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They say that history repeats itself, and likewise so do trends. One trend in play that's back with some serious bite this year is everything jurassic.  Yes, the dinosaurs are back, and at the forefront of popular culture that's being driven by the release of Universal Pictures' Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  While they might own the rights to certain stories, names and places, Universal can't lay claim to dinosaurs, and that keeps the gates wide-open for other toymakers to ride the wave of renewed excitement for the long-extinct (or are they?) giants that have been captivating imaginations for millions of years. For Playmobil, The Explorers are their new line of archaeological adventurers who are making their way into stores and playrooms with tales of a mysterious island called Roca, where dinosaurs continue to live peacefully thanks to a magical fruit. At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York, I had a chance to see the new collection first-hand, and the folks at Playmobil recently sent us the new Hidden Temple with T-Rex Playset for a hands-on review.

When it comes to summer toys for outdoor fun, it always seems that the simplest ones tend to be the best. One recent entry that captured the spirit is the Zoom Ball, something the folks at Goliath Games included in a  shipment of review materials that we received right around the time of the North American International Toy Fair this year. At the time, outdoor play wasn't the first thing on my mind (it was cold), but now it's prime time for warm weather fun, and Zoom Ball is a hit. As they say, you just "Zip it to Rip it!" Check out the video below to see it in action...

The Hess Toy Truck has been a holiday tradition since 1964, but in 1998 the vehicles spawned something... smaller. 2018 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Hess Toy Truck Mini Collection, launched in 1998 as a way to pay tribute to the holiday Hess Toy Trucks from the past. Of course, the Hess Toy Truck isn't always a "truck," but sometimes a different type of vehicle or a hauler of some type. To celebrate two decades of the minis, the 2018 Mini Collection is a limited-production set of three highly detailed, small-scale versions of classic holiday Hess Toy Trucks – the 1970 Hess Toy Fire Truck, the 1977 Hess Fuel Oil Tanker, and the 1988 Hess Toy Truck and Racer. Thanks to the folks at the Hess Corporation, we got our hands on a set early to have some play time and a photo shoot here at Rock Father HQ. Let's take a look...

Published in Rock Father Rides

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!

Published in Rock Father Rides

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!

Published in Rock Father Rides

At the 115th North American International Toy Fair this year, I happened to come across the Imperial Toy booth and some of their latest offerings on the bubble front. For years Imperial's bubbles have been a staple of outdoor play, but one new spin on the classic is something that's been kicking around since 2015, gradually being improved and readied for its major public push. Created by a pediatrician and allergist,Lick-A-Bubble is a special solution that allows kids to create flavored bubbles from just about any drink (just stay away from dairy, pulps, and steer non-carbonated). And for the grownups, yes - you can use this with your favorite "adult beverage" - and that's exactly how I first tried them.

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