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Skylanders Giants preview – On the toy shoulders of giants

Poised to become this generation’s Pokemon, Skylanders have set the collectibles world ablaze like Spyro’s flame breath. They’re the closest thing we have to living toys – plop the adorable plastic critters onto the circular Portal of Power peripheral, and the figure turns into a playable character onscreen. Skylanders Giants isn’t reinventing this awesome formula – but it is enhancing it with what fans have been craving: new figures, and bigger ones at that.

Skylanders Giants will introduce the giant character type, though they won’t be alone. Series 2 marks the arrival of 24 fresh figures: eight entirely new characters, eight “Lightcore” figures (more on those in a minute), and eight giants. Thanks to their larger size (and appropriately-boosted power), giants will retail at $14.99. Don’t worry – you’re getting plenty of Skylander bang for your buck.

The Lightcore figures will utterly enchant your inner child – as they near the Portal of Power, their appendages will start to glow…without batteries, and without touching the base. Activision must have literal wizards in their employment, because this kind of magic could only be the work of toy sorcery. The eight Lightcore figures are further split into four returning characters and four new ones, including the rookie brawler Prism Break, who slammed enemies around with his geode-coated arms.

The two giants we saw were Tree Rex and Bouncer, each significantly larger than their regular-sized counterparts and with no less individuality. Tree Rex is akin to the giant type frontman. This life-elemental behemoth is what you’d get from melding a wrestler and an oak tree together. He can wallop baddies with his thorny, knotted-trunk fist, or pull a hilarious elbow-drop that’ll send pipsqueaks flying. He’ll also be included with packages for the sequel. Whether you’re playing Skylanders for the first time or adding to your collection, Tree Rex will be a part of your crew. Bouncer is the tech yin to Rex’s nature-based yang. He’s a gold-plated robot who shoots bouncing pellets out of his fingertips and lasers out of his eyes. We wish we could do those things.

Other Series 2 newcomers include Jet-Vac - a goggle-wearing eagle with a vacuum backpack for sucking up coins, power-ups, and whatever else comes his way – and Pop Fizz, a maniacal alchemist who throws (and drinks) his own brand of potion. There’s even a Jekyll-and-Hyde motif: quaffing one of your own potions will send Pop Fizz into a frenzy, slashing and bashing with melee paw swipes.

Considering that Giants also raises the level cap to 15 and will easily import your character saves, this is pretty much a day-one purchase for diehard Skylanders fans. With 70 character types in all, there’s bound to be a figure you fancy among the existing roster – if you’ve never felt the joy of planting a posing figure into the Portal of Power, perhaps now’s the time to give it a shot. 

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