Monday, May 29, 2017

Top 5 Kids Clubs in Major League Baseball


Major League Baseball is back in the full swing of things for another season so that means it is time for A Geek Daddy's annual look at the best "Kids Clubs" that teams have to offer this year.  Of the 30 MLB teams, 25 have programs to encourage children to become fans of the team and develop an interest in the sport of baseball.  The programs vary from team to team in both the price charged to participate (ranging from FREE to $50+) and the benefits provided.  They can include perks such as team apparel and branded merchandise, special experiences at the ballpark, and a kids focused team newsletter among other things.  Some of the Kids Clubs are really nice and are legitimately aimed to enhance the fan experience and a child's enjoyment of the game.  Other programs aren't much of a value and seem to be run as just another way to try to get a few more bucks out of a fans' wallets.


I personally like the Kids Club concept as a way for fan dads and moms to share a passion for their favorite MLB team with sons and daughters in a fun way.  Also as every parent knows, children are often more interested in exploring a stadium, snacking on junk food, and getting a souvenir compared to watching a game during a family outing to the ballpark.  A Kids Club membership can provide a great memento from attending a game that won't bust your bank account.  In some cases these programs even make a visit to see a team play live at their stadium affordable when it might not otherwise have been for a family.

A Geek Daddy has taken a look at each of the current programs offered by MLB teams and ranked the Top 5 KID CLUBS for 2017 in my opinion based upon these factors -  price/value, coolness/wow factor, originality, quality of materials/swag, special events, and branding for the program.  So going from fifth place to the best we have:

5.  Houston Astros  -- Buddies Kids Club $25

The Astros are one of the hottest teams in baseball staring off the 2017 season and they also have one of the more impressive Kids Clubs in the American League.  As you'll notice the National League dominates the rest of our list.  Sponsored by Coca Cola, Houston's program has a combination of perks that will help get kids to the ballpark to watch a game, exclusive benefits when they get there and some cool swag to take home with them all for a family budget friendly price tag.

Each Astro Buddy receives four complimentary game tickets.  Plus once they are at Minute Maid Park they can participate in exclusive opportunities such as player autograph signings, batting practice viewings, pregame parades, baseball clinics, and get first access on the field to kids run the bases.  They're also invited to a special behind-the-scenes day event.  Membership in the Astros Buddies Kids Club includes a branded backpack, baseball cap, membership card, lanyard, and socks.



4. New York Met -- Mr. Met's Kids Club $33

With the inflated prices of living in the Big Apple, Mets fans can get a good deal with this Kids Club for youth under the age of 14.  The package includes four promenade outfield outfield seats redeemable for select games throughout the season plus four complimentary tickets to see the Met's minor league affiliate the Brooklyn Cyclones play at their stadium located next to the Coney Island board walk.  Plus every time a Kids Club member attends a game at Citi Field and checks in at the Mr. Met Kiosk they can earn prizes throughout the season including an autographed player card and a Mr. Met's Kids Club baseball cap.



A really nice aspect of the program, is every member is provided an opportunity to submit a score board message that can be displayed on the Citi Field scoreboard while they are attending a Met's game for FREE as part of their membership.  Plus they get fast access to the Mr. Met Dash that takes place on the field after Sunday games by showing their membership card.  To help members cheer on the team while the Met's are playing, the Kids Club also has a membership kit designed to bring along to the game with them.  It includes a draw string backpack, inflatable thunder sticks, a silicon wrist band, a book mark, a squishy miniature baseball, and a membership card on a Mets branded lanyard.

3.  St. Louis Cardinals -- Cardinals Kids Club  $30

The St. Louis Cardinals always do an outstanding job with their Kids Club program and this year is no different.  In addition to a pair of tickets to attend a Cardinal's home game it offers many of the same things as the other programs we've referenced including first-in-line access for Kids Run the Bases and a free Pitch Speed session at Busch Stadium's Family Pavilion.  Where the team really stands out though is the incredible Members-Only Autograph Party they throw at the stadium.  Plus once again the Cardinal's are providing some of the nicest branded merchandise in Major League Baseball in their membership packs.  Members receive a Fredbird mascot action figure toy, a duffel bag, baseball cap, lapel pin, and membership card with lanyard.



2. Cincinnati Reds -- Reds Heads  $30

The Reds have one of the best Kids Club programs in Major League baseball and have fallen somewhere on our list every year because of the originality of their efforts, the uniqueness and quality of their branding and the really great swag they include in their membership packs.  This year is they continue to provide great deals for their members. In addition to providing 2 free tickets to attend a Reds game they also encourage members to go to attractions such as Newport Aquarium, the city's Museum Center and the Cincinnati Zoo with special Kids Club offers.  While at the ballpark, members also have special access to ballpark experiences like player autograph sessions and chance to take the field.  Plus they get priority placement in line for the postgame Run the Bases.

The Reds always make an effort to provide their members with top-notch swag and that tradition continues with this year's assortment of items inside their membership pack.  Reds Heads receive a really nice jersey, a quality backpack, an exclusive bobblehead of the club mascot, an authentic Kids Club branded baseball, an activity book and a membership card along with a lanyard to display it.



This year the Reds have also introduced a new program for parents to share their love of the team with newborns called the Rookie Club.  Red's Rookies receive a hooded towel, gapper plus cuddle-up, a baby fan club branded picture frame and a diaper bag tag.  Plus parents can take baby to his or her first Reds game with the included 2 tickets for mom and dad (of course babies always have free admission) to attend one of the select home games which also include the family joining in on the field for a Reds Rookies parade.  The program also includes access to a parent/baby photo session with a Reds player and mascot.  Joining the Reds Rookie Club is just $20 dollars.



1. Arizona Diamondbacks -- D-backs Kids Club  FREE

The Diamondbacks have gotten off the one of the hottest starts this baseball season and really want fans to come out to cheer on the team as they compete for a playoff birth.  Children who are registered with their Kids Club can show their membership card each time they attend a game at Chase Field to receive prizes that range from a D-backs hat to a spot in their baseball academy camp.

Thinking this isn't that great of deal because you still need to buy tickets to go to the game?  Guess what! Kids Club members get FREE tickets for every Sunday home game!  So by signing up for a FREE program your child gets complimentary tickets and gifts from the Arizona Diamondback throughout the season. Plus members get VIP front of the line access to Kids Run the Bases after games as well.


Another plus for this program is that the Diamondbacks have teamed up with Delta Dental of Arizona to utilize the Kids Club to bring awareness to young fans about the dangers of spit tobacco.  So in addition to promoting the team and the game of baseball, the D-Backs Kids Club is also encouraging healthy living.  D-backs players and the team's bobcat mascot, D. Baxter, provide informative presentations and materials to Kids Club members to get this message across in a campaign called the NO CHEW CREW.  Plus there are rewards for the members who make a NO CHEW PLEDGE.



A tip of the cap to the D-back for a job well done with your Kids Club this year.  Good luck on your efforts to win a World Series title in 2017 to go along with your Kids Club top ranking from A Geek Daddy!

Cheering on your favorite sporting team can be a great bonding experience for parents and kids plus a fun way to spend time together as a family.  MLB Kids Clubs can be a nice way to introduce your children to the team you cheer for and encourage them to join you as a fan.  What team are you rooting for this year?

Of course we've only highlighted a handful of the Kids Clubs that are available to join.  Check out your favorite team's website and see if you like what they have to offer.  Unfortunately, the Tigers didn't make our list this year but we'll still be cheering them on while enjoying the baseball season.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

MLB Holiday Uniforms + Baseballs Support Charitable Causes


On Memorial Day, Fathers Day, and the Fourth of July this year, Major League Baseball teams will again be having their players don special uniforms and using commemorative balls in honor of these holidays.  This has become a regular event taking place the last few years, but for the first time this year players will also be wearing special socks to go along with the holiday themes of their uniform's cap and jersey.  Stance socks join New Era caps and Majestic jerseys in making these special-event uniforms happen plus MLB also gets assistance from Rawlings to create unique stitching color patterns on the baseballs used during these holiday games.

In addition to adding an additional fun factor to the games on these days, the uniforms will be contributing to the community as well.  Teams will tie-in promoting the messages of several charitable causes by providing extra visibility with MLB fans and players in association with these holiday uniforms.  Also royalties from the sales of replica apparel from these special outfits will be donated to designated charities.  Fathers Day will support the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Stand Up to Cancer, while Memorial Day and Independence Day will assist the efforts of MLB Charities. Rawlings is also donating $1 for each replica baseball sold to the designated charity for each of the holiday themed baseballs.



Since I'm a Detroit Tigers fan, A Geek Daddy is primarily highlighting apparel sporting the Old English D but each Major League team will have their own variation incorporating their logo into these three standardized holiday designs.  To check out your particular team's look this year visit these links:


MEMORIAL DAY 2017

This year both the caps and jerseys will display 5 stars on them representing the five armed services of the United States military. The Blue Jays will have 4 maple leafs on their caps and sleeves to represent their country's military.  There won't be camouflage on the jersey's this year but the caps will incorporate a new pattern which MLB calls "ripstop woodlands" rather than the USMC style used in previous years.  Socks will be a continuation of the camouflage pattern from the caps.  



FATHERS DAY 2017

This year's Father Day apparel looks similar to previous years with a baby blue coloring scheme and a fresh heathered pattern to the caps.  New this year is two sock choices for players to choose from to match up with their jerseys and caps.



FOURTH OF JULY 2017

MLB is trying something new with this year's Independence Day caps featuring glossy logos they're saying are made from "LiquidChrome."  This shiny new material paints the logo with an American flag pattern outlined with a silver border.  These caps continue the heathered styling from the Fathers Day version with a patriotic red and blue color pattern.



Jersey's will look similar to last year with the player's name and number plus team logo embracing a waving flag stars and stripes pattern.  The player's socks though will stand out for sure though with one leg featuring a blue background with white stars while the other one will have a red and white striped pattern to it.



MLB also hosted a Mothers Day special event featuring pink caps, jerseys, socks and baseballs at the beginning of the season supporting Susan G. Komen.  Mothers Day themed items can still be found at MLBShop.com.

Wearing these special event balls, caps, jerseys and socks are a nice way to differentiate yourself from other fans and they also make great collectible items.  They also make for great gifts for sports fanatics, especially if you give one to someone to wear at the ballpark during one of these holiday games.  Plus it is nice to have America's national pastime make an extra effort to recognize these special moments during the year that are important to so many people.  Do you have a favorite out of these special event themes?  Mine is the Independence Day gear even though I couldn't find any pictures of it with the Old English D and had to sink to using an example from the Yankees.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Starpath Dolls

** A Geek Daddy received the featured product for free to review **

My daughter has a new friend to add to her toy collection with Shining Star from STARPATH DOLLS.  There are four multi-ethnic 18-inch dolls to choose from among the Starpath Dolls that each have their own unique style and a personality designed to be relatable to girls in the age range of 5 to 9 years old.  Crafted by renowned porcelain doll designer Linda Mason these dolls are made not only to look good but also to play with.

Each doll has a huggable cloth body combined with moveable limbs and a head made of vinyl that allow for posing and positioning the toy while being played with.  Their hair is also brushable and braidable allowing it to be styled in a variety of ways.  Plus they can be dressed up in a variety of outfits ranging from the fashionable outfits each doll comes wearing to a set of comfy pjs, an elegant ball gown, a flowing sari, or fairy tale inspired clothing that can be purchase separately.

My daughter chose Shining Star, who she renamed Jessica, because of the doll's chestnut hair, warm brown eyes, and fashion model sense of style.  The doll comes with a cute outfit consisting of a plaid double tiered cotton skirt along with a pink knit shirt and beret.  She also has shiny black patent boot and a matching belt that my little girl says looks trĂ©s chic!


A unique accessory for these dolls are customizable chapter books that can purchased through the starpathdolls.com website.  These books allow you to incorporate 20 personal details into the story so that it appears the doll and her owner are the main characters of the story.  Available as an ebook for $15 that can be read on digital readers available for most mobile devices and personal computers or as a paperback book for $20 there are two stories to choose from:

“A Fairy Tale Gone Wrong”

Written by award-winning author Suzanne Williams, who has written nearly 40 books for children, in this chapter book, the girl and her Starpath Doll find themselves accidently trapped inside the Cinderella story. It is up to them to keep the story on track so Cinderella will wind up with her prince and they can return home safely. Recommended for ages 5 -8 years old.


“Tiger Magic”

Is the story my daughter selected for us to get with her doll as an ebook.  Written by award-winning author, Mitali Perkins, “Tiger Magic” is an adventure story where the child and her doll friend find themselves on a magical adventure in the jungles of India. After learning about life in an Indian village, it is up to them to protect a tiger cub from poachers. Recommended for ages 5 – 9 years old.



Children will be delighted to play with these charming and well-made dolls while parents will delight in that they cost nearly half the price of some other similar top selling dolls.  For more information or to purchase a doll, visit StarpathDolls.com




LEGO Worlds Video Game: Updates + Sandbox Mode


There has been a major update to the LEGO Worlds video game that is playable on Playstation 4, Xbox One and STEAM.  Now players no longer need to complete the game's adventure mode to access its freestyle building sandbox mode.  People who have purchased the game can download this free update which adds LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS and LEGO City characters, creatures, structures, props and vehicles as well as immediately unlocks sandbox mode.  The update also fixes and improves the game's user interface to make the menus and tools easier to use.

The biggest aspect of the update is providing immediate unlimited access to sandbox mode which allows players to let their imagination run wild in designing their own world made from LEGO bricks, accessories and mini-figures.   Players can now skip the LEGO Worlds' tutorials and adventure mode if they desire because all of the elements of the game are now unlocked for them in sandbox mode.  Customizing their own landscapes, buildings and characters is what my kids really enjoy about this game but they've been limited because its been a slow progression for them through the adventure mode to gain access to a variety of things that are now automatically accessible through the unlocked sandbox mode.  They love this update!



My kids are also very excited that the video game has added elements of two of their favorite LEGO themes to it in LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS and LEGO City.  That is just the beginning though!  Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games, and The LEGO Group are promising more new themes are coming based off of the existing LEGO toy sets.  With a LEGO Ninjago movie coming to theaters don't be surprised to see that theme pop up soon.  I'm personally hoping for a Speed Champions theme with some racing options in it to really get my interest in joining my kids playing this game.  What LEGO toy products would you like to see incorporated into the game?


For more information, please visit  lego.com/en-us/worlds

World's Smallest Stretch Armstrong

** A Geek Daddy received the featured product for free to review **
Stretch Armstrong was a BIG hit with all my friends as a kid growing up in the late 1970's and early '80's.  This muscle bound character in a speedo could be contorted and stretched in all sorts of manners but the toy would always return to its original shape.  Stretch Armstrong hit store shelves just as professional wrestling was seeing a boom in popularity adding to the appeal of the toy.  The character had the appearance of someone who would be jumping in the ring to take on the likes of Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, or Ricky Steamboat and kids could have fun imagining some great bouts that resulted in Stretch Armstrong being tied up in knots.  It really was a lot of fun to see how far you could stretch the toy out (our neighborhood record was five feet) or bend the figure into different shapes without breaking it.

Now Super Impulse Toys is bringing back Stretch Armstrong to entertain a new generation of kids.  Super Impulse has made a reputation for taking classic toys that were big hits and reproducing them in miniature form with their World's Smallest toy line.  While the World's Smallest Stretch Armstrong is reduced in size from the original toy, small enough to hold in the palm of your hand actually, it still has the flexibility to be wrapped up like a giant pretzel or have its limbs tugged really far apart.  Just like the original, once you are done stretching the toy it amazingly returns to its normal size and shape.


My son and daughter have really enjoyed tugging Stretch Armstrong in a variety of shapes and directions.  It really kept their attention for awhile when we first gave it to them and they've brought it back out several times to play with.  My son thought the toy was so cool that he snuck it to school one day and said all the boys were in a frenzy to take a turn with it on the playground at recess.

Because of its small size, the World's Smallest Stretch Armstrong makes for a great item to amuse children while traveling on a family vacation.  It is also just the right size for an Easter basket gift or stocking stuffer at Christmas.  It can also be a fun gift for an adult who likes to keep a few toys at the office as it is just to right size to tuck away in a desk drawer.  While Super Impulse's Stretch Armstrong may be small there is no limitations to the fun you can have with it!

Other retro toys that Super Impulse has made tiny working versions of include Hot Wheels, Etch-a-Sketch, Silly Putty and Rubik's Cube.  For more information, visit superimpulse.com/our-brands/worlds-smallest


Friday, May 26, 2017

National Geographic's EXTREME WEATHER 4D

The Michigan Science Center's brand new Toyota Engineering Theater (TET) will be hosting the world debut of an exclusively produced version of the National Geographic film, Extreme Weather 4D over the Memorial Day Weekend.  And guess what? You can see it for FREE!

Thanks to the support of Toyota Motor North America, the science center (MiSci) is providing free general admission throughout the holiday weekend and complimentary viewings of the film. Pre-registration for is required. Patrons can select the day they would like to attend and register at the following link - mi-sci.secure.force.com/ticket



Extreme Weather 4D brings audiences face to face with Mother Nature at her most dangerous moments. Traveling to Alaska's melting glaciers, filmmakers capture the action as massive chunks of ice shear off into the frigid water with explosive force. In the Midwest, cameras roll as storm chasers risk their lives to capture data as deadly tornadoes race toward them. And, in drought-ravaged California, filmmakers embed themselves with courageous first responders fighting to contain raging wildfires.

"Extreme Weather 4D  is the perfect film to experience in 4D and we are delighted for the Michigan Science Center to host the world premiere,” remarked John Wickstrom, National Geographic Director of Film Distribution It is exciting to launch Extreme Weather 4D in the state of the art Toyota Engineering Theater with all of its amazing effects.  Audiences will be completely immersed in the film, experiencing the adventure with all senses.”

The TET is designed to inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. The theater delivers a unique four-dimensional experience that engages multiple senses. It houses a state-of-the-art HD projection system with 3D viewing capabilities and enhanced space and lighting for a more immersive experience, and, the TET is the only theater in Michigan to incorporate “spark” effects without heat, smoke or pyro techniques.


WONDER WOMAN PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY


My daughter is really looking forward to going to see the WONDER WOMAN movie while I'm excited to have a daddy-daughter trip to the theater to enjoy a film that will share my enjoyment of comic book superheroes with her. To share our enthusiasm for the movie, I'm co-hosting with my friends from The Hopping Bloggers a giveaway for a super prize pack. This Wonder Woman Prize Pack Giveaway is worth $70 and includes:
  • Wonder Woman LEGO set
  • Wonder Woman Heat Changing Mug
  • Wonder Woman Funko
  • Wonder Woman Bracelet
  • DC-Comics Battle Ready Wonder Woman Doll
Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that's raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny. 

Wonder Woman opens in theaters everywhere June 2nd! 


Connect with Wonder Woman

Official Site | Facebook | Twitter | #WonderWoman
Enter to win this Wonder Woman Prize Pack using the form below. GOOD LUCK!