Super Bowl 50 and the death of Dadvertising

WANTED: The arms, torso and tail of a spider monkey. I have access to working baby legs, and I know a guy who has a pug. Attack of the Dad is making Puppy Monkey Baby happen IRL.

Why, you ask? I’m hot on social media thanks to brands (Taco Bell quote-tweeted my Instagram). I want to keep this rolling, and being a regular dad just isn’t cutting it.

A year ago, the ads in Super Bowl XLIX were all about dads. Always had an empowering message about how to raise our girls. Dove told us that a well-moisturized man is better at kissing his kids. Nissan had an inscrutable short film about a race-car driver, but Toyota really tugged at our dadstrings.

That day, all the moms and their Chunky Soups fell silent as “Dadvertising” reigned supreme. Continue reading Super Bowl 50 and the death of Dadvertising

Imaginext Robo Batcave gets YouTube treatment

The Imaginext Robo Batcave is a 2016 Fisher-Price Super Friends playset. The $40 Toys R Us exclusive is nearly identical to the old Imaginext Robot Police headquarters, but the repaint adds a bunch of cool new details to celebrate Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

But you’re probably wondering, when did Attack of the Dad turn into a series of toy videos on YouTube? Continue reading Imaginext Robo Batcave gets YouTube treatment

SuperHero Girls? Mattel already makes badass girl toys

Alongside New York Comic Con, Mattel just unveiled DC SuperHero Girls. The 12-inch dolls and 6-inch action figures are designed by women, based on real-world female athletes instead of male-fantasy comic drawings.

With Wonder Woman front and center, Mattel hopes the new toy line can make up for declining Barbie sales and their soon-to-expire Disney licenses. I’m excited. I have a 2-year-old daughter whose main motivator in life is to equal her brother, a Batman-obsessed 4-year-old.

Mattel
(From left) Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Bumblebee.

Mattel has a spotty record on dolls AND superheroes. Barbie has struggled to find progressive footing as long as I’ve been alive, and the new Batman Unlimited toys have the Caped Crusader fighting crime with an uninspired arsenal of robot animals. I don’t care what anyone says — the real Batman would never attack Solomon Grundy with an axe he just pulled from the back end of a tiny rhinoceros.

Still, I’m confident Mattel will knock DC Superhero Girls out of the park. It’s not just that they brought a bunch of real girls into the design process or even that they have incredibly deep well of female characters to draw from (their online cartoons already feature Katana, Catwoman, Star Sapphire and Jinx among others).

You see, Mattel has been making badass girl toys for years. You just didn’t notice because they were hidden in the preschool boys’ stuff. Continue reading SuperHero Girls? Mattel already makes badass girl toys

The stay-at-home question

Nobody asked me if I was going back to work. I wasn’t. Not for long, anyway.

Right before I became a dad, I sat down with my boss and a bigger boss for an annual performance review. It had been a bad year. I took an unwelcome job change in place of a promotion I wanted. The company’s latest round of layoffs had booted several of my friends, and the bigger boss used it to justify me not getting a raise. The company’s vision for my future: more copy-paste busywork.

Meanwhile, my wife was approaching triple my salary at her law firm, and she actually enjoyed a lot of the work. Her benefits included 12 weeks paid maternity leave, while I exhausted my vacation and sick time to spend nine days with a newborn Champ.

My choice to stay home seemed so obvious that I thought everybody at work saw it coming. Yet nobody grilled me about child-care plans while my wife had to reassure a lot of nervous partners that, yes, she was coming back to work.

As a Cosmopolitan editor points out, women get this a lot, and they’re sick of it. Continue reading The stay-at-home question

I bought big-boy LEGOs for a preschooler

The box for LEGO Superheroes Batman: Man-Bat Attack says ages 6-12. The Joker’s Steamroller says 7-14. My son is 3.

LEGO’s age recommendations aren’t like the ones on other toys. Those numbers aren’t the minimum age at which child can play with the toy and not choke to death. LEGO’s master builders think a 6-year-old might have the necessary skills to build the Batcopter in Man-Bat Attack without help. That same 6-year-old, however, should require an extra year of LEGO practice to build the Batwing that comes with the Joker’s Steamroller.

I would like to tell you that my son Champ is so brilliant, so focused and so dexterous that he can follow LEGO instructions at a 7-year-old’s level. Nope. In fact, some of these models are so complicated that Mom can’t fix them quite right. Grandma and Grandpa? Also nope.

This is why a Dad has Rules for Big-Boy LEGOs. Continue reading I bought big-boy LEGOs for a preschooler

Destroy all technology and your parents will love you again

We babies of the ’80s didn’t have much competition for our parents’ undivided attention. Soap operas. Phil Donahue. Sometimes we had to cry a little louder so adults could hear us over their shoulder pads and through their perms. No problemo, as we used to say.

If my 11-month-old daughter could talk in sentences, she’d tell you kids today have it worse. Parents pull shiny toys out of their pockets and can spend an unlimited amount of time staring and tapping at the glowy part. The big TV plays whatever they tell it to. Sometimes it’s Umizoomi, which is great, but a lot of the time it’s grownups droning on in muted-trombone sounds. Like, gag me with a spoon.

So baby has a plan to win the attention war. She’s methodically testing our tech for weaknesses she can exploit. And she’s finding them.

Clever girl.
Clever girl.

Continue reading Destroy all technology and your parents will love you again

Parenting: The inverse ninja law

My parents are in town, and we’re loading my two kids into the car after lunch at Food Truck Friday in downtown Phoenix. My dad fumbles with the buckles on two-year-old Champ’s car seat. My mom wrangles the lunch leftovers while cooing over the new baby girl. I break down the fancy stroller — it’s so fancy there’s a song about it — and load it in the back of my beefy crossover.

It’s taking forever, and my mom asks, “How do you do this by yourself?” The truth is that when it’s just me and the kids, I can do all this in half the time.

You see, I’m a ninja.

Ninja dad
This is how I take care of two kids all by myself.

Continue reading Parenting: The inverse ninja law

Bowser Jr. and the dangers of ‘grup’ parenting

At my 20-month-old son’s insistence, I’ve been playing a lot of New Super Mario Bros. U (hard life, I know). Champy knows all the characters because their decals adorn his Mario-themed bedroom, and he makes me name them one by one before he will go in his crib (always worth it). I was excited, and he was a little terrified when we reached the game’s final boss, Bowser.

But the Koopa King seemed a little flat. He was lollygagging, puffing a few fireballs and occasionally jumping, but he clearly had no interest in killing Mario. He didn’t even roar until his son, Bowser Jr., supersized him with Magikoopa dust, dragged him out of the pit I put him in and forced him to fight me again.

Son, we're going home.
Son, we’re going home.

My gut reaction was that Bowser is a lousy dad, halfheartedly raging in Peach’s castle while his underage son acts as Mario’s primary antagonist across eight worlds. But a New York Magazine article on ‘grups’ — 30-somethings who shun traditional adulthood and live like 20-somethings  — has me thinking maybe Bowser is just dealing with the consequences of shared-passion parenting.

And it could happen to me! Continue reading Bowser Jr. and the dangers of ‘grup’ parenting

The parenting perils of Instagram

Lazy afternoon sunlight trickles through the dining-room windows and shines steely blue off the stainless appliances. Champ sits there in the kitchen, twisting the head of Big Batman, a “Dark Knight Rises” action figure aimed at adult collectors and probably unsafe for a toddler. I stealth-unlock my iPhone and crawl up next to him for a low-angle photo. This is going to make a great Instagram.

The final product of some dangerous Instagramming.

You should know about Instagram by now. It’s the service all the cool kids are using to square-off, stylize and share their best cameraphone photos.

I taught a journalism class last fall and devoted a large chunk of lecture to Instagram’s role in documenting Superstorm Sandy. Friends of mine interrupted a recent dinner party to make everyone watch an Instagram-themed Nickelback parody. Seriously, it’s everywhere.

Instagram is a big deal to me as a stay-at-home dad. I believe that if I can make my adorbz baby photos look hip enough, my childless friends won’t get sick of them and block me on Facebook. I rely on those friends for updates on things like limited-release beer and new movies, but my head would rainbow sparkle puppy explode if I kept all Champy’s cuteness to myself. Continue reading The parenting perils of Instagram