On Saturday, Dylan I found ourselves off on an adventure that we knew very little about! Bleary-eyed but excited about the day ahead and with a golden ticket in our possession, we boarded an early train to West Sussex for the Dads Play Date.
The event was organised by Paladone, a leading gift supplies company that produces cool stuff for the likes of DC Comics, Guinness World Records, Marvel, Discovery Channel and Star Wars. Scenes reminiscent of kids in proverbial candy stores were surely in the offing!
Upon arrival at the factory gates, we were treated to hot coffee and bacon rolls while the kids multi-tasked by kicking footballs around the empty car park while they ate. We were soon off on the first leg of the magical mystery tour. Soon afterwards, the coach pulled up beside the Connaught Theatre and cinema in Worthing.
There, we were greeted with a poster bearing some familiar Twitter handles. We were treated to a tour which included a talk about the history of the venue in the main auditorium, a visit to the projection room and finally into a smaller but equally grand auditorium for a private screening.
Following some retro American drive-in trailers extolling the virtues of eating lots, going to church on Sunday and cutting out public displays of affection, it was time for the main feature. We were shown clips and trailers representing the brands that Paladone works with. We were all suitably impressed. Dylan couldn’t stop himself from excitedly naming every character as they appeared on screen!
Our next stop was to a seafront attraction with plenty of rides. This was a big hit with the kids! While we were there, some of the products were brought out. Dylan did well with a remote control VW camper van – he only crashed it into my feet twice – and also enjoyed seeing what his face would look like were he half zebra. Naturally.
After lunch and a quick visit to throw stones in the sea – a must for children, it seems – we headed back to Paladone’s HQ for the afternoon session. We had a tour of the warehouse, during which Dylan got to sit in a forklift truck. Then we were taken to the showroom. This was the candy store moment! The kids – okay, and us dads too – didn’t know which direction to run in. There were shelves full of gadgets, toys and gifts to look at and play with.
Naturally, Dylan chose one of the most complex things – a Batmobile model! We worked as a team to put it together and, somehow or other, got it finished before our time ran out. Hurrah! Then it was time for some more teamwork as we joined forces with Daddacool and his three kids to come up with a Dragons’ Den-style idea to pitch to Paladone.
Our idea was for a Star Wars-themed home grooming set. This including a ‘Lightshaver’, a ‘Rey-zor’ and an ‘R2DTooth’. We even had a slogan: ‘The Face Awakens’. Our idea was well received and we were given certificates for the most creative idea. We also got them for the funniest and I think I know why. As soon as our presentation was over and while we were still stood in front of everyone Dylan, who had been quiet during it, jumped to the front and yelled “Allo alla bum bum!” complete with a posterior-tapping gesture. Thanks for that, son!
Embarrassment at the hands of my first born aside, the Dads Play Date was a fantastic day out. We really enjoyed spending time with the other dads, kids and, of course, the Paladone team.
Disclosure: I was compensated for my time on the Dads Play Date, but completely forgot about that during the day; we had a great time!