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One of my favorite vehicles from the 2014 Chicago Auto Show was a full-size TONKA Ford F-150, which someone near me bought, because I see it all the time. While it's Funrise Toys that currently produces child-size versions of the legendary TONKA line (under license from Hasbro), Ford has continued to get creative with the brand for real-world applications, and the latest is the Mighty Ford F-750 TONKA, "the ultimate TONKA truck," built on the all-new 2016 Ford F-650/F-750 from Ford’s commercial truck lineup.

Since it's premiere last Fall, Nickelodeon's BLAZE AND THE MONSTER MACHINES has been one of the more surprising hits in educational programming. The high-octane series based on a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) curriculum has made it's way into the coveted spot of be a "requested" show here at Rock Father HQ, particularly snagging the attention of 5 ½-year-old Addie. Out of Toy Fair last weekend came news that Mattel would be producing a line of toys through their Fisher-Price division, and tonight I've got your first look at some highlights from the new collection. These will be rolling out to select retailers this May, with a full Nationwide launch to take place this Fall. Stay tuned...

Chicago Auto ShowAttending the media preview days of the just-opened Chicago Auto Show last week, I experienced and photographed hundreds of new vehicles that are all vying for attention - not just from members of the press, but more importantly, from potential drivers. While I have some personal favorites and top picks that will be rolling out here on THE ROCK FATHER in the days ahead, if Instagram is any indicator, I already know what car the public seems most interested in... and it's one from a nameplate that I've mentioned in passing, but have yet to review here on the site: FORD. The 2017 Ford GT Supercar caught the attention of automotive enthusiasts when a blue version made it's debut last month in Detroit, but here in Chicago the twin-turbocharged Ford EcoBoost V6 is bringing 600 horsepower excitement to attendees in a striking silver package. That car has quickly become my most-liked Instagram post of all-time thus far. Check it out...

When it comes to radio-controlled vehicles, 2015 is already off to an exciting start with the arrival of the HOT WHEELS R/C High Jump Frenzy vehicle from Toy State. The latest entry into Toy State's growing Hot Wheels line (produced under license from Mattel) actually hit the streets just before Christmas last year, but it's taken a little time to get back up-to-speed here in our state-of-the-art Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ  (our house) to present an accurate review.

THE ROCK FATHER has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser for this post. Opinions and experiences are that of James Zahn . #DropShopAndOil #CollectiveBias

Rockin' The Road with Pennzoil and the Walmart Auto Care Center

While I get to drive and feature a lot of sweet new rides here on THE ROCK FATHER, a big part of our day-to-day is taking care of the ones that we own. My wife and I have a pair of "daily drivers" here at HQ, and the oldest is the one most-often featured when I talk about car care - my rapidly-aging 2005 Scion Xb. While I've come very close to replacing it over these past few years, I do have some sentimental attachment to it, having ordered it brand-new back in 2004 with a bunch of options and add-ons. I've had many adventures in that little car - over 150,000 miles worth - and that places it firmly in the category of being a "high mileage vehicle." One of the most simple things to help keep that car on the road for a few more years is by keeping the oil changed, and the folks at Pennzoil have a "High Mileage Vehicle" version of their conventional motor oil that's specifically designed to help clean out sludge that lesser oils leave behind, while helping to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. Better yet, I can get my oil changed at the Walmart Auto Center, maximizing my time by getting some shopping done at the same time.

Chicago Auto Show Soon, the world will get to see SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS on the big screen and on the road. Actually, think a 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan, customized to look a giant sponge coming to the Chicago Auto Show.

This “concept car” debuted earlier at the LA Auto Show and was created as part of a Nickelodeon cross-promotion for the upcoming THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER, due in theaters this Friday, February 6.

I'm a huge fan of Kia's excellent new 2016 Sorento, which I reviewed here on THE ROCK FATHER a few weeks back. I'm also a huge fan or Pierce Brosnan - perhaps my favorite Bond - and spent much of the mid-90s pretending to be him while playing GOLDENEYE on N64. What's happened here is that Kia Motors America recently tapped Brosnan for their annual Super Bowl commercial, and with the "Big Game" taking place this weekend, an extended version of the spot has arrived. With the 2016 Kia Sorento being touted as "The Perfect Getaway Vehicle," it's only right that Brosnan looked back to his "action-adventure" days as James Bond when he got pitched the gig, right?

Every so often, beyond the normal realm of traditional vehicles, Mattel releases a fresh batch of Hot Wheels "Character Cars" - concept vehicles inspired by a pop culture franchise. In the past, the Character Cars series has seen MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS, TOY STORY 3, THE MUPPETS, and even SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS get the Hot Wheels treatment - but right now the two big lines are based on STAR WARS (two of which I showcased here) and MARVEL Comics. From the MARVEL assortment comes the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Rocket Raccoon car, featured in a #Toyography post on my social networks last week, and one that I've decided to share here on the site with a little more detail. First, the original photo...

It's a rare thing to have a vehicle from a press fleet for more than a week, but that's exactly what happened when a 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander GT arrived here at Rock Father HQ for review over the holidays. The extra time was beneficial both to the vehicle and our family for some real-world testing hauling people and stuff from Northern Illinois to Michigan and back. Marketed as a great value and exceptionally safe Crossover SUV for families looking for a lot of people capacity for a lower price, Mitsubishi has wisely focused on the Outlander's strong points, drawing attention away from some curiously-unexciting features on the design front. While my thoughts are split on this one, I can tell you this before we move any further: my kids love it.

I just had to disappoint my girls. Feld Motorsports is bringing MONSTER JAM back to the Chicago area, and we can't go this time. Since I took Addie to her first MONSTER JAM last year, those Monster Trucks have become a huge deal here at Rock Father HQ, with both of my girls amassing a pretty solid collection of the 1:64-scale replicas that Mattel produces as part of the Hot Wheels line. In fact, the Hot Wheels Team even used one of my personal photos on their Facebook page to usher in the fall season last year - the Halloween Grave Digger! While we can't make it to this run of shows, Feld Motorsports and THE ROCK FATHER are teaming up to give one (1) lucky family a chance at attending with a Family Pack of four (4) tickets to see #MoreMonsterJam on either February 5 or 6, 2015. And if you'd like to buy tickets at a discount? We've got your hook-up on that as well. This year, #MoreMonsterJam brings more of what fans have been asking for, read on for details!

Danica PatrickI've long held that girls and racing are two things that are underserved when it comes to toys and playthings. With few exceptions, there haven't been a ton of racing products aimed firmly at young girls - surprising since there's profile drivers out there such as Leilani Münter and Milka Duno, youngsters like Johanna Long, and then the thousands of girls honing their skills in various youth programs and small track circuits around the globe. No doubt the most well-known right now is Danica Patrick, and she's been involved with most of the few merchandising exceptions, having made an appearance in a recent SONIC THE HEDGEHOG video game, for which Mattel produced a limited-edition Hot Wheels "Danicar" that was offered as a Gamestop Exclusive (one that my oldest daughter Addie proudly owns), and even getting her own halloween/role-play costume. Now, the folks at Madame Alexander are stepping-up to go a little bit bigger, teaming with NASCAR and driver Patrick for some new collections of play dolls featuring the driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. While my experience as a parent and observer has shown that girls love racing, Madame Alexander has some solid numbers to back it up...

Saturday, January 10 2015 12:47

Test Drive: Rockin' the Road - 2016 Kia Sorento Review

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When putting a new vehicle to the test, there's nothing better than experiencing it through a diverse array of conditions to get a true grasp on how it functions under real-world conditions. Attending the National Press Introduction of the all-new 2016 Kia Sorento last month in California, I had a chance to take two models of the new Sorento (AWD Turbocharged 4-cylinder, AWD V6) through multiple climates and altitudes through the legendary Sierra Nevada mountain range, out through the plains and into the Nevada desert. What the Sorento delivered was an impressive and powerful combination of style, performance and comfort that rivals all other competitors in the increasingly crowded crossover class, warranting a serious look for families that are ready to rock the road.

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