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How many of you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? I don’t know about you guys, but this annual event is a family tradition. Being a New Yorker, in years past my family have gone down Turkey Day morning to be curbside to see the massive character balloons traveling down Broadway, or down the day before to watch them being blown up anchored around The American Museum of Natural History. These experiences will always remain a part of my childhood, and I stoked to hear that, this year, Activision is getting into the balloon action with the debut of the Eruptor balloon at this year’s parade.

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Here is some official news from the Skylanders Team:

Big news from Skylands! Skylanders, the popular kids video game that brings physical toys to life, is taking flight in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time! Fan-favorite Skylanders character Eruptor will join the prestigious collection of balloons at the parade, marking a significant pop culture milestone for the franchise.

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To re-create Eruptor’s smoldering physique, artists used more than 40 gallons of florescent paint and five barrels of glitter! The live broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will begin at 9 a.m. all time zones on NBC.

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Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

What Disney Infinity should borrow from Skylanders

What Disney Infinity should borrow from SkylandersI have been hearing about how Disney Infinity compares to Skylanders since I first heard about Disney Infinity and while I have done a bit of research into what Skylanders is over the past year, trying to understand it. There is no doubt that Disney Infinity is directly compared to Skylanders, both games feature toys that the gamer places on a portal to use on screen during the game. And many people compare the two games, especially when it comes to how physical changes have been handled between different versions and even more so since Disney Infinity 2.0 was announced.

One of the biggest discussion points over on our Infinity & Beyond Facebook Groups has been about how Disney Infinity 2.0 will handle moving existing content over from 1.0 and direct comparisons to Skylanders are constantly being used as an argument. Primarily because at the moment, that is the closest thing we can compare this situation to. When (or if) Disney Infinity 3.0 comes out, we will have already gone through one change, so we will directly comparing that to how 1.0 to 2.0 was handled, but at the moment, Skylanders is all we have.

disney-infinity-incrediblesOver the past couple of months, I’ve been doing more and more research into Skylanders to try to understand it better, I’ve been looking at the different figures in the stores, how they have branded their figures for compatibility (such as if the figures will work on Giants or Swap Force), how figures have been upgraded with each generation and more. Because all the previous figures work in the latest game, its easy to see how Disney are going to follow suit with 1.0 games working on 2.0, because Disney have confirmed that the figures from 1.0 will still be in production. Skylanders re-released many classic figures including figures that featured in the original starter pack such as Trigger Happy, Gill Grunt and Spyro, so could that mean we will get single figure releases of Mr Incredible, Captain Jack Sparrow or Sulley?

As I learnt more about Skylanders, I came across some cheap Swap Force starter packs and before long I ended up winning an auction on eBay for a second hand PS4 version for under £15 ($25), as I decided that the best way to understand the game a little more, was to dip my toe in and to play the game. And with 2.0 a couple of months away yet, I would do some “research” for our readers and to be honest, I thought it isn’t going to hurt to see what the other company is doing. I did say I had no plans to buy any other figures, but that didn’t last long as I saw some rather cool second hand figures in GAME that were just a couple of pounds. I can see why Skylanders is so addictive.

 

One thing that really stood out is that had both Skylanders and Disney Infinity hadn’t included figures, we probably wouldn’t compare these games as much, but I almost look at the games in the same way as Super Mario vs Sonic the Hedgehog were rivals back in the day. While they are competitors to one another, effectively they are very different and spur each other on to create better games.

Disney Infinity’s Toy Box mode is unlike anything in Skylanders, they can be battle arenas if desired but they have a very different feel to a battle arena in Skylanders. Disney’s Toy Box mode is aiming at Minecraft gamers, which allows Infinity fans to use their imagination to go wild. Something that Skylander’s doesn’t seem to be as interested in.

Without doubt, both games are focused on selling more toys and that’s where the two games go toe to toe, especially on the shop floor, usually the figures are next to one another on the shelves and with more toys coming with Trap Team and 2.0, the competition between the two is going to be under more pressure from Nintendo’s new figures. Disney has an advantage of its characters, but I honestly believe that the stronger the competition is, the better Disney Infinity will get.

Infinity and Skylanders aren’t going anywhere for a while, the competition between the two is good for gamers, but for people’s pockets, it can be tough, especially with the “gotta get them all” mentality. So trying to do the two games at the same time, isn’t going to be easy on the wallet, so getting hold of older series on the secondary market or holding out for discounts is going to be the key if you’re willing to wait.

As I’ve said, comparing Skylanders to Disney Infinity is natural, but there are so many differences, they are very different, going forward many people are trying to pick a side, which is good for the pocket, but remember, you don’t need everything to play these games. Both Disney and Activision would like you to, but its not essential .

What do you guys think?

Check out my VK Diary on Skylanders Swap Force

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Tomorrow we will finally get to see what is brewing with Disney Infinity 2.0 at E3. We obviously have had many hints and tips regarding more figures joining the line up and its going to be pretty interesting to see what else DI has in store for us. However, we can’t really forget that Skylanders will also be showing whats up their sleeve. Disney Infinity was the new kid on the block last year, so it had a little more attention then the seasoned vet who created the industry. This year on the other hand, it feels like both of these guys are coming out swinging!

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Its really a staring contest if you think about it!

It was Activision that created the ‘Interactive Gaming Toy’ genre with Skylanders back in 2011, so in a way you have to give them some credit for paving the way for Infinity. However, this doesn’t mean they are responsible for how awesome Disney Infinity is. Although both games are in the same category, they really aren’t the same type of game. Skylanders is an already prebuilt game where the hero goes up against the bad guy. You are in control of all your heroes and you can choose to play them at anytime. Disney Infinity is a game with prebuilt games that can only be played with their corresponding heroes/villains and they also follow a story to go up against the bad guy. There is also another section of the game that is not prebuilt. Instead its up to you to build and add infinite gaming possibilities, and use any hero/villain you like, figure wise. Even though both these games have their differences, one thing they share is having some pretty cool collectable figures.

I love the lights! Just adds pazzazz!

I love the lights! Just adds pizzazz!

So why do I think these two games are duking it out? It has to do with the “Interactive Gaming Toy” genre that I mentioned earlier. They are the only two games in this category and this means the market share is up for grabs. There is so much opportunity to cash-in, that now they need to step up their game and fight for our precious dollars.  In late April, Disney reported the category growing 79% in just the last two months of 2013. Those are the busiest months of the year. That shows you that even though many people believe they will oversaturate the market releasing more new figures, people are still spending their buck on this stuff and there are no signs of stopping. So what do these guys have to do to win this war? Its time to give us some amazing games and quality new figures.

Super Heroes or Trap Masters???

Super Heroes or Trap Masters???

What will Skylanders be bringing to the table? Heres a brief run down…

FIGURES: They will be introducing new Skylander figures known as Trap Masters. They all will be yielding these crystal colored weapons that not only make them look amazing, but it adds a higher quality look to the figures. I get the feeling that this may make them more expensive, but I hope I’m wrong. There will be a total of 50 new figures (not including variants/lightcore) added to the existing roster of 175 figures. 16 will be Trap Masters, 18 will be all new Skylanders, and I’m assuming 16 will be reposes.

GAME PLAY: You will now have the ability to play as villains in the game. Aside from the 50 new figures you can play, you will also be able to play as 40 villains that you “trap” throughout the game (Thats right! You can finally play as Kaos). There will also be new levels, character powers, and level cap increases to help you spec your figures as you please. Of course this will be a new chapter in the series so expect a brand new story line.

INNOVATION: There will be a brand new portal and trap crystals to add a “Toy-to-Life” aspect to the game. You will now use these clear crystal totems known as Traptanium Crystals to trap the villains in the game. The new base has a slot where you will insert the crystal and this will trap the villain. The portal also has a speaker that simulates the villain actually leaving your TV screen and into your living room. Its a cool little addition to the game. It definitely adds the feeling of trapping the villain in real life, at least for the little guys. Is it just me or do these trap crystals remind you of poke balls?

 

What about Disney Infinity? Heres what their arsenal looks like in brief…

FIGURES: The Marvel Universe has joined the ranks of Disney Infinity. They will be adding many figures from the popular Avengers and Spider Man franchises. Also rumored to be included will be the Guardians of the Galaxy. They will be introducing at least 20 new Marvel figures and an unannounced number of new Disney property figures (Maleficent and Merida already confirmed). Aside from the new figures, they also will be introducing 80 new power discs.

GAME PLAY: Brand new Marvel playsets will be introduced. The announced Avengers playset has been confirmed to be four times larger then the Incredibles playset, which was Disney Infinity’s largest playset in the first game. All figures will have a level cap increase to 20. The toy box has been improved tenfold! The building will be much easier. There will be automatic toy box builders to help the little guys as well as adults create a toy box of their liking. New challenge paintbrushes will make building challenges and games in the toy box easier. You will now be able to customize your own “pad” or hang out if you will, by simply adding a door to an existing object and you can build within the building. You will have new structured play that will allow for more fun within the toy box. Lots of cool new features! I think I missed a bunch!

INNOVATION: There will be new pyramid shaped discs to allow new toy box structured play. These discs will be like mini playsets where you will play with its designated figure in a 4-5 hour adventure. Once you beat the adventure, it unlocks what they call skirmish mode which allows you to use any figure within these structured game discs. Already confirmed are two Marvel toy box discs that contain a dungeon crawler game and a tower defense game. Two other toy box discs confirmed are for two different Disney properties. Although we aren’t clear yet, its been rumored to include a Maleficent and Merida game. New types of power discs will also be included. Two new discs known will be “team up discs” that summon another character to fight with you, and “costume or skin discs” that change the appearance of your figure in-game. Those team up discs totally remind me of summoning the Genie or Mushu in Kingdom Hearts.

So as you can see, both these games are swinging really hard!

Mr. Incredible! He's just smiling at you! Thats all! :p

Mr. Incredible! He’s just smiling at you! Thats all! :p

What about all the PR with both these games? Who’s winning that war? I feel Disney Infinity is taking the lead on this mater, although Skylanders is closing the gap with recent announcements. Skylanders had their press conference to announce Trap Team back in April 23rd in New York. They released the game trailer, release date, new base and trap crystals, and a few new figure reveals. Disney Infinity had their press conference to announce Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes a week after on April 30th in Hollywood. They released the game trailer, six new figures, a playset, tons of details regarding their new playset and toy box features, and a few power discs. After these events, Skylanders went silent, while Disney had more reveals thru an event in San Francisco. Two new figures were revealed with Maleficent and Merida joining the six Avengers. As far as information about new content and collectables, Disney has given us more. Skylanders has been recently revealing a few new Trap Master figures via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They even made a new figure available for pre order that isn’t supposed to be available at launch, but with the preorder you will get it that day! So Skylanders is putting up a fight.

E3 will definitely be a war zone! They both are going to fight for some attention at this event. Skylanders recently threw a big punch showing their new exclusive giveaway at the event. A special Traptanium crystal containing a rare different colored villain that will only be available at E3. More details about the game will be revealed tomorrow. Disney just recently announced that there would be 40 new Disney themed power discs and shared what a few look like! No word on their exclusive giveaway yet! Also PS4 owners will have a DI 2.0 collectors edition exclusive, that will include Hulk as a timed exclusive. More answers to come tomorrow!

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Not to mention these guys have both their booths right up against each other! If theres any indication that there is a war zone, we shall see tomorrow at the expo!

Straight up clash of clans right here!

Straight up clash of clans right there!

So what will it look like tomorrow? Who will win this war? I think if they both continue to give us great games and quality figures, they both will! They continue to make kids happy and lots of fans are enjoying the new content and collectables. These two new games are going to really swing for the fence! But they are swinging with the most important intention in mind…their fans! I still think it will be a massive war tomorrow, but they both will be fighting for all of us!

WAR! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! :p

WAR! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! :p

 

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Earlier this week, I reviewed the Halo Gausshog for our friends over at Mega Bloks. Today i share with you another awesome product being released by them this season: the Arkeyan Robot King from the Skylanders Giants line, based off the popular line of Skylanders video games. What’s neat about this is the Skylander that is included in this build: one of my personal favorites… Popfizz!

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At almost 300 pieces, this is a bigger build than the Gausshog, but also less complicated and intricate. There were a lot less little pieces to have to deal with, which would support this set being rated for Ages 5+. Along with the parts for the Robot King and Popfizz, you also get a treasure chest filled with jewels (and cheese), and a couple of Chompys.

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The build itself was not hard, but the color coded instruction booklet was still welcomed, especially since there were a LOT of red and gold pieces.

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The Robot King is pretty massive once built. However, he is top heavy (you can obviously see why), so he has to be placed in a certain stance so he doesn’t fall over. His right hand actually launches, which is pretty fun.

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Aside for the robot, Popfizz can change from his regular version to his “Beast” version, just like in the game.

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All in all, this was a really fun build to take on, and I look forward to adding this to my Skylanders toys from the games.

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Special thanks to the gang over at Mega Brands, especially Tanya, for giving me the chance to check out these two awesome new builds coming out of Mega Bloks. With both set, the attention to detail is top notch, and I am excited to see what’s coming up down the road from them.

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Continuing our coverage of Toy Fair, I figured why not continue our foray into the “building block” companies with my visit to Mega Bloks. Last year they were very supportive with me being a “noob” and giving me an appointment when I had none. This year, I planned ahead and made sure I got to see their showroom. Sadly, they are now void of anything Disney/ Marvel in their building block lines, with Spider-Man making its’ trek over to LEGO. Still, I had a great visit with my rep Tanya, and I was able to bring Matty (gh0st) with me. We were both impressed with their stuff, especially with the fact that their pricing is considerably more reasonable than LEGO.

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To say I was both surprised and excited by this line is an understatement. This would have been the set I would have geeked out with as a kid. In addition to playsets, there will be a mystery mini-fig set, with a rare golden dress Smurfette.

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Hot Wheels

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Included in their 2013 lineup are 3-in-1 vehicle build kits, racing mini-figs, and play sets.

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Skylanders Giants

I honestly am amazed by the individual character sculpts with both the Skylanders brand and the World of Warcraft brand. They really are great.

With Skylanders, more characters are being released this year, as well as some big sets, including Flynn’s Flying Ship, which comes with the exclusive Giant Hot Head, and the Arkean Robot. There will also be Skylanders Role Play released, including Trigger Happy’s Golden Guns, Ignitor’s Sword, Jet-Vac’s Gun, and Tree Rex’s Wrist Launchers. I need me a set of those Golden Guns.

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World of Warcraft

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Based off the new Mists of Pandaria expansion, the highest price point for the entire 2013 line does not go over $45. And with these sculpts and dragons, I think that’s a really great deal.

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Power Rangers Megaforce

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Released in conjunction with the new Power Rangers series, the 2013 line includes new Zords, vehicles, and Blind Bag series. It found it interesting that, among all of the Megaforce stuff was an original Red Ranger. Coincidence? We shall find out. I would love to see the Gen.1 characters being mixed in for fun’s sake.

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HALO

Rounding out my visit to Mega Bloks, got to see some nice vehicles and sculpts from the HALO brand. I am not a fan myself, but I hope a few of you enjoy the pictures.

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One thing for 2013 that Tanya wanted to point out for 2013 is that there will a collect a build type set, where three smaller sets, which can be built on their own, can combine to form a bigger, beefier build.

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That concludes the Mega Bloks visit. Special thanks to Tanya for taking time out of her busy schedule to show Matty and I around.

Keep staying tuned to Vinylmation Kingdom, Jedi Kingdom, and Pop Vinyls for Toy Fair Recaps, Special Announcements, and other cool things from this weeks proceedings. There is already some Star Wars stuff up over on JK, and PV has stories on Funko and Kidrobot. More to come!