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A week ago, despite all the rumors of doom and gloom surrounding the fate of Toys "R" Us, my wife and I took our girls to our local store on a Friday night. Our visit was multi-fold - the main interest being that we needed a very specific birthday gift for our nephew (my wife = "the cool aunt"), and our girls wanted to pick out a little something with their own money. They receive a modest amount that caps at $5 per week based on performance at school as tracked by the Class Dojo app, and at five and eight they've reached the point of really enjoying the opportunity to pick something out and pay for it themselves. For our youngest, it was one of MGA Entertainment's L.O.L. Surprise Lil' Sisters, and for our oldest a small case of eye shadow from the Claire's Boutique store-within-a-store. What I was impressed with was that the attitude at the store was not gloomy at all - the employees were friendly, the store bright and clean, and it was still well-stocked with new items. Along the way, we received a demo of a Mattel classic - the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash (the girls love their Hot Wheels, just like daddy), and checked out the full assortment of Hasbro's new toys from Avengers: Infinity War. There were quite a few customers, and if you didn't know the backstory, you'd think all was well at Geoffrey's house. We got what we came for - an Imaginarium Ride-On Train that was priced at $149.99 in-store, but $104.99 on the TRU website. A quick mention at the check-out and it was price-matched and we were out the door. Less than a week later, rumors began swirling again that the folks pulling the strings on Toys "R" Us were considering a full-scale liquidation, and one that could come as soon as today - Monday. I drove by the Toys "R" Us in Gurnee, Illinois again on Saturday, and the parking lot was so packed, it could've been Christmas Eve. As of this writing, no news came through from TRU, but now all signs are pointing to something happening on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Last year, PLAYMOBIL surprised audiences by getting into the realm of pop culture licenses for the first time. Now in their 44th year, PLAYMOBIL is entering their second year of licensed product by expanding upon the first to launch - PLAYMOBIL Ghostbusters. That line was a huge hit right out of the gate, and we were lucky enough to have received the Ecto-1 for review last year, along with the iconic Firehouse Playset as a gift from The Toy Insider. My girls and I were so into it that we eventually purchased all of the other sets. So with a collection based largely on 1984's Ghostbusters, it's only logical that the next step would be 1989's Ghostbusters II and the folks at PLAYMOBIL have done just that... but they're also looking for inspiration in a more unexpected place: The Real Ghostbusters.

Hard to believe that the The Toy Association's 115th North American International Toy Fair wrapped-up a week ago already, but it did, and I'll still be presenting content from Toy Fair here in the virtual pages of The Rock Father™ Magazine and over at The Toy Insider for some time to come. The annual event is significant, and outside of the toy industry, I'm not sure that the general public has any real idea of the magnitude of this thing - it's MASSIVE. Today the official numbers came in, and in all 26,236 professionals attended the largest toy show in the Western Hemisphere. The Javits center played host to hundreds of thousands of toys and games across 442,700 net square feet of exhibit space – the equivalent of about seven football fields! Curious for more data? Check this out...

The North American International Toy Fair is fast-approaching, and those in attendance February 17-20, 2018 can get their first-look at the latest character from IAmElemental, creators of the first female action figures designed specifically for children. The company is set to debut their latest Series 2/Wisdom Warrior Core Power action figure at Booth #5207 - this one inspired by Alexandrian STEM pioneer Hypatia.

Sunday, January 28 2018 13:09

LEGO Celebrates 60 Years of Bricks...

It was 60 years ago today - January 28, 1958 that LEGO was able to secure a patent for its brand of interlocking bricks. The company has a history both storied and controversial, but what remains most important is that millions of children and families have been brought together by the iconic building toys. To celebrate the 60th Anniversary milestone, LEGO placed a massive installation in the Flatiron District of New York City, a neighborhood hailed as "the original home of the American Toy Industry." Check out the build video below to see the construction of a 12,000 pound LEGO Brick...

It was in September of 2017 when the rumblings of a major restructuring really took hold for Toys "R" Us. I offered-up some commentary on one of their owners, Bain Captial, and how I feared that they were positioning Toys "R" Us for a repeat of the fleecing and destruction that they subjected KB Toys to in the early 2000s. A week later, the rumbles became reality as Toys "R" Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. While it was "business-as-usual" for the most part at the actual stores, now that the holiday season is behind us, the dark reality that everyone knew was coming has arrived: store closures. In a statement issued late on Tuesday, Dave Brandon, Chairman & CEO of Toys "R" Us announced that they're pairing down the store list, but he reaffirmed the commitment to making Toys "R" Us a destination for generations to come. One thing not included in the message was the actual store closing list, but that was buried in a court filing from yesterday afternoon. Around 180 stores will be shuttered between February-April, and sadly the Toys "R" Us that I shopped at as a kid is one of the ones about to go, and as an adult I've shopped at four of the eight Illinois locations about to go dark. Of note is that many of the store closings are actually stand-alone Babies "R" Us locations, and it's expected that nearby Toys "R" Us stores will be remodeled to be TRU/BRU combo stores. Here's the local list...

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