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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 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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Part of a series of features from The Rock Father™ celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels, Mattel is throwing things back to where it all began... to May of 1968 when a 1:64-scale Spectraflame blue Chevrolet Camaro first hit stores. Elliot Handler, who co-founded Mattel with his wife, Ruth, wanted to do something big. He wanted to create a toy car that was better than anything else out there at the time. It had to look cooler. It had to perform better. And, with a rocket scientist and the help of Harry Bentley Bradley, a designer plucked from General Motors, an icon was born. Famously stating "Those are some hot wheels!," the "fastest metal cars in the world" now had a name and 15 more would join that blue Camaro to become known as the original "Sweet 16." These rides have become highly sought-after, so for Hot Wheels official birthday (May 18), Mattel has unleashed the Hot Wheels 50th Originals Collection. The assortment includes replicas of five Hot Wheels from the Sweet 16, each presented with legacy graphics, detailed Spectraflame paint, Redline wheels, and just like the originals, they come with a collectible button packed alongside the car on reproduction blister packs that look just like they did back in 1968!

The first in a series of features from The Rock Father™ celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels.

Since the launch of Mattel's Hot Wheels back in 1968, there have been hundreds (perhaps thousands) of playsets released, each providing an environment for generations of children to enjoy countless hours of high-octane imaginative play. At the center of that, the ever-updated range of garages has always been the pinnacle (we love our Ultimate Garage), but those were seldom portable - which is where the Sto & Go collection came in. Launched in 1979, the Hot Wheels Sto & Go Playsets perfectly reflected their name, packing big fun into a set that could quickly be flipped into a briefcase form that's ready to go wherever the family might be headed. Perhaps the most famous of the sets is the one that I had - the Hot Wheels Sto & Go Service Center, but there were several others, including the Sto & Go City, Construction Site, Car Wash & Service Station and lesser-known versions like the "Trucks & Trains" Railroad Freight Yard, Alpine Mountain Adventure military-themed "Action Command" Sto & Go Base. The line ran into the 90s before going dormant for a bit, but in 2016 it returned as part of the Hot Wheels Retro Style Series. Available exclusively at Target, the modern Hot Wheels Sto & Go Playset is not a direct copy of any of the vintage sets, but rather inspired by the best features of what came before it - largely pulling from the Service Center and City Sets. Check out the music video below to see this set in-action!

Back in 2015, Entertainment Earth (an affiliate of The Rock Father™) partnered with Funko for an exclusive glow-in-the-dark Pop! Vinyl Bobblehead of Thanos, based on his appearance in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy. A double-sized 6" figure, this version of the "Mad Titan" sold out quickly, but no one could've predicted just how popular Thanos would be three years later. Thanks to his finger-snapping villainy in Avengers: Infinity War, Funko and Entertainment Earth are doing a second run of the popular figure - the only 6" Funko Thanos that can currently be purchased new (an Avengers version sold as a Hot Topic exclusive is now only found on the secondary market). Pre-orders are open now with delivery expected in September.

When I was in L.A. for the World Premiere of Avengers: Infinity War last month, I happened to pass by AJ McLean on the purple carpet as we both browsed the Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years display. We didn't speak, but there was a small flashback to when the Backstreet Boys were superheroes themselves for a short period of time - turned into toys for Burger King alongside a comic that they collaborated on with Stan Lee. Feeling old, that was nearly 20 years ago, and today comes news that the Backstreet Boys have signed to RCA Records on the heels of their 25th anniversary. Doing up the signing announcement right, the news comes alongside a new single - “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” today May 17th, along with its official music video directed by long time BSB collaborators Rich + Tone. Check it out below...

I'm usually not one to knock the reboot craze... after all, I did title my 2004 Saturday Action Theatre EP "Remakes and Sequels." Nostalgia is powerful, and I've watched and enjoyed many revamped favorites of yesteryear, but when CBS unleashed their first-look at their updated version of MAGNUM P.I. -  honestly, I fully expected to hate it. I was really just bummed when I found out that Thomas Magnum wouldn't be rockin' the iconic Tom Selleck mustache, but having seen the extended preview, I'm ready to tune in this fall. There's some changes in things, but the Ferrari is back (several, actually - though they seem to like wrecking them) as is the colorful Island Hopper helicopter and that signature theme song. Check this out...

In 2019, Star Wars Celebration will return and it's celebrating its 20th Anniversary right here in my home town of Chicago! That's right, ReedPop (the folks behind the fantastic C2E2) and Lucasfilm will bring Star Wars Celebration to McCormick place April 11-15, 2019.  The full website and details will be coming soon, with tickets going on-sale June 5, 2018 at noon CST. The announcement was made on this week's installment of The Star Wars Show, and you can bet I will be spending quite a bit of time in the City proper come next April.  In the meantime, check this out...

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ROCK FATHER™ TV: New Videos from YouTube