Author Archives: secretdadblog

Godzilla Attacks!

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I bought an inflatable Godzilla Halloween costume for my son because he loved the Godzilla movies. The thing is, he isn’t a fan of trick-or-treating, even with the candy! In fact, he couldn’t be convinced to go at all this year. There must be a lot of kids who are shy about approaching the doors of strangers, for good reason. We didn’t want to force him to go, but I felt bad for him.

I was pondering this while assembling some office bookshelves, and realized I could use the styrofoam packaging to make some buildings for him to trounce on in his costume. I set to work and soon realized that buildings are like potato chips—you can’t have just one.

A trip to Lowe’s, and the obligatory Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, yielded several few packs of styrofoam. Over the next few days I went nuts with hot glue and craft paint until our garage was overrun by an entire city. I hung a city backdrop, turned on the fog machine, and unleashed my son on the entire city. Not a normal Halloween night, but one we’ll never forget!IMG_0052.JPG

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Stackable Wizard’s Tower for a Hero Kids RPG Adventure

img_2545I recently started playing Hero Kids with my own little heros. Hero Kids is a role-playing game like  D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), but much less complicated and geared towards kids. They love it!

I bought a bundle of Hero Kids downloadable adventures via DriveThruRPG.com. I like that you can print out pre-designed maps and paper miniatures for all of the adventures, making game prep very easy. Sometimes I’ll color the printouts to give them an extra bit of zing, though it isn’t necessary.

After having a few sessions under our belts, I decided to create something personalized to play on besides the printed maps. The Wizard’s Tower adventure features a tower with three floors, so I decided to make a 3D, modular tower with stackable parts, complete with a rickety roof.

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It started as a simple idea, but as usual, I very quickly got carried away.
I used Amazon boxes and lots of hot glue to make the main structure. The pieces were sized and shaped to the printable playing mats of the tower floors.

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Save those Amazon boxes!

img_0788 For the rickety roof, I used a cereal box, painted and cut up into small squares, and tiled over rafters comprised of heavily glued cardboard strips.

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Painted cereal box for roof tiles.

Painted cereal box for roof tiles.

My favorite part of this project was making the stone walls. I blended a sludge of water and newspaper, drained off most of the water, and baked it into thin sheets, using this really cool method found here. I then cut the sheets into stone blocks and glued them all over the box with Aleene’s Tacky Glue. This was the most time consuming part, but I really like the way the stone walls turned out.

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Finally, I painted the printable playing mats in watercolor and glued them to the tower pieces. I still have some finishing touches to add, such as balcony doors, railings, a crooked chimney, and a grand staircase, but my kids (and I) were really eager to play, so I postponed some of these details so we could finally begin to battle our way up to the top of the tower. I do plan to add them later for use in other adventures. I’m thinking that my little players will be become caretakers of the tower while the wizard is off wizarding somewhere.

Keep in mind you don’t need any special props to run Hero Kids, just some standard six-sided dice and downloadable content at DriveThruRPG. If you or your kids want an easy entry into the world of tabletop RPGs, then stop what you’re doing, download some content, and start an adventure!

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White Squirrel!

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My family was driving around town enjoying one of the northeast’s few remaining yard sale weekends, when my daughter spotted a white squirrel.
We ditched our yard sale plans and followed it down the street instead. Because, SQUIRREL!!!
This little guy was quick, and we couldn’t get close enough to take a really good picture. We tried.  We decided that he was on the hunt for any white chocolate that trick-or-treaters tossed from their bags to make room for the good stuff.

We later found a great resource from white squirrel expert Rob Nelson, and learned a whole lot about these cool critters. Rob is compiling research and a map of white squirrel sightings at Untamed Science, where we logged our own account to contribute to the research.

Doritos Legion of Bold

From 2006 until 2016, Doritos ran a Superbowl commercial contest featuring a million dollar prize! Doritos has decided to change things up with an initiative called Legion of the Bold. It features smaller, continuously rolling contest assignments utilizing various types of media.
My family decided to check it out, and we entered a stop motion contest promoting Doritos Mix-ups. The hardest part wasn’t setting up the all of the the tedious frame-by-frame shots, but figuring out how to build a wire armature pony without breaking the chips! Our plan was to animate it running across the screen and leaping into a bag. You can see how it turned out below. We didn’t win any prizes, but we all had a blast, got real greasy, and ate way too many Doritos. In my book that’s winning!