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Saturday, October 01 2016 13:21

Toyography: Matchbox "This is Mattel" Billboard Truck

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When I was little, there was a Hot Wheels truck that I always loved, called the "Highway Hauler." 40 years later, the Highway Hauler still exists in a modernized form, and one of the cool things about it is that since it's a box truck, the box on the back can be used to create an "advertisement," just as they were back in the day. When i'd play with friends, it was always cool to see which version the other kids had, because these trucks would often reflect the real world with brands like Pepsi, Pennzoil, and even other Mattel lines like MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. On a similar note, Matchbox first released their "Billboard Truck" back in 2003, and since then there have been several versions stamped with everything from Scooby-Doo and DC Comics to Nintendo and Roswell, New Mexico. What I found most striking, however, is a recent version done very simply in red-and-white, stamped with "This Is Mattel" - an ad for the parent company, complete with their mascot, "Matty," hanging in the back. Available as part of a Matchbox City 5-Pack, it's a really cool ride that I actually swiped from The Rock Daughters' collection to sit near my desk here in the office, though they're certainly welcome to play with it at any time...

Friday, September 30 2016 01:00

Review: Hot Wheels Star Wars Carships - Wave 1

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The folks over at Mattel made some waves this summer when they rolled into San Diego Comic-Con International with a fully-functional, life-sized "Carship" based on Luke Skywalker's "Red Five" X-Wing Fighter.  The real-world ride was to help launch the new Hot Wheels Star Wars Carships line, officially hitting stores now as part of the ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS Story product launch. These new vehicles are four-wheeled toys (cars) based on famous vehicles (ships) from a galaxy far, far away, and while there's been a total of nine cars revealed thus far (see my regularly updated checklist here), there's just four in the first wave. Instantly-recognizable to all-ages of STAR WARS fans, the first wave consists of vehicles based on some classic ships including Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, Boba Fett's Slave I, Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter, and an Imperial TIE Fighter. My youngest daughter, Finley, and I recently got our hands on a set, and here's what they look like in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ, complete with video...

The Polaris® Slingshot™ has been turning heads ever since it hit the streets back in 2014, a three-wheeled roadster that prompted many to question what exactly it is (car? motorcycle? spacecraft?). Now, Peg-Perego has announced the official launch of its kid-sized Polaris Slingshot battery-operated riding vehicle. The ride-on Slingshot is modeled after the grownup version, and is powered by a 12volt battery. It can hold up to two children ages three through eight and has a top speed of five mph. Available now at Walmart stores and select Polaris dealers, manufacturing for the battery-operated Slingshot is taking place right here in the United States, at Peg Perego's Fort Wayne, Indiana factory! While we haven't gotten our hands on one of these in The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ™, the folks at Peg-Perego recently issued a pretty cool video preview that highlights some intriguing features (like traction tires!). Check it out...

It's been pretty-much determined that it was Disney•Pixar's CARS that inspired the love of vehicles that both of The Rock Daughters™ share with daddy here at Rock Father HQ.  It started with Addie fairly early into things, an interest that spread to little sister Finn - who just may be the more octane-inclined at this point. Regardless of who has the bigger "need for speed," our daughters have a collection of Hot Wheels, Matchbox and CARS vehicles that has already eclipsed that of my own youth, and these girls are just 4 & 7. One common thread is that all of those brands are produced by Mattel, and something that came to us recently through Mattel's Play, Rate & Review program is the Disney•Pixar CARS Piston Cup Collection - an 11-car box set of fan favorite vehicles from the famed Piston Cup Championship.

The Rock Father is a paid ambassador for the #KBBDads program, brought to you by Life of Dad and Kelley Blue Book. As always, all opinions are that of James Zahn.

Over the past few years, I've spent a fair amount of time testing new cars and sharing my experiences here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine. The qualities that make a good car great can be a subjective thing, but I have some specific points that I'm always looking at any time I get behind the wheel of a new ride - a mix of style, function, performance and price: four key points. My friends at Kelley Blue Book also have four key points that they look for on new cars (occasionally a fifth, "Special Circumstances" i.e. payload on a pickup), but under each - Driving It, Living in It, Living With It and Owning It - they dig even deeper, with five sub-points to keep things consistent across the board, their team doing detailed reviews on over 300+ vehicles each and every year, the most of any site out there. That experience and detail makes Kelley Blue Book the trusted resource for new (and used) car buyers to make the best possible buying decisions, and this month I went hands-on at the KBB headquarters in Irvine, California for a look behind-the-scenes at how it all comes together.  I joined the first-ever crew of #KBBDads to hit the road in the five vehicles that KBB has chosen as their Top Picks for Dads this year - each hand-picked from KBB's list of the 16 Best Family Cars of 2016, putting the KBB picks against The Rock Father method to see how they all stack-up.

Thursday, August 04 2016 09:49

Five Essentials for a Late Summer Road Trip...

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias

#RoadTripOil

In just a few weeks, the school bells will be ringing as kids prepare to rock the halls for another year of learning. While that means that the Back-to-School season is officially upon us as families shop for school supplies and new clothes for fall, it also means that we're just about to "the dog days of summer" - a time when families will be out there rockin' the road once more for a late summer road trip. Whether it's a far-off locale or a quick weekend run to a fun spot just hours away, it's always important to hit the road prepared - both the family and the ride. For me, that means a trip to the Walmart Auto Center for an oil change

Thursday, August 04 2016 09:20

An Accidental Encounter with the KARMA REVERO...

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Living in Northern Illinois, an in-development prototype vehicle is not something I'd ever expect to come across in the wild. In fact, I'd only previously seen "spy pics" of black-and-white-wrapped development rides through enthusiast sites that spotted them in far more exotic locales. Last Thursday, however, I was in Southern California working on a special project for Life of Dad and Kelley Blue Book (stay tuned!) when I came across my first - the Karma Revero.

The much-anticipated launch of 2016's Holiday Wish Guide™ is looming on the horizon here at Rock Father HQ, and while I prepare to unleash it's digital pages for browsing here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine, I'm also sharing a few early sneak-previews of some items you'll find when the Wish Guide arrives next month. One item is a new radio-controlled entry that I first got a look at during the recent Sweet Suite portion of Blogger Bash in New York City last month - Wicked Cool Toys' Xtreme Cycle RC and Moto-Cam. It's a reintroduction and improvement on "the #1 selling radio control motorcycle of all time," with two models - the Xtreme Cycle Moto-Cam and Xtreme Cycle RC hitting major retailers this Fall. Check out a preview below, and look for our hands-on feature very soon!

Kelley Blue BookTHE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine has partnered with Kelley Blue Book & Life of Dad for the #KBBDads Promotion.

This live event is now over, but the archived video can now be viewed on the Life Of Dad Facebook page.

I'm coming at you today from Rock Father Mobile HQ - currently located in Irvine, California. The 2016 Rock Father Tour has returned to Southern California, and this week my work puts me on assignment with the crew from Life of Dad and Kelley Blue Book to talk about something I'm very passionate about - cars. The #KBBDads are on the ground and hitting the streets in some of 2016's hottest rides for dads and families, and today at 4pm ET/3pm CT/1pm PT, we're going on Facebook LIVE where you'll be able to get your car questions answered by the experts at Kelley Blue Book! Visit the event page on Facebook to RSVP and submit your questions now! The first eight that we use on-air will receive a $25 VISA Gift Card for the submitter! What do you want to know about cars? Let us know, and join us online!

It was a sunny day at the end of late spring when the crew from DriveShop delivered a 2016 Toyota Avalon Touring Edition to Rock Father HQ for testing. Straight-away, the Avalon is a familiar ride, one with nearly a million-and-a-half siblings sold in the U.S. since 1994 - a car that even my own father owns. In "Sizzling Crimson Mica," the Avalon stands apart from the crowd wearing a color that's hard to describe with its purple/red hue. Making this particular subject even more dramatic is the choice of dark grey (nearly blacked-out) 18" alloy wheels. On the interior, it's Almond Leather and brown accents provide a color scheme that doesn't immediately seem to match the exterior (to me), but it works. So how does the 2016 Toyota Avalon hold up as a family car? More importantly, what do The Rock Daughters™ think of it? 

When you think of Hot Wheels, you might not automatically think about the real-world physics and planning that goes into each car. Things get even more complicated when the project is a collaboration between icons, and that's been the case when it comes to Mattel and Lucasfilm working together on several lines of diecast vehicles with roots in a galaxy far, far away. After a massive success with the Hot Wheels STAR WARS Character Cars (see my checklist here) and Starships, now comes the launch of CARSHIPS (just-launched checklist here!) at Comic-Con International (SDCC). With a stellar Trench Run Exclusive being offered at SDCC, the Hot Wheels team is back in force, with a full-size, drivaeble 1:1 X-Wing Fighter Carship on display. This ride is inspired by the X-Wing Fighters of the classic STAR WARS Saga, but paired with a dragster to form a functional race car that can actually perform in real-life, while the Hot Wheels 1:64-scale version is one of the fastest Hot Wheels cars to date, able to "fly" down the Orange Track! Check out the new vehicle in action below, along with a behind-the-scenes video and gallery showcasing the build.

#GhostbustersWeek rolls on with a look at some new rides from Hot Wheels...

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Hot Wheels GHOSTBUSTERS Classics based on the original Ecto-1 from 1984's GHOSTBUSTERS, and the Ecto-1A from 1989's GHOSTBUSTERS II, alongside the Retro Entertainment version of the Ecto-1 as featured from 1987-1991 on THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS cartoon series. Of course, with Paul Feig's 2016 GHOSTBUSTERS hitting theaters, the folks at Mattel have given similar treatment to the two rides featured on the big screen this summer - the Ecto-1 Cadillac hearse and Ecto-2 motorcycle, presented together in a 1:64-scale two-pack (available from Amazon and my allies at Entertainment Earth).

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