Toys for Bob: From Star Control to Skylanders Giants


Marketing image by Toys for Bob

I spent Tuesday afternoon touring the Toys for Bob studio to learn more about the release of their impending surefire hit Skylanders Giants.

Paul Reiche, co-founder and CEO of Toys for Bob (TFB), started out the tour with a great presentation on the origin story of the company. I had known they’d been around for a long time, but it was fun to hear Paul describe the early years of the company and the decisions that led up to the creation of the latest additions to the Skylanders franchise.

Reiche talked a little about each of the games that TFB has produced, starting with Star Control in 1990 and its sequel Star Control II two years later. Hearing about SC2 was like a blast from the past, and when Paul mentioned that there was still a large fan base for the game I had to see if the game was still available and yes, it is. SC2 was released under the GPL license in 2002 as The Ur-Quan Masters. Development continued through 2011 with the release of version 0.7. Source code and binaries are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

TFB continued to release a game every year or two, including a few Disney games and a couple of attempts at Tony Hawk games for a younger crowd. While many of them were successful, nothing that came before compared to the success they achieved with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. Utilizing the Portal of Power, this addition to the Skylanders franchise was the first game to successfully bridge the gap between toys and video games.

Skylanders is still selling extremely well, especially as availability of the previously sold-out figures increases. Versions of the core game are available on PC and all current game consoles, and mobile versions are available now for Nintendo 3DS, iOS, and recently Android with the introduction of Skylanders Cloud Patrol Kindle Edition.

Skylanders Giants brings four significant changes to the game. The biggest and most obvious change is the addition of the Skylanders Giants. More than twice the size of a standard character, the Giants bring a completely different style of play to the game, without being too powerful. You’ll still have plenty of reasons to switch out to the smaller, faster characters as you progress through the game.

Giants also brings us bunch of new Skylanders and some Series 2 Skylanders including a selection of “LightCore” characters. The LightCore Skylanders will light up, both in the real world and in the game. The lights are powered by the portal itself and work with all existing portals. Series 2 characters are re-introduced Series 1 characters with special “Wow Pow” abilities and new poses.

As we get closer to the release date of October 21st, Andy Robertson and I will have plenty more information about the game, including reviews and character bios. I can already tell you that the reviews will be favorable: I’ve had a few chances to play the game this summer and it is a significant step up from the first one.

The game will be available as a starter pack with the game, a portal, two regular-size Skylanders and one Giant, or as a portal-owner’s pack with the game and one Giant for $75 and $60 respectively. Amazon has a landing page for the game and GameStop is already taking pre-orders.

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