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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.

Toy StateAfter 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...

Saturday, April 12 2014 17:23

Review: The 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

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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.

Toy State Test DriverAs 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.

NETFLIX Stream TeamLast 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.

Friday, March 14 2014 00:01

Film Review: NEED FOR SPEED (DreamWorks)

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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.

I realized something this afternoon as I browsed the press releases coming in from Toy Fair 2014: I never owned any PLAYMOBIL toys. None as a kid, and thus far, none as a parent. Not really sure why, since we've often looked at them while visiting the local Toys "R" Us, but I certainly respect what they do, and have even covered them here on the site in the past. Now comes news that the brand is celebrating it's 40th Anniversary with a massive product launch for 2014. Whether it's the PLAYMOBIL Racers (which I'm highlighting here), or your into animals, dragons, outdoor life, the big city, or mythical landscapes, PLAYMOBIL has something for almost everyone.

The 2014 Chicago Auto Show opened it's doors to the public this weekend (running through February 17th), but on Friday, The Rock Father participated in the media preview to get an early look at hundreds of new offerings and concept vehicles from the world's top automakers. Doing what I do, I'm always torn on how to cover such an event - I run a "family" site, but my personal interests skew toward the... more exciting at times. While my daily drivers here at Rock Father HQ bear the Chevrolet and Scion nameplates, performance, sport and luxury all strike my fancy. What I'm saying is that my inaugural coverage of the Chicago Auto Show is more of a highlight reel of what caught my eye... and that's as simple as it gets. Hopefully I'll get to go in-depth with some of these vehicles, as well as some more family-centric rides as the year rolls on.

Raising a pair of vehicularly-inclined daughters, I tend to find myself in a position to rekindle some of my own childhood interests. Toy cars, racing and yes, even Monster Trucks are a part of that, so when Feld Entertainment and Windy City Kids Guide asked us to check out MONSTER JAM, Addie and I couldn't pass it up. Little Finley sat this one out since she's still a tad too young for it, but Addie and I, along with her friend Richard and my friend, John, headed for Allstate Arena in Rosemont, a familiar location that we typically visit while ice-covered. But last night? It was all about dirt, metal and octane.

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