Wonder Crew Buddies Break Gender Stereotypes

 February 18, 2017, — BELOIT, Wis. – During Toy Fair in New York, PlayMonster LLC is showcasing its new Wonder Crew® Buddies, the toy line for boys designed to empower boys to connect, nurture and build empathy through friendship, imagination and adventure.

Wonder Crew is turning the table on the conversation about gender stereotypes and toys, which has largely been focused on presenting more options for girls to play. Wonder Crew fills a hole in the market by offering a toy that helps boys develop their emotional maturity, including compassion and kindness, to help them grow to be good men, husbands, fathers and more.

Combining the adventure of an action figure with the emotional connection of a stuffed animal, 15″ Wonder Crew Buddies are available now. The crew includes Will (Caucasian), Marco (Hispanic), James (African American) and Erik (Asian). Each comes dressed in superhero gear, complete with matching mask and cape for kids.

Wonder Crew also has three Adventure Packs: Builder includes a construction outfit and hard hat for the buddy, and a matching vest for kids; Explorer features a safari-looking outfit and hat for the buddy, and a matching hat for the child; and Snuggler is a set of pajamas for the buddy, and a blanket for kids!  Each is sold separately.

Bringing “adventure through friendship” to boys ages 3‒5, Wonder Crew buddies are priced at $29.99‒$34.99; gear sets from $14.99‒$19.99.

Wonder Crew was created by Laurel Wider, a psychotherapist and mom, after her son came home from preschool one day and announced that “boys aren’t supposed to cry.”  Frustrated by many of the messages boys were (and weren’t) receiving and inspired by the way play influences child development, Wider created Wonder Crew to encourage kids to connect emotionally and be their full selves.

During North American International Toy Fair in New York, February 18‒21, 2017, PlayMonster can be found at booth #439. 

About PlayMonster LLC

Beloit, WI-based PlayMonster is a toy and game company that believes in the power of play to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Delivering great play value by designing, manufacturing and marketing quality products like the award-winning The Game of THINGS…®, 5 Second Rule®, Mirari®, Stinky Pig™, Yeti in my Spaghetti®, Farkle, Chrono Bomb®, OK to Wake!®, Lauri®, Stratego®, Roominate™, My Fairy Garden™ and Wooly Willy® is how PlayMonster helps keep play alive for all ages.



Film Review “Point Break (2015)”

Starring: Edgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey and Ray Winstone
Directed By: Ericson Core
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 113 minutes
Warner Bros. Pictures

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 movie “Point Break” is far from being the “Die Hard” of the 90’s, but it certainly understood how to have fun with it’s silly premise of the FBI infiltrating some bank robbing surfer bros. Stylish, dumb edge of your seat action and entertaining are just a handful of the words I would use to describe Bigelow’s surprise hit. Dumb is the only word I would use to describe 2015’s “Point Break”.

Edgar Ramirez and Luke Bracey hope to conjure up the same absurd bromance that Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze displayed 14 years ago. Bracey plays Utah, who in this reimagining isn’t an all-star college quarterback, but is instead a dare devil motocross junkie who decides upon a career in the FBI after his best friend dies attempting one of his dangerous stunts. It’s there in the FBI that Utah, through a truly random hunch, figures out that some globetrotting crooks are actually attempting to complete eight death-defying stunts to achieve enlightenment.

Leading the group of criminal, extreme sport enthusiasts is Bodhi (Ramirez). He’s quite possibly the most infuriating character in recent movie history. He speaks about the destruction of Mother Earth while partying on a gas guzzling yacht in the middle of the ocean and using an abundance of other oil produced equipment to cheat death under the guise of achieving his own personal Nirvana. It’s both equally offensive to eco-warriors and anyone who follows the teachings of Buddha.

Bigelow seemingly understood that a dumb action movie is inherently farcical, so she filled up her movie with enough action to push out those nagging logical thoughts, but this new reboot does the opposite. Director Ericson Core feels that an abundance of exposition is more interesting than the possible heists and fight choreography that our characters could subject themselves to. There’s way too much droll downtime between breathtaking shots of characters escaping death.

Kurt Wimmer, who also used “Total Recall” like toilet paper when remaking it, manages to do the same with “Point Break”. Maybe adaptations and remakes aren’t for Wimmer, who’s done a much better job penning original movies like “Law Abiding Citizen” and “Salt”. Wimmer writes his characters into too many corners, spinning them off into far too many loose ends. Wimmer sloppy adds a lot red herrings, such as the businessman who sponsors the crooks.

There’s certainly a level of dignity that Hollywood must hold itself to when remaking a movie that people consider a classic. “Point Break” is far from being an untouchable Holy Grail in cinema, but there’s no reason it should have been rebooted drug through the mud. Core and Wimmer are clearly more comfortable in their own playing field with their own characters. They seem nervous having to update a character by having him text emojis or being recognizable on Youtube. What made the original duo of Swayze and Reeves cool was action sequences they found themselves in, not their misguided philosophies on saving the planet.

This “Point Break” remake is a disaster that astonishingly arrives on the heels of nearly a dozen better Christmas day releases. “Point Break” lacks enough action to forget its most glaring flaws, and it lacks enough relatable characters to feel anything when conflict happens between an undercover FBI agent and a misguided thief. It’s a failure at nearly every level except its cinematography. It’s certainly pretty to look at, but it’s like unwrapping a neatly wrapped Christmas present only to find a lump of coal.

Concert Review: Foo Fighters “Break a Leg Tour” Citi Field, Flushing, NY

“Break a Leg Tour”
Foo Fighters, Royal Blood
Date: Thursday, July 16th 2015
Venue: Citi Field, Flushing, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Foo Fighters made their way to the Big Apple on July 15th and 16th where they set up shop at the home of the New York Mets, Citi Field located in Flushing, NY. What was originally scheduled as the only NY area show for the Grammy Award winning band it quickly sold out back in December which prompted the band to add the July 15th show making this a two night stand for the band. Two nights in one area can be a blessing or a curse to some bands as often times a bands show is fairly similar night after night. For the Foo Fighters it proved to be a blessing as though there were some similarities that carried over from the previous night’s show there were enough differences to make it a great evening of music for those who attended both shows and for those lucky enough to get tickets during the initial on sale date.

With a venue this big I was really skeptical that it was in fact going to be filled to full/near capacity levels. As the opening act Royal Blood hailing from the UK took the stage it further enforced this thought as people seemed quite slow to file into the venue. Consisting of just two member’s bassist/vocalist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher the duo laid down an impressive sound that instantly grabbed my attention and kept it for their entire set. Having known very little about the band prior to seeing their performance I became an instant fan after about 2 songs. Thatcher’s proficiency on the drums gives the band a tightness that is showcased beautifully by the wall of sound provided by Mike Kerr. The band did a great job in the opener role and I certainly would love to see them out on their own in the near future.

After a tolerable set change the Foo Fighters would take the stage and remain there for almost 3 hours. Just prior to the curtain dropping it was as if the flood gates had opened as the venue was filled with probably one of its largest crowds ever for the still fairly new stadium. Perched upon a mobile stage of his own Dave Grohl proved to be the consummate professional as he didn’t allow a recently broken leg to hinder the night’s performance. (Grohl broke his leg after falling from the stage during a performance in Sweden) The band was in top shape as they blasted through a string of hits including “Everlong”, “Learn to Fly” and “Big Me” to name just a few. Sprinkled between the bands signature classics were a select few of cover songs ranging from a wonderful rendition of Queen’s “Under Pressure” to Bad Brains “How Low Can a Punk Get” and “The Regulator” which featured guest appearances by Bad Brains members Dr. Know and Darryl Jenifer.

The crowd applause for the evening seemed to come and go in waves as the largest applauses definitely occurred more during performances of the bands back catalog as opposed to material from the bands more recent albums “Wasting Light” and “Sonic Highways”. On a personal note probably my favorite performance of the night aside from an abbreviated performance of the Kiss classic “Detroit Rock City” was that of the song “Dear Rosemary” which provided a spot on pairing of both Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins vocals with Hawkins providing the vocals which were performed on the album by Husker Du front man Bob Mould.

There were certainly many highlights of the evening’s performance and the band did a spot on job of giving the fans their money’s worth however I think there were several points of the show that were a bit too drawn out causing a loss of some of the crowds energy. I think the show also could have benefited from a bit more visibility from the other members in the band. At times it was as if members Pat Smear, Chris Shiflet, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins and Rami Jaffee were just playing character roles in the Dave Grohl show. With those guys being all such great players it was a shame they didn’t get more of the lime light. Despite a few small negatives the band still put on a great performance none the less and If Foo Fighters are in your area do yourself a favor and try to get to one or more of these shows as the band will be on tour both in the states and overseas through November.

Foo Fighters Set List:
1.) Everlong
2.) Monkey Wrench
3.) Learn to Fly
4.) Something From Nothing
5.) The Pretender
6.) Big Me
7.) Congregation
8.) Walk
9.) Detroit Rock City/ Jail Break/ School’s Out Medley
10.) Cold Day in the Sun
11.) My Hero (acoustic)
12.) Time Like These (acoustic)
13.) Under Pressure (Queen)
14.) All My Life
15.) These Days
16.) Outside
17.) Breakout
18.) Dear Rosemary
19.) Breakdown (Tom Petty)
20.) White Limo
21.) Arlandria
22.) How Low Can a Punk Get (Bad Brains)
23.) The Regulator (Bad Brains)
24.) This Is a Call
25.) Best of You

“My Big Break” Interview Series

Media Mikes had a chance to interview the director Tony Zierra, producer, Elizabeth Yoffe and star, Chad Lindberg of the documentary “My Big Break”. Check out what they had to say below and support the film!

Click here to read our review of “My Big Break”

Premise: This controversial documentary follows five roommates trying to make it in Hollywood who face the unexpected consequences of fame. When Tony Zierra, an aspiring filmmaker with no money, stars or crew, resorts to filming the lives of his four struggling actor roommates, he never imagined the incredible twists of fate he would end up capturing on camera. Things take an amazing turn when three of the actors, Brad Rowe (Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss, Shelter), Chad Lindberg (October Sky, The Fast And The Furious) and Wes Bentley (American Beauty, Ghost Rider) defy astronomical odds and quickly hit it big. Meanwhile, the fourth actor, Greg Fawcett, is nearly driven insane watching the others get famous. It doesn’t take long for the unsettling reality of stardom to set in. Lindberg’s hope of becoming a leading man is crushed when he s repeatedly told he doesn t have the right look; Rowe ends up typecast as a pretty boy and can’t break past his uncanny resemblance to Brad Pitt; while Bentley, who has the most explosive career launch in decades, uneasily retreats from his sudden, overwhelming fame. As the actors struggle with life in the public eye, Zierra deals with constant obstacles while he tries to complete his film – including being scrutinized and blocked by the actors’ nervous agents. While popular shows like Entourage offer a fun, fictionalized view into the workings of the film industry, My Big Break shows the good times along with the darker side of becoming a celebrity. The documentary is a rare, raw look at life in Hollywood that reveals what can happen if your dreams unexpectedly come true.

Chad Lindberg

Elizabeth Yoffe

Tony Zierra

Elizabeth Yoffe talks about producing “My Big Break”

Elizabeth Yoffe is the producer on the recent documentary “My Big Break”, directed by Tony Zierra and follows the early careers of Wes Bentley, Chad Lindberg, Brad Rowe and Gregory Fawcett.  Elizabeth took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about producing a documentary like “My Big Break”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your involvement with documentary “My Big Break”?
Elizabeth Yoffe: Years ago, I was involved in a much smaller capacity with Tony’s documentary, “Carving Out Our Name”. When I saw that completed film in Toronto, I was completely taken with his abilities as a director and felt grateful to be part of it. Although there was a painful outcome for “Carving”, I believed that if Tony decided to start over and create a new project from his original footage it would result in something powerful and unique. I’ve been part of the process of making “My Big Break” from the beginning. My goal has been to be a partner in all aspects of it and to support the filmmaker’s creative vision in every way that’s needed. That covers a broad range of tasks and activities, from paperwork to marketing, creative input – when called upon, hiring additional crew, finding composers around the world, dealing with releases, research, financing, distribution decisions, marketing. It’s extremely hands- on and exhilerating because we’re completely independent.

MG: What is the most difficult task of producing a documentary?
EY: Raising its profile. It’s an interesting time for documentaries. There’s more and more interest in them and far more platforms and outlets to have the work seen than ever before – which is great. But, because there is so much content out there you’re also competing for audience interest, so marketing and raising awareness of an independent project can be challenging – as is monetization. But, all in all, I’d say this is one of the best times for indie docs-if you’re willing to put in the hands-on, intensive work.

MG: Where can everyone view or purchase this film today?
EY: Thanks for asking! The best way to view and purchase “My Big Break” is through our site www.mybigbreakmovie.com.There, you’ll have the option of streaming or downloading the movie or you can purchase the DVD through us or through Amazon.com.

MG: The special features are located on the website, tell us about this decision?
EY: We have so much footage that we want to include in the special features and making them part of a DVD limits the ability to change and add different features from time to time. This way, we have complete control over keeping the special features fresh.

MG: Have you ever considered this type of film with another group of actors, perhaps a series?
EY: No, because what makes “My Big Break” really one-of-a -kind is that fate had such a big part in bringing together that specific group of people and what they experienced – the struggles, the success, the spiral into frustration can’t possibly be duplicated. There’s plenty of fake reality out there now – too much – but the reality in “My Big Break” makes it unique and that much more interesting. If Tony wanted to do it, I know that he’d bring his unique creative eye to it, so that’s the only thing that would make me interested but without that – no. Although, I should add, it might intrigue me is to see how a group of young women handled a similar situation because the pressures on females in Hollywood is that much more intense and unsettling.

MG: What are currently working on next?
EY: I’m working in partnership with Tony on a fascinating documentary about Stanley Kubrick- I’m very excited about that, and also offering a certain level of technical support on his book, which tells a truly epic life story – talk about a film project! That’s the one story I’d consider going back to Hollywood to get done – if it could be done the way it should be. Who knows.

Tony Zierra talks about directing “My Big Break”

Tony Zierra is the director of the recent documentary “My Big Break”, which follows the early careers of Wes Bentley, Chad Lindberg, Brad Rowe and Gregory Fawcett.  Tony took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about its 10 year journey to the public.

Mike Gencarelli: How do you feel that “My Big Break” has finally be released to the public?
Tony Zierra: Relieved. One of the great gratifications a filmmaker has is to see their work done and to know that it has a chance to find its audience I’m always deeply touched when I hear someone has seen “My Big Break ” and was affected by it and understood what it’s about.

MG: Was it worth it for the 10 years it took to make and release?
TZ: Was it worth it? Yes. Did I want it to take 10 years? No. Absolutely not. The one thing that I can say is that the length of time it took to take the movie gave me a deeper understanding of the business, the life of the celebrity, the reality of filmmaking and allowed me to convey that in the film. It would be impossible to grasp that in two or three years. As annoying as it is to take that long to do something, when it’s done you really do appreciate all the hard work. That kind of lengthy process creates layers that you can only accomplish with time. Also, time allowed me to follow what would happen to each individual, including myself, before during and after “their break” and created a natural arc for the characters and the film.

MG: What do you think was the most difficult aspect in this road?
TZ: Resources and people’s commitment or lack thereof to the project, and the industry’s fear of exposure.

MG: Do you still keep in contact with Wes Bentley, Chad Lindberg, Brad Rowe and Gregory Fawcett?
TZ: Yes, but in varying degrees.

MG: Ever consider doing another documentary in another 10 years to follow-up on their careers?
TZ: I might, but if I wouldn’t do it if I were them. it’s very difficult for actors or any celebrity to put themselves in that position.This type of “real” reality, not the constructed reality we see on television, is too intense and revealing for them to willingly take part in. Probably the only reason they agreed to do it originally was because they were unknown.

MG: How does “My Big Break” compare to the tossed documentary “Carving Out Our Name”?
TZ: “My Big Break” is more revealing, layered and truthful. “My Big Break” is storytelling and “Carving” was filmmaking. “Carving” was honest to a certain degree, very visual, with a sense of “show-off” because I was hoping that it would be my ticket to working as a filmmaker in Hollywood. I was playing the game to get into the system. When you’re making a film in the business you’re already thinking about your next film so there’s a self-conscious aspect to it. True storytelling, though, is not affected by any of that. You’re only focused on the truth of the subjects as characters in the story. Also, “Carving” had a lot in it aboutrelationships each guy had with their then girlfriends and their friendship with each other but ‘My Big Break” is purely about the each one of us in relationship to the business. There was no narration in “Carving”, I never appeared in it at all. I put my story into “My Big Break” because I felt it was only fair to the actors to expose my own pain, vulnerability and disappointments if I was going to do that to them

MG: What are you currently working on? Ever plan on directing again?
TZ: I’ll always be interested in storytelling and there are different ways to do that outside of the system. For example, I’m working on a documentary about Stanley Kubrick but I don’t really see it as “making movies” in a standard way – I’m telling a story. I’m currently writing a book about my experiences that include, but are definitely not confined to, my time in Hollywood. And there are always other projects in the works.

DVD Review “My Big Break”

Directed by: Tony Zierra
Starring: Wes Bentley, Chad Lindberg, Brad Rowe, Greg Fawcett and Tony Zierra
Distributed by: MBB Group
MPAA Rating: Not Rating
Release Date: July 25, 2011
Running Time: 102 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This documentary is a real honest portrayal of what it takes it make it big in Hollywood. If you are able to get your big break, one minute you are in and one minute you are out. I was aware of all these actors documented in the film prior to watching but, besides Wes Bentley, was unaware of their struggle. Although at times a little crude and raw, this is just such a great inside look into these actors road to success or in some cases lack their of.

“My Big Break” was filmed over 10 years and follows five roommates who are trying to make it big in Hollywood: Wes Bentley, Chad Lindberg, Brad Rowe and Greg Fawcett. With Wes Bentley, it documents his success with “American Beauty”, with Chad Lindberg, it follows his success with “October Sky”, Brad Rowe, with his indie hit “Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss” and Greg Fawcett, who was the least lucky in the group. It also focuses on Tony Zierra road to Hollywood himself and his work documenting his roommates over these years.

It is rare for a film to really show this side of an actor’s struggle. It is sometimes a little hard to watch and depressing but it is more importantly REAL. For many struggling actors, the road is not always paparazzi and parties. Overall, this is definitely one-of-a-kind and worth watching if not only to support these actors and their journey. The DVD does not include special features but they are available on the film’s website mybigbreakmovie.com. I will support this decision, especially since this was self-released with the assistance of no major studio.

CD Review: A Break In The Strom “Metonia”

A Break In The Strom
Turkey Vulture Records
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Metonia” is the debut release from the Merrill, WI based metal core band A Break In The Storm. The album features 10 original tracks and is being released via Turkey Vulture Records. After listening through the entire album I had to sit back and really take it all in. Each song contained on the album is bursting at the seams with metal core goodness. Everything you could ever ask for from cookie monster vocals, to melodic harmonies, blazing guitar work, and solid drumming “Metonia” has it.

The overall mixing of the album I thought was done very well. Even with the intense nature of the music nothing was lost and each of the instruments could be heard very clearly. I was most impressed with the tracks “Beneath The Surface”, “Reflections” and “Roam This World” as all three had a great grooves while featuring a variety of transitions which made the tracks even more entertaining as they had an element of surprise to them. If you haven’t done so already give A Break In The Storm’s newest release “Metonia” a listen. You won’t be disappointed!

Track Listing:
1.) Beneath The Surface
2.) My Last Goodbye
3.) Passenger
4.) Reflections
5.) Roam This World
6.) Temptations
7.) The Showdown
8.) In Pain and Peace
9.) Warnings Only Go So Far
10.) Wolves