Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Skylanders Trap Team Most Anticipated Newlanders

Most Anticipated Newlanders


I again want to stress this is based on ANTICIPATION, not who I think will wind up being my favorite, although if all goes well, this will have a lot of similarities with that list. The #1 Question I had prior to the whole "no battle mode" interval centered around, "Who are you looking forward to the most?" This covers my most anticipated Newlanders for Skylanders Trap Team!

1-Fling Kong
2-Blades
3-Food Fight
4-Rocky Roll
5-Chopper
6-Batspin
7-Deja Vu
8-Cobra Cadabra
9-Funny Bone
10-Fist Bump
11-Trail Blazer
12-High Five
13-Tread Head
14-Flip Wreck
15-Torch
16-Echo

Let me know your most anticipated Newlanders and how they compare with mine!  You can also post up on the Skylander Club Forum: http://skylanderclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=35

Skylanders Trap Team Most Anticipated Trap Masters

My Most Anticipated Trap Masters


I again want to stress this is based on ANTICIPATION, not who I think will wind up being my favorite, although if all goes well, this will have a lot of similarities with that list.

1-Thunderbolt
2-Lob-star
3-Krypt King
4-Enigma
5-Shortcut
6-Blastermind
7-Snp Shot
8-Gusto
9-Bushwhack
10-Jawbreaker
11-Tuff Luck
12-Wildfire
13-Wallop
14-Ka-Boom
15-Gearshift
16-Head Rush

How do your anticipation rankings compare to mine?  Leave a comment below, or on the SkylanderClub Forum:

Nintendo Amiibo Showcase at E3

I promised I would release this video after all of the Skylanders SWAP Force stuff was wrapped up, and that time is now!

This is footage I shot from the excessively epic Nintendo Booth at this year's E3.  I have to say that the pre-order shots you have seen on Amazon, GameStop, and Toys'R'Us etc., come nowhere near doing these figures justice.

Nintendo Amiibo Showcase at E3


The Amiibo line is very impressive with incredible detail, and that is just based on my look thru the glass display case.  I really wish I could have gotten some hands-on time with them, or an interview, but time was tight and I was happy just to get a good look at them.

The Amiibo figures honestly look more like a high dollar display piece than a video game accessory, but that is the beauty of it I suppose.  The most surprising part, given the size and detail, is that they retail for $12.99!

I plan to pick a few of these up and unbox/showcase them upon their release.  I will also use them in the compatible games and look forward to seeing how they interact in titles past Super Smash Bros. Wii U and 3DS.

If you haven't checked them out yet, or put in any pre-orders, here is a link to their Amazon Page:
Amazon.com Amiibo Listings

They are a big step up from the Pokemon figures used in Pokemon Rumble U.

Stay tuned for much more coverage on Nintendo's Amiibo figures!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Skylander Ideas: Skylanders Battles: A Standalone Battle Mode/PvP Game with DLC

Skylanders Ideas Series
Skylanders Battles: A Standalone Battle Mode/PVP Game


So, continuing on in our "Skylanders Ideas" series, this is another idea I pitched at E3.  Basically, since so much Trap Team info was off the table, we got to a point of just talking about the game and I was able to highlight some of my opinions, one of them being Battle Mode.

I never dreamed I would be releasing this video in the wake of news that Trap Team wouldn't have the usual Battle Mode setup, but I suppose it just makes this take on that much more significance.  I truly think this is the way to go with "Battle Mode."  I thought it shortly after Giants, this summer at E3, and still think it is the best option in light of the news...I don't think it was as well received as the "plain jane" variant proposal, but it didn't fall on deaf ears either.  At this point in time, I truly hope something similar is planned as PvP is a huge part of the Skylanders franchise and offers the most replay value imo.

The Original Issue

How to improve Battle Mode/PvP in Skylanders.

The Chatter

Most, or at least the majority of those voicing opinions on this matter have taken the mantra of "Online or Bust."  That is, players REALLY WANT Online PvP so they can play with friends, or just other Portal Masters when they pit Skylander against Skylander.  I am fully aware of that, but I take a slightly different approach, one that I believe has an even greater basis of support, but perhaps from the silent majority.

The New Issue: No PvP in Trap Team

The last month or so, almost every comment and message I have received was built around "What are you most excited for in Trap Team," or "Who do you think will be your favorite Skylander in Trap Team."  I actually began a list when I got the full size Trap Team poster at TRU and plan to actually line item them out.  However,  the last week or so that shifted to, "Holy Greebles!  What are your thoughts on there not being Battle Mode/PvP in Trap Team?"

I was kind of taken back when I saw that...

I've maintained a pretty solid "1P vs CPU" stance on Battle Mode, just like I've kept the same "LightCore Sermon" position (which is the next video in this series, lol).  In fact, one of the ideas I pitched at E3 this year was how to improve Battle Mode.  I want to make clear that I never suggest it be done away with completely, and I also need to stress my opinion could carry VERY little weight with the folks behind the game.  I'd actually err more on that side than thinking it was partially important, but who knows.  At this point in time I am left hoping that something similar to what I pitched actually becomes a reality, and hopefully before Christmas or late Spring.  Before I expand on that, let me address the question, "What are your thoughts about no battle mode in Trap Team?"

No Battle Mode in Trap Team: My Thoughts

In all honesty, I am pretty devastated.  As much as I wanted to see it change, Battle Mode is the #1 way my Nephew and I play Skylanders together.  We battle Kaos and sometimes play a random chapter, but for the most part when he is over and wants to play Skylanders it is always PvP.  Despite all the other options and Arena Challenges that have been added in, his #1 request is simply PvP.

I also know, despite how much the vocal fan base pushed for "online" battles, they never dreamed they'd have nothing in its place.

This is a big loss (assuming it is true...I've not seen anything to substantiate it, but haven't seen anyone rushing out to debunk it...I feel like if this was a rumor and NOT true, PR would be sending out word that people need to relax, Battle Mode is there with the Doom Challenge etc, and will be even better than last year etc).  For many, this was your replay value.  There are not as many "100%ers" as you would think.  For many gamers, just getting to the end and defeating Kaos constitutes completion.  Many don't feel the need to max out their Portal Master Rank, grind thru levels, look for missing items, or obtain 3 Stars for every chapter.  However, what kept them playing, and what was a huge part of the franchise for everyone else was Battle Mode.

Here is a rough timeline of events with my Nephew and I:

SSA: "I'm Terrafin and you are Slam Bam...Let's see who wins!"  Shortly after that, "Dude, let's set up and record a 32 Skylander Tournament!"

Giants: "Are the Giants Newlanders, or SSA Castaways better? Tournament time!"

SWAP Force: "Can anyone beat Star Strike?"  "Let's do a series where 1 Skylander takes on 8-10 others in a row!"

Battle Mode, namely PvP was my Nephew's FAVORITE part of the game.  I loved it too.  I'll recap this with how I opened it...I am pretty sad to see it go and can only hope that the folks behind the game have good reason for this and something that will blow us all away.

What I Pitched at E3: Stand Alone Battle Game with DLC Expanions

So, prior to the pretty tragic news of Trap Team not having Battle Mode, this is what I pitched at E3.

I suggest there be a Stand Alone Game, pricced something like $19.99-$29.99 that had cool arenas, all the characters, DLC expansion for future games, and some key upgrades...

1. Single Player Battle Mode with Adjustable Difficulty

I was totally honest with them...I can only play Battle Mode when my Nephew is here.  My other option is turning on another controller and either doing turn-based PvP where a single battle lasts 15 minutes, or just obliterate a pre-selected character to test out moves, complete quests, etc.

My suggest was to build this stand alone game on the Single Player dynamic.  I honestly think they expected to hear me say, "Online or die" based on their shock, but I truly believe all great games are built first and foremost around the single player experience.

Does anyone know how much content I would have on my channel if I could play 1P vs CPU in Skylanders Battle Mode?  I would literally take each character and run them thru the gauntlet against every other character.  I would record tournaments, I would upload Giant throwdowns, and 16 slot SWAP Force brackets.  It would be EPIC!

The current set up doesn't allow me to do that short of the RPG style battle which I don't think anyone would enjoy.

If you think, "Okay, that is good, but I'd kill the opponent..." Um, no.  Just like the game has Easy-Nightmare, I suggested this have similar difficulty modes ,or ranks like in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  If you come in and Level 5 Ninjini obliterates you, you can turn down the difficulty, or practice till you beat her.  Once you can take her down, bump her up a level.  It is the fundamental of all fighting games imo...

2. Keep and Expand the Classic Local Player Battles

Just because I want to battle a CPU Skylader doesn't mean I want to forego battling my Nephew.  I suggested that mode be kept in tact, but expanded.

3: Local 4 Player Battles

This is the expansion on the 2P.  I know the argument I would get for pushing 1P vs CPU is, "But this is a family game...it is meant to be enjoyed by friends, or kids and their parents etc."  Boom....Trump Card!  I fully acknowledge that...My Nephew and I are proof of how well that works.  However, what do other fighting games offer?  4 Players able to engage locally.  So now, instead of it being Sibling vs Sibling, the parents can get in on the action.  You can have Father & Daughter vs Mother & Son.

I also stressed how it should allot for 2 friends to be able to come in and battle against 2 CPUs etc.  Whatever the format, 1P vs CPU, 1P vs 2P, 1P & 2P vs 3P & 4P, 1P vs CPU1, CPU2, and CPU 3, it needs to allot for everything from a sole, individual player to 4 congregated players.

I didn't go into this, bu that can be made even better by allowing 1P-2P-3P-4P to battle 4 CPUs.  The options are really limitless and the more immersive, the better.

4. Tournaments/Brackets

This is another no-brainer in a dedicated fighting game.  You need to be able to do more than just a solo battle.  You need to be able to create Tournaments and progress through each round.  This would be HUGE.

5. Other Modes

I didn't mention this, but things like having a King of the Hill, or Gauntlet type modes where you pit your favorite Skylander against the rest would be awesome.

6. In-Game Roster

 This was also not included in what I pitched, but I think the game would be well served to have  an archived record of your collection.  Basically meaning that when you put Terrafin and S3 Mega Ram Spyro on the portal, they are there on a roster for you to select from. Essentially, this would allow you to play as Terrafin and earn XP while going thru your roster of Skylanders to spice up the battles, or practice specific techniques.

I also think this aspect could be expanded to allow for those with a limited collection to battle Skylanders they don't own.  What I mean by this is that you have Mega Ram Spyro and Big Bang Trigger Happy.  We will say you don't have Star Strike.  The game would allow you to select to battle her as a CPU.  This would let you get a feel for old and new characters that might not be in your collection and ultimately encourage you to add them!  It is a win-win imo.

7. DLC

I know I am 95% of the time against DLC, but hear me out.  I want to pay the reasonable price for this stand alone game.  However I, you, and anyone else with any sense doesn't want to spring $30 for a new "Skylanders Battle:: ___ Edition" each year.  How do you rectify that? DLC.

When Skylanders 5 drops they can offer up the new character roster, new arenas, and honestly whatever other expansions they want.  Keep the price right (Say $10) and people will eat it up.  We are already buying the new Skylanders to use in the new game, so this would just add them to the Battle roster etc.

This DLC literally allows your initial purchase to be expanded on annually.  If they are loosing players, DLC can come along with new battle modes, etc.

8. Online

I am not about to poll people for what they want and not take it to heart.  While I would be ecstatic and content with what I have described above, I know an awful lot of you want online battle mode.  I have to admit, it would be cool.  Personally, I would rather have Single Player vs CPU first, but this is a step in the right direction from that foundation.

I honestly believe the biggest concern with "online" is keeping the environment kid friendly.  This is hard to do without nerfing interaction...ie no chat, no text, etc.

I think, for what it is worth, that quest is being made a little too difficult.  Nintendo has managed social gaming and online interactions quite well, and while it hasn't been perfect there are easy ways to make this function and not hold up a stellar addition to the franchise.

Mario Kart Wii didn't have voice chat, it didn't offer up a blank slate and keyboard, it had pre-selected messages like, "Great Race!" "Last One!," "Let's Race Bikes" etc...While it isn't super sleek or modern, it would work while something better could be hashed out.

Conclusion

I pitched this idea because I truly believe in it...I think it is 100% the way to go.  In light of the recent revelations that there won't be a a Battle Mode in Trap Team, I think it is seriously worth considering.  One thing I tried to convey while pitching this is that people would pay for the stand alone game if it was well executed, patched, updated, and included the DLC to update rosters etc.

I have no qualms continuing to pay $75 for the main entry.  You are getting a game, Portal, and 2-3 figures, or in the case of Trap Team 2 Figures and 2 Traps.  That is basically $25-$35 on the figures, and puts the game right in line with others at $49-59.

Make the stand alone battle game priced at $19.99, or $29.99 and then offer the annual $9.99 roster update (as opposed to a new game at $30 again), and offer up some other reasonably priced arenas, or misc. items for cheap and I think it is a no brainer.

The game can feature more content like the Bonus Mission Maps, or longer levels and then the battle mode can be built around a more robust and typical layout for a fighting game.

I think it would be the best course of action for the main game, battle mode, and franchise as a whole.  I am just one guy, but I have spent a lot of time playing Skylanders the last three years, feel I have a good feel for what the community wants, and have the unique vantage point of being an older, regular player while seeing first hand what my Nephew makes of things.  I think this is the way to go, especially with the sad news that the Battle Mode we have come to expect the first three installments has fallen to the wayside.

As always, let me know your thoughts.  Are you in the "Online" or bust camp?  Do you agree with me that the heart of the game should be built around the single player?  Would you purchase a well executed stand-alone, battle mode game for Skylanders?

Skylanders Ideas: The Variant Discussion

Skylander Ideas:
The Variant Discussion


This is an idea I pitched at E3 2014...I have to say that this one was very well received.  Will it be implemented, who knows.  It is just as likely as it is unlikely.  However, I felt it was worth sharing with the Skylander Community as it would help alleviate one of the frustrations dedicated players/collectors face.

The Issue

So, one of the most common comments, or messages I have received over the years centers around variants.  Not necessarily who will be one, how they are selected, or what a good price for them is, but rather something like this, "1ofWiisdom, I have been checking my local stores daily for weeks in hopes of finding _____ Variant and I never found it.  I saw other people find it...I tried this last year for ____ Variant.  What am I doing wrong?  What can I never find any Variants?"

Well, this one is kind of sad to answer.  A lot of people remain totally oblivious to how a retail store works.  It isn't just happy-go-lucky employees who gleefully stock items they have zero interest in for you to purchase.  There are people that work in retail because it is all they can find, they have to (ie high school, college, parents, or someone else who needs the flexible hours a big chain can offer), they want to (ie I am going to start stocking at this store, then work my way up to Assistant Manager, and then eventually open my own chain/franchise), and those who have ulterior motives.  You need to be aware of those with ulterior motives.

Not everyone at Toys'R'Us, Target, Best Buy, GameStop, or Walmart is there due to scheduling, it being close to home, or because they aspire to learn the company from the ground-up.  Some select their place of employment based on "incentives" and I am not talking stock options, insurance benefits, or 401k.  Some people are very well aware of what is collectible, what is hot, what is rare, and what they can sell it for...

Most people with this mind set will do just as you...They come in on weekends, after work, or when they run errands and comb the shelves looking for the rare toy, chase diecast, or in this case, Variant Skylander.  In a perfect situation the person who spends the most time in pursuit, would usually wind up the benefactor.  The variable here is the employee faction.

Whereas Activision, Matel, or whatever company is cranking out something special with a nod towards their "serious collectors" all of that can halt when the product is intercepted BEFORE it gets to the end user.  For a lot of you that report to me how you "try really hard" to find these Variants it has nothing to do with your timing, dedication, or luck...but everything to do with what goes on behind the scenes.

Now, I want to be clear, not all employees do this, and some stores likely have management/ownership in place to prevent this from happening.  Others, however, are part of the problem...

You might know the exact time UPS, FedEx, and the Tuesday/Friday trucks hit your local Toys'R'Us.  You might be the first person in-line for the big Wave 2 release, and you still may NEVER find a variant.  If you haven't already picked up on it, here is what is happening...

We will say Chopper is selected for a Blue Metallic Variant (this is totally theoretical and only for example purposes...plus I find it highly unlikely he'd get a Blue Metallic Variant).  Instead of the employee walking the box/boxes over the display the night before, or morning of and one-by-one pulling the Skylanders from the box and shelving them, someone will notice the difference...They will see 5 Choppers that all look alike and 1 that is Blue Metallic.  This one gets held back, bought by the employee, and probably 99% of the time hocked on ebay where someone pays ridiculous money for what they should have given $9.99 for...

Another, and more likely example, involves an employee monitoring ebay, fan sites, and forums and learning of Blue Metallic Chopper, GITD Funny Bone, or Crimson Head Rush and then specifically checking the boxes for these characters.  Whether they are 1 per Case, 3 per case, or totally at random they will make a point to check EVERYTHING before it hits the shelves.  They also involve other employees to help with this (ie to cover their off day etc).  This means you have a near ZERO Percent chance of ever finding a variant at that store.

I see people online report this, I see employees brag about it, and I see ebay accounts of pirates who pillage quantities of these things to sell for their personal, financial gain.  That is not what the parent company intends, and it is not beneficial to the fan base.

I know, for a fact, this happens locally.  There is a very well known lady who works at Walmart for the sole purpose of nabbing "hot toys/items" and then selling them online.  She is known at Target, GameStop, and Toys'R'Us.  It is people like her that make the "Limit 1 Per Customer" signs a thing of reality.  She will use her kids, grandkids, and I'm sure any other friends to go in and buy up the stock to get around these rules.  Most stores are even aware of her husband and kids.  You should hear the stories I heard about her and the Nintendo Wii at launch back in  2006.  She has been doing this for AT LEAST that long and will continue to do so until people quit paying crazy money for what she pirates.

I was also very disappointed in my local TRU when I was invited to their back room by electronics (apparently that happens when you reserve a Nintendo Wii U and they think they "accidentally" sold it) and saw a shopping kart FULL OF SKYLANDER VARIANTS.  For those of you that got the Stone Zook and Stone Whirlwind on launch and wonder why I didn't...that would be why.  GameStop is known for pulling variants out at their distribution center...They use to randomly ship them, and still might, but they tend to just pack them in some crazy expensive fan bundle.

Basically, what I am getting at is the very stores that should be putting these items out on the shelf, for you and I are holding them back and then pirating them on ebay.  Again, not what is intended by the manufacturer, but it is what is going on...

Potential Solutions

So, how can we combat this?  What can be done to make it more likely variants wind up in the hands of the end users who are intended to land them?  I had two ideas for helping this become the norm...

First, variants could be more subtle.  Instead of a cool, translucent green Rip Tide, why not slightly tweak his armor from gold to silver, or make the sword fish a different color?  This would not stick out as well, but would still likely be learned and abducted by employees.

My second suggestion, and what was very well received goes like this...That Blue Metallic Chopper I described above?  He isn't Blue Metallic anymore...he looks just like the other 5 Choppers in the box. Nothing flashy, fancy, or out of the ordinary...just 6 identical Choppers ready to be shelved.

However, when you get home with that Chopper you just bought, you place it on the portal and Wham-O!  "Special Chopper" appears when you boot up the game!  The employee didn't know, scalpers don't know, people pillaging the shelves for a "different looking" Skylander don't know, and ultimately YOU didn't know until you got home and put him on the portal.  I realize employees could stick them all on the Portal or something, but that is a bit tougher to validate than simply slicing a box open and leaving it in the break room to buy and sell after your shift.

Is it perfect?  No.  Does it take away a cool looking variant form?  Yes.  But they would be just as collectible given the end circumstances.  I know this would open the doors for people online to sell a regular Chopper advertised as a "Special Chopper," but the auction sites help hold people accountable AND as I've said for 3 years now, you have no business paying $100s for something that cost someone $10.  I know it is your money and you can do with it what you want, but no one intends for the variants to turn into someone high dollar thrill ride.  It is supposed to be players running in to look for a certain character and happening to see a varaint.  That planned joy has all but been eliminated by the greed of employees and lack of managerial oversight (or plain and simple corruption).  For those who argue the "value" would be hurt with identical paint jobs, I would suggest making them in lesser runs...The concept was brought about, just as with all toys/collectibles, to be a nod for the diehards..Those who comb the shelves hoping to get lucky, and this would help keep that option open.

In my mind, it is a far better option than simply continuing on and letting corrupt managers, greedy employees, and maniacal ebay pirates the luxury of easily intercepting variants and making ridiculous money off of them.

Your Thoughts

Let me know what you think of this idea, and if you have any of your own.  How many Variants have you found locally, in the store, as intended?  Do you pay big bucks for rare figures on eBay?  Do you know of your local stores "puling" variants before they even hit the shelves?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Skylanders Trap Team Pre-Season Hunting at Target: Outlaw Brawl & Chain, Nitro Krypt King, & More


My usual run down the Skylander aisle in search of variants was a bit disappointing tonight...

I was met with mostly bare shelves and while I was thinking, "There goes another chance" it dawned on me the shelves were likely cleared to stock Trap Team figures here shortly and switch the display out...That assumption was correct!

While most of the info was known, here is what I gathered:

-Target will have standard pricing, none of that +$1.00 stuff
--Core Skylanders: $9.99
--Triple Pack & Adventure Pack: $24.99
--Trap Master; $14.99
--Trap Single Pack: $5.99
--Trap Triple Pack: $14.99
--Mini Double Pack: $13.99

However, there were three cool things I noticed!

My store had DEDICATED PEGS and TAGS for Gearshift, Nitro Krypt King, AND Outlaw Brawl & Chain.

There were two pegs for each and they all had specific tags, and presumably barcodes/SKUs which means employees will have an easier time checking stock for you...and you checking stock online.

It looks like Gearshift should at least be available initially in some quantity...I have been told it is limited and to pre-order.  If you are a gambler, you can probably snag her at launch.

Nitro Krypt King was expected, but several were concerned he was "online only."  I don't know where that rumor came from, but as I've been telling people, that is not the case and this confirms it.  I was also glad to see 2 Pegs for him.  Granite Crusher, Jade Flashwing, and the "Nitros" have been the hardest for me to find and I usually only see them on launch day locally.

The biggest surprise was seeing the stand alone tag for Outlaw Brawl & Chain, who is the Target pre-order bonus villain.  I was a bit disappointed that he wasn't included if you pre-order the Dark Edition, and it now looks like those who go elsewhere for pre-orders or Starter Pack purchases can still snag him, just at a price of $5.99, which is standard for single traps.

You can find all the pictures in the video...I'll try to add them to this post when time allows.

Have you found anything cool at your local stores?  Feel free to share your findings!

Happy Hunting!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dr. Krankcase's Lair Skylanders FunPlay HideAway from PowerA

What: Skylanders Trap Team FunPlay HideAway Dr. Krankcase's Lair from PowerA
Where Can I Get It: Toys'R'Us, Target, and select Walmarts
What Will It Cost: $99.99 plus tax
Would You Recommend It?  Absolutely!

Unboxing and Review of Dr. Krankcase's Lair

I was warned a day in advance to expect a "surprise" package that was simply worded to build excitement through concise vagueness.  That probably sounds complicated, but it did get me excited, and the PowerA FunPlay HideAway did not disappoint!

I'll be honest, I was thinking it would be the Trap Storage Case I spotted and made a spotlight video on last week...Made sense to me...help showcase the Trap Storage Case to highlight all the villains and give everyone a feel for what they can be utilizing to archive their favorite villains as we all progress through Trap Team.

Top and Front of Box


Dr. Krankcase's Lair showed up and it was indeed quite the surprise!  I will probably be the only person to mention this, and one of the few who cares and values this sort of a assessment, but the box is amazing.  I know, I know...you want to see the playset, know about the features, and have all the details.  I will get to that...after the box.

Side of Box: Cannon, Kaos, SeeSaw Catapult


Side of Box: Crane, Trap Door, and Chompy Surprise

The old adage goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover."  While I agree with that and the basic summation applies from everything ranging from album art to people, the cover does make the first impression.  Where it beings to really merit something is in products you want to buy.  Put Dr. Krankcase's Lair in a generic green box with a printed label and you have to sell on the inside without much pop, or visualization pre-crafted for the end consumer.  Put it in a box that is more like a work of art and it makes a lasting impression on the buyer and entices you to pull the trigger.  I always like to think "the box" and packaging in and of itself gives an idea of the quality of the product.  This one is over the top...

The box is a base blue with carefully placed Elemental Logos.  The top (lid) is very glossy and the playset seems to pop right off the cardboard.  To enhance this deep gloss effect you have metallic silver encircling the "15 Awesome Play Features" and emblazoning "Dr. Krankcase's Lair."  The background creates a general sense of the "Darkness" typically associated with Kaos and the glow from the playset is easy to pick up on without reading "Glows in the Dark!"  The back side uses similar metallics to showcase unique features and highlights the backside of the playset.  Bottom line, I don't think I can' throw the box away.

Back of Box

Now, on to the playset...

While last year's Flynn's Ship and Skylands were geared towards Display, Storage, and Play, I feel like this one is set up more for Play and Display.  There are so many features that beg you to explore the Lair and stage rescues (I was guilty of that in my pictures, haha) it will take a strong bit of self control to not do so.  While the Skylands and Flynn's Ship offered up lots of play options, I feel like this is the cream of the crop in terms of straight up "let's play with our Skylanders" action.

I also have to say that this one takes the cake solely for display.  You can't fit 15 Skylanders on the roof, but you don't need to.  If you have this in your game room, coffee table, entertainment center, etc.,it is going to be the center of attention...I guarantee it!


Dr. Krankcase's Lair, Front View
Oh No!  Sprocket has been Trapped!

The playset is just shy of 2 Feet Tall so we have a significant elevational dimension to captivate someone's attention.  The pedestals on the roof allow you to display 2 of your favorite Skylanders and the sidewalk around can fit a couple more.  The backside allows you to stage several more, but be weary of the trap door and cell!

Knockout Terrafin, Hot Dog, Sunburn and Ghost Roaster 
Storm in to Save Shroomboom


The front pillars, side lamps, and large headpiece all glow-in-the-dark!  My camera can't really pick it up, but trust me, it is a visually impressive sight to behold!  Kill the lights in your living room or game room, and make Dr. Krankcase's Lair your Skylanders centerpiece.  It is that awesome!

The details inside the Lair are impressive and hilarious.  My personal favorite is the villain group picture...can you find it?  There are a lot of little extras and clever details to appreciate it throughout the playset.

The clock, which also glows-in-the-dark, triggers the "Chompy Surprise" on the roof.  At the pinnacle of  Dr. Krankcase's Lair is none other than Skylands most brilliantly evil, doubly diabolical, mythically magical, terrifyingly tyrannical Kaos!  He is scaled to be the SAME SIZE as your core Skylanders (imagine the photo-ops)!  Plus, in this instance, he is at the helm of a crane, holding a steel cage, that can dangle trapped characters to lure in the Skylanders.

Luckily, the roof has a SeeSaw Catapult and Cannon to help take out Kaos (or is it to help Kaos and the Doom Raiders take out the Skylanders?!).

Reinforcements Arrive with Mystic Hex, Dino-Rang, 
and Granite Crusher


All-in-all Dr. Krankcase's Lair is one destination you need to acquire!  I will be utilizing the Lair as mentioned earlier, a Skylanders Centerpiece.  Granted, in my case, that means prominent display on the pool table and serving as the back drop for all the upcoming unboxing videos, but rest assured, coffee table, kitchen table, or game room floor, Krankcase's Lair will serve you and your family of Portal Masters as a nice hub for all things Skylanders.

Success!  Boomer Sneaks in to Defeat Kaos and 
Save Sprocket!


You can pick up Dr. Krankcase's Lair at Target, Toys'R'Us, and select Walmarts this October.  If you can resist gifting one, or opening it immediately it would be a great Halloween surprise, or Christmas gift for any Skylander aficionado.

A big thanks to PowerA and Activison for sending this out and allowing me to showcase it pre-release to all of you.  It will make an awesome backdrop for all of the unboxing videos!  We will likely never know who exactly pitched the idea, who designed and executed it, but kudos to whoever you are!  And on a more personal note, the folks behind the box truly did amazing work.

What do you think of Dr. Krankcase's Lair?  Is it a Day One Purchase, or gift?  Where do you rank it against last year's offerings of Flynn's Ship and the Skylands set?