Parenting, Reviews, Sports

Major League Family Fun at Minor League Prices

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Great seats like this run about $15 on average at Minor League games.

Liam was jumping up and down in excitement, as fireworks painted the sky with color between the flashing rainbow lights ringing the outfield.

“THIS IS THE BEST! DAY! EVERRRR!”

When your child screams that at the top of their lungs, that my friends, is what you call a parenting win! And we hadn’t even run the bases yet! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We’d gone to the ballgame, as we’d done many times before. Baseball has been a big part of my life and Liam is getting into it too, so going to games is a no-brainer.

My wife? Well, she’s far from a sports nut, and wouldn’t consider herself a baseball fan, but she loves going to live ballgames. Baseball games are not just about the sport, but the experience, and the rhythm and flow of America’s favorite pastime allows you to sit and talk to your family in a way you can’t do anywhere else. It’s just as much about being with them as it is being there for the game.

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Waiting to run the bases after the game!

Thing is, we live in New York, and although we love going to Yankee Stadium, those games can get expensive quickly, especially with children in tow, so it limits how often we can go see the Major Leaguers.

The answer, as my smart and lovely wife found, was to go to Minor League games. The Brooklyn Cyclones in Coney Island have become a favorite destination of ours, as have the Staten Island Yankees.

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Posing with King Henry, Mastermind of Cyclones promotions and Coney Island legend.

For the baseball purist, Minor League games are amazing. You get a look at the up and comers, get in your own scouting reports, and in these days of having everything on the internet at your fingertips any time you like, for stats junkies and Fantasy League players like myself, watching the Minor Leaguers gives you a head start on everyone else.

For the families looking for affordable fun, Minor League games are amazing. These stadiums go all out to entertain you. Between innings you will be treated to dance teams, people in costume doing silly things, and a plethora of other activities.

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Just one of the between innings shows, something happens every break.

Just as a for instance, when we attended MCU Park on July 1st to see the Brooklyn Cyclones take on the Staten Island Yankees, Medieval Times was on hand, and we were treated to multiple sword fights during game breaks. Liam was thrilled to literally see sparks fly from the clashing broadswords of the armored knights going at it.

As for the value, it’s impossible to argue with what you get back for what you pay. We were absolutely blown away with what we got. We might love Yankee Stadium but here’s a quick roundup of everything that happened at this one ballgame at MCU Park:

We all received free Cyclones jerseys, as it was a giveaway day.

Liam got a toy baseball player, because the person in charge of giving them to special groups thought he was cute.

Medieval Times put on several amazing fight shows.

There was a pitching cage.

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There was a batting cage.

Hot dog races! I mean c’mon!

The mascots all said hello to us.

The kids got to run the bases after the game!

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And there were fireworks after the game!

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So, if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal than that, considering the average ticket price was hovering around $15, and those are for behind home plate and in the boxes!

Concessions are far cheaper as well. Food and drink prices are far below Major League prices and are normally less expensive than theater chains to boot.

Not to mention all the surprises and entertainment that don’t cost extra.

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It’s not unusual to see Harry Potter and friends at Minor League ballparks.

But beyond the affordable prices, the appeal of Minor League games is greater than that. Sitting in a smaller ballpark feels more genuine. My wife says she likes it because it’s a real slice of Americana. She’s right.

And it’s nice when you live in a big city to leave all of that behind and get a feel for small town America. It’s good to get out of that bubble and change your perspective on things.

This is what baseball is all about, and why it’s America’s pastime. It’s not all about the game, or how much you’re paying to get in, but a sense of community, of belonging to something bigger than all of us. You sit with your family, your friends, your neighbors. You belong.

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We love MCU park!

In days when the country we live in can seem divided beyond repair, it’s more important than ever to feel connected to each other, to remind each other that we’re all in this together, and you can get that feeling at a Minor League ballpark.

So while my son joyfully hollered that this was the best day ever, he wasn’t just speaking for himself, but for me, and maybe everyone else at the ballpark, too.

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Pure joy.

Disclosure: The author was given tickets and food vouchers for his family for the game between the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees on July 1st. But they’re regulars at MCU Park regardless, and he even has King Henry on his friends list!

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See? We’ve been going to Minor League games for years.

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Playmobil NHL Hockey Arena
Parenting, playmobil, Reviews, Sports, Toys

Playmobil’s NHL Hockey Arena Perfect for Family Fun!

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When I was growing up, tabletop hockey games were a big part of life. We had one of those sets with the two-dimensional players for everyday use, but the really nice set with the detailed hockey figures was saved for the holidays. So when Playmobil sent me their NHL Arena to review, I was going to either really love it or really hate it. As the headline spoils, it was clearly the former.

As with my previous review, I’ve uploaded a video playlist as well, linked HERE.

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My first impression when I opened the box was that this would be an easy set to put together. If you know anything about Playmobil, you already know that they pride themselves on being hyper-detailed. While that’s an overwhelmingly good thing, that means some of their bigger sets have many small pieces, and can take a while to assemble. Well, I’m happy to report here that although Playmobil’s attention to detail is still greatly evident with their NHL Hockey Arena, it is very easy to assemble. It will only take a few minutes, shown in this video.

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The Arena comes with four players, two skaters and two goalies. While none of them wear official NHL team colors (don’t worry, Playmobil still has you covered, we’ll get to that) they do sport the official NHL Shield logo on their jerseys and helmets.

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Still, the colors the teams wear are wisely chosen, and mirror some official NHL teams closely. The blue team could easily pass for the Winnipeg Jets, for example, and the white and red team could easily become the Detroit Red Wings or Carolina Hurricanes. It would only take a few stickers to accomplish that.

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See that little grey arrow behind the player in the white jersey? That’s the spring loaded mechanism that pulls his hockey stick back and releases it for the shooting action. The goalie is attached to a lever and swings back and forth to try and stop the shot. Playmobil captured hockey’s play action just that simply and effectively.

The skaters snap easily into platforms that make them look like they’re skating, and it also allows them to shoot pucks. While they still have that iconic Playmobil aesthetic, the players are definitely unique additions. The NHL Hockey Arena (set 5068 for the sticklers) can either fit into an existing Playmobil theme or stand alone.

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The goalies are amazing. Underneath their equipment, they look like a more traditional Playmobil figure. Their accessories include skates (which connect to the lever that moves them), leg pads, a blocker, a trapper, a goalie stick, and, of course, an awesome facemask. Combined with the puck shooting action of the skaters, the ability of the goalies to go post to post in the crease really makes for a lot of fun hockey gameplay.

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And here’s something I discovered that I’m not even sure Playmobil thought of, you can put the goalie on his action feature sideways. Now he can stack the pads and make exciting kick saves just like in the real NHL! Not to mention this covers a lot more ice and makes scoring much harder. It’s a way to level up to a harder difficulty in game play.

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“But waaaaaaaaait a minute,” says the sharp-eyed reader, “Where did those New York Rangers players come from?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Playmobil also has official team players available, and as I’m a huge Rangers fan, I naturally had to have them.

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Each skater comes with a sheet of decals with numbers and their team logos. You can customize them any way you like. So for the Rangers goalie, I gave him number 30, for Henrik Lundqvist. The skaters got 19, because I liked to wear 19 when I played, and 36, because I think Mats Zuccarello kinda looks like a Playmobil figure.

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Image courtesy NY Rangers Fanatics.

I kid you because I love you, Mats. Seriously. ZUUUUUUC!

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But to the point at hand, Playmobil allows you to customize not just your players, but the NHL Hockey Arena itself. As we’re a New York Rangers family, the rink will be New York Rangers home ice.

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But you can choose whatever team you like. Playmobil includes three sheets of decals, including every NHL Team logo and the NHL Shield logo as well, in case you’d rather stay neutral.

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“But, wait,” you might say, “I don’t know anything about hockey!” Don’t worry, Playmobil thought of that too. They include a booklet explaining everything you need to know about the sport. Don’t worry, it’s not very complicated. If your child likes hockey and you don’t, then here’s a quick and fun way for you to catch up.

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As for gameplay on the NHL Arena itself, it couldn’t be simpler. There’s a slider on the boards behind each net to keep score. First one to ten wins. You’re all set to play games immediately.

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The rink also features removable side boards revealing ramps, as Playmobil also offers a Zamboni ice cleaning tractor. My full video review of the NHL Hockey Rink is HERE, by the way.

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With the NHL Hockey Arena, Playmobil will let you trick out your rink with players from your favorite NHL team, as well as the aforementioned Zamboni, referees, and even the presenters of the Stanley Cup. For those of us who love hockey like I do, these are the toys we’ve been waiting for. It’s a serious upgrade from tabletop hockey.

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It was symbolic that my father was visiting for Thanksgiving when I gave the Arena to my son. Hockey’s a family thing with us. That’s why I wore the number 19 when I played, because my father wore it before me.

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When I was growing up, tabletop hockey games were a big part of life. I played it with my family and friends, with the extra special nice tabletop game with the cool figures saved for the holidays. Thanks to Playmobil, I can pass on this tradition to my son, and we’ll play hockey games just like my father and I did.

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And while we may have picked up this tradition for the holidays, I think we’ll keep it going all year round.

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Opinion, Parenting, playmobil, Reviews, Toys

Toy Review: City Action Space Rocket with Launch Site (Playmobil Set 6195)

One of the things I’ve always wanted was a toy representation of Cape Canaveral. I’ve always loved all things NASA and space exploration, and of course, I’ve got a deep affection for science fiction because of it. Playmobil has finally provided me with just what I was looking for.

Oh, and I’ve created a playlist of videos examining this playset for you to check out as well.

The Space Rocket with Launch Site (or Playmobil Set 6195 for the sticklers) is a hefty addition to anyone’s toy collection. When assembled, the whole thing stands at over two feet tall, so it’s a hard piece to miss.

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Behold! Playmobil Set 6195 aka Space Rocket Launch Site

As is their wont, Playmobil went all out in the details of the set. They don’t miss a trick, and the result is a completely immersive play experience that really brings your imagination to life.

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Now, the downside of this means that there are plenty of small pieces, and the set takes some time to put together, but the end result is more than worth the effort, as the completed Launch Site will be nothing short of awe-inspiring to your little ones.

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Playmobil included three figures with the set, female and male technician/scientists, and the return of the really cool little robot we’ve not seen since the SpaceMo days in the 80s. Click this video for more information.

The Space Rocket alone is worth the price of the entire playset all by itself. It lights up; makes three different noise sets, at a not-too-loud-volume as well: has a detachable capsule meant to fly on its own; and includes a satellite, tucked away in the capsule, which unfolds to reveal spectacular and reflective solar panels. As this video shows, that’s a whole lot of play value!

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The literal spine of the toy, the Launch Site portion of the playset is also no slouch. The Space Rocket connects to and detaches from the tower, and you can also connect fuel and power lines from the base of the Launch Site directly into the Space Rocket.

A radar dish can be spun at the top to ensure the coast is clear for a successful launch, and a communications array is available to send and receive data from the satellite, its matching reflective solar panel twirling in whatever direction you like.

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The main platform of the Launch Site contains all the controls and monitor screens. It also features a microphone for your figures to simulate the countdown (that the rocket can sound out for you as well), a phone to contact Houston, and doors that swing open and closed. The platform itself also acts as an elevator in and of itself, sliding up and down the entire height of the tower, demonstrated in this video.

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But that’s still not all. Two smaller platforms, similar to the buckets operators ride in as seen with cherry picker cranes, can swing out and away from the control platform, carrying your Playmobil figures around the front of the Space Rocket for any repairs or maintenance that might be required. Handles extend below the buckets which the robot can click onto as well, in case the need for repairs is pressing enough to require all three figures to work on them at the same time. All of this is shown in this video.

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From top to bottom, Playmobil has delivered a solid playset, that should keep your children occupied for hours. The play options unfold seemingly exponentially. The figures go up and down on the platform, and out and around the rocket in the buckets. The robot wheels and spins about, sometimes gripping onto the buckets to be lifted high into the air.

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Your Space Rocket lights up and creates sound effects, and what kid doesn’t like that? It also launches a smaller vessel, the capsule, which in turn launches a satellite. Or even the robot. Why not?

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Oh. One more thing. You know how the Space Shuttle gets lifted into the sky by booster rockets and a fuel cell that highly resemble Playmobil’s Space Rocket? That’s no coincidence. Playmobil’s own Space Shuttle set (number 6196 for the sticklers) can attach directly onto the Space Rocket from this set, adding ever more play options for your child. And yourself. Let’s be honest.

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This is what Playmobil sets 6195 and 6196 look like together!

We’re lucky enough to live in New York City, and even luckier to live close to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. Featured on the Intrepid, to which we have memberships and visit often, is the Space Shuttle Enterprise. My son and I love it. Just as I know he’ll love these Playmobil sets.

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In short, the Playmobil Space Rocket Launch Site is loads of fun for both you and your kids. It’s a fantastic gift idea with its multitudes of play options and its ability to spark your kids’ imagination and curiosity. And don’t tell them this part, it’s educational as well! Shhhh!

Keep an eye out for my future reviews.

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Coming up next is the Playmobil NHL Arena, which I tease in this video.

 

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