Saturday, November 22, 2014

Little Girls will be Thrilled - Disney bringing Live Action Cinderella Movie to the Silver Screen in March of 2015



Ever since my daughter watched Disney's classic animated movie Cinderella for the first time, she has been totally enamored with this fairy tale princess.  She tells everyone the highlight of her life (all five years of it so far) has been being able to meet Cinderella at DisneyLand.  In fact, when she had the chance to meet Cinderella she proudly showed off the t-shirt she was wearing with the character's portrait vibrantly displayed on it and exclaimed "I'm your biggest fan!"  So you know she's going to be excited when a brand new Cinderella movie sashays into theaters on March 13, 2015.


Cinderella will be directed by Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh (THOR, HAMLET) and star Lily James (DOWNTOWN ABBEY) as Cinderella, Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett (BLUE JASMINE, ELIZABETH) as the evil stepmother, Richard Madden (GAME OF THRONES) as Prince Charming and Academy Award nominee Helena Bonham Carter (THE KINGS SPEECH, ALICE IN WONDERLAND) as the fairy godmother.  The movie's producers are promising this live action feature film will bring to life the timeless images from Disney's 1950 animated masterpiece as fully-realized characters in a visually dazzling spectacle for a whole new generation.

Check out this trailer from the upcoming movie:


You know I'd be the worst dad in the world if I didn't take my little princess to see this new adaption of Cinderella.  After watching the animated Disney version of this fairy tale with my daughter more times then I can count, something new that she'll enjoy is definitely going to be appreciated in our household.  Fortunately from the looks of the trailer this movie appears to be actually a decent film to watch for both the princesses and the parents in the audience.

So the question is will my son want to go along to see the new #Cinderella movie theater?  I'm not sure though he does appear to be plotting something with Anastasia, Drisella and Lady Tremaine?


For more information about the movie, visit movies.disney.com/cinderella/

A Fun Family Game Night Courtesy of Imagine Toys

We've been switching back and forth between having Family Movie Nights and Family Game Nights on Friday evenings.  Starting off the weekend with a focus on some fun quality time together is a nice way to depressurize from the stresses that work, school and the hustle of everyday life can throw at a family throughout the week.  We tried out two new games during our most recent family fun night that were provided courtesy of our friends at IMAGINE TOYS.

 
Imagine Toys is a specialty toy store with a focus on providing quality toys that encourage children to use their imaginations.  They offer unique toys that promote creativity, educational learning, and athletics which normally won't be found at a mass-market store.  They provided A GEEK DADDY Blog with the Ice Age DVD Game and Inching Along board game to enjoy for one of our Family Game Nights.

My kids really enjoy the Ice Age movies so this was a great pick for a game night selection.  You are provided with some really nice playing pieces that depict some of the popular characters from this animated movie series which must be moved across a game board depicting a frozen tundra in search of acorns hidden under the thawing ice...be careful though as your opponents can move around Rudy the T-Rex and if he catches your character it is back to Start for you.  The number of spaces you can move in your quest to grab up all the acorns that are colored the same as your starting spot is determined on how well a player completes on-screen games that are randomly generated by the DVD included with the game.  In addition to the games the DVD also features humorous segments featuring the cast of characters from the Ice Age movies.

The television sequences involve 8 interactive carnival arcades style games of skill and chance that are randomly generated and have various outcomes so that players can't predict how to beat the challenge. Incorporating the dvd aspects into the game provides an extra dimension to its play but doesn't overpower to board game elements and strategy.  So while you aren't turning off the television for the night when it comes to the Ice Age  DVD Game, players aren't focused on the television for the entire game as they also have to focus on things taking place on its tiled board like finding their acorns and avoiding Rudy.





The Ice Age DVD game is for children 5 years and older and is for 2 to 4 players.  This game amused and entertained my 5 year old twins for an hour.  Go nuts with this game during your next family game night!

The next game we played was called Inching Along.  This game was dreamed up by a teacher to help kids learn basic math and measuring skills.  It is aimed for kids in kindergarten through second grade.  My twins are about 2 months into kindergarten and the game was just a little too advanced for them as we started getting into the game play.  I have a feeling they'll be ready to play it closer to the end of the school year which was somewhat disappointing because they really were excited about the artwork for the game board and pieces and interested in using the ruler that comes along with the game...but alas their counting and math skills were just not up to par once we started playing the game. So we put it aside for later on but it is a game we will absolutely be bringing back out of the closet in the future.



Inching Along has a nighttime camping theme and I just have to say again has very impressive artwork and a great game layout.  To get from the start to finish players must pull a card with instructions on it then follow those directions to measure lines and translate those measurements into numbers to know how many spaced for their characters to move forward or backward on the hiking trail.  It is a very original concept that reinforces educational lessons in a fun manner for children.



Both Ice Age DVD Game and Inching Along get A Geek Daddy nod of approval for being fun opportunities to promote creative and educational play.  For more information about Imagine Toys visit www.imaginetoys.com

DISCLAIMER Imagine Toys provided A Geek Daddy Blog with a $50 credit to purchase products from its website to use for a family game night.  There was no obligation to write a positive review about Imagine Toys or the products sold from it.  The opinions in this post are my own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Star Wars Command: The Battle of Hoth

Just before the first snow storm of this winter hit our town, A Geek Daddy Blog received a surprise box of goodies from our friends at Hasbro filled with the company's newest line of toys called Star Wars Command for us to play with and test out.  These Star Wars Command toys are like the little green plastic army men of my youth but instead of pretending to fight in World War II you are transported to the Star Wars Universe to play out  your favorite scenes from the franchise's movies or television episodes.  They have themed toy sets ranging from the brand new animated series Star Wars: Rebels (which is my son's favorite tv show) to Empire Strikes Back (which is my favorite movie).


So as the snow started coming down you know my five year old son and I couldn't resist going out in the backyard and recreating the Battle of Hoth.  My son's rebel troopers put up a valiant fight led by Chewbacca and Han Solo but they just were no match against Dad's powerful legion of AT-ATs and snow troopers.  In the end though a mysterious snow ball from outer space knocked out the approaching Geek Daddy armada allowing the rebels to slip away to battle another day.

My son had a blast playing with these toys and I was whisked back to acting like a kid myself for a few moments while we enjoyed playing Star Wars in the snow.  Then it was time for dinner and a return to the real world; but as we were packing up I took a moment to appreciate this moment of father-son fun and bonding that we often don't get enough time for in the everyday hustle and bustle of life.  Next I realized it probably wasn't the best move to play with white colored toys in the snow...we'll be finding a few of these figures after the snow melts.  Fortunately, a number of the rebels including Han Solo, Chewbacca and R2D2 were made of blue, brown and orange colored plastic and easily stood out in the frozen tundra of our patio.

For being small injected plastic molded figurines these Star Wars Command toys have some nice sculpts and detail to them.  Recommended age for these micro-figure battle sets are for children 4 years old and up.



#CommandtheForce with the Star Wars Command battle packs. They come in a variety of sizes ranging in price from $4.99 for a play set that includes 9 figures to $59.99 for the Star Destroyer set that includes a gigantic vehicle that shoots out energy blast balls to devastate your opponent's army.

While we had a great time playing out the Battle of Hoth together, the toy set that my son really wants to get his hands on is the Star Wars: Rebels - Jedi Duel battle pack.  This includes all his favorite characters from the tv show: Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus, Sabine Wren, Zeb Orrelios, and C1-1OP "Chopper" plus bad guy The Inquisitor and a few stormtroopers to boot.  Plus it has two vehicles included the PHANTOM space ship and an AT-DP armored walker.  We've decided to hold this battle pack aside for a little while though because it is just too valuable to use as a reward, or bribe, when the need may arise.  My son doesn't know we have this in hand so he'll be thrilled when we eventually give it to him.


For more information about the Star Wars Command toys visit starwars.hasbro.com

DISCLAIMER:  Hasbro provided A GEEK DADDY Blog with complimentary Star Wars Command toys with an approximate retail value of $50.  These toys were provided with no obligation to provide a positive review regarding them.  The views and opinions in this post are my own.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This is What GIVING to The Salvation Army Looks Like

Win Fun Prizes While Helping The Salvation Army Make Positive Change for Those in Need by Participating in the #SharetheMostGood Social Media Contest


Three Rochester Michigan area landmarks are joining together this holiday season to help The Salvation Army, a faith-based non-profit organization that helps give hope to people in need, with its 2014 Red Kettle fundraising campaign.  November 12th through December 31, 2014 stop by Meadow Brook Hall, Royal Park Hotel or the Village of Rochester Hills to make a donation to The Salvation Army's Eastern Michigan Division and take a selfie while you are making your gift.  Post your photo on Facebook or Instagram with the caption "This is what GIVING looks like @" tagging the participating venue you are at and including the #ShareTheMostGood hashtag.  Participants will be eligible to win one of three grand prizes:  a behind-the-scenes tour of the historic Meadow Brook Hall, a one-night stay and breakfast for two at the Royal Park Hotel or a $150 gift card to the Village of Rochester Hills.

Specific Contest Details

Participants must post a photo giving to Meadow Brook Hall’s toy drive, purchasing a dessert or a gingerbread brick for $10 at the Royal Park Hotel or donating to a red kettle at the Village of Rochester Hills. Submissions must be photographed at one of the three participating locations and then posted to Facebook or Instagram.

Gingerbread House @ the Royal Park Hotel
The post must include #SharetheMostGood and one of the following tags:
  • @theVillageofRochesterHills
  • @RoyalParkHotel
  • @MeadowBrookHallandGarden

Village of Rochester Hills

One winner from each location will be selected at random and announced via Meadow Brook Hall, Royal Park Hotel and Village of Rochester Hills social media on the following dates:

Wednesday, Jan. 7 – The Village of Rochester Hills
Thursday, Jan. 8 – Royal Park Hotel
Friday, Jan. 9 – Meadow Brook Hall

Meadow Brook Hall
Donations to The Salvation Army assist people throughout the year providing food, shelter, and vital human services to those in need across Metro Detroit and throughout Michigan.  Because Need Knows No Season, The Salvation Army provides support to those in need 365 days a year.

For more information about The Salvation Army's Eastern Michigan District visit www.salmich.org or call 877-SAL-MICH.  A donation to The Salvation Army's 2014 Red Kettle campaign is tax deductible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse


You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Mickey Mouse turned 86 years old today.  He made his official debut on November 18, 1928 appearing in the film "Steamboat Willie" and has been entertaining girls and boys of all ages ever since.  Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse!

In recognition of Mickey's birthday, here are a few fun facts provided to A GEEK DADDY blog from our friends at the Disney PR department:

  • Walt initially named Mickey Mouse “Mortimer,” until Walt’s wife, Lily, suggested “Mickey” was a better choice.
  • The short film “Steamboat Willie” was the first short starring Mickey Mouse released, but was actually the third created. The first two, “Plane Crazy” and “The Gallopin’ Gaucho,” initially failed to find distributors, but were picked up and released later.
  • The first Mickey Mouse Club was formed by theater owner Harry Woodin in Los Angeles. On his own accord, Woodin devoted Saturday afternoons in his theater to showing only Mickey Mouse shorts and led children in a Mickey Mouse pledge. Walt later partnered with Woodin and spread the idea of Mickey Mouse Clubs to movie theaters across the nation.
  • The first Mickey short in which Mickey spoke was “The Karnival Kid,” the ninth Mickey short, which was released in July 1929. His first words: “Hot dog!”
  • Walt Disney wasn’t satisfied with the first few actors chosen to provide a voice for Mickey Mouse, so he did it, and continued to do so through about 1947.
  • A Mickey Mouse comic strip, penned by Ub Iwerks, launched in January 1930, and at its height was printed in 40 newspapers in 22 countries.
  • The first piece of Mickey Mouse merchandise was a tablet of paper that featured the mouse, designed for children. The first Mickey Mouse doll was designed in 1930.
  • When Walt Disney was contemplating a name for his first theme park (Disneyland park), he once considered calling it “Mickey Mouse Village.”
  • Mickey Mouse was the first animated character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was given on his birthday (November 18) in 1978.
Our family always enjoys expressing our #DisneySide and looks forward to enjoying many more milestones and special occasions in the future involving the world's most famous mouse.  Do you have any special stories involving Mickey Mouse?





Monday, November 17, 2014

Rocking the Holidays with a Wireless JBL Charge 2 Speaker

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.


We always go all out at Christmas time to celebrate the holidays at our house - a huge blowup snowman in the front yard, the glow of our home shining from being covered in LED lights, a pleasant wreath on the front door, stockings hung above the fireplace with care, and of course a decorated tree with cookies and milk for Santa.  Something seemed to be lacking though; but I just couldn't put my finger on it.  It hit me the other day when I was driving home from work and realized they were playing Christmas songs on the radio...we hadn't been rocking our home with holiday music.  I was going to have to fix that by getting some Bluetooth compatible speakers for our house.

We haven't had a nice stereo receiver or speaker system in our house to make listening to music that worthwhile.  When my wife and I tend to listen to music it is on the radio in the car, at the gym with our mp3 player, or via the playlists we have stored on our iphones. Our children are at an age where they really don't listen to music much. So while our house was decked out for the season the musical component of the holidays had been lacking because we just didn't have an outlet for enjoying Christmas carols and tunes at home. Thanks to #CollectiveBias we were given a JBL Charge 2 Speaker because tis the season for #GiftingAudio and now it appears our family is going to be a lot merrier through the holidays being able to incorporate music into our festivities.


I have to say that this speaker has exceeded my expectations.  Its little body belts out the tunes with power, clarity and bass that rivals the bulky monstrous four foot high box speakers I used to take a lot of pride in from my bachelor pad days.  It was very easy to sync the JBL Charge 2 speaker to my iphone so that my children and I were very quickly listening to some holiday tunes via Pandora through this connection.  I was actually somewhat surprised just how exceptional the sound quality was especially with how I was playing music through a wireless connection with my phone.  We really had the jingle bells rocking as I cranked up the sound to enjoy the music of Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  I kid you not the speakers delivered such a rich bass that it felt as if we could have been at a concert.  You can actually see the speaker working to provide a rich listening experience as you can see the twin passive radiators (the silver discs on either side of the speaker) pulsating to the beat of the music which is quite impressive to observe.

So what is on your Holiday Playlist this year?  Here are a few of the favorites from our family playlist:

Christmas Don't Be Late - Alvin and the Chipmunks
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer - Elmo & Patsy
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen
Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby & David Bowie Duet
Do They Know it is Christmas - Band Aid
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year -Andy Williams
Joy to the World - Mannheim Steamroller
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - The Bare Naked Ladies
Carol of the Bells - Trans Siberian Orchestra
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas -  Judy Garland
Frosty the Snowman by Jimmy Durante

There is such a focus on the visual elements of the holiday season through the lights and decorations, but the musical aspect is also an important part of celebrating the holidays and was something we had been neglecting the last few years.  Being able to pull out this convenient portable speaker and easily play holiday songs from our itunes playlists or Pandora is really going to enhance the Christmas spirit for our family. My kids were so excited when they heard the holiday tunes pouring through our house as they jumped around like reindeer singing the lyrics to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.  It was so convenient just being able to pull out my phone, hit play and have the music flow wireless between devices and through our home.

Speaking of convenient, it was really nice to have this great speaker delivered directly to my front door rather than drag myself out to the store to search for one.  If you are looking to get a JBL Charge 2 for yourself or maybe as a gift for someone keep in mind the convenience of shopping online.



It is so convenient to get one of these online now too because JBL is having a special holiday promotion on its website. If you purchase a Charge 2 from www.jbl.com, they will provide FREE ground shipping plus FREE extended returns.  I hate paying for shipping for online purchases so that is a real plus for me!  Another perk that I appreciated is JBL provides lifetime support for your purchase when you buy it online directly from their website!  The JBL Charge 2 is $149.95 and while my preference was black you can choose from five colors to personalize your selection: blue, purple, red, white or black.



While the JBL Charge 2 is going to make our holiday celebrating more enjoyable it is also going to be very useful throughout the rest of the year as well.  Often times when we call grandma and grandpa our kids are fighting to grab the phone to talk to their grandparents...now we can use the Charge 2 as a speaker phone routing the call through it so the kids can both hear the conversation at the same time and also talk through the speaker's built-in microphone.  That featured turned into an unexpected treat which we are going to be using a lot all year long.  Based on the sound quality that I've experienced so far I may also use this speaker phone application for some of my work conference calls too.

Another great feature that is really nice if you are taking the Charge 2 with you on a family road trip or on business travel is that you can actually use the speaker to charge your phone when you are on the go.  The Charge 2's 6000mAh Li-ion battery can play up to 12 hours of music or if it outlasts your phone or other portable devices you can recharge them through its USB port.  No more having to look for an electric outlet to plug into at a highway rest stop while you are traveling to recharge your phone or tablet when you have this speaker with you.  This speaker really is the gift that keeps on giving.




In the spirit of Gifting Audio, our friends at Collective Bias and JBL are giving away 30 speakers for the holidays.  Just complete the steps below for a chance to win.  Good luck everyone!


JBL.com #GiftingAudio Sweepstakes

Thursday, November 13, 2014

WEEKEND GIVEAWAY: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2



In recognition of the November 11th home video release of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 on BLU-RAY & DVD, one lucky A Geek Daddy Blog reader will win a movie prize pack courtesy of our friends at Fox Home Entertainment.  For a chance to win this BLU-RAY/DVD/DIGITAL DOWNLOAD combo pack you must be a US or Canadian resident over 18 years old and submit one or all of the following entry methods to earn up to 3 entries prior to 11:59 pm EST on Sunday November 16, 2014:

UPDATE: Congratulations to Stephen A from Virginia Beach VA who won the prize!

 ENTRY 1:  Follow A GEEK DADDY on FACEBOOK.

 ENTRY 2:  Follow A GEEK DADDY on GOOGLE+

ENTRY 3:  E-mail thegeekdaddy [at] yahoo [dot] com your name and mailing address.  Email subject line should be DRAGONS CONTEST.  If you wish to have Entry 1 and/or 2 count to earn extra entries include the name(s) you follow A GEEK DADDY with on Facebook & GooglePlus in this e-mail. 

All valid entries will be assigned a number and one number will be randomly selected to determine the winner.  E-mails will only be used to contact the winner and deleted following the selection of a winner.


ABOUT HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2


Soaring past the $500 million mark at the global box office, DreamWorks Animation’s HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 is not only one of the best reviewed films of the year, but also 2014’s highest grossing animated film to-date and one of the top ten grossing films of the year in any genre.

The thrilling second chapter of the epic HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON trilogy returns to the fantastical world of the heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless. The inseparable duo must protect the peace and save the future of men and dragons from the power-hungry Drago when Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment releases DreamWorks Animation’s critically acclaimed HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 on Digital HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2, the next chapter to the Academy Award® nominated film released in 2010, is “sensational…an instant animated classic,” proclaims Access Hollywood. A hit with audiences and critics alike, the film received an outstanding audience reaction with a coveted “A” CinemaScore® and certified 92% fresh on RottenTomatoes.com. Variety’s Peter Debruge declares the film is “Braver than ‘Brave,’ more fun than ‘Frozen’…Dragon delivers.” It’s a must-own title for the whole family!

Fans will get even more excitement, adventure and, of course, more dragons when DreamWorks Animation releases DRAGONS: DAWN OF THE DRAGON RACERS, an all-new animated adventure featuring the original voice cast. A hunt for lost sheep soon turns into a high-flying sprint in the all-new epic adventure as Hiccup and friends battle to become the first Dragon Racing Champion of Berk! DRAGONS: DAWN OF THE DRAGON RACERS will be available exclusively on the Blu-ray™ combo pack, DVD double pack and Digital HD.

While you are waiting for our winner announcement how about having your own dragon races with these fun HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 inspired paper airplanes:



 

 DISCLAIMER:  A Geek Daddy Blog will be responsible for selecting the winner of this contest, but Fox Home Entertainment is responsible for fulfillment and delivery of the prize.  By participating in this contest you waive any liability towards A Geek Daddy Blog or its publisher that may arise from your involvement with this promotion.  If you win this prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Prize will be delivered by UPS or FedEx so no P.O. Boxes are allowed as mailing addresses. A Geek Daddy Blog did not receive any financial compensation but did receive a review DVD for the blog and the prize that is being awarded to one of our readers for this contest.  A Geek Daddy Blog is hosting this contest as a benefit to our readers.