Skylanders Giants Review

Confession time.  I'm 37 years old and I love toys.  Now when I say I love toys you may be thinking that as I grew, my toys grew.  Maybe I'm into motor bikes, boats, or ATV's, you know, big boy toys.  Nope, I like action figures and little plastic swords.  I like pretend monsters and muscle bound heroes personified in molded plastic that I can play with in the bath tub.  Since my introduction to what my brothers affectionately called "dollies" in 1982, I've been hooked. 

Strictly speaking, I'm a MOTU guy, through and through.  That's Masters of the Universe to those of you that have actually seen a naked woman in person.  That's He-Man to those of you that have seen a naked woman other than your mother.  Back in the eighties, 7 year olds ran in clusters, and those groups were defined by your toy of choice...which also was often an indicator of your social class.  Let me explain.  There were the GI Joe guys who continually bragged about their "9 points of articulation".  Give me a break.  Your two inch Destro is less than impressive even if you can create a convincing "Reverse Cowboy" with him and Snake Eyes.  Then there were the Transformer guys.  Richie Rich as liked to call them.  $20+ dollars for a toy in the early eighties was unheard of in my white trash neighborhood.  You may see a Go-Bot or two on my street, but never a full-on Optimus Prime.  Finally there were the typical mullet-clad, ninja/medieval/monster lovers like myself whose inevitable choice was He-Man.  OK, to be honest, even the $7 He-Man figures were a little above my pay grade so indeed I supplemented with the less well known "Blackstar" figures that ran in the $3 range.  My friends would come over and see these straight arm, plastic, knock-offs and I would try to bluff them that they were part of the new series of He-Man that they just haven't seen yet, but they never believed me.  Galoob must have had an eighth grade relative sculpting their figures because they were embarrassing even for the early eighties, even to a 7 year old.  A 2nd Mattel they were not, but I digress.

The point was, I would pretend to have fantastic battles with these monsters and heroes.  I would cut up and decorate cardboard boxes to mimic the costly castles to invent a world for these toys to exist.  How great would it have been to have Beast Man fight Fisto in a battle royale and actually watch it if not control the fight.  Imagine my delight to see Clawful take on Stratos on the very drawbridge of Greyskull.  Imagine controlling He-Man in battle as he faced the horrific Crimson Scourge.  It didn't happen for me, but the kids today have exactly that.

 Skylanders removed a little articulation from the plastic and replaced it with a live arena for your figures to exist, the video game.  For those that don't know, Skylanders is a video game that works on all major platforms.  What makes it unique is the fact that it has a portal or round platform where you place your action figures.  When the figure is on the portal, the animated version of your toy shows up in the game and you play levels, battle other figures, or complete puzzles with your action figure.  It is genius on several levels.  First, you still have the collecting aspect where you are always looking for another figure.  When I say looking, trust me, I have looked all over town for some of these things.   Next, you have the live interaction of the characters with sounds, movement, and a graphical world.  Unlike sex with my wife, it doesn't just have to happen in my head anymore.  Finally, you have the long term ability to upgrade your strength and weapons and watch your characters grow.  In 1983, other than swapping arms, clothes, and armor with the other figures to make a super He-claw-fist-neck-ator, you were pretty limited on upgrades.

As for marketing, these guys are also geniuses.  First you drop $60 for the video game and then you spend $10 - $15 per character just to access portions of the video game you already purchased.  Skylanders Giants has 48 figures.  You do the math.  Somebody is getting paid off of this bad boy.  My son is a collector at heart like I am, and I still enjoy the hunt for the rare action figures....which may technically mean I'm gay.  I'm considering counseling to discuss that, but in the short term, I'll sleep better at night by chocking it up to trying to be a good dad.  Every member of our family plays the game and is actively trying to upgrade our individual characters, so at least we are doing something as a family.  The game is pretty entertaining for all ages, so although with the 35 or so figures we are invested in this franchise, we are still getting our money's worth.  Wow, 35 figures, that is a lot of cash.  Yup, I'm out of control, so I guess they did their job.  I give Skylanders Giants 5 stars for everything but cost.  I have to remove one star due to the 2nd mortgage that is at least partially their fault.  That being said, if they could make a He-Man version that works with my vintage figures, I would pay twice as much.  I might even take a couple out of their mint packages for that.


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