The Original Whiffer Sniffers have the distinction of being included in my annual Holiday Wish Guide twice - making the list in back-to-back years for 2016 & 2017. Of the countless collectible backpack clips out there, Whiffer Sniffers win across the board, with adorable characters, great design, and scents that are actually pretty good (I love last year's pumpkin spice offering). For 2018, Series 6 is here and it's rolling out with new characters in two parts. There's also some Super Sniffers along with an Easter offering as well. Curious what the kids will want next? Take a look at the latest additions to The Whiffer Sniffers' roster... personally, I think Series 2 is gonna be perfect for summer, and I've got my eye on Apollo Freeze for myself!
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.
Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War recently got a bump, moving into an April 27 release date for the much-anticipated film... the biggest comic book movie ever. With that, the toys started hitting retail a little earlier as well, and Hasbro has been leading the charge as the master licensee, bringing forth new ways to play as the Marvel #UniverseUnites. In celebration of the new toy launch, Hasbro sent over a special delivery to Rock Father HQ - a box packed with a sampling of new items from across their product lines - a little of everything that will excite families from kids to collectors. While I'll be sharing formal reviews in the days and weeks ahead, here's a quick edition of UNBOXED in which I crack open the case to find new Titan Hero Power FX figures, Nerf Assembler Gear, Marvel Legends 6' action figures, characters from the basic figure assortment and the new Iron Man Hero Vision - an AR experience that was really being touted at the recent 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City. Check this out...
It was nearly two years ago that I first mentioned SUPER MONSTERS here in the virtual pages of The Rock Father™ Magazine, and last Halloween it came roaring onto Netflix, where it became a surprise hit of the spooky season. It's become a common thing that I've heard both here at Rock Father HQ and echoed among other parents when a show becomes a hit seemingly out of nowhere... "are there toys?" With Super Monsters, the answer is now a big YES, and thanks to Hasbro, a new collection of Super Monsters toys will be hitting retail just in-time for Halloween 2018. While these toys are bound to delight preschoolers and small children everywhere, I'm predicting that these will see some big crossover success with certain grownup collectors as well. Fans of the Universal Monsters, classic horror films, Halloween enthusiasts and even those who were big into Monster High are gonna dig these - and I've seen similar enthusiasm around another recent property, Disney Junior's Vampirina. At the 115th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, I got a first-hand look at the prototypes for the new Super Monsters toys, including their School Bus (which was sculpted in clay)!
There's certainly no shortage of collectible figurines available out there, and it seems that everybody has something cool going on. My friends at Entertainment Earth sell many of those, but they've also gotten into the action as a toymaker themselves, putting a decidedly retro spin into action for their own line: Pin Mates. For those looking to build a massive collection that's light on price and small on size, Pin Mates bring pop culture licenses into the realm of tiny wooden figures that recall the old Fisher-Price Little People of the 60s and 70s. With prices starting at just $4.99 a figure, they're really affordable, and one of the coolest recent assortments ties into a film that's just hitting the in-home market - Marvel Studios Thor: Ragnarok. Now available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD, DVD and Moves Anywhere, fans can bring home the galactic adventure of Thor and Hulk as we charge toward the coming Avengers: Infinity War. But how about something to play with, too? The crew at Entertainment Earth recently sent me a box of Pin Mates for review, and inside were some extras that I'm going to pass onto one of you! One lucky friend of The Rock Father™ will receive a pack of five (5) Thor: Ragnarok Pin Mates! Ready to Ragnarok?
Take the Nintendo Switch Challenge - a New Way to Play Mario Kart and a Race for a Prize Pack from GameStop!Written by James Zahn
This week, the Nintendo Switch celebrated its first birthday. Our family has been in on the action since day one - and I was actually into it a bit early thanks to attending some pre-launch events. The system is just getting started, and while we await the launch of some cool new initiatives like Nintendo Labo (which I've played for an hour and a half - more on that soon!), my friends at GameStop have come up with a fun new way to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe... if only for a round. Our family took the #NintendoSwitchChallenge and the video proof is below! Now GameStop wants to see how you fare. If you take the challenge, you could win some sweet prizes on social media... but we're also giving readers of The Rock Father Magazine a chance to win a Nintendo Switch Accessory prize pack that's filled with fun hear from PDP Gaming. You could say that it's the Switch's birthday, but you get the presents!
Is Jabba the Hutt's Sail Barge the Ultimate Toy from a Galaxy Far, Far Away... or is it 30 Years Too Late?Written by James Zahn
I'm a bit belated on writing about this one, largely because it's taken me a little while to really distill all of my feelings about it. On February 17, when I was in New York City for the 115th North American Toy Fair, I was an invited guest at Hasbro's "Fan Media" event at the New York Times building. This was a time, when amid all the new toys being unveiled for the year ahead, Hasbro welcomed a group of writers that serve some specific niches of pop culture and fandom. While the showroom was open for viewing of all toys, the big focus was on sites that cater to fans of the big franchises that Hasbro handles - Marvel, My Little Pony, Transformers, Power Rangers, and my personal favorite: Star Wars. As that franchise enters its 41st year, there's a lot going on, but the toy front is an interesting space in which there's a lot of debate about the type of merchandise available, and exactly who it's really for. This is something being discussed constantly within the offices of toymakers and retailers in addition to public forums geared toward passionate collectors. It was on that February afternoon that Hasbro unveiled a bold new initiative called HasLab, but just two weeks later it seems to be stalling. They have an absolutely incredible toy that could become reality, but is it arriving more than three decades too late?
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.
At Toy Fair in New York last month, the Spin Master booth was a center of constant activity. While their offerings are diverse, their television brands are a big deal, and we're now entering into the second year for Rusty Rivets, which airs daily on Nick Jr. Last year, the much-anticipated toy line first hit the scene as a Toys "R" Us Exclusive, but this year it's a wide-release meaning that parents should be able to find these just about anywhere. While I was personally hoping to see a Mobile Rivet Lab Playset on display (it might've been too new), that didn't happen but a lot of other great items have materialized. The Rock Father™ is excited to present to you a full look at the 2018 Rusty Rivets toy line, complete with suggested pricing and availability dates below. Get ready to Combine It and Design It!
Last summer, at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, I had a chance to preview footage from Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck It Ralph 2. It was incredible, and one of the most buzzed-about scenes is that the film manages to bring together every Disney Princess, and Star Wars into the digital realm of Wreck-It Ralph. Fortunately, that's not being shown to the world just yet, because aside from knowing of its existence, you're gonna want to see it on the big screen this Thanksgiving. While there might be some surface comparisons to last summer's The Emoji Movie in that characters enter a digital galaxy filled with apps and websites, there's a lot more happening here, and today we've got the first official teaser trailer direct from the folks at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Check it out below!
It's officially Pokémon Day, and my friends at Entertainment Earth are celebrating in an appropriate manner - with a sale, of course! Pokémon fans can take advantage of free domestic shipping on in-stock Pokémon merchandise (and anything else in the order that is also in-stock) on top of the great deals that EE has to offer. Of course, Entertainment Earth and I are longtime affiliates and collaborators, so a portion of sales purchased through my link will help to support operations here at Rock Father™ HQ. If you've gotta catch 'em all, you should save a few bucks when you can, too!
I have a unique relationship with Pokémon. Back when the original games were released in 1996, I was working for Walmart (seems like a lifetime ago), so I was on the ground floor when the craze begain. It all started on February 27, 1996 with the release of Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green in Japan, and because of that The Pokémon Company International commemorates this date with new products and promotions that give Pokémon fans around the world new ways to interact with the Pokémon brand. Pokémon Day could be called "every Trainer’s favorite pop-culture holiday," and it's today - 2/27/2018! Pokémon Trainers can now access the Pikachu Talk skill for Amazon Alexa and Pikachu Talk action for Google Home. Fans can also join Pokémon Day celebrations on social media with all-new Snapchat Lenses featuring the original first partner Pokémon—Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle—while also enjoying new Pokémon merchandise, opportunities to watch iconic Pokémon animation, and the chance to catch a special Pikachu in Pokémon GO. See all the details on this year's festivities below...