Pixelkin’s 2015 Toys-to-Life Guide
Click on the tabs below to read about Skylanders SuperChargers, Disney Infinity 3.0, and LEGO Dimensions.
Skylanders SuperChargers is an adventure game that asks you, the Portal Master, to save all of Skylands. SuperChargers is different from previous Skylanders titles because it adds a racing component. Racing Mode is almost a full game on its own—when you buy into it. There are four race tracks for each terrain: sky, land, and sea.
The tracks are creative and incredibly fun. You’ll also need to buy extra vehicles to get the full racing experience. Because you need a vehicle that corresponds with the terrain type, at minimum you’ll need to spend $14.99 each on a Sky vehicle and a Sea vehicle. As I mentioned in my review, you won’t do that if you want to be economical about the races. You’ll buy the Racing Packs at $35.99 each, because that will unlock all the tracks and game modes. The Skylanders figures themselves cost $12.99 this time around.
It’s also important to take into account that SuperChargers is essentially two games, and that’s why the price tag is so high. The Adventure Mode, which can be played with one or two players, is a full experience. The Racing Mode, when fully unlocked, is extensive enough to qualify as its own game.
If you want it all, buying all 20 Skylanders plus 20 vehicles, plus the Starter Pack will come out to $593.62 MSRP, according to Skylanders Character List. This takes into account that you get two figures and one vehicle in the Starter Pack, but it doesn’t take into account the Racing Packs. I believe it also doesn’t take into account color variants like the Dark Edition (covered here) or the hybrid amiibo/Skylanders (covered here).
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, iOS (including Apple TV), or Xbox 360. If you’re buying for the original Wii or the Nintendo 3DS, scroll down to the “other variants” section for Skylanders SuperChargers.
Where to Start
The Starter Pack for Skylanders SuperChargers costs $74.99, and you can buy it from any online retailer. You need the Starter Pack because it has the game disc, as well as the special large Portal of Power that can fit two vehicles on it.
- Portal of Power
- Game Disc
- Spitfire (figurine)
- Stealth Elf (figurine)
- Hot Streak (vehicle)
The Cheap Alternative
If you’ve bought a Skylanders game before, the digital Portal Owner’s Pack is $49.99. You’ll get a digital download of the game, and you can play it with “Instant” versions of the figures on your console. If you end up buying more figures, you can use them on old versions of the Portal of Power, such as the own from Skylanders: Trap Team or SWAP Force.
The Dark Edition of Skylanders SuperChargers is a special edition that has dark-colored variants of the figurines. It also includes another vehicle, the Sea Shadow. Because of the special color and extra toys, it costs $99.99.
If you have the original Wii (not the Wii U) or the Nintendo 3DS, I have good and bad news. You can’t play the full version of Skylanders SuperChargers on these consoles—there’s no Adventure Mode. But, there is a separate version called Skylanders SuperChargers Racing specifically for Wii and Nintendo 3DS. The 3DS version costs $64.99, while the Wii version costs the regular $74.99.
Like all versions of Skylanders for Nintendo consoles (Wii U, Wii, 3DS), these Starter Packs come with a Bowser or Donkey Kong hybrid amiibo/Skylander in place of the dragon Spitfire. Similarly, the Hot Streak vehicle will be replaced by a vehicle specific to whichever amiibo/Skylander comes with that Starter Pack. Bowser (Wii, Nintendo 3DS) has his Clown Cruiser, while Donkey Kong (Wii U) has his Barrel Blaster.
The Sea Racing Packs can be bought at Amazon, Best Buy, or pretty much any retailer. The Sky Racing Packs are exclusive to Toys”R”Us, though I’ve caught Activision selling them marked up on Amazon as well.
Skylanders SuperChargers is an adventure game that is fun to play alone and fun to play with friends and family, too. You can go through the whole Adventure Mode with two players sharing a screen, and even the driving sequences require full cooperation from both players. In Racing Mode, two players can challenge each other split-screen, just like Mario Kart. The races are a lot of fun, and very challenging, with lots of power ups and secret passages. If you want more opponents, online play will pit you against up to four opponents, and you can voice chat with friends.
SuperChargers is a game, by the book. There are things to collect, battles to win, and bad guys to fight. At this point in the series, Skylanders has a formula perfected. It might not be the most creative or inspiring game you’ve ever seen, but it has no rough edges. This is a game that knows what it set out to do, and it accomplishes it effortlessly.
Disney Infinity 3.0
Disney Infinity 3.0 is both an adventure game and a creative sandbox that lets players do whatever they want. In the Toy Box mode, you can build racetracks, palaces, decorate houses, and plant and harvest crops—the list goes on. It’s expansive, and it can be overwhelming in its open-endedness. Disney Infinity 3.0 has added a lot to the Toy Box mode, making it easier to navigate but also giving you much more to do than ever before.
If it’s story you’re looking for, Disney Infinity 3.0 starts you off with the Twilight of the Republic Play Set, which follows Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano through an adventure. The fighting in Disney Infinity has improved hugely over previous games. It feels fluid, and using the Jedi’s Force powers is a lot of fun.
Like Skylanders SuperChargers, Disney Infinity 3.0 gives you more than one game. The Toy Box is a massive Sims-meets-Minecraft experience, and it gives you access to game modes that other users have made. Theoretically, you could keep playing these Toy Box levels into eternity. The Play Set (the guided story) is its own game. It can be played with two players in split-screen mode, as can the Toy Box.
With Disney Infinity “Play Set” always refers to a campaign mode. It can only be played with characters from the universe in which the Play Set takes place. I’ll talk more about which Play Sets are out there in the “Extras” section. Buying a Play Set usually also unlocks items from that Play Set that you can use in the Toy Box.
Each Disney Infinity pack that you buy might be structured around a Play Set, but the Toy Box is Disney Infinity’s bread and butter. It’s meant to be what keeps players engaged and coming back to Disney Infinity over and over. It also serves as an introduction to coding concepts in a way that is pretty cool. Players can assign conditions and actions to objects that they place in their Toy Box. Essentially, this means that you can use the Toy Box to build your own games.
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360, Android, Microsoft Windows, or iOS.
Where To Start
Disney Infinity 3.0’s Starter Pack costs $64.99, and you can find it at any online retailer. The Starter Pack contains the game disc, which is necessary to install the game on your console.
- Infinity Base
- Game Disc
- Anakin Skywalker
- Ahsoka Tano
- Twilight of the Republic Play Set
- Card with web codes
The Cheap Alternative
You can buy just the Toy Box version of Disney Infinity 3.0 for $19.99 as a digital download. You’ll still need an Infinity Base and toys for this. If you have one from older Disney Infinity games it will work. And hey, you can probably pick one up on EBay too. On every system except Xbox One, you will be able to buy Play Sets for Disney Infinity 3.0 and use them on the older Infinity Base.
The Play Sets outside of the Starter Pack cost $34.99. That adds up to slightly less than the $64.99 Starter Pack. If you decide Toy Box mode is all you need, you can play with figures from previous Disney Infinity games, or pick up a sold-separately figure for $14.99.
You can also get the Toy Box on iOS…. for free. This obviously isn’t quite the same experience as the console version of the game, but any Toy Boxes you create in iOS can be accessed from the console version of Disney Infinity 3.0 when you’re logged into your Disney Account. Characters are also cross-platform compatible, so this is basically just a nice extra.
The Star Wars Saga Starter Pack is the “massive overkill” edition of Disney Infinity 3.0. Aside from the standard Starter Pack, it bundles in the Rise Against the Empire Play Set (with Luke and Leia figurines) and a Boba Fett figurine as well.
Disney Infinity has a lot of available Play Sets, plus extra figures. Remember, a Play Set is a story campaign set in a specific universe. Play Sets are sold in packages with two figurines, and other related figurines are sold separately.
For Star Wars, you have Rise Against the Empire, which focuses on the original trilogy of films. That Play Set comes with Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Other original trilogy characters include Darth Vader and Han Solo. The prequels have the Twilight of the Republic Play Set, which comes with the Starter Pack. You can buy extra characters from the prequels, like Zeb Orrelios, Darth Maul, and young Obi-Wan Kenobi.
On December 18, The Force Awakens Play Set will be released. This comes with an all-new campaign based on the new Star Wars sequel film, as well as figures for Rey and Finn. Additional figures like Kylo Ren will also come out on that date.
Outside of Star Wars, there is a Play Set for the Disney Pixar film “Inside Out.” This comes with Joy and Anger, with more figures based on the feelings sold separately.
Disney has more Play Sets planned, most notably the Marvel Battlegrounds Play Set, but that doesn’t come out until 2016. They’re releasing new figurines for the characters that were featured in Disney Infinity 2.0, aka Disney Infinity Marvel Superheroes. You can buy some of the figures, like the Hulkbuster version of Iron Man, starting in November.
There are also expansion packs for the Toy Box, which cost $19.99 each. These are fully fledged games that you play in the Toy Box. Toy Box Takeover is a fighting game, and Toy Box Speedway is a racing game. You can read more about those here.
Why Disney Infinity?
Disney Infinity gives players free rein to create whatever the heck they want in the Toy Box. You can also customize objects and interactions, and essentially make your own games within Disney Infinity’s Toy Box. This is a level of freedom that is really only equaled by Minecraft.
The Play Sets for Disney Infinity are standard adventure fare, but with Marvel Battlegrounds and the Inside Out Play Set, Disney is mixing up the third-person adventure formula a bit. This is a welcome change, as are most of the changes that were introduced in Disney Infinity 3.0. The Play Sets are vastly improved when they’re played co-op split-screen with a second player.
If you’re looking for a game for an imaginative person who wants to build and doesn’t necessarily need guidelines about what they should be making, Disney Infinity is a great choice. I think the fact that it introduces kids to coding concepts is really important, even though I’ve been honest about my own problems with the Toy Box’s open-ended play.
LEGO Dimensions is a franchise-hopping adventure game that mashes up a ton of Warner Bros. properties into one big LEGO game. You’ll see Ghostbusters, Doctor Who, DC Comics heroes, and characters from The LEGO Movie all bantering together. The mix of familiar characters makes it appealing to parents and kids, though there’s a chance some of the jokes will go over their heads.
The thing that really sets LEGO Dimensions apart is its reliance on the actual toys part of toys to life. You can play with the figurines for Disney Infinity and Skylanders. They’re well-made, and the new Skylanders vehicles even have moving parts. But LEGO Dimensions actually asks you to step away from the screen and build LEGOs.
The biggest thing you’ll build with LEGO Dimensions is the reactor that goes on the Toy Pad. This gets customized as you play through the game, with little parts called “keystones.” You also build and customize vehicles. And during gameplay, you’ll need to move characters around on the Toy Pad.
If you’ve played a LEGO game before, you’ll find the gameplay of LEGO Dimensions satisfyingly similar. It consists of smashing items into smaller LEGO bricks and solving puzzles that help you get through each section of the game.
Each of the characters in LEGO Dimensions is seriously made out of LEGOs. You can take them apart, customize them…do whatever you want. The most important part is the NFC base that they stick onto. This contains that chip that communicates with the Toy Pad and lets it know what character you’re playing. Unlike Disney Infinity and Skylanders, LEGO Dimensions lets you take this base off your LEGO Dimensions figure. Just be sure not to lose it.
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Xbox 360.
Where to Start
The LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack costs $99.99, and like the other games it can be found at any online retailer. It has all the tiny LEGO pieces you’ll need to build your vehicles, characters, and the portal. And it has the all-important game disc.
- Toy Pad
- Game Disc
- Gandalf figure
- Wyldstyle figure
- Batman figure
- Many, many tiny LEGO pieces
The Cheap Alternative
There isn’t one. LEGO Dimensions is the first LEGO toys-to-life game, and it doesn’t have an established history like Disney Infinity or Skylanders. LEGO has promised that the toys will be compatible with any future Dimensions games they release.
Another way to look at it is to consider LEGO Dimensions the cheap alternative to buying separate LEGO games for all your favorite movies.
There are no special editions of LEGO Dimensions this time around.
But boy howdy, are there extras. Add-ons for LEGO Dimensions come in three flavors: Level Packs, Team Packs, and Fun Packs.
Level packs are essentially gameplay expansion packs. They cost $29.99 and correspond to one of the game’s existing “worlds.” There are level packs for Portal, for “Back to the Future,” for “Doctor Who”…you name it. The Level Packs also include a character figure and two objects. These could be a vehicle (like the Delorean from “Back to the Future”) or props (like K-9 from “Doctor Who”).
The Team Packs cost $24.99 and give you more characters and objects to play with. Each includes two characters and two vehicles/objects. There’s a Scooby Doo one that has Scooby, Shaggy, the Mystery Machine, and… a giant Scooby Snack sandwich.
The Fun Packs are $14.99 and include two figures—one character, and one object/vehicle.
Remember that all of these characters and toys are actually made of LEGOs. You assemble them like LEGOs, and they can be used with any LEGO bricks that you already own. The thing that makes them special is the little NFC base that you stick onto their LEGO feet. This tells the Toy Pad which character should appear in the game.
Why LEGO Dimensions?
LEGO Dimensions is more than a video game. You construct and play with the toys outside of the actual LEGO Dimensions gameplay. And if you’ve played a LEGO game before and enjoyed it, you know you’re likely going to enjoy LEGO Dimensions as well.
It’s also the only Ghostbusters/Doctor Who crossover that will ever exist. If you’re a huge nerd, LEGO Dimensions will have characters you love.
And if you love and collect LEGOs, getting this game is a no-brainer. You get LEGO toys (which are not cheap, let’s be real) plus a video game to play. With LEGO Dimensions, you’re getting in on the ground floor of a franchise created by a company that has a history of putting out fun, solid games based on popular movies and TV shows.