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My Child Asked for “Skylanders” for Christmas… Help!

Date: November 27, 2013 Author: stagesacademy Categories: Elementary School, Play

Ok, while most of the preschool parents at our school won’t be dealing with this, I’m a parent of two elementary school aged boys and I can tell you that pretty much any parent of boys over the age of 5 either has heard of Skylanders or is going to.  In 3….2…..1…..

As I can tell you from the extremely funny trip that I took to Toys R Us (On my lunch break, of course…. I never enter that store with kids in tow…I’m not that brave.) yesterday, parents and grandparents all over town are being told by their little ones that they want “Skylanders” without any discussion of what it is, how it works and what the heck you’re supposed to buy.  I was able to direct the 3 sets of parents/grandparents that I ran into yesterday, but I fear for the rest of the Skylander buying adult population out there that I won’t be in the store at the right time.

And so, in the interest of public service to the lost parents out there, I decided to put together a little Sklyanders primer, if you will.

The best place to start, I suppose, is at the beginning…

Skylanders, at its essence, is a video game.  And the best marketing ploy ever known to man… but that’s beside the point.  There’s a different version for each gaming system.  So, one works on Wii; one works on Xbox; one works on Nintendo; and so on.  Make sure that you know which system you’re buying for and that you’re buying the right one for your system.  There are three essential components to a Skylanders game.

  1. The Portal of Power (helps if you say it in a big booming Wizard of Oz voice)
  2. The video game CD
  3. Skylanders figures (ok, since there are about a zillion of these, that’s kind of a cheat, but you’ll see about that in a minute).  Each figure comes with a card (which tells you how powerful they are) and an online code card.

You can buy this essential set to get started at any Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, Game Stop or any other location that you can usually buy video games in.  It’s called a Starter Pack.

And here’s the part where it starts to get complicated.  There are three different Skylanders games.  The original game is called Spyro’s Adventure, the second one is called Skylanders Giants and the brand spanking new one is called Skylanders Swap Force.  Each game has a full set of characters that jump into the game when they stand on the (say it with me) Portal of Power.

Here’s the thing.  While the older games are still available and you can play them, you can’t use characters from a new game on the old system.  So, if you buy Skylanders

Hoot Loop - Note the wheel in the top left of the package

Hoot Loop – Note the wheel in the top left of the package

Giants, you can’t use Swap Force characters on the Portal.  If you own Spyro’s Adventure, Skylanders Giants won’t work.  Make sense?

If you own one of the later games, however, the characters from the other games work just fine.  So, Spyro’s characters can be played on a Giants or Swap Force portal without any problem.  If you find a ton of the Spyro’s or Giants characters at a flea market or yard sale, your kid will be able to use them if you own a Swap Force game.  And will probably bow at your feet.

Ok, so another thing about the characters is that they contain their own memory.  This means that your child can take them to another friend’s house and play on their Portal without losing any of the “upgrades” that they’ve already gained.  Pretty cool, right?

You might be thinking, “But you just said that I could buy a bunch of figures from a yard sale.  Won’t they be used up already?”  The answer is no.  I have it on good authority (namely, my 8 year old Skylanders expert) that you can reset the characters to their factory defaults.

I was asked by one of the parents that I met at Toys R Us why she should buy Swap Force since it was the most expensive.  Basically she wanted to know if it’s any different.

The answer is yes.  If you’re starting from scratch, I highly recommend just biting the bullet and buying Swap Force.

Why?

Well, other than being able to use all of the characters, the new game is better (also according to my 8 year old) and the new figures are cooler.  The way it is being advertised is that the tops and bottoms of the figures can be separated and “swapped” with other figures allowing them to combine powers.  There are about 55 characters that have been released or have been announced to be released with the Swap Force game.

The thing that you have to know (as a parent) is that there are only 16 figures that swap and not all of them have been released yet.  (I have been assured that the other figures are still “cool” but they’re not SWAP-able.)

Ok, well there are more than 16 if you count the variants.  A variant looks slightly different than the originals and are released in addition to the originals (you’ll see what I mean in a minute).  I am told that some are more powerful than the originals (and some are just pretty).  They are generally store exclusives.  Personally, I buy any store exclusives that I see because they tend to sell out more quickly than the others.

For your reference, I’m going to give you a list of the characters that actually swap.  But what if you’re in the store and you don’t have my handy dandy list with you?  How do you know which ones swap?  Don’t fret my friend.  It’s easy.  All the SWAP-able ones have a little wheel in the corner of the packaging that allows you to “see” how they swap (see photo above).  No wheel?  Not a SWAP-able one.  Capiche?

The list of “SWAP-able” characters are:

1.  Blast Zone – Comes in most starter packs except 3DS and Dark Starter Pack (see below)

  • Dark Blast Zone – Currently only available in the Dark Starter Pack from Game Stop

2. Wash Buckler – Comes in most starter packs except 3DS and Dark Starter Pack

  • Dark Wash Buckler – Currently only available in the Dark Starter Pack from Game Stop
  • Gold Wash Buckler – Currently only available in Wii U Starter Pack from Toys R Us

3.  Boom Jet – Available only at Toys R Us

4.  Grilla Drilla –  Available at Toys R Us Only. (Grilla Drilla opens up a new Swap-only traversal zone. One traversal type, stealth, is still unavailable. Trap Shadow and Stink Bomb are required for Stealth areas and they haven’t been released yet.)

5.  Fire Kraken – Available only at Toys R Us

  • Gold Fire Kraken – Released as an employee exclusive – Not available in stores

6.  Hoot Loop – Available

  • Enchanted Hoot Loop – Available only at Walmart

7.  Free Ranger – Comes in 3DS starter pack and Available in single and multi packs

  • Legendary Free Ranger – Available only at Toys R Us

8.  Magna Charge – Available

  • Nitro Magna Charge – Target (in a two-pack with either Rattle Shake or Free Ranger)

9.  Rattle Shake – Comes in 3DS starter pack and Available in single and multi packs

  • Glow in the Dark Rattle Shake – Promotional only from Frito Lay

10. Night Shift – Available only at Toys R Us

  • Legendary Night Shift – Available only at Toys R Us

11. Rubble Rouser – Not yet released

12. Trap Shadow – Not yet released

13. Stink Bomb – Not yet released

14. Spy Rise – Not yet released

15. Doom Stone – Not yet released

16. Freeze Blade – Not yet released

And, because I love to help out…. Here are the Black Friday deals.

WalmartStarting 6PM November 28th

  • SWAP Force Starter Pack – $38.96

TargetStarting 8PM November 28th

  • All Skylanders Characters and Accessories – Buy 2, Get 1 Free

Best Buy – Starting at 6PM November 28th

  • SWAP Force Starter Pack – $49.99 each
  • SWAP Force Single Character Packs – Buy 2, Get 1 Free

Toys R UsFrom 5PM – 9PM November 28th

  • SWAP Force Starter Pack – $37.49
  • SWAP Force Single Character Packs – Buy 1, Get 1 70% Off

From 5PM November 28th – November 30th

  • All Skylanders Giants and Spyro’s Adventure Figures – Buy 1, Get 1 Free
  • Wii U SWAP Force Starter Pack Bundle (with Gold Wash Buckler) – $259.99

From 5AM November 29th – November 30th

  • SWAP Force Starter Pack – $49.99

K-martFrom November 28th – November 30th

  • SWAP Force Starter Pack – $49.99
  • SWAP Force Triple/Adventure/Battle Packs – $19.99
  • SWAP Force Single Character Packs – Buy 2, Get 1 Free

GameStopOnly on November 29th

  • SWAP Force Starter Pack – $49.99

From November 29th – December 1st

  • Wii Dark Edition SWAP Force Starter Pack – $79.99
  • Wii U SWAP Force Starter Pack Bundle (Plus $25 GameStop Gift Card) – $299.99

Sam’s ClubStarting 7AM November 29th

  • SWAP Force Starter Pack – $37.98

Go forth and shop for Skylanders with confidence my friends.  I’ll be with you in spirit (and probably in person since my kids are looking for Skylanders too….).

I hope this helped.  Happy Holidays!

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