Over the past few years, I've had the good fortune to have been invited to some fairly magical places that most of the general public will never have the chance to experience first-hand. Thanks to my friends at The Walt Disney Company, I've been able to go beyond the gates of several legendary facilities, including the famous lot of The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios and ABC. While I've spent a decent amount of time at all of those places in Southern California (even dropping by the Animation Research Library and the former Imagineering center), there's a couple spots further up the coast that I've always wanted to visit, and I finally crossed one of those off the list with my recent adventure inside Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California. As part of the promotional ramp-up to the theatrical release of Disney•Pixar's Cars 3, I was able to get a look at the campus where some of the most iconic animated films of the past few decades have been created.
As some of you might know, I recently visited Pixar Animation Studios for an early look at Disney•Pixar's Cars 3, after which I got to hit the track at Sonoma Raceway. As the June 16 release of the latest Cars film fast-approaches, back here in Illinois, families will be able to "meet" life-size, character look-alikes of five-time Piston-Cup champion Lightning McQueen, tech-savvy Cruz Ramirez and the sleek next-gen racer Jackson Storm THIS WEEKEND. The crew will be rolling into town to celebrate Cars 3 with local fans as the Cars 3: Road to the Races Tour hits the Chicagoland area for a stop at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, April 21-23, 2017.
Despite the fact that most American homes have toys in them (even those that are sans-kids), the general public still seems to know fairly little about the toy industry and how it works. Each year, thousands of toys hit the market, and for every one that makes it from development to production, there's dozens more that have been pitched and failed. While most toymakers have in-house development teams, a good portion of new toys are developed by independent inventors or design studios who turn around and either sell or license their creations to one of the major companies. As a toy reviewer myself, I see a ton of toys come into The Toy Testing Facility at Rock Father HQ™ each year, and I'm always on the lookout for current and upcoming trends in play (I'm also on the Parent Advisory Panel for The Toy Insider and have served as a Play Influencer for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair). That said, when ABC invited me to take an early look at their new competition series, THE TOY BOX (premiering TONIGHT, FRIDAY, APRIL 7 from 8:00–9:00 p.m. EDT on ABC), I was intrigued - especially since I was able to see it in the screening room at Pixar Animation Studios with Jen Tan, Creative Director of Consumer Products for Pixar - a mentor on the show. The premise: Toy inventors present their concepts to a group of mentors and a panel of judges (kids!) with an ultimate goal of making it to the finals, where the winning toy will be produced by Mattel and sold exclusively at Toys "R" Us immediately following the season finale.
Disney•Pixar's Cars 3 will race into theaters on June 16, but a few days prior (June 13), Warner Bros. Games will unleash Cars 3: Driven to Win, an all-new video game for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U. Your road to becoming a champion starts with this first look of Cars 3: Driven to Win as you gear-up to speed into the world of Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez, Jackson Storm and other beloved characters as you determine your path to racing mastery! Check out the preview below, and stay tuned for some exclusive coverage from the #Cars3Event, coming soon to The Rock Father™ Magazine.
I'm getting a real Days of Thunder vibe from a lot of what I've seen thus far from Disney•Pixar's Cars 3, and I'm digging it. I grew up on racing (a lot of people don't know that), and I'm known for wearing a Cars Radiator Springs racing jacket on a fairly regular basis. That said, Cars 3 is looking good, and this "Extended Sneak-Peek" shows a little more of what's going on, and it's still not even a proper trailer for the film! After making a splash at a special press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit yesterday, you can bet the name "Lightning McQueen" is fresh in the minds of many car-lovers far and wide. An old racer back to the dirt track, and even some figure eight (a Tournament of Destruction, perhaps?) action in the mix - check this out!
When you think of Disney•Pixar's Cars, "realism" probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind - anthropmorphic, living vehicles, and all. That's just what's so slightly jarring, yet intriguing about the first teaser for Cars 3, the long-awaited next chapter in the saga, hitting theaters in the U.S. on June 16, 2017. Much like the uncharted waters that we as a country are about to tread, there is a feeling of uncertainly and unease with this - a massive change from the world we're familiar with... even in Radiator Springs.