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James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and writes a regular Star Wars column - Transmissions from a Galaxy Far, Far Away for The Pop Insider. He also regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

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UPDATED BELOW with Statement from the Company...

As I've said before, the saga of the Toys "R" Us collapse just continues to get stranger as time goes on, with new layers of unusual and in some cases, unheard-of activity still being revealed. Following the announcement that Bain Captial and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) were setting up a $20M fund to provide some severance to a portion of the 33,000 workers that were left jobless following the closure of the toy retailer in the U.S., now comes word that plans are in motion for a revived Toys "R" Us that could be run by some of the very companies that drove the company into liquidation in the first place. One theory that's been floated in back channels and among former TRU employees and business partners in recent months has been that the long-awaited IP auction has been intentionally delayed, having been postponed from June to August and then again to October. Now that auction has been flat-out cancelled, and the reason may come as a surprise (or not) to many: some of the same lenders that forced the company into liquidation have been plotting to revive both Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us under a new retail entity.

If there's a poster company for toy industry consolidation, Basic Fun! just might be it. As the industry of play continues to evolve and more companies jockey for position in the wake of the Toys "R" Us closure in the U.S. and elsewhere, team-ups and mergers are where it's at, and that's something that Basic Fun! saw coming. Announced during Toy Fair 2017 and reported on here, Basic Fun! was formed by combining two smaller companies - The Bridge Direct and Tech 4 Kids. At the time, Tech 4 Kids CEO Brad Pedersen said that the new company had the "expectation to acquire or merge with new businesses every twelve to eighteen months" to fuel growth. Indeed, the company has grown, but at an accelerated rate, having already absorbed K'NEX, Uncle Milton and Good Stuff. Today comes word that the company just pulled another PAC-MAN, gobbling-up Playhut, maker of indoor and outdoor play structures.

There have been a lot of hard-to-find and limited-edition Hess Toy Trucks over the years, but none have been more limited than what's just been released today. After months of teasing it online, Hess Corporation today announced that the special limited Collector's Edition Truck, commemorating Hess Corporation’s 85th anniversary, is now on sale exclusively at www.hesstoytruck.com. This Collector's Edition First Hess Truck has been designed "as an enhanced replica of the original fuel oil delivery truck used by Leon Hess when he founded the company back in 1933." While the actual numbers are never revealed, Hess promises that this one is being offered at "the most limited quantity ever for any Hess Toy Truck." I have the honor of helping to debut this ultra-limited ride, having gone hands-on right here in my office at Rock Father HQ this past weekend - check it out!

Sometimes things just have a way of working out... like launching the 2018 installment of 31 Days of Halloween alongside Phase One of the annual Holiday Wish Guide™. And since that's happening, it's only fitting that the debut entry for this year's celebration of October's finest moment is something that's in both. From PLAYMOBIL comes the new Take Along Haunted House (9312), an upgrade and expansion of an idea presented by the discontinued Haunted House Play Box (5638) from a few years back.

Following today's big reveal of the much-anticipated launch of Funko's new line of FORTNITE Pop! Vinyl figures comes a quick follow-up on retailer exclusives. Following the recent trend of Holiday Funko Pops, a trio of characters decked-out in seasonal flair will be hitting stores in time for the holidays. The Red-Nosed Raider will be available only at GameStop (pre-order), with the Crackshot nutcracker (throwing up the horns!) headed for Walmart and Codename E.L.F. only at Target. Let the hunt begin!

The Battle Royale just saw another major player drop from the bus, with Funko unleashing a huge assortment of their much-anticipated FORTNITE Pop! Vinyl Figures! Created in collaboration with Epic Games, these colorful characters arrive just in time for the holiday season, making them a perfect gift for the gamer or collector on your shopping list. My friends at Entertainment Earth (affiliate) just opened pre-orders for a full range of figures, each of which is listed below. Put them on a shelf or use them to act-out real-life battles on your desk or floor, just avoid the storm!

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