I've always had a thing for licensed die-cast when they're done well, and the folks at Mattel are usually right there with some cool models based on hot trends. While MATCHBOX gets some on occasion (some BATMAN and DISNEY vehicles they've done come to mind), HOT WHEELS are always at the front of the pack. This week, a new assortment started hitting the streets as a Walmart Exclusive - The Hot Wheels Spider-Man Series - done in timing with the release of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2.
1994... what a great year that was. I graduated High School that year, checked out more than my fair share of great music, and saw quite a few memorable movies - one of which involved Ted "Theodore" Logan trying to protect the passengers of a bus that was tearing through the streets of Los Angeles at over 50 miles per hour. Indeed, SPEED was a surprise hit, and one that warrants the 20th Anniversary Blu-ray treatment... and that's just what my friends at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have put together. In fact, we've teamed-up to give all of YOU the chance to win one of two (2) SPEED DUAL ACTION PACK Box Sets, each with SPEED and it's 1997 sequel, SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL on Blu-ray. And yes, normally I'd put this in my "For Grownups" section, but this is SPEED - a movie about a fast bus! So in Rock Father Rides it shall go!
The folks at Toy State have been producing licensed toys based on CAT (that's CATERPILLAR) for quite some time now, and in that time, they've made enough scale replicas of big machines to tackle any job site your little one could possibly imagine. The line-up is impressive, and we've got a few of them here, including some that I reviewed before I officially began working with Toy State as a "Test Driver" (like these), and some since (like this one). A recent entry is their new line of "Truck and Trailer" vehicles, which comes with a CAT Dump Truck, a Trailer, and either a Wheel Loader or Bulldozer. We received the Wheel Loader set.
I've covered and reviewed a ton of vehicles here in the "Rides" section of THE ROCK FATHER, but until today, I have never thrown down any virtual ink devoted to a helicopter. Truth is, until a few weeks ago, we'd never owned an R/C helicopter, though I've been tempted on occasion by those displays that tend to pop-up at the wholesale clubs and mall kiosks on occasion. The the folks at Silverlit Toys sent use their Nano Falcon - the world's smallest I/R model helicopter - a fact certified by Guinness World Records. Straight out of the box, this thing is fascinating.
AC/DC has certainly been the soundtrack for more than a few high-speed rides taken by yours truly, so when news hit my inbox that car enthusiast and sometimes racer BRIAN JOHNSON - the voice of AC/DC - would be hosting a new series called CARS THAT ROCK, my interest was piqued. Now, the problem is, it's only airing in the UK thus far, premiering on Discovery's Quest Channel on May 8. While I suspect it will eventually get imported Stateside (one would hope), the preview can be found below, alongside some newly-released images. Thus far, it appears that Mini, Bugatti, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini will be featured on the show, while Ferrari features in the trailer.
After checking out their new "Extreme Action" line last week (review here), this week, Toy State hit us with a new entry from their "Hyper Racer" line of Hot Wheels vehicles, created as part of an agreement with Mattel. Recommended for Ages 3 and Up, the Hyper Racer assortment serves up a pair of large-scale vehicles based on Yur So Fast and Spin King, both originally offered as 1:64 scale diecast cars from the Hot Wheels mainline starting in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Toy State's specialty is ACTION, and the Hyper Racers are infused with lights, sound, music and motorized play. Yur So Fast rolled into the toy testing facility here at Rock Father HQ, and my girls had no problem taking it for a spin...
After making the 2014 Chicago Auto Show an early stop as a part of my ongoing "Rock Father Tour" this year, I'd been hoping to test drive some new rides here at HQ, and the first company to answer the call was Mitsubishi, who had a 2014 Outlander Sport delivered for review. Arriving in the midst of a snowstorm (the last big one, in theory), the 4-door AWD crossover was about to get the rigorous testing that comes with daily life as a work-at-home Dad with two little sidekicks and a whole lot of running to do.
As Aerosmith once said, we're "Back in the Saddle" again when it comes to new rides from Toy State (I'm one of their "Test Drivers"). With Spring here, the new models are hitting the streets, and this month brings the first vehicles that Toy State has created in partnership with Mattel under the Hot Wheels brand. One of the most exciting lines to be featured is the "Extreme Action" collection, a subset of three unique Hot Wheels that have been given a larger size, and infused with light, sound, music, and motorized functions. Included in the first wave are SCORPEDO, the SHARK CRUISER, and the iconic STREET CREEPER. The latter just arrived here for review in our State-of-the-Art Toy Testing Facility (our house and neighborhood), and here's the lowdown...
Earlier this year, after the past success of their building sets based on JOHN DEERE and CATERPILLAR, the folks at MEGA BLOKS added JEEP to the mix and combined all three under a new brand, AMERICAN BUILDERS. While these sets are geared toward kids 5+, I'm pretty well-aware that there's quite a few grownups who enjoy these as well, especially if they strike an emotional chord of some kind - and these certainly can. Where nostalgia can be a factor (I played with a lot of John Deere tractors as a boy), adventure is the key on the Jeep note, and my girls and I recently dug into the American Builders Jeep Off-Road Adventure Set, which was sent to Rock Father HQ for review.
It's hard to believe, but it was over a year ago already that MEGA BLOKS announced a partnership with MATTEL to create a series of HOT WHEELS branded building sets (MATTEL recently announced that they've straight-up purchased MEGA Brands). They started rolling out to retailers last Fall, and in that initial wave, we received the first assortment of their Turbo Tubes Build & Collect Vehicles for review here in our State-of-the-Art Toy Testing Facility (our house). Those rides were an immediate hit, so we were pretty excited when a trio of new rides rolled up to Rock Father HQ a few weeks ago, part of the 2014 Spring assortment. Up for review this time: BAD TO THE BLADE (Team Blue), FAST FISH (Team Green), and a new Team Yellow version of TWINDUCTION.
Last month, a mysterious new program appeared parked in the virtual garage over at Netflix. TEAM HOT WHEELS appeared for viewing, but what exactly was this 22-minute episode? With my two car-obsessed girls at my sides, we pressed play and opened the doors to "Larry's Garage" to check out this new adventure, based on Mattel's long-running line of diecast cars... the same ones that we have several hundred of here at Rock Father HQ. The show - focusing on four, go-kart riding kids that transform into TEAM HOT WHEELS to cruise a world lined with bright, orange track - was a ton of fun, but it played like a "pilot episode," and a quick web search came up largely dry. Today, that mystery has been solved.
Exhilarating, yet at times, unsettling, DreamWorks' NEED FOR SPEED races into theaters this weekend, the latest videogame to make the transition from console to screen, amounting to a film that's more "inspired by" the source material, than any kind of direct adaptation.