Tons of Fun at the First Ever Hasbro #HasCon


If you’ve been reading here for a while, or if you know me, or if you’ve ever passed me on the street and noticed my T-shirt, you know that I’m a bit of a man-child, as excited about Star Wars, Marvel superheros and all the rest as I was thirty five years ago. When I was offered press credentials for myself and my daughter for Hasbro’s first ever HasCon convention in nearby Providence my excitement levels were off the charts.

The plan was to wait until after the weekend to tell you all about it but after day one I’m all jacked up and ready to share. I want anybody that is on the fence, debating about whether or not to attend, to know this : it’s fantastic, exceeding all expectations. We spent nine hours today going back and forth between the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, a long day for any six year old (or forty-something year old) and there wasn’t a dull moment throughout.

For those interested in the behind the scenes stories there are some fantastic panels and Q&A sessions. Today we listened to the artists and writers of IDW’s Transformers comic books talk about the various ways that they bring these characters that I grew up with to life. The highlight of my year was listening to Marvel legend Stan Lee talk about his creations  Spider Man, The Incredible Hulk, and all the countless others that are still such an enormous influence in all aspects of pop culture.




All of the Hasbro brands are here and feature hands on experiences. We threw Nerf footballs, played with Play Doh, built a Star Wars lightsaber and spent almost an hour playing with the fantastic people at the Furreal exhibition, who also taught this dad how to braid hair. It was on a unicorn, but the unicorn was moving and I think that I’ve really got the basics down. She fell in love with virtual reality while exploring the world of Hanazuki and played over sized carnival-style versions of all of Hasbro’s games, classics such as Monopoly and something new called Toilet Trouble that has already been added to her Christmas list.




Face painting and makeovers are everywhere. She got a new do courtesy of the girls at Tangled: The Series, died it purple with DreamWorks Trolls, and got further ponified at My Little Pony and Equestria Girls.




Never known for her shyness, she charmed all the extremely pleasant people holding open auditions for Hasbro’s toy commercials. The girl that I jokingly call “Hollywood”, never one to pass up a photo opportunity or perform her antics for total strangers, may have just found her true calling in life.




All the toys that I grew up with were represented and still going strong. GI Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, Marvel. Photo opportunities and movie props that had me taking more pictures today than I usually do over a six month period.




As if all this wasn’t enough, the evening ended with a concert by Grammy winning recording artist Daya, one of my daughter’s favorites. If you don’t recognize the name, you know her songs: “Hide Away”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “Words” “Feel Good”, and “Sit Still, Look Pretty.” Her stage name is Sanskrit for “compasison” or “kindness” and even if her music isn’t what would be typically on my playlist, her lyrics of female empowerment and self-reliance have made me a fan.




So what could possibly be left for us to do today? I’m looking forward to listening to James Gunn, writer and director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, as well as learning more about IDW’s line of Hasbro comic books and Hasbro’s philanthropic initiative, “Be Fearless, Be Kind”, two of the lessons I try to teach her daily.  There are still Baby Alive and Littlest Pet Shop experiences, as well as Sesame Street and Dungeons and Dragons. She wants more purple in her hair to look more like Evie from Descendants 2, also represented here, and Flo Rida hits the main stage at 5:00.

Hope to see you there.


My daughter and I were provided three day complimentary passes for the purpose of spreading awareness of this event but all opinions are my own, as always. 



Heroes That Look Like Her


It was an overcast, melancholy kind of day today, perfect for sorting through a kid’s clothing, painting the porch railing or finishing up the leaf raking that has still never quite gotten completed since last fall. I’m not saying that I actually did any of those things, just that it seemed like the perfect kind of day for it.

What I did instead was waste most of the day sitting at the computer, catching up on current events, researching fantasy football players and typing out this kind of foolishness.

Alaina was perfectly content to lie on the couch, snack on pretzels and watch movies all day, a busy weekend having wiped out what I had thought was an inexhaustible well of energy.  She didn’t watch any of the newer movies that we’ve purchased, Finding Dory, Secret Lives of Pets, Kubo and the Two Strings, though she enjoys them all. Instead she watched Brave, Tangled, and Frozen, potentially reaching the ten thousandth viewing of each.



Besides the most obvious problem with this, that I might inadvertently get caught humming “Let it Go” at work again, I was also a bit confused, a bit concerned, about her reason. She still considers Frozen to be her favorite movie because “these girls look like me.”

I pointed out that none of these characters really look a whole like like her, told her that she needed to find something else to do besides watch Moana, her next request, and resigned myself to the fact that the little girl who once famously dressed as Captain America for Halloween was now at an age where representation was becoming important. She wanted to watch girl heroes.

Her favorite Teen Titan is Starfire, favorite Avenger Scarlet Witch, favorite Guardian Gamora, though she stubbornly still insists on calling her She-Hulk.  After buying her a vintage Spider Woman action figure for her birthday she was disappointed that the character didn’t appear in Homecoming.



It’s a good time in pop culture for it. DC’s Superhero girls, the new Star Wars Forces of Destiny cartoon and toy line, the success of Wonder Woman showing that there are a ton of girls out there, girls like my daughter, that are interested in more than ponies and princesses.

After a little boy made fun of her Hulk helmet at the skate park today she’s decided she needs a new one, despite others complimenting her on it. She was reminded again that she can like anything that she wants, that she should never let anyone tell her what girls are supposed to wear, what girls are supposed to do. She missed the irony of having this discussion after an hour of scooter drop-ins on increasingly higher ramps while covered in fake tattoos.

There is a lot of work left to do, particularly with girl’s clothing and Halloween costumes, but it’s getting better, brands starting to realize that there is a pretty large market out there for girls that can kick ass. Girls that want their heroes to look like them.





DIY Daddy

Come Play With Me


If you are anything like me, or have kids that eat anything like mine, chances are that you also hit several different stores over the course of an average week. Target, Wal Mart, Aldis, Dollar General, Stop and Shop, somehow I seem to be in one or the other just about every other day.

If you are a fanboy like me, or have somebody in your household that is, you probably made sure that stop this weekend was a store participating in “Force Friday”, the annual unveiling of new Star Wars toys and merchandise. You may have been getting a start on Christmas shopping, using the new toys to find clues about the new movie, or simply picking up some cool stuff to play with. I saw you, I was there doing all three.



I had a lot of Star Wars toys as a kid, as well as a ton of GI Joes. They each has their own base in opposite corners of the room, the Joes augmented by some Marvel super hero help, Autobot and Decepticon Transformers adding their power to the fight between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. Like many others I kick myself for how few of those were kept over the years but feel fortunate to be able recreate those battles now, my daughter constantly amazing me with her imagination and story telling. So much else has changed in the world in the thirty six years since I was her age, there is something comforting about the sight of her running around the house with a Stormtrooper in one hand, Optimus Prime in the other.



Next weekend we will be totally immersed in GI Joe and Transformers, as well as Star Wars, Marvel, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop and all the other great Hasbro brands at the first ever HASCON at the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.  Creator panels, hands on toy demonstrations, character meet and greets, autograph sessions with celebrities like Mark Wahlberg and David Ortiz, live performances by Daya and Flo Rida, the amount of coolness they are offering over three days is staggering and too much to list here. The full schedule can be found here. It has to be seen to be believed.

Tickets are available here as well as through the Groupon banner at the bottom of this page.



Being able to share our favorite things of our youth, to be able to recapture some of that magic, is a pretty cool part of parenthood, but let’s face it, many of us never really stopped acting like kids. Like many dads I know, I still read comic books, play video games and know the release dates for all the upcoming Marvel and Star Wars movies.

All of these things are acceptable to do without our kids, what about playing with toys? Nobody thinks much of it when we go to the movies or get together to game, what would happen if I asked another dad to come over and play while our kids were at school? I’m not sure I’ll ever have the nerve to find out, but if anybody is interested, I just picked up some pretty neat new stuff.


Disclaimers: We were provided tickets to HasCon in exchange for promotion and review. Any products or services bought through Groupon via the link on this site result in a percentage compensation


8/20 20% off Local, promo code: SMILE20


The New Short Kid at the Skatepark


I don’t know how many of my readers spend a lot of time at skate parks, but if you happen by our local one you may notice a bit of an anomaly.

There will be the requisite teenagers, talking too loud and profanely over the terrible music blasting from their cars. The boys occasionally jumping on their boards, trying to show off for the assembled girls congregating by the fence.

There will be several middle schoolers with tricked out bicycles, daring each other to try some of the tricks the older kids are doing. The ones with parents nearby or due to pick them up soon identified by the helmets they are reluctantly wearing.

What may catch your eye, the kid that doesn’t quite seem to belong, is the smallest, easy to miss if it wasn’t for the bright pink shirt and clashing Incredible Hulk helmet. It’s the six year old lunatic on a tiny scooter flying up and down the ramps and inclines, her nerve racked father wondering how the hell she ever convinced him to let her enter this fenced in orthopedic surgeon’s dream.



I really should have seen it coming. I’d let her bring her scooter to the playground, understanding that she was tired of doing circles in our driveway. She’d asked to go over to the “big kid area” a few times, “just to check it out” but I’d always deflected, seeing no reason to trek across the parking lot just to listen to a bunch of little punks acting obnoxiously. Whether or not that is what was actually happening there was inconsequential.

On this particular day last week the park was empty, not a big kid in sight. When she asked to go over and look for some friendship rocks, a new thing in our community that I talked about in my last post, I was skeptical about our chances but agreed to go search. When she asked if she could ride in there for a few minutes before we left, I admonished her to be careful but assumed that after a few laps around the outer edge we’d be good to go, perhaps with enough time left in the evening for a quick bicycle ride.



The bike has now been set aside, last month’s obsession replaced as soon as she considered herself an “expert at it.”  I’d again underestimated both her desire to seek out new challenges and the need that children seem to have to constantly find newer and more exciting ways to injure themselves.

We’ve been back several times since, her courage and ability to “do tricks” increasing each time, as does my blood pressure. The big kids seem to find her amusing, earning a great deal of respect and gratitude from me by the efforts they take to not run her over as they careen from ramp to ramp. The teenage girls find her absolutely adorable.

I’ll be the old guy, face pressed against the fence, alternating between pride and terror, trying to find that balance between encouraging her to try new things, to never back down, and the hope that one day she starts to develop some sort of sense of self preservation.





Discovering “Friendship Rocks”


I try to keep on top of things, sports, politics, where myself and my family need to be on any given day. Unfortunately there is a frustratingly large amount of stuff that I seem to be the last to know, things like what foods the little is currently finding acceptable, the teenager’s love life. Add to that list “friendship rocks”, a trend in our community that it appears that I was the last to know about.

For my local readers that have been participating in this all summer, and based on the Facebook group I was just added to, there are a lot of you, I apologize. This post is probably of more interest to those in other parts of the country, other areas of the world. If it turns out that you all already know what I’m talking about, I’d encourage you to take a peek through my archives. Lots of good stuff there.

Apparently what is happening is that people are painting rocks, pretty pictures on some, cartoon characters and such, but  mostly messages. Messages of peace, love, affirmant and positivity. They hide the rocks in parks, alongside athletic fields, sometimes outside stores or in parking lots. They take the rocks with them on vacation, painting their area code on the back and leaving them in other states for people to find.


friendship rocks
found at the park


The cool thing about this is that the people that find these rocks don’t keep them. They are re-hidden, the message passed along. Its a never ending scavenger hunt, a perpetual passing of good will disguised as an Easter egg hunt.


friendship rocks
found near a softball field


So we’ve been painting rocks. We paint them, hide them, find some new ones and then hide those. Its been a great new activity as the summer winds down and I’m increasingly running out of new ways to keep her busy. More importantly, it’s been a great way to encourage empathy and kindness. She spends a lot of time on these little projects, with the only goal being furthering the happiness of others, to help somebody else “have a good day” as she puts it.


friendship rocks
working hard


The world needs more “friendship rocks”. We all wish that we could change the world, to make it a better place for out children. Maybe this is the place to start, one rock at a time.


friendship rocks
found at a canoe launch




Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms