What is the 'toys-to-life' genre, anyway?

It used to be that you had your toys and you had your video games, and that was that. But now those worlds have combined, thanks to the stratospheric rise of what video game publishers refer to as the 'toys-to-life' genre. It sounds like a bunch of marketing speak, but it basically means that you can buy actual toys and make them interact with compatible video games in a variety of ways. It's a neat gimmick, and everyone from Nintendo to Lego seems to be getting in on it.

But since the genre's humble beginnings a few years ago, things have gotten surprisingly complicated. You'd think you could simply walk into a store and just grab whatever, but there are starter packs and add-ons for each set that all unlock different things, and not all games and sets are created equal. It can be intimidating for someone looking to get started or pick up the right toy for their kids, so I've broken out each of the different options into their own pages for easy reference. Keep these beginner's guides handy while you peruse your local or online store's many options.

What is Skylanders?

What is amiibo?

What is Disney Infinity?

What is Lego Dimensions?