[Giveaway] 30 Years of Transforming Mindsets

The Blogfather and Son now act too.

We were invited by Hasbro to be featured in a short videoclip in celebration of Transformers’ 30th Anniversary.  Will there be mind-blowing Michael Bay explosions? Robot metal flying all over the city smashing into buildings and causing devastating chaos?

Nah. The boy and I opted for something a tad more subtle:

If you found that story familiar, it’s an abbreviated version of The Blogfather’s “The Reason We Buy Toys” post ending, with an extra nugget of Transformers trivia thrown in.

And just as they created The Blogfather’s Transformers memory in such a big way, Hasbro Singapore wants to help you create your own Transformers memories, with a Transformers toy hampers worth $100 each, for 3 lucky winners! It’s a pretty substantial prize, so you’ll need to work a little for it, yeah?

UPDATE: I got a little confused with the mechanics (big prizes tend to come with more complex mechanics, sorry), and thought this was a cross-platform giveaway, but The Blogfather has been corrected. Please note this giveaway is for Instagram only.

Here’s what you have to do: share your own story about how Transformers came to be a part of your life on Instagram only (people, your account needs to be public, otherwise I cannot see) with, or show us a photo of any Transformers experience you’ve had anywhere. Tag me (@blgfthr on Instagram) in the post so I know what’s going on (and can read your story, too), and include the hashtags #Thrilling30SG and #HasbroSingapore as well.

Take note: this giveaway wraps on 29th November 2014, after which The Blogfather will be picking the 3 winners (gimme something good ya?), and results will be announced on the Hasbro Singapore Facebook Page (not here hor, so you go like their Page first better) on 30 November 2014. I’ll update here when I can as well, but for all intents and purposes, all winners will be notified by Hasbro.

Mai tu liao!

The Blogfather Transformers 30th Anniversary Instagram Giveaway – Terms & Conditions:

  1. Contest is open to all Singaporean Citizens and permanent residents except employees of Hasbro Singapore.
  2. All entries must be submitted by 30 November 2014.
  3. All entries must tag the Blogfather (@blgfthr on Instagram), and also include the hashtags #Thrilling30SG#HasbroSingapore, and posted on a public account to qualify.
  4. Prizes are non-exchangeable and non-transferable.
  5. Contest participants agree to be bound by all terms and conditions, which are final and binding in all aspects and waive any right to claim ambiguity.
  6. Hasbro Singapore reserves the right to alter any terms and conditions without prior notice.

Dyson – Making Life Suck Better

When the Mother of Xander and I first moved into our apartment as a newly married couple, we had one of those couple fights one night that left me absolutely livid. I can’t remember the context of the argument now, but I do remember I had to find a way to expel all that pent-up angst at the stroke of midnight, in our freshly-renovated family home.

So I got a bucket, and a rag, got down on all fours, and began mopping the floor, Oshin-style.

Oshin-mops-floor
After a while of this, you really forget what the argument was about.

I took 4 hours. And the floor of our home has never seen that level of cleanliness and shine ever since.

In the course of our 8 years’ stay at our humble apartment, we have gone through a total of 5 different vacuum cleaners, 2 of them handheld, and all of them sucked one way or another, and all not perfectly.

And each time we got a new vacuum cleaner from the appliances store, there would be a handful of models I would always look lingeringly at before my wife would whisk me away to the sub-$100 island counter. You might know the specific type of vacuum cleaners I’m referring to; they have a very specific look, kind of like this:

dyson-digital-motor

Then last week, I received an invitation to dodge work for an hour or so to attend a lunchtime launch event featuring a new Dyson product near my workplace.

I thought, “Cool, free lunch.” So I said yes.

It must be said that Dyson really do go above and beyond into just about everything they do – rigorous R&D processes, forward-thinking technology, aggressive aesthetics, sleek marketing … I mean, look at their machines and tell me they don’t look like they’d be right at home at the Avengers headquarters in between Captain America’s La-Z-Boy and Thor’s Asgardian Marble Throne of Lounging. The launch event no less impresses, as we get introduced to Dyson’s latest cordless handheld star…

Fluffy.

dyson-fluffy

I get it. It’s got a fluffy roller that, when coupled with its highly compact yet powerful digital motor, is capable of wiping clean and sucking up large grains to fine particles in floor crevices and tile grout. That’s what reminded me of my little episode with the rag and the floor all those years ago, but this is Dyson doing the Oshin thing with finesse. There was even a side table where they pitted the Fluffy against a competitor to such up talcum powder (used to simulate dust mites) on a mattress surface, through a bedsheet.

dyson-mattress-demo

But… Fluffy?

dyson-engineer
Will Postle stroking Fluffy lovingly.

I can more than buy into the idea that Dyson developed the fella through a whopping 406 prototypes before finally pairing their state-of-the-art digital vacuum motor with this adorably efficient wiping vacuum cleaner head that does feel like a nice, fluffy puppy dog when you stroke it lovingly. It also helped that their design manager not only knew what he was talking about when he ran through the entire unit from hand to floor, he was also pretty easy on the eyes, too. His name is Will, by the way. If you want his number, I will see what I can do.

But model number DC74, the standing version of the DC62 with the head that can otherwise clear a floor of dry gunk far better than any of the 4 other competing vacuums the Dyson team brought in to pit themselves against, surely deserves a better, stronger name. Like the Dyson Excalibur, or Dyson Oshin, or, uh, Dyson DC74.

dyson-race
The demo setup had pet food on carpet, oat spill on marble, fine dust in tile grout, and what I believe to be unicorn dandruff on wooden flooring.

But nooOOoo. They had to call it Fluffy.

At any rate, a launch event is still very much a controlled environment, despite all the objectivity the organiser will try to bring in. The Blogfather would like to see Fluffy pit itself against some real competition. That’s why I requested a review unit to take home to see how it would fare against the $3000 monster vacuum cleaner we have sitting at home.

Besides, the Mother of Xander likes puppy dogs.

To be continued (pending arrival of review unit).

[Review] Celebrating 50 Years of Marriage with a Volvo

My mother always wanted me to drive a Volvo.

Mummy

I listed this as one of my parents’ 10 unfulfilled wishes way back in 2010, and something I never thought of pursuing further, given the Climate Of Extravagance (no, I did not apply caps arbitrarily) and all the Extra Rear-end Pain (yep, did that on purpose too) our nation’s leaders have so considerately set upon us (yes, I’m dripping the sarcasm very generously).

But as luck would have it, I was to receive an invitation that we in the very small but very chummy dad blogger community generally consider to be one of the Holy Grails of blogger engagement firsts (I count a total of 6 Holy Grails  –  milestones of first-time invitations in any dad blogger’s portfolio – indoor playground and major attraction reviews, toy company engagements, cash-paid blog posts, a staycation anywhere that isn’t your own house, a vacation anywhere that isn’t your own country, and car test drives like this one; you can see from the linked items how far I’ve gone.)

The timing was right, too: the weekend of the drive also happened to be the weekend of my parents’ wedding anniversary dinner, and so The Blogfather hatched a plan.

MG50-Invitation-Banner

Volvo P1800The impression my parents gave me of what makes a Volvo was one of old school status, a strong, regal European class of automobile not far from that of classic Bentleys, not overly opulent like the Mercedes Benzes favoured by old uncles with large gold Rolexes, and not brash like how BMWs like to present themselves as. No, a Volvo is a discrete car with just the right amount of stature to show both nobility and humility at the same time. A Volvo was a sure mark of respect in the eyes of my parents’ generation.

So we weren’t quite prepared to receive this:

Volvo-Big

The Mother of Xander calls this 7-seater Volvo XC90 the Big Black Monster, and if the Wife gives something or someone a term of endearment, it means she really likes/hates the fella (it all depends on whether she employs a snarl and a hiss while saying it; she didn’t in this case).

The XC90 design has been established for all of 12 years now (the Volvo rep jokingly said the car just finished its PSLEs, hur hur hummm), with the right amount of enhancements added in over the years, making it a very viable car with the right bells and whistles for the practical family man. True to my parents’ testimony, the interior felt regal to the touch, with the right amount of thoughtfulness for a very comfortable driving experience and just a notch more.

Volvo-details

Volvo-mind-the-railingsYou can see that the XC90 on its own is a behemoth of a machine, and not easy to climb into if you’re wearing  a long, tight skirt. That said, the high ground clearance the XC90 provides makes loading everything and everyone wonderfully non-strenuous (although you do get rather paranoid about parking backside-first into lots with low railings). We liked the Transformers-like middle seat that converts into a child booster seat, and the removable middle console that adds more leg room to an already well-spaced second row. And of course, there’s enough boot space after the third row seats are folded down for a very productive Ikea run (and if you don’t already know, Volvo and Ikea are both of Swedish origin, and as of right this very moment, the current batch of XC90s that the Blogfather is talking about here is still very much produced in Sweden).

Volvo-Space

The drive itself was smoother and easier than I anticipated; I was initially concerned that I wouldn’t be able to properly gauge the size of the car, but the ample side views and the ease of manoeuvrability made for a very reassuring, stable drive. The stiff suspension is par for the course for this category of car, but I am a big fan of its cruise control function, while the kids were in awe of the sun roof it came with (“Daddy! Bird! The poop missed us! Yay!”)

We were given the T5 R-Design model, essentially a standard XC90 with a dashingly sporty body kit. But even though its commanding height gives you a good view of most of the other cars’ bird-poo stained roofs, it’s smouldering good looks still blends in well with the rest of the car population on the road. Rather too well for my liking, in fact, and this car had a dinner to attend, so The Blogfather decided to spruce it up into something fit to chauffeur a bride and groom in… somewhat.

Volvo-Featured

Good thing we kept our old wedding car decorations from 6 years back, although I must admit it was made for smaller cars. But for a married couple of 50 years, it was enough.

My mum and dad both gasped when they saw me greeting them with the car behind me (I think my mother squealed a little). Throughout the whole “wedding car”experience, there was only one hitch: my mother was wearing a long, tight skirt (hence my earlier comment about the XC90’s size). But once on board, both my parents kept beaming from ear to ear. During the car ride, I asked if my mother was comfortable. She replied in the brightest of voices, “Of course it’s comfortable. It’s a Volvo!” I felt emancipated that I could fulfil at least one of my parent’s unfulfilled wishes, if only for this one night.

Volvo-Mum-Dad

At $260,000 (price as at the publication of this post), the Volvo XC90 T5 R-Design is positioned up there with the big intercontinental boys. But The Blogfather would argue in favour of its cost; it is a Volvo, after all. And it fits a family of 4 very nicely, with room for more. But what the Wife and I really am going to miss about this car now that we’ve returned it, is how it magically kept our usually screaming baby quiet (at least, for the first couple of drives) and our young son stock-still from watching the sky fly by through the sun roof, or the smooth, sturdy ride they don’t get to experience with our usual ride. And even when the car’s magic wore off for Yvie (we enjoyed it while it lasted), the distance between the driver’s seat and the third row where we put her baby seat at one point ensured her banshee screams no longer implants that ring around our ears as we focus on the road ahead in the front.

And THAT’S what a family car should be like.

Volvo-Family

The Reason We Buy Toys

It started with an empty box.

The big hoo-ha I made in the last post was (mostly) all in fun, if you didn’t realise already. The Blogfather has had run-ins with the Hasbro people a number of times, and they don’t scrimp when it comes to things like this, though their methods of engagement can sometimes raise eyebrows.

But I will be honest; the geek in me was attracted to the collector’s value the Transformers First Edition Optimus Prime held. When you put a three-digit price tag and the words “First Edition” on the box, you know it’s more than just a toy. And the geek in me wanted it.

But that didn’t prepare us for the bigger hoo-ha?that was at the Transformers Toy Madness @ 2200 (the premise of their sending us the empty box in the first place). When the Mother of Xander and I got to Forum the Shopping Mall Friday night we were planning on grabbing a cup of coffee before leisurely sauntering over into the event. We didn’t think there’d be a lot of people, mainly because the shops at Forum tend to close a couple of hours earlier than the rest of Orchard Road, and the mall is usually pretty quiet by 8.30pm.

Then we saw the queue.

Image courtesy of Hasbro Singapore
Image courtesy of Hasbro Singapore

It stretched along the walkways, wrapping the stairs and rails from the 2nd floor up to the 4th where the event entrance was, and it was about an hour and a half before the event would start.

Ah Boys to Men and the Scrawny Dude. Image courtesy of Hasbro Singapore
Ah Boys to Men and the Scrawny Dude. Image courtesy of Hasbro Singapore

The crowd was being coaxed into a frenzy by a scrawny dude in a standard-issue red Transformers tee, and in another while, the Ah Boys to Men cast would come and make girls scream (I never understood why girls scream for that kind of thing). We had media passes, but we were no less awestruck (by the crowd, not the Boys). And as we were walking into the event – son and baby all – the Wife warily said to me, “Eh. The people all staring at us like how come we can no need to queue one leh.”

It was tense.

The doors flew open for the crowd at 2200hrs as promised. And things flew.

Transformers-Crowd

Look closely. Barely any kids. Big kids, maybe. Collectors.

You start wondering if the toys are really worth all this attention, all the hype, all the value that they may or may not hold, now, or 10, 20, 50, 100 years into the future.

I brought the no-longer empty box home, and stared at it while Xander sat near me, tired from the evening’s special toy hunt.

TransformersAoE-Actual

Pro collectors will tell you that if you intend to keep a toy in a collection, the moment the packaging seal of the toy is broken, the toy is immediately devalued from “mint” or “mint-” to “near-mint”or below, lowering its resale value significantly even if the greatest care is taken to keep the toy itself in its most pristine, straight-from-factory condition.

Be it toys, comic books, or even games (ever see an actual, physical fantasy role-playing game setup?) some of us will have grown up with a vision of amassing what we hope would be a treasure trove of the 90s teenager’s equivalent of blue chip stocks, a collection of nostalgic memorabilia that would grow in monetary value over time and boost our retirement funds in lieu of the CPF minimum sum that we might end up never seeing.

Then you become a dad.

It’s exactly times like this that you’re reminded why you fell in love with these toys in the first place, because your child loves them now exactly like you did when you were 6 years old too.

You’re left wondering what is more valuable: a toy kept in mint condition in the box it came in, or a toy in your child’s hands.

TransformersAoE-Play

I end up with an empty box. But it’s okay.

Hasbro, Y U Do Dis?

It might interest you to know, my son doesn’t actually own many action figures. We’ve got pretty much everything else – Lego sets, cars, toy cooking utensils and about 250 different pieces of fake food, even 3 Furbies that talk amongst themselves when we’re not looking and a dinky little Nerf pistol that the boy refuses to shoot because he’ s anti-gun violence.

But thanks to a recent full month party where a certain mum blogger‘s son decided to bring a certain action figure and got me to “Uncle, help me transform” in front of everyone including my son, Xander’s been quietly yearning for a specific set of action figures ever since.

So a couple of days ago, I decided I should indulge him with just one (because I used to have action figures when I was a kid, so it actually didn’t seem fair). So I went to the department store to take a look at how much a good one might cost. The ones in my budget bracket were too tiny, but then I found one that was reasonably designed.

$119

Ooooookay. Times have changed since my childhood days.

I left the toy on the shelf, and went home to contemplate whether I really loved my son that much. As it turns out, I didn’t need to contemplate much further, because a certain toy company I once poked fun at apparently decided my son was worth it, and sent this to my house.

TransformersAoECarePack

At first, my eyes popped a little. The media kit had all the other usual swag, including a lanyard, a pen, a DVD of a previous Transformers movie installment (cool, I haven’t watched that) and a write-up for a midnight launch party we were cordially invited to. But none of these mattered, because they sent us a? $119 First Edition Age of Extinction Optimus Prime.

Or so I thought.

THE BOX IS EMPTY!

Have we learned nothing about underwhelming the Blogfather from our first encounter with each other, Hasbro? Imagine if I called Xander over to share the joy in opening your large-ish Hasbro bag, then slowly taking out all the items, starting from the pen, then the lanyard, and the DVD to build the excitement, and finally hand him the big box with an image of the most well-loved sentient robot hero of the last 30 years gracing its cover, beckoning him to open the package himself so he can smell the air around the toy that used to be in there?

Wah lau eh. Lucky I checked the box first.

The Blogfather will not let this slide. Whoever came up with this idea, you wait. I know where you live your event is. I will make sure I come and find you. I will bring my entire family, and you will explain to my son in front of his face why you very nearly made him cry that night.

And I will ask all my friends and supporters to come and witness our settlement talk.

Transformers: Age of Extinction Toy Madness
16 May 2014 (Friday) 10pm onwards

(It’s a midnight launch, so get your kids prepared to stay up late)
Level 3, Forum the Shopping Mall

TransformersAoECarePack2

Crazy About Diaper Bags (and Other Stuff)

So The Blogfather gets called up one day to help out with a web design issue another blogger was facing (back when I was freelancing and my body was less averse to sugar and cholesterol, I used to charge a cup of Starbucks or CBTL coffee for small fix-it jobs like this; now you know why I had to go back to working full-time).

The website owner, who goes by Ondine online (after the ballet, and no, it does not rhyme with “online”) is a mother, part-time educator by day. By night, she leads a secret double life as a super-fit, skilled she-warrior, taking to the skies with her collection of high-powered, multi-utility JED Packs (i.e. she jogs on occasion, and sells really cute and very functional kids’ bags and accessories).

While I was flippantly mucking about with fixing up her website, I was struck by the collection on sale at her blogshop. We’ve been friends since, and I’ve since visited the site a number of times on my own, always tempted to buy, but never having reason to.

But after a year of lurking around the JED Packs catalogue (not usually how long it takes for me to write a review), and seeing as my second child is nearing completion, I now have a number of reasons to.

JEDpacks-all

A few months back, Ondine sent?a knight-themed school lunch bag?(see inset photo above) to Xander as a gift. I ended up using it to bring our Sunday dinner leftovers to the office for lunch one day. What I didn’t expect was for the bag to cause quite the stir among the ladies at the office (“Aiyoh, so cute!” and “Where you buy one ah?” being the most common quips; hardly anyone asked if this was my son’s, for some reason).

I started to wonder if there was any other stuff in the JED Packs catalogue I could pull off. Xander’s also been getting into the habit of bringing meals to school (usually in the form of folded peanut butter sandwiches and milk), and now that number 2 is on the way, we’re gonna need diaper bags, too (which, incidentally, is also the name of Ondine’s blog as well).

I finally got round to?making a purchase after the Wife pitched in with her opinion of JED Packs. You’ll need to note that Ondine, the mother of 3 and mind-moulder of a couple hundred tertiary students, can currently only accept cash on delivery or DBS/POSB bank transfers because she can’t afford the merchant fees that come with fancier payment methods. I went slightly nuts with the shopping cart, though, and came out with a whole bunch of stuff.

Bumkins + Dr Seuss Lunch Bag

JEDpacks-dr-seuss

This was the very first thing I set to get for myself Xan. The Cat in the Hat is an absolute classic, made even more quaint in this doggy bag-style lunch bag with an easy-clean waterproof lining to handle accidental spills. They have a soft lunch box version with a handle?as well. We picked this one because it has the height to accommodate a thermos flask for our baby’s hot water when we head out on family excursions.

Planet Wise Red Animals Reusable Sandwich Wrap

JEDpacks-planet-wise

This is a really neat idea if you’re not keen on using disposable sandwich bags. The wrap folds out flat so you can prepare square sandwiches right on it, then you fold it back neatly over your sandwich and you’re good to go. The inside is lined with a silicon membrane so it’s ridiculously easy to wipe clean, and the entire thing is washable (though the printed side will take time to dry), so you’ll want to get a couple, or even three, to cycle through when washing.

Bento & Co Block Bento Boxes

JEDpacks-bento-co

Now this one I originally intended to get for myself, primarily because of what they’re designed after. The bento boxes are stacked 2 to a set, and each box comes with a rubber lid to seal the edges, and everything is strapped together neatly with an elastic band down the middle. The set also comes with its own liddle-widdle chopsticks for kids (preferably the ones who are already trained in the art of using chopsticks), and an ice pack to keep sliced fruits cold if you want.

The boxes are microwave-safe (just make sure you don’t microwave the rubber lid seals as well), and as it turns out, this really is sized for kids, because I was still hungry when I finished the portion of rice and vegetables for lunch.

Snuggybaby Ningyou Wetbag & Espresso Damask Wetbag

JEDpacks-snuggie-kimono

These unassuming pouches are the highlights of the bunch. They’re called wet bags because of their waterproof inner lining, so you can keep moisture in – for storing wet clothing after water play, for example – or out, if you’ve got diapers and baby clothes you need to keep dry whilst carrying them with water bottles and other splash-prone items.

I’m told the wet bags are JED Packs’ hot sellers, not just for its practical ingenuity, but because the prints they sport are a cut above the rest. I actually chose the kimono-print Ningyou design to use as my soon-to-be-born daughter’s diaper bag, and not because it looks girly, but because it looks rather reminiscent to a Tokidoki print.

If this reads like a paid review, you’re only half right. It’s a paid review in the sense that I paid for most of these items, and then I did a review of them; I did say in my media policy that if it’s worth it, I’d buy it, and the JED Packs catalogue is more than worth its prices, though Ondine did give me a discount and get her husband Packrat (not his real name, though I maintain to this day that he looks like a puffier version of Utt) to deliver the items to me. Which is what JED Packs is going to do for you, too!

Use this shiny little promo code: PACKRATISUTT when you shop at JED Packs and get 10% off all regular items in a single purchase. You’ve got till 31st March 2014 to enjoy the offer. Also, Ondine usually ships your orders out by mail, so I make absolutely no guarantees that you will meet Utt in the process.

Hasbro's Response to The Blogfather's NERF Challenge

Some of you might remember the rather direct blog post I published two Fridays ago when I received a little NERF gun as a gift from Hasbro to tie in with their POWERPLAY 2013 event last weekend.

Well, they replied.

Hasbro-NERF-Response

Full text as follows:

***

Dear Winston a.k.a The Blogfather,

Fathers VS Their Kids? Love the idea. Game on.

In the coming months, we will be launching a number of different NERF sessions in and around Singapore. These sessions will lead up to the launch of NERF Social Play which aims to encourage people to have fun whilst playing socially in their neighbourhoods. In fact, even as we speak, our friends from NERF SG are already taking things into their own hands by organising mini-battles in various parts of the island.

We’ll love to talk more with NERF SG in organising a session just for you and all other fathers, and their children to come together to have some fun. To make sure everyone has some experience with NERF, we?ll also look at some ways to “initiate” the newbies by having some training sessions led by the pros over at NERF SG.

You’ve asked for bigger blasters? We’ll do you one better, we’ll provide an entire arsenal of blasters – big and small, full of the necessities for you to have a day full of great, awesome fun.

We’ll be in touch soon for the Ultimate “Fathers vs Children” showdown.

In the meantime, keep NERF-ing and see you at the NERF Powerplay 2013 this weekend at NEX Shopping Mall, Level 1 Atrium.

Sincerely,

Regina Toh
Marketing Manager
Hasbro Singapore

***

I took a while to publish their response, because, you know, the haze. In a gist, we’re going to have a special battle, just us dad bloggers from Daddy Matters, our kids, and Hasbro’s NERF guns, specially supplied for the event.

All I need now is for the air to clear (on both this event and the actual air). Then indeed, Hasbro, GAME ON.

Let's Play a Game, Hasbro

Last week, I received an email from a Hasbro representative telling me to expect a delivery on the following Monday.

I’ve dealt with Hasbro Singapore on a couple of occasions prior to this, and even though The Blogfather had to put up an Editorial Policy (as both a disclaimer for media engagements as well as a guideline for myself when taking in products for review), I did note that the Hasbro people are not that scared of me (last year, I called their latest generation Furby a “furry little gremlin” that was “plotting world domination” and just “won’t die”; they liked it).

And so, as promised, a courier came by my place to drop off a big blue paper bag the following Monday, just before lunch. It was a gun.

nerf-1

These people are really not scared of me.

To be exact, it was a NERF Dart Tag practice set, with a target board, 5 velcro-tipped foam bullets, and an dinky little shooter.

Liddat want to impress me ah?

So I set up the target board, then I tried to take 5 steps back. I said “tried”, because 2 steps later, I fell into the sofa. After I composed myself, I gave it a shot.

I loaded a foam bullet, cocked the itty-bitty shooter, and pulled the trigger. I felt a recoil that I did not expect to come from a shooter that tiny. The foam bullet took off, the target board went thunk, and my son ran for cover under his craft table (the little wuss doesn’t do well with sudden, loud sounds).

I realised this is not your typical mama shop dart gun. Now I know why NERF has a reputation among men who haven’t grown out of their adolescence.

nerf-2

There was a media release that came with the package. Apparently,?there’s a NERF-themed carnival at NEX Shopping Mall next week (17-23 June), where Hasbro Singapore has put together a myriad of Nerf Blasters displays and tryout booths, as well as a tournament called the NERF POWERPLAY 2013, that will begin from 21 June with the preliminary rounds.

After looking through the release, I thought to myself, Oh Hasbro, I’m sure you can do better than that.

So The Blogfather had a little discussion with some of the other dad bloggers, and we have a proposal for Hasbro Singapore. We’d like to have a little tournament of our own, and we want to get our kids in on the action, too.

You set the date, time, venue and firepower (bigger guns, can?); we’ll bring the kids and the fun. We see who win who. Onz boh?

[Review + Giveaway Results] PLAY-DOH PLUS: The Classic Compound Gets an Upgrade

In an effort to boost our children’s creativity, we employ a certain array of play equipment for our young ones. Experienced parents will know this special arsenal of toys that seem to place no limit whatsoever to your child’s imagination – the wooden blocks, plastic bricks, drawing blocks, paints and brushes… all of which pale in comparison to the malleability and versatility of PLAY-DOH.

My own son is enamoured with the coloured compound; our ability to pass by that particular aisle lined with PLAY-DOH playsets is usually dependent on how much is left in my wallet at the time, because Xan simply will not let me pass without bugging me to bring at least something from that aisle home.

PDP1

Maybe I’m too old; I have long forgotten the days of my own youth where I would muck about, making dinosaurs, monsters, and whatever tickled my fancy when I had a glob of the stuff in my hand. And now, my son is in love with the same stuff, making… actually I don’t know what he makes exactly. He likes to mix them up into marbled balls of various colours, and when we leave him to play with his Play-Doh long enough, he manages to end up with one consistent brownish-black mountain, thus prompting us to get new bottles of new colours.

Truth be told, just about everything I’ve been doing in my life since my son was born has been for my son’s benefit; this blog and Dear Xander included. And if an opportunity to put a smile on my son’s face?presents itself, I take it.?So when I received word from HASBRO Singapore saying they had a playset based on their newly formulated PLAY-DOH PLUS compound available for review, I heaved a sigh of relief. “Good, one less trip to the department store,” I thought.

The Frosting Fun Bakery arrived last week, and immediately I was lost. My wife is the baking expert, not me. How, liddat? But Xander didn’t care how proficient we would be in the culinary arts.

PDP2

Assembly was a cinch, though. Xander knew where everything went, and after about 3 clicks (from left to right: cake cutter, frosting station and display case) and a bit of sorting (cake cutter templates, frosting extruder and tips, plastic cutlery, a cake stand and other accessories, as well as 2 tubs of classic PLAY-DOH compound, ?and 2 tubs of the new PLAY-DOH PLUS compound), he had himself a table-top baking station ready to go.

Now, built into the playset are moulds of various sizes for doughnuts, bread rolls, croissants (I can spell it, but I can’t pronounce it), cakes and muffins. The big problem I had was that the smaller moulds were really small, and my fat fingers had trouble digging out whatever shape we were trying to make without spoiling the intended shape. Evidently, my son would have better luck lifting the soft compound off the moulds.

Which brings me to that PLUS point of the new PLAY-DOH compound: the PLAY-DOH PLUS compound is softer than its classic PLAY-DOH counterpart. That means besides the usual moulding of PLAY-DOH into more solid shapes, you can now experiment with frostings and cream layers; please to see that oversized pink-coloured?ais gem biscuit (yes, that’s what it’s called, according to Biscuit King) my son has so keenly demonstrated below left.

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Okay, now for the juice.

GIVEAWAY RESULTS!

After much deliberation of how to go about doing the draw, we’ve ended up using a randomly downloaded Android app called Random Student Picker to pick the winner of the PLAY-DOH playset giveaway! (I was hoping it would be more drama than this, but anyhoo…)

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And the winner is…

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Congratulations, and hang tight! I’ll be getting the HASBRO people to contact you in a jiffy!

The PLAY-DOH Sweet Shoppe FROSTING FUN BAKERY Playset retails at S$24.90, and is available at Toys’R’Us and major department stores.

[Review] CitiBlocs: Building Blocks with Unexpected Precision

Update (16/1): As of 11.59pm, We’ve closed up submissions for the Citiblocs giveaway!

Here’s a list of the happy participants (in no particular order. And those are colour preferences indicated with the names, and not necessarily indicators of whether these participants are very good looking or nice to hang out with. Submissions without colour preferences are indicated — rather tongue-in-cheek, so please eskew hor — with the phrase “chin cai”):

  • Amie Chen (hot)
  • Ian Cornelius Lai (chin cai lah)
  • Eddie Yii (hot)
  • Jingxian Liang (hot)
  • Viola Tan (hot)
  • Bena Chan (can be hot, can be cool)
  • Isaiah Kuan (also chin cai)
  • Cheryl Siew (hot)
  • Syafiq Samsudin (hot brudder, cool boyfriend)
  • Elsie Thng (I would like a plate of chin cai please)
  • Chuyan Kwek (hot)
  • Winnie Lam (chin cai with scallops and abalone sauce)
  • Hillary Chan (chin cai for many hours)
  • The Wacky Duo (cool)
  • Sheron Moey (chin cai: the movie)
  • Boon Hean Low (hot)
  • Regina Soejanto-Moo (okay, this one is self-proclaimed hot in every sense)

Thanks to everyone for participating, and keep an eye out for a Winner’s post coming very very shortly (as soon as the guest of honour wakes up and before he goes to school).

Let’s start the first post of the year with a bang. Read on to the end for a little surprise.

Over the Christmas season, I visited fellow friend and blogger Pamela of Tan Family Chronicles and owner of board game retailer My First Games, primarily to fix up an IKEA table I sold her whilst spring cleaning my house.

As I finished setting up the table with the man of the house (her husband Mr Tan), Pam very nicely offered me a bag filled with children’s books and 2 boxes of CitiBlocs, to thank me for making the trip. I’ve heard of the wooden building blocks from a number of other mom bloggers, and being the modest, humble Blogfather I am, I politely handed back the 2 plain sets of CitiBlocs Pam offered me, then looked at her with much gratitude and said to her:

“Can I have the coloured ones instead?”

A few days after Christmas, after Xander and his mother had gone through the plethora of toys Xander had received as Xmas/birthday presents (the Mother of Xander was primarily involved in building all the LEGO sets and polybags we received so Xan could admire them, and is now a newly-converted LEGO fan), we finally got round to trying out the CitiBlocs.

At first, I was skeptical. They looked exactly like Jenga blocks. I wondered how a bunch of wooden blocks, all the same length, width and height, would provide hours of healthy architectural entertainment to my boy.

The package came with an illustrated instruction booklet, and as my wife and I started flipping through the various creations that could be fashioned from each 50-block set, our eyes started to blur.

And then came the actual building. Xander took some of the sticks and started off on his own little building project, while his mother and I dabbled with duplicating what was presented in the instruction manual.

We found out what made these blocks so special: , they were all the EXACT same length, width and height, cut to such precision that once one block was in place, it is near impossible to remove without dismantling the entire creation.

Our little afternoon of trialing a product eventually lasted a good 2 1/2 hours of precision building, hand-eye co-ordination training for child and adults alike (once I start, it’s hard to put down) and a much greater appreciation of the quality woodwork and dedication that can and should go into making early learning toys such as this.

Pamela also mentions that these CitiBlocs are great for gatherings with friends with children in tow; while the adults mingle, the children will build. But it takes quite a bit of engagement before you can get a group of kids suitably hooked, so the trick here is to master one of the more visually stimulating builds to show he kids first, and then tell them, “Now you guys try.”

There’s more to this story, though. Courtesy of My First Games, The Blogfather now has a 100-piece set of CitiBlocs to give away (your choice of hot or cool colours)!

All I am asking for is 4 Facebook likes (if you haven’t already; seriously, you’ll really like all of them, too): one for me, one for Dear Xander, one for Mother of Xander, and of course, My First Games as well. Then come back to this blog post, drop a comment below with the Facebook account you used to like all them pages and we’ll pick out a winner right here! (You need to have a Singapore mailing address though.) Closing date for the contest is Wednesday, 16 January 2013, and we’ll announce the winner here and on FB the next day!

This will be my first ever giveaway contest, so do have a go! It’ll be fun! You have The Blogfather’s word on that.

My First Games is also giving The Blogfather readers an exclusive 10% off your purchase of their CitiBlocs range! To redeem, just use the discount code “BLGFTHRS” when you check out your purchase!