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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.

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You know those stories about the "overnight success?" As is usually the case, for Fugglers, "overnight" is actually more like eight years - a fantastic story about how a random purchase of a bag of fake plastic teeth led to a series of handmade dolls sold on Etsy that eventually wound-up being picked up by one of the world's leading toymakers. Fugglers - short for "funny ugly monsters" - spent years being produced as one-offs, each crafted with care by their maker, Louise McGettrick. Their viral success led to celebrity fans like Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn (currently prepping a new Suicide Squad for DC) as images spread that erroneously pushed the idea that these creatures had mouths full of real, human baby teeth. Of course, they did not, but the rumors only helped the legend to grow, and eventually the Fugglers would land a new ally in Spin Master, the team behind PAW Patrol, Cool Maker, Air Hogs and other hot toys. The creatures would be refined and readied for the masses, officially infesting retailers including Target and GameStop this summer, and currently landing as one of just a few new toys to secure spots on both my 31 Days of Halloween and Holiday Wish Guide™ here at The Rock Father™ Magazine. Will you adopt one of these horrible, life-ruining creatures?

Halloween will be behind us, but the MONSTERS will continue to roar as Feld Motorsports returns to the Chicagoland area with the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series, coming to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois for a weekend of big thrills, November 2-4, 2018. This marks the first time that Monster Jam has made a November stop in Chicago, usually hitting the market in February. This year's action will feature eight of most intense athletes of Monster Jam as Chicago-area fans will witness a fierce battle for the championship with each competitor using customized high-powered vehicles: Monster Jam Speedsters, Monster Jam ATVs and the famous Monster Jam trucks. Want a preview of what the Monster Jam Triple Threat Series is all about? Check out the video below for some highlights of a recent show...

Maybe it's just the state of the world right now, but it seems that we could use a little "holiday cheer," and it does seem like 2018 is bringing an unusually large (and welcome) amount of new holiday movies. One big surprise is The Christmas Chronicles, coming to Netflix on November 22 (perfect timing to watch with family over the Thanksgiving week) and starring Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. The story follows a brother and sister who set out to capture Santa on video and wind up getting into an adventure. Directed by Clay Kaytis (The Angry Birds Movie) and written by Matt Lieberman (2019's Addams Family), The Christmas Chronicles was produced by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter). Check out the first teaser below...

2018 American Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega has been one of the most well-received American Girl dolls ever here at our house. A girl that dreams of being an astronaut and one day being the first woman on Mars, the character gained buzz even prior to release, and today the Luciana's story is being told from orbit high above earth. As part of Story Time From Space, a new video features NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor on the International Space Station reading Luciana: Braving the Deep. The book, written by Erin Teagan is published by Scholastic and is the October 2018 American Girl Book Club Pick! Check it out...

Disney Junior's Doc McStuffins is one of the most important children's series of all-time, and it's certainly been a very special one here at our house. Now comes news that the long-awaited Season Five will premiere FRIDAY, OCT. 26 (11:00-11:30 a.m. EDT/PDT), on Disney Channel and the DisneyNOW app. Since 2012, the series, which tells the story of a young girl who aspires to be a doctor like her mom and communicates with and heals toys, has been celebrated by parents, educators and health-care professionals around the world for having a lasting impact on how children see themselves and their future. As a part of season five, The Doc McStuffins Christmas Special will debut this December on Disney Junior as part of Disney|ABC Television's annual "25 Days of Christmas" programming event. The special will also air on Disney Channel, ABC and Freeform throughout the holiday season.

Zuru Toys is a curious outfit. On one hand, they have fantastic, original lines like their global hit Bunch O Balloons, this year's successful Smashers (now in Series Two) and one of my current Holiday Wish Guide™ picks - Rainbocorns Sequin Surprise (my girls LOVE theirs). But then they tread really close to other popular brands, releasing toys that there's no denying are at least inspired-by some heavy-hitters, perhaps stopping just short of being called something more unsavory... knockoffs. There's 5 Surprise, which as the name implies places five toys inside a round orb, no doubt taking some cues from MGA Entertainment's L.O.L. Surprise line, but packing-in toys akin to what you'd find in a 50¢ vending machine. Then you've got X-Shot, which is a straight-up competitor to Hasbro's NERF line; METAL MACHINES which is a value-priced diecast line that's clearly inspired by Mattel's Hot Wheels; Oosh which is essentially Educational Insights' Floam; you get the idea. Now they're chasing LEGO with MAX BUILD MORE, a new collection of "compatible" building bricks that's just launched as a Walmart (affiliate) exclusive. In a press release, Zuru touts them as "a premium quality, value-priced toy brick line -- compatible with all major toy brick brands and offering unbeatable value for budget with hundreds of high-quality bricks in each set for a fraction of the current price."

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