Ever since Skylanders was shown off at E3 this year, I knew it was gonna' be special. I mean, combining toys with video games has been tried before, but Freaky Creatures didn't have the benefit of being developed by Activision for major consoles (or being good figures).
I tried to resist the urge, but as soon as I laid eyes on Stealth Elf, I knew she was getting bought waaay before I could ever afford the game she's an add-on to. I mean, color her purple and she's a super-deformed Night elf that dual wields fangs. Not knives, fangs. Think about that.
Seeing how well other "Smart Toys" had come out ( Why Freaky Creatures? Why do you look so terrible and cost so much?), I was pretty damn wary about the quality of these figures. I am so sorry for ever doubting. I expected Activision to partner up with Bandai or Mattel, but they tapped Toys For Bob, who oddly enough have never made toys before. Man am I glad they did 'cuz they knocked it out of the park.
The paintwork and sculpting is nice. She reminds me of an up-sized tabletop gaming miniature, and I mean that in the best way possible. Eight bucks may seem steep for a paper-weight, but the paint alone is worth it, I mean look at the highlights in her hair! And speaking of paint, she glows in the dark! Apparently one of her special abilities in the game is to turn invisible except for her glowing eyes, and the toys mimics that perfectly. Hold her up to a light for just a second, and her eyes will blaze at you from the darkness. She's like a glowstick!
After I discovered that little gimmick her value just doubled. TFB really understands that a collectable figure game has to have figures worth collecting. Bravo sirs. And the packaging! It's like a tiny shrine to the character inside, with massive splash art and a wraparound bubble that practically puts the figure inside on a pedestal. I haven't seen packaging this good from the big guys in years. Tapping an out of the loop company was probably the best decision possible. "Cost effectiveness? To hell with that, Glow in the dark paint and Mini-shrines!"
And even if you don't own the main Skylanders game, you can still tap into the E-frontier action figure 2.0 FUTUUUUUURE! On the Skylanders homepage there is a simple MMO game that you can use a code included with the figure to play. And the code is specific to your figure, so all of your stats and progress are for the figure that's in your hand. That's pretty nifty. There are lots of mini-games to play using your Skylander like...Angry Birds. Yep. Loooooots of Angry Birds.
The Skylanders console release is getting good reviews, and there are 36 characters to choose from so you're bound to find one that floats your boat. If you happen across one of these little buggers that just tickles your fancy, go for it. The price isn't bad and the figures are definitely up to snuff. Just consider it an investment in your future, because you know once you buy one you're damn well going to get the game. I'm probably going to end up with at least two more, these figures are just that well made.
Protip: Look for these in Electronics rather than toys. And don't even bother asking for help, unless you want the inside of a Wal-mart employees head all over your new shirt.
Special thanks to the cashier at the Game Stop in Russelville, AR for exploding with enthusiasm as soon as I sat Miss Elf on the counter. Now I know exactly which talent tree to take months in advance, AND which stores have exclusives. Seriously, pay this guy as much as possible, he deserves it. Best wishes to you and Brighteyes.