In a nutshell, Skylanders is both a video game and a toy line. You can buy the video game and then buy additional toys for the game so you can get more play value out of it. Each Skylander toy is playable and goes onto a peripheral called the "Portal of Power" which comes with the Starter Pack version of the video game. Once the toy is on the Portal, the game can be played with that character. Personally, I think Activision brilliantly hit the nail on the head with this one. The game can be "customized" to a player's particular taste and gaming style depending on what character (toy / figure) they choose to buy and play with. The line is also appealing to those collectors whose OCD will not let them rest until they own every single Skylander figure and their variants.
While I have not actually played the original video game (because I don't own a gaming console), I have tried out their apps...
Skylanders Battlegrounds is a very straightforward hack and slasher with absolutely beautiful graphics! The fun factor is instant and very high! You can control a team of up to two Skylanders, and move from hex to hex battling whatever is thrown your way. A mobile Bluetooth "Portal of Power" is available, but not required to play the game.
|My team of choice? Hex and Terrafin|
Lost Islands is Skylander-themed city-builder game with lots of wonderful little extras. Again, the graphics are absolutely beautiful and feel almost seamless across all their games. The houses, buildings and organic decorations in Lost Islands are very charming. The trees will actually subtly sway, and other floating islands will cast shadows across your village from time to time. Aside from building an expanding town on any (or all) of the nine floating islands, you can also shear sheep, imprison trolls, plant crops, or play with totem poles and a wishing well!
Skylanders Toy Line
You'll find everything from Genies, Elves and Dragons to Treants, Goblins and the Undead among the Skylander Toy Line. My personal favorite? Hex, of course. In fact, the one pictured in the middle graces a special little niche on my desk. (Update 7.11.13: I now own the first two of the adorable little Hexed trio pictured below. Witches tend to work better in threes, so I'm keeping my eyes open for the last one!)