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Tuesday, November 01 2016 09:22

The 2016 Hess Toy Truck and Dragster hits the Streets!

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It's November 1, so that means that the arrival of the Hess Toy Truck, a tradition that began back in 1964, is here. Previewed in early October with an image of gleaming pistons alongside the message that the truck "is coming with more power than ever," the 2016 Hess Toy Truck and Dragster retails for $31.99 with free standard shipping and five Energizer® batteries included. The vehicle went on-sale exclusively via its official website at 10am Eastern time, with an immediate queue forming some 20 minutes+ deep in order to meet demand and avoid the crashing that plagued the 2015 launch - the first time that the trucks were offered as an online affair following the sale of the Hess Express Stations the year prior.

Aside from perhaps, STAR WARS, the most-mentioned pop culture property here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine is undoubtedly The Greatest Television Series of All-Time™, KNIGHT RIDER. That's what the youngster in me still believes, the very boy who eagerly awaited new episodes on a weekly basis from 1982-1986, who made watching reruns after school a part of his daily routine from 1988-1990, and who still stops and watches for a bit while running across an episode on television, despite having owned the complete series on DVD for years. Of course, my affection lies firmly with the original KNIGHT RIDER - the Glen A. Larson creation that starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, who alongside a talking 1982 Pontiac Trans Am known as the Knight Industries 2000 (K.I.T.T., if you prefer) fought bad guys for an hour each week. While there have been several sub-par "reboot" efforts over the years, none have matched the original, and the long-rumored cinematic version (rights have changed hands repeatedly) never materialized. Now there's hope for a proper KNIGHT RIDER to ride again, as Justin Lin (FAST AND THE FURIOUS series, STAR TREK BEYOND)  is heading up a Machinima "Digital Series" for a 2017 launch.

Unless it's in the shell of a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am and offers "self-driving" as an option rather than a standard, I have zero interest in owning (or riding in) an "autonomous" car. One of the most important aspects of car ownership is driving, and for that reason alone - nevermind the fact that I'm seldom comfortable even with another human at the wheel due to perceived lack of my own control - and a vehicle that is devoid of a steering wheel is a prospect that is terrifying. That said, one of my favorite automakers - Kia - is set to unveil the stuff of my nightmares at SEMA 2016 in Las Vegas next month, and now there's a preview. Check it out...

It was over a year ago that I first featured SOCK PUPPET PARODY here on THE ROCK FATHER Magazine, and they've kept busy in that time, racking up millions of plays on their send-ups of popular songs. Now comes a very special "Halloween Episode" of the show, and it's a good one, finding the sock puppets taking on the WHITE ZOMBIE classic, "More Human Than Human." Since the album it came from turned 21 this year (Rob Zombie actually performed ASTROCREEP 2000 in its entirety at Riot Fest), it's a track that can be considered timeless at this point. Check it out...

A great road trip is one of the most exciting activities to enjoy with family, and a getaway during fall is one of the best times to do it. I say that, of course, with the American Midwest in-mind, but any locale that boasts the true seasonality of autumn, complete with falling leaves and a robust color palette will make for a beautiful drive. When it comes to hauling family, there's only been a few occasions where I've actually driven more than our immediate crew, fully complete at four. Sure, I've driven plenty of larger vehicles with third-row seating and plenty of people-moving power, but seldom have I actually had a full load. This trip was an exception, one in which I could use the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited (on-loan from Toyota USA) to it's potential, heading straight out of Illinois and heading north to our relatives' lake house.

Monday, October 10 2016 09:04

31 Days of Halloween: 2016 Halloween Hot Wheels

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Mattel has a long tradition of releasing themed-versions of their popular toys, and holidays have been a big part of that over the years - particularly with Hot Wheels. When fall rolls around, there has usually been a limited-edition Halloween-themed series available as a retailer exclusive, and for 2016 that's true once more... but the exact locations have been a bit trickier to pin down. This year's 8-car Halloween line has been popping up at select grocers (many Kroger-owned chains are rumored to have them) and drug stores. Check out this year's assortment below!

Back in the 1980s, Galoob Toys' Micro Machines first hit the scene and became a massive success for a number of years, eventually fading a bit before the small, West Coast toymaker was absorbed by the large, East Coast-based Hasbro. Along the way, Hasbro also acquired TONKA, since licensed out to Funrise Toys, current manufacturers of the iconic yellow vehicles and their many spinoffs. The reason why these acquisitions and licensing deals are important to this story is that the newly-released TONKA Tinys seem to carry a lot of DNA from all of these companies' past endeavors. While there have been plenty of Micro Machines copycats over the past three decades, none have felt as close to the real deal as these new Tinys from TONKA, and that's a pretty cool thing as nostalgia plays so heavily into what parents of today are introducing to their own kids. One decidedly modern spin, however, is that TONKA Tinys are essentially "Blind Boxed," and they tap into the very now trend of micro collectibles.

'Tis the Season for the annual arrival of the iconic Hess Toy Truck! Hess Corporation today announced that the 2016 Hess Toy Truck will be revealed and available for purchase starting on November 1 at 10:00 am EDT exclusively at www.hesstoytruck.com. This year's holiday truck will retail for $31.99 with free standard shipping and five Energizer® batteries included. The 2016 truck marks the 52nd year for the toy - a tradition that began back in 1964 with the release of the very first Hess Toy Truck. Despite "truck" being in the name, the annual release hasn't always been a truck, with past vehicles including helicopters, boats, RVs, race cars and more joining the fleet. 

Monday, October 03 2016 10:13

Rides: TONKA Classics Vintage Diecast (Review)

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Of all the vehicular interests here at Rock Father HQ, one of the most timeless has to be that of TONKA. While the line has evolved over the years to encompass many different types of vehicles in varying sizes and materials, nothing beats the classics - those made of steel or diecast. In last year's Holiday Wish Guide I featured some of the modern diecast singles, but this year I'm focusing on a few different versions, including this TONKA Vintage Diecast 3-Pack. Featuring a Vintage Fire Rescue truck, Vintage Police Cruiser and Vintage Police Wagon (along with a pair of safety cones), the classic styling and sturdy construction will make these a big hit for kids and grownups alike.

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...

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