A parent's guide to Skylanders

Activision's Skylanders is where the now very popular "toys to life" game genre was born, and it continues to be one of the publisher's top franchises.

It's naturally aimed at the younger generation, and that means it's also aimed at the parents of the younger generation who will be footing the bill!

If you're treating your kids this year here's how to make sure you're getting the right package and spending wisely.

Starter packs


The 2016 release is "Skylanders Imaginators" and the easiest way to get in on the action is to pick up one of the new starter packs. Within this you'll find everything you need to get your kids up and running with Skylanders. It contains:

  • Game disc
  • USB portal
  • Two Skylanders figures
  • Creation Crystal

Standard price for this year's starter pack is around $60 but around the holidays you'll often find deals at many retailers — shopping around is an excellent idea. Imaginators is available on Xbox One and Xbox 360 as well as PS4, PS3 and Wii U.

If the latest games aren't a priority there will be some great deals to be found on last year's title, Superchargers. As retailers need to clear out the old stock, anywhere with any left will be trying to offload them at a much reduced price.

See at Amazon

The Portal Owners Pack


If your kids are already old hands at Skylanders, you'll already have a bunch of figures and at least one portal. Instead of buying the starter pack, you could pick up the Portal Owners Pack, which is basically just a copy of the game. You also get one of the crystals that are new to Imaginators.

The benefit here is that it's cheaper, and since characters from older games can be used in newer Skylanders titles, just plug in an older portal and one of these characters and you'll be able to jump in and play.

The drawback here is that you don't get any of the new figures that come with Imaginators. And buying new ones separately as well as this pack might not be any cheaper that getting a starter pack.

See at Amazon

The figures


While older figures are compatible with the latest Skylanders game, Imaginators ones can't be used in older games. And as is tradition with Activision and its yearly update there are a whole heap of new figures to be had.

Most of them are available in single packs and will run around $15 each, depending on the retailer and how much of a deal they're prepared to offer. But unless you're feeling extra generous, you don't really need to go crazy.

Unless you and your kids are collecting the figures you really don't need many to play the game. You will need more than the couple the starter pack comes with though. When the characters die in the game, there's a cooling off period before you can use them again. If all your characters die you have to start over.

So it's probably worth investing in at least a couple to quell those moments of impatient child rage!

One final note should be to consider any platform exclusive figures. In Superchargers, Bowzer and Donkey Kong were only available to play on Nintendo, while with Imaginators Sony has an exclusive Crash Bandicoot that won't be available elsewhere.

Crystals and adventure packs


Besides the main game and the character figures, Imaginators also offers adventure packs and additional crystals. The Creation Crystals are what add the unique features to Imaginators and let players create their own characters. They're similarly priced to the other figurines, but can also be had in three packs.

The adventure packs are essentially like DLC except you get more figures to go with it. These will open up new side games to play within the main title, expanding the Skylanders universe a little more.

The bottom line


Hopefully this will help you guide your way through the parental nightmare of getting the right Skylanders this holiday time. Most importantly, as a parent, set yourself a budget. Activision would love you to spend all your money on buying everything with the logo on, and Skylanders isn't the cheapest game around by any stretch.

But there's a lot of fun to be had for the young and not so young, just make sure you're making the smart purchase.

More: Skylanders Imaginators full review

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine