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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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Last Friday, we closed-out the week with some casting announcements from Lionsgate's forthcoming PLAYMOBIL: The Movie. Now, we're starting off a new week with a first-look at some of the characters from the film! Directed by Lino DiSalvo and produced by ON Animation Studios, PLAYMOBIL: The Movie will feature the voice talents of Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants), Gabriel Bateman (the upcoming Child's Play remake), Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), comic Jim Gaffigan (Chappaquiddick) and singers Meghan Trainor and Adam Lambert.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Power Rangers franchise, and as part of a year-long celebration, many products have been released that throw things back to where it all began... the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. The camp charm of the original series brought forth a host of memorable characters, but no villain has been more suited for the Halloween season than the big bad of the Power Rangers' 1994 "Trick or Treat" episode - the Pumpkin Rapper. While it was The Nightmare Before Christmas that really drove home the title of "Pumpkin King" for Jack Skellington, there's been many Jack-O-Lantern-headed creatures that have terrorizing (or amusing) the masses for years and the Pumpkin Rapper is one of the best! For 2018, Funko brought the character into the Pop! Vinyl range for an exclusive figure available Only at GameStop. I recently bought one at our local GameStop store, and it only seemed right that we took the Pumpkin Rapper with us to the pumpkin patch...

Over the past few years, Jada Toys has really been upping their game - slowly gaining space in the diecast aisle with some highly-detailed toy vehicles that are spread across a variety of licenses. In fact, the diecast category is a rare space in which you can find multiple licensees producing toys based on a shared property, with each company able to put their own spin on things. Marvel is a unique challenge in that the majority of heroes don't have (or need) a vehicle, and for the ones that do, it's generally Mattel's Hot Wheels line that brings them to life in the 1:64-scale. Still, there's a lot of room for creativity and other scales, and that's where Jada has come in, adding a few Marvel "inspired" vehicles to their 1:24-scale Hollywood Rides collection. Aimed at kids and collectors ages 8 and up (aside from Deadpool, who bears a 14+ mark), this new assortment presents some beautifully-designed, expertly-crafted vehicles that will appeal to a wide range of fans spanning comics and car culture. Plus, each ride comes with a diecast figure packed-in.

One of the greatest toy lines of all-time is getting a movie. After years of back-and-forth development between a few different companies with multiple attachments in-and-out, PLAYMOBIL: The Movie is on-track for 2019. Deadline broke the news this morning that film from Lino DiSalvo, a Walt Disney Animation Studios vet who previously served as head of animation on Frozen, is casting. Anya Taylor-Joy (The New Mutants), Gabriel Bateman (the upcoming Child's Play remake), Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), comic Jim Gaffigan (Chappaquiddick) and singers Meghan Trainor and Adam Lambert have all joined the project, which will be told through a mix of live-action and CGI. 

Despite occasionally writing about the franchise when something newsworthy has happened over the past few years, I didn't realize how powerful R.L. Stine's Goosebumps was until fairly recently. With our girls now 6 & 9, they've discovered the spooky world of Goosebumps, first through the 1990s television series which has been available on Netflix. But earlier this year, a neighbor started placing some of the original, 400-million-selling books from Scholastic into the Simplay3 Neighborhood Sharing Library that I installed in our yard last year. Goosebumps became a staple of the heavy reading rotation, and eventually they checked out the 2015 film that was inspired by that world. All that said, the timing of Sony Pictures' Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween couldn't be better, and the fact that I was invited to host a Chicago-area advance screening of the film was absolutely perfect... a first-hand example of just how powerful the Goosebumps franchise really is. And Haunted Halloween? It's primed to be a perennial favorite - a new Halloween classic that's going to surprise a lot of people.

Each Fall, I always look forward to new Halloween episodes from some of our favorite shows, and this year there's quite a few on deck. One that's already out there in the rotation is a dual-dose of Halloween fun from Disney Junior's Muppet Babies. Originally airing on October 5, 2018 and now in the mix during the daily dose of Muppet Babies (check your local listings),  Happy Hallowocka!/The Teeth Chattering Tale of the Haunted Pancakes includes two 11-minute tales inside one half-hour episode. And, there's a "Super Spooky Halloween" music video as well! Check it out...

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