The Power of Toys

This is a Sponsored Post. I was provided free toys and compensation from Playskool/Hasbro. The opinions in this post are solely mine, and not influenced by the toys or compensation.

It’s always amazing to me, seeing how quickly my kids can pick up on everything. One day they’ve never heard of a show, the next day we watch it on Netflix, and then it becomes all they can talk about. Whether it’s superheroes from Marvel or DC, or Transformers, or anything about dinosaurs (Jurassic Park, Dinotrucks, Dinosaur Train, etc), they become enamored with it.

They see a picture on Netflix, and will almost demand that we watch whatever it is with characters that they know. Then as soon as we’ve watched all of show X, they’re suddenly enamored with show Y. And the cycle repeats.

Sometimes though, you can get them hooked on something for a long time. Maybe it’s that show has multiple iterations (like the Monster High universe), or maybe it’s something more physical.

Maybe it’s a toy.

I’ll be honest, when I was growing up, I wasn’t the nerd I am today. I didn’t obsess over cartoons as a kid. I didn’t read all the comic books. I didn’t own all of the toys. Oh how times change…

Fortunately, I’m now able to give my kids that experience. We can watch everything that exists about a show, whether on TV, Youtube, or DVDs. But toys are still something special.

Toys help bring the characters they love into the physical world.

We were given some toys by Hasbro/Playskool for my older kids (6/6/4) recently, and it was amazing. They immediately took to all of them. Once I got them put together (there’s always a little assembly required) and handed them off, the madness started.




One of the sets was the “SUPER HERO ADVENTURES IRON MAN ARMOR UP FORTRESS Playset” (it’s a mouth full, but awesome). Almost immediately, there was yelling “That’s Tony!” After watching the various Marvel shows aimed at my kids’ demographic, they could immediately identify Tony Stark and Ironman, and there was so much excitement. It took a little bit, but eventually they were sharing and having a blast. It was easy for them to play with, and to understand, and to customize to however they wanted.



The other twin immediately took to the “TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS HIGH TIDE Playset”. While he didn’t recognize the character from the show (because it isn’t in the show yet), he recognized the logos and got excited. While this one took a little longer to assemble, it worked really well. The character and playset were the perfect size, and he went to town. This made him want to watch the show more, and got him excited about what was coming next in the Transformers Rescue Bots world.



While my boys were playing with their toys, my daughter was having a Girls Night, so their cousin (obsessed with dinosaurs) was the perfect subject for the new “JURASSIC WORLD TYRANNOSAURUS REX” set. A dinosaur that makes noises, and a human trying to capture him were perfect for him. I had never heard so many dinosaur roars in the house, or seen him sit so still for such a long period of time. He was wrapped into his imagination, where he could play with a real dinosaur. While he won’t be watching anything from the Jurassic Park universe yet, he will be playing with this toy for years to come.

I can see my kids playing with these toys for a long time. I didn’t have toys this awesome when I was growing up, and I’m excited to see how their play with these toys change as they grow. And how we all grow and change with them.

The Maker/Hacker Spirit, Applied to Our Kids

As some of you know, I teach lockpicking with The Open Organisation Of Lockpickers. That means that I am actively teaching people how to better understand something they see every day but know nothing about. It also means that I am teaching people how to do something that can be illegal if done irresponsibly (we teach the ethics as one of our core tenets). Locks and physical security are things that affect us every day, but very few people really understand.

Lockpicking tends to be aligned with the Maker/Hacker culture. People want to understand the things in their daily life. To some, that means taking those things apart and learning what's inside them.

For lockpickers, it means taking a lock you know nothing about, and from the outside understanding the internals. Locks are a puzzle in the open. Everyone sees them, everyone knows that when you put the right key into a lock and turn, the lock opens. Very few understand the built-in vulnerabilities of locks, and how they can be defeated.

For others, it may mean making a model rocket with a camera attached to it. It may mean using a 3D printer to make something for a project (or for fun). It may mean subscribing to MAKE magazine and trying out one of the myriad number of cool projects they have available. It may mean stopping by your local makerspace or hackerspace to help tackle that project you have been putting off.

Whatever your reason for giving into the maker/hacker spirit, those of us with kids have an amazing opportunity. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education is getting more popular, and what better way to help your little hacker/maker than with projects at home. Not only are you exposing your kids to STEM, you're spending quality time together.

That quality time may be in your backyard building something, or it may be at your local makerspace on a 3D printer, or it may be at a local TOOOL (or other locksport group) meeting, or it could be at local Maker Faire. This weekend is the NYC World Maker Faire (which I will be at, unfortunately without my family). Last month we were in Dover, NH. Next weekend we'll be in Lewiston-Auburn, ME. There are Mini Maker Faires throughout the world.


There are so many great opportunities to get out there, take things apart, put things together (hopefully working correctly), and learn to do something. Why not take your kids with you? I had minimal exposure to things like this while I was growing up. I hope that exposing my kids to these things, and keeping them interested in STEM, will help them in their growth both physically and mentally.

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By the time the weekend comes around, we try to fit in maximum awesomeness. This leaves minimal time for blogging. I'll get back to it soon, and put out more fantastic content soon.

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A few months ago, I wrote about how I had finally gotten back in the gym. Unfortunately, I only made it a few months before my time crunch of a schedule made it practically impossible. I was going to the gym at work during lunch, but it was cutting into my "working" time while at work. I could go before work, but that would mean waking up before 4 AM. I could go after work, but that would mean less time with my wife and kids after spending all day away. This week, we changed that. And by we, I mean my wife and I. We became members of our local YMCA. One factor made us choose the Y over other gyms, and it wasn't price. I'll admit that we pay a little more for the Y over other gyms, but it comes with one key feature that other gyms in our area don't have..

Since we have 3 young kids, we had two choices. Either we have to go to the gym in shifts, and lose the motivation that having your spouse there with you would provide, or we find a gym with childcare. The YMCA was option 2. This way, we're able to bring our kids to somewhere trusted, and be only a few rooms away while we're able to workout together.

We can bring them to the pool, teach them how to swim, and show them that we are doing something to stay healthy and active. This will hopefully get the kids involved in physical fitness, and help fight off the childhood obesity that's rampant in the US.

This is the re-start of our journey to be more healthy, physically, mentally, and financially. We're going to eat, as much as possible, food that is natural, organic or local. We're going to fix our credit and finances so we can buy a house in the next year. We are going to make our life, and the life of our kids, better.