** A Geek Daddy has been financially compensated as a BLOGGER BASH Ambassador. Opinions are honest and my own **
I recently spent a few days on a yacht docked off a pier in New York City for the annual Blogger Bash conference. This two day event provides an opportunity for online influencers to network with brands and each other to assist with enhancing the content and quality of their blogs and social media channels. I've always found this conference an excellent opportunity to develop contacts, educate myself on new topics and of course have some fun. This year was no exception providing me the chance to learn about products I wasn't familiar with, renew existing connections and build some wonderful new relationships. There are innumerable professional benefits to attending Blogger Bash, but interestingly enough you can't take the event too seriously and must allow yourself to be a bit silly or goofy to really maximize the opportunity. Whether it is hugging a Care Bear, hitting the dance floor with brand representatives or totally going out of your comfort zone by eating a cricket; embracing the fun atmosphere of this event is a key element to having it be a successful function to attend.
The highlight of Blogger Bash is the SWEET SUITE toy exhibition that provides a preview of the hot new products that will be showing up on store shelves for the holiday shopping season. Many of A Geek Daddy's toy reviews and giveaways are the result of networking at the Blogger Bash's Sweet Suite function which in addition to featuring a suite filled with great toys includes an evening of sweet dinner and desert options for its participants to enjoy. It was very nice to have some face-to-face time with representatives from brands such as Educational Insights, Hexbug, Skylanders, Spin Master, Uncle Milton and WowWee who have been very supportive of A Geek Daddy since I introduced myself to them during my first Blogger Bash experience. Stay tuned because ageekdaddy.com will be having some new reviews coming up featuring toys from each of these companies throughout the remainder of the year!
WowWee's CHiP the robotic puppy. Last year's WowWee MiPosaur robotic dinosaur was my daughter's all-time favorite toy review by A Geek Daddy and they've expanded upon that concept making it even better with CHiP. This robotic dog incorporates artificial intelligence that allows it to adapt to its owners favorite preferences. It also comes with a recharging bed that when the toy is low on energy it will independently curl up on to energize its depleted battery. An included smart band allows CHiP to uniquely recognize its owner and provides new exciting avenues for interactive play.
RC Batmobile replica from the Batman v Superman movie and they also provided the toy for one of my son's favorite reviews which featured Legendary Yoda. Because they've been very generous in sharing with us both their staff's time and products for reviews, I wanted to give them some special recognition acknowledging the Guinness World Record they achieved this summer for the Most People Drawing on an Etch A Sketch Globally at the Same Time. Spin Master acquired the iconic brand earlier this year from The Ohio Art Company and celebrated the addition to its product family by accomplishing the Guinness World Record on Etch A Sketch Day (July 12) which marks the date in 1960 that the first Etch A Sketch was sold. Since July 12, 1960 more than 175 million Etch A Sketches have been sold around the world!
Spin Master also teased an exciting new product that will be hatching this fall just in time for the Christmas shopping season. Hatchimals will be interactive animatronic creatures that hatch from eggs which children have to raise. After breaking out of a shell these creatures behaviors and personalities will change as they grow up from baby to adult modes. Spin Master is being hush hush on what these Hatchimals will look like until the first one hatches later this year but they did show off what the egg these creatures will emerge from will look like. From my discussions with Spin Master this looks to be a toy to keep an eye out for when it arrives at stores later this year that will incorporate lots of advanced features that are sure to delight kids.
I also made some nice new connections at Sweet Suite this year with brands A Geek Daddy hasn't worked with in the past such as Bachmann Trains, Carrera of America, LEGO Dimensions, Magformers, Sony PlayStation, and USAopoly that will hopefully lead to some upcoming toy reviews and giveaways for our blog readers and social media followers.
The most exciting and enjoyable aspect of this year's Sweet Suite for me had to be the opportunity to spend some quality time playing video games. Skylanders brought out the new game it will be launching this October called Imaginators and allowed attendees an advance opportunity to play it well before it will be available to the public. Instead of purchasing action figures to serve as your characters within the game, players obtain devices which allow Portal Masters to sculpt their own individualized digital characters to play with. Imaginators lets players imaginations go wild in customizing their very own character creations to play within the game. Every year Skylanders strives to incorporate an innovative new aspect to its game play and this year's Imaginator feature really should make a lot of this video game franchise's fans happy. I know customizing the characters and surroundings in video games is one of my kids favorite part of playing video games and they are going to be overjoyed with what they can do in the newest installment of the Skylanders franchise.
I also had the incredible opportunity to spend some time playing LEGO Dimensions' Mission Impossible and PlayStation's Ratchet & Clank with some of the developers who worked on creating the games giving me some one-on-one tips while I played. That really was an AWESOME experience!
With 27 companies showcasing hundreds of products at Sweet Suite, it would be overwhelming if I discussed all my experiences from this amazing night but keep returning to A Geek Daddy as we continue to share my family's experiences with toys, video games and other fun things.
In addition to Sweet Suite, Blogger Bash also provides a variety of other functions for attendees to participate in. This year Blogger Concentrated provided a seminar that provided tips and guidance on expanding a blog's audience, improving website layouts, and generating income as a social media influencer. The Ride took attendees on a entertaining bus tour of midtown Manhattan. Enterprise Ireland sponsored a session that showcased Irish businesses that would have an appeal to parents such as Arckit, Easydry, Lottie Dolls, Solvar, The Irish Fairy Door Company, and Writing for TiNY. They also provided some incredible Irish coffee. I had mine with whip cream, Tullamore Dew whiskey, and just a hint of coffee.
The second day's breakfast was sponsored by Disney Junior's hit animated cable TV series Kate & Mim-Mim. The breakfast included a discussion with the show's creators Scott and Jule Stewart who discussed their creative inspirations and provided a sneak peek of an upcoming Wizard of Oz themed Kate & Mim-Mim musical special.
Blogger Bash's keynote lunch was sponsored by the PEANUTS. It included a panel discussion moderated by Good Morning America's Ginger Zee featuring some of the children who voice the characters in the brand-new animated Peanuts cartoons now airing daily on the Boomerang and Cartoon Network cable television channels. The luncheon also promoted the PeanutsRockstheVote campaign which is a partnership between Peanuts Worldwide and Rock the Vote which is a non-partisan effort to increase participation by eligible voters in 2016's presidential election.
During the luncheon, attendees were able to ask questions to the Peanuts cast. I asked how interacting together while recording their lines impacted how they voiced the characters. Interestingly, the kids told me they don't get the chance to interact as they have their segments done in separate recording sessions instead of together as a group. They interact instead with adults on the production company staff who read the other characters lines from a script as the kids recite their own at the studio. In the end product all the taping sessions are merged and only the kids voices are used. Watching the Peanuts on Boomerang or Cartoon Network you'd never guess that these kids weren't taping their lines together at the same time as smoothly as the conversations flow together. See you always learn something new at Blogger Bash!
Blogger Bash also featured a day long non-toy related products expo featuring more than seventy brands. I learned a lot of new things walking through the expo talking with the people staffing booths there. I've always respected Kohler for the high quality kitchen and bathroom fixtures produced by this Wisconsin company named after the town it is headquartered in but did you know the company also runs a number of golf and resort destinations plus has its own line of chocolates? Do you know what the UL certification sticker on products you purchase stands for? Wow! there's a 5K running event now where where people are challenged with inflatable obstacles -- that's insane! -- well actually that is the Insane Inflatable 5K. They have a one mile version too called the Krazy Kids Run!
There were a variety of challenges attendees could take on during the expo to win prizes including the Boudreaux's Butt Paste Diaper Changing Challenges. While I narrowly missed out on winning the prize, A Geek Daddy did show up some trash talking mammas with a dominating performance in this diaper changing competition.
While blogging is often associated with women there was a decent representation of prominent men bloggers joining A Geek Daddy at Blogger Bash including The Architechnologist, The Rock Father, and BenSpark.com.
I have to admit that I'd thought of Armitron as being a line of plastic digital watches aimed at teen audiences before seeing their display at Blogger Bash. Chatting with disabled Army veteran Noah Galloway who lost a leg and arm in Iraq, I discovered that Armitron really is an impressive brand. Galloway, who has overcome his handicaps to become a respected personal trainer and recently finished third on the television show competition Dancing with the Stars, is a brand ambassador for the company. He told me his story of how he was wearing a $20 Armitron watch on the wrist he lost to an improvised explosive device in Iraq and that same watch which was recovered by Army medics and returned to him still runs! You can't dispute a brand's durability after hearing a testimonial like that!
Armitron displayed a variety of men's watches at Blogger Bash that not only are durable but are very stylish. There are a variety of watches available to fit a variety of needs from athletic training to casual wear to professional fashion accessory with prices ranging between $20 and $200 dollars. I saw Armtron watches that would be perfect for casually throwing on while working out at the gym as well as some really nice ones that would match very well with the suits I professionally need to wear to work. If you haven't taken a look at Armitron watches lately you really should!
Speaking of fashion accessories, I also discovered a great brand of sunglasses called Soleurs. They had a variety of shades that not only will protect my eyes from UV rays but also looked rather nice on my face. I had a nice experience talking to the company founder while testing out a few varieties of Soleurs sunglasses on the deck of the ship that Blogger Bash was taking place at.
I love ice cream! So I was so happy to see Ben & Jerry's at Blogger Bash!
I also ate something a bit more unique enjoying some cookies made from of all things crickets.
Aketta maintains cricket farms which they harvest to produce a protein-packed, nutrient-rich and environmentally friendly flour that can be used in baking. You can also purchase whole crickets from Aketta if you just want to pop them in your mouth as a snack or add them to trail mix, salad and other creative recipes.
For more information about Blogger Bash and how to attend in 2017, please visit bloggerbash.com.