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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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It's time to take things back to a different era... one that holds a particular place of fondness for me: the mid-1990s. For the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), we're spinning things back to move things forward. As teased at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) realizes that something is very much awry thanks to the impact of Thanos' snap, he pulls out a device to contact Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) aka Captain Marvel. Where she's been all these years is a mystery, but at some point in the 90s she found herself super-powered and in the midst of a war between two alien forces - the Skrulls and the Kree. Along for the ride, a pre-eye patch Nick Fury. It's been said that Danvers is in fact the most powerful hero in the MCU, and on March 8, 2019 we'll get the full story when Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel arrives in theaters, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Now, fresh from its debut on ABC's Good Morning America, here's your first-look at the first trailer!

VTech's Go! Go! Smart Wheels have been something that my wife and I have regularly given as gifts over the past few years - some really cool vehicles and playsets that weren't quite on the scene yet when our girls were toddlers, but ones that arrived just in time for some other kids we know. Now the line is expanding again, with new sets like the Launch & Chase Police Tower, Tow & Go Garage and the Take Flight Airport. These sets can spark toddlers' imaginations and offer engaging play experiences while teaching first words, letters and more, and each features innovative SmartPoint technology. One of my favorite features is that they can all hook together for a large and immersive play environment. Check out the new sets below!

It's actually been a little while since I've seen a Hasbro Star Wars collection commercial on television, but earlier today a new spot surfaced on YouTube in promotion of the Star Wars Bladebuilders Role Play Gear. Classic dress-up and old-school imaginative play continues to be big for Hasbro, and one of the latest offerings of note is The Empire Strikes Back Electronic Yoda Mask. Think along the lines of The Force Awakens Electronic Chewbacca Mask but avoiding when "Chewbacca Mom" swooped-in and made it creepy. 

What Hasbro says about their new Yoda mask:

Imagine training the Jedi like the legendary Jedi master Yoda with this Yoda Electronic Mask, with chin-activated sound effects and phrases, so when kids open their mouths while wearing the mask, they can imagine teaching the next generation of Jedi how to use the Force! Move mouth to activate effects and to wiggle the Yoda mask’s ears! Inspired by Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, this authentically detailed mask fits most head sizes. You can get it now at HasbroToyShop.com (affiliate), Amazon and more.

Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is coming to theaters this November, and thanks to the folks at Funko, some characters from the new version of the classic tale are coming to the famed Pop! Vinyl format. Hitting stores just in time for the 2018 holiday season, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara are up for pre-order now via my friends at Entertainment Earth. Check out the latest trailer for The Nutcracker below...

Monday, September 17 2018 20:58

These Pops are Mean Ones, Mr. Grinch!

This November, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch is back on the big screen in an all-new animated adventure from Universal Studios and Illumination. Of course, what's a movie without some cool merch, right? There's toys on the way from Just Play, and Funko is in on the action as well with a host of Pop! Vinyl figures based on characters from the film. There's The Grinch, the Young Grinch, Cindy-Lou Who and Max the Dog - all available for pre-order via my friends at Entertainment Earth. Of course, we can't just do standard... there's plenty of retailer variants as well.

It's still strange to think that 2018 will mark the first year without The Great Big Toys "R" Us Book of Awesome here in the U.S. In fact, the name and multiple variations on it are part of the long-awaited TRU IP auction that will hopefully actually take place in October. But what if we did have a 2018 Big Toy Book? Chances are it wouldn't be that much different than our friends to the north, who've just unveiled the Toys "R" Us Top Toy Trends for families in Canada. As they say, "while it might seem early for adults to sing carols and sip eggnog, kids know that Christmas is less than 100 sleeps away!"  So what does Toys "R" Us Canada pick for the Hot Play Trends for the holidays? Let's take a look...

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