in 2015, and all these years later, it's a tradition that The Rock Daughters™ have now been experiencing here at Rock Father HQ...

Last summer, my wife and I loaded up the car and took The Rock Daughters on a 1,900+ mile road trip - our first true family vacation. We headed east from Illinois, making our way to Philadelphia at our farthest point. Over the course of six days, we would visit Sesame Place, The Crayola Experience, Hershey's Chocolate World, The J.M. Smucker Company Store & Cafe... and about 15 different rest stops along the way. And, because we did stop in Philly, I also tossed my taste buds in the ring for a round of cheese steak sampling with Pat's and Geno's (the battle rages on!). For 2015, we're doing it again, but I'm not telling you where we're headed just yet. The journey will be shorter, but the adventures will still be big - especially for the kids. Curious where we're headed? Keep an eye on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook this week, and follow #RockFatherTour

Disclosure: THE ROCK FATHER™ is a paid "Be Your Own Jack" Brand Ambassador for Hungry Jack. All opinions are that of James Zahn, because he is his own Jack. 

For the past couple of years, I've had the opportunity to work with my friends from The J.M. Smucker Company on a variety of cool projects that really align with what "The Rock Father" is all about. At the core of their business, it's all about family, and that's the same core that I have right here at Rock Father HQ. One of the most iconic brands they handle is Hungry Jack, bringing families together for the most important meal of the day: breakfast. But anytime could be a Hungry Jack mealtime, and for the next year, I'll be partnering with Hungry Jack to bring you some special features and opportunities that fit right into the lifestyle of families that rock. There will be reader giveaways, new product introductions and plenty of inspiration for you to "Be Your Own Jack." To celebrate the new partnership, we had a little kick-off gathering in Michigan with all of this year's Brand Ambassadors for some high-octane NASCAR fun... and we got things rolling appropriately on race day with a pancake breakfast! What was my weekend like? Read on, friends... read on!

The Michelin ManTHE ROCK FATHER™ has partnered with Life of Dad and Michelin for the #FirstCarMoment promotion.  He has been paid for his participation, but his memories and former mullet are priceless, and solely his own.

My lifelong love of vehicles often springs up around these parts, and it's something that I've certainly been sharing with The Rock Daughters™. My little ones' interest in all-things wheeled is what really made me start writing about the subject so often - both in terms of "grownup" rides and things more their speed - like Hot Wheels. While their time for a proper set of keys is still many years down the road, my wife and I have already been thinking of that milestone - just like my friends at Michelin. As a tire manufacturer with over 125 years on the road, they feel obligated to raise awareness and help reduce the 264,000 crashes that occur annually due to tire-related issues on cars piloted by inexperienced drivers. Do you remember your first car? I certainly remember mine...

When it comes to the Minivan category, I have always been "that" guy - the "never-gonna-drive-one" sort that doesn't even consider the category when the occasion arises to purchase a new vehicle. Nearly six years and two kids into the parenting game, and we still do not own a Minivan - and in fact, it was indeed never considered during our purchasing excursions, neither my wife nor myself ever taking a test drive... until last year. My wife still has never been at the wheel of a Minivan, but I now have - numerous times, and with numerous models - but it didn't really start until I began sharing my love of cars as a regular feature on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine. Thing is, my view of the "Minivan" has been drastically changed over time, previously-skewed largely by the tacky models of the 1980s (the Plymouth Voyager, the horrid-looking Pontiac Trans Sport, Chevy Astro Van, etc.), and by marketing, including some that's fairly recent. I have to admit that... I've really enjoyed some of the Minivans that I've driven over this past year, and the latest is one that had previously hit me hard on the marketing-misfire note: The Toyota Sienna, aka "The Original Swagger Wagon."

Meguiar'sThe love of cars runs deep here at Rock Father HQ, and the summer months bring with them a lot of opportunities to enjoy some automotive fun as a family. One of the regular activities that the girls and I often enjoy is the simple act of getting our rides cleaned-up, shined-up, and ready to rock the road some more. The great feeling of a clean vehicle is something that never gets old - and the impact of a "before-and-after" is something that's always very pronounced when it comes to the oldest vehicle in our fleet, my little workhorse: the 2005 Scion xB that I ordered new back in 2004. With over 160,000 miles on it, this little car tends to be my daily driver with the girls for scooting around town, and while it's dinged, scratched and has a few rust spots, it's truly incredible how good it can look with just a little bit of TLC. For our first solid cleaning of the summer, the girls and I had some Meguiar's products in the mix, and we're going to give all of you a chance to bring home a Meguiar's Prize Pack to help get your ride looking great!

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