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The birth rates might be down, but contrary to what some might have you think - yes, people are still having babies... even Millennials. With the loss of Babies "R" Us during the Toys "R" Us collapse this past year, new parents looking for a spot to check out the latest in baby gear are finding that there may soon be more places to buy than ever before, and the latest is a bit of an unexpected one: JCPenney. The iconic retailer has had their own share of struggles with evolution over the past few years, but they're still working on it, this week announcing the opening of JCPenney Baby Shops in 500 stores.

Just-received from The Pokémon Company International... they and Nintendo have announced new details about Mega Evolution and much more in the highly anticipated Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! games, releasing later this year on the Nintendo Switch™ system. Both games are designed for players taking their first steps into the Pokémon video game world as well as longtime fans wanting a new way to play Pokémon.

Tuesday, August 07 2018 13:18

Film Review: DOG DAYS is a Late-Summer Surprise...

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With 2018 being such a massive year at the movies, it's easy to overlook some potential gems in what's become a crowded summer. As of this writing, family-friendly superheroes still rank heavily in the Top 10, with Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and The Wasp, Disney-Pixar's Incredibles 2 and Warner Bros. Animation's Teen Titans GO! to the Movies jockeying for position in a crowded field currently dominated by Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Fallout, Disney's Christopher Robin (reviewed here) and sequels from the Hotel Transylvania and Mamma Mia! franchises (did ABBA spawn a franchise? I guess I just said it). Call it "counter-programming," but there's something charming about a little movie about the ways that canine companions can help bring people together arriving in theaters just two days ahead of a film about a prehistoric, everything-eating shark (THE MEG). From LD EntertainmentDOG DAYS is a late-summer surprise that's worthy of a look - a family film with crossover appeal that's driven by the strength of its ensemble cast... a cast that doesn't spend a lot of time on-screen with one another.

As we enter August, I've now been writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us (TRU) for 11 months - hard to imagine that last year at this time, the dominoes were just on the verge of tipping, as positive announcements like the launch of Spin Master's Rusty Rivets toys and the pending Force Friday II ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi were still taking place. Of course, by September things were looking bleak, and my "Toy Killer" feature about Bain Capital setting-up TRU to fail and fall - just as they did with KB Toys - was published just 12 days ahead of their filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The eventual motion for complete liquidation just six months later would be a surprise to many, but the fact that the process of shutting down the company and selling off its assets keeps getting drawn-out is one that continues to surprise and pour salt in the wounds of many. I still hold firm in my belief that certain parties at the top never had any real intention of allowing Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us to continue here in the United States, and now it appears as though by the time it's all said and done, even the names my hold little value. Once again, the Intellectual Property Auction that would allow buyers to purchase the IP assets of the company has been postponed - this time until October. For those playing along at home, the initial plans for the auction were outlined back in May with the original plan set for a June 18 action... postponed until August 6, and now delayed once again. With each passing day, the TRU brand loses more and more of its value, but life without Toys "R" Us isn't necessarily as bleak as some may have thought. In fact, the NPD Group reports that toy industry sales are up more than 7% so far in 2018 with double-digit increases in the sales of youth electronics and dolls. Still, the saga of Toys "R" Us continues, and as I said during my panel appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, it's like an L.O.L. Surprise Doll in that there's just more and more to discover as each layer is peeled back...

When I began writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us last summer, I had no idea just how deep the rabbit hole would go. In fact, I had no intention of writing much beyond my initial concern, and even a few months in, I was still sharing some of the public-facing statements issued by the company - that it was "business as usual" during the "restructuring." But it wasn't business as usual, and we all know what ended up happening. It's the summer of 2018, and in the United States, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" us no longer exist. One of my most widely-shared articles was published back on March 27, and in addition to news that a group of vendors led by Crayola was gearing-up for a fight and alleging "irresponsible and potentially illegal behavior" by certain executives at Toys "R" Us, I raised another concern: that numerous charities would be taking a potentially devastating hit. This week, I received word that ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) and Good360 have stepped-up to face the challenge with the launch of TOYS FOR JOY. Even more surprising was that I was told that it was my writing that inspired the movement.

The first season hasn't even premiered yet, but Nickelodeon is betting big on RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. News just hit Rock Father™ HQ that the reimagined 2D-animated series just got the greenlight for a second season of 26 episodes. Having seen a preview alongside the new action figures and playsets from Playmates Toys (which are fantastic) at New York Toy Fair earlier this year, I don't think that Nick is out of line by doubling-down on this new telling of the TMNT legend. The action-comedy follows the band of brothers, Raph, Leo, Donnie and Mikey, as they discover new powers and encounter a mystical world they never knew existed beneath the streets of New York City. Season two will begin production this fall at Nickelodeon’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif.

Johann Schmidt. A brilliant scientist, but one that's been terribly misguided over the years, becoming obsessed with world domination and falling into a leadership position in the HYDRA-Abteilung division, a secret unit that specialized in artillery and harnessing the power of the Tesseract to create super weapons back in WWII. Of course, back then the Tesseract was known as the Cosmic Cube, and while pursuing its ultimate power, Schmidt injected himself with an early version of the Super Soldier Serum and was deformed, ultimately becoming RED SKULL. Now, straight from the screen and into toy collections, Hasbro is kicking-off it's all-new Marvel Studios: The First 10 Years Collection with Set #0 - the Marvel Legends Series Red Skull and Electronic Tesseract SDCC Exclusive, inspired by Captain America: The First Avenger! I received one for review, so let's take a look...

As I type this, Comic-Con International (SDCC) is currently underway in San Diego with the biggest names in pop culture coming together for their annual gathering.  On the toy front, the exclusives are many, and Hasbro has some stellar offerings - a few of which they sent to me for early review here at Rock Father™ HQ. One of the biggest and most-anticipated is the MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES DEFENDERS RAIL AUTHORITY 5-PACK. This set brings together five characters from Marvel Studios' Netflix Original Series, The Defenders, each presented in super-articulated 6" format. Packaged in a box that's made to look like a NYC subway car, this thing is a sight to behold with JESSICA JONES, LUKE CAGE, DAREDEVIL, IRON FIST, and COLLEEN WING all ready to defend the residents of Hell's Kitchen and beyond!

The 2018 edition of Comic-Con International (SDCC) is underway in San Diego, and today The Rock Father™ and Entertainment Earth have joined forces to reveal another shared exclusive with the folks at Funko! The Hellboy in Suit Pop! Vinyl Figure is a 2018 Summer Convention Shared Exclusive that's available at the show from either Entertainment Earth Booth #2343 or Funko Booth #5341 or online exclusively through Entertainment Earth. While I won't be hitting the ground in San Diego until Saturday morning (catch my panel Saturday night!), Comic-Con has come to me and I've gone hands-on with this awesome new Hellboy Pop! Comics figure! Check out some pictures below, and be sure to order yours from my friends at Entertainment Earth!

The 2018 edition of Comic-Con International (SDCC) is underway in San Diego, and today The Rock Father™ and Entertainment Earth have joined forces to reveal another shared exclusive with the folks at Funko! The Looney Tunes Playboy Penguin Pop! Vinyl Figure is a 2018 Summer Convention Shared Exclusive that's available at the show from either Entertainment Earth Booth #2343 or Funko Booth #5341 or online exclusively through Entertainment Earth. While I won't be hitting the ground in San Diego until Saturday morning (catch my panel Saturday night!), Comic-Con has come to me and I've gone hands-on with this awesome new Playboy Penguin Pop! Animation figure! Check out some pictures below, and be sure to order yours from my friends at Entertainment Earth!

The unboxing phenomenon continues to grow and with no signs of slowing down, toymakers are becoming more innovative in finding new ways to bring the elements of surprise and discovery home. From Moose Toys, makers of Shopkins and The Grossery Gang, comes Treasure X, - "the ultimate unboxing experience!" Combining several play patterns into one all-new experience, Treasure X gives kids the opportunity to rip, dig and fizz their way through 10 layers to discover the secrets hidden within - and there's a chance to find real gold-dipped treasure! It's excavation, unboxing, sensory stimulation, action figures and surprise play all in one, and ahead of the national debut of Treasure X in the U.S., The Rock Father™ and Moose Toys have teamed-up to premiere the Treasure X movie trailer! A great toy lends itself to a great story, and today we've got your first-look!

One of the highlights of my visit to the 115th North American International Toy Fair this past February was a meeting at the DC Collectibles booth. If you haven't seen what they're doing, the folks at DC are offering up some stellar toys and collectibles "direct from the source" - meaning their in-house team. First-announced back in May of 2017, the DC Collectibles Artists Alley collection was on-display at Toy Fair and this summer they're finally hitting the streets. These PVC figures are inspired by the Artists Alley experience of a comic convention, in which fans can ask their favorite artists to craft reimaginings of popular characters infused with their own unique style. Among the figures in the first wave, the DC Trinity - Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as designed by artist Chris Uminga and sculpted by Joe Menna. At Toy Fair, I was presented with an early sample - one of just 300 exclusive Batman figures created just for the event. Now they're available to the masses, but just like their comic counterparts, the Artists Alley collection is being offered in variant form, with wave one available now in Standard Edition, Black & White Variants and the Hot Topic-Exclusive Zombie Variants - the latter of which I received for review here at Rock Father HQ. Let's take a look...

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