Skylanders Starter Guide

Confused about Skylanders? So are most adults. The toy/video game franchise is unlike any kids phenomenon that has come before. And it’s big business. It’s estimated that the Skylanders phenomenon has generated over $1 Billion in the short 2 and a half years of its existence. If you buy birthday and Christmas presents for a child between the ages of 3-10 years of age, then chances are you will be tasked with getting a Skylander. This guide will hopefully help you understand more about what Skylanders are, the components involved, and how to make sure you don’t buy the wrong one!

What are Skylanders?

Skylanders are creatures who used to live in the Skylands. When they are here on Earth, they are frozen, but come to life when they enter the game (it’s kind of like Toy Story, where the toys only pretend to be lifeless when humans are around).

The Portal of Power

skylanders starter guide - portal of power
Every Skylanders game comes with one of these portals. You place Skylanders figures and items on this portal and have them enter the game. When the figures enter the game, the experience and upgrades they acquire is saved to the figure itself. Which means that you can take your figures to your friend’s house and all the achievements you’ve unlocked will carry over!

While the Portal of Power isn’t sold separately (it comes bundled with the game), the portals seem to work on each system. Which means that a PS3 portal will work on an Xbox 360, and vice versa. The only exception is the Nintendo 3DS, which uses a different connector.

Skylanders Figures: How They Work

The Skylanders figures are both collectible toys and USB drives that save your achievements and upgrades. When you buy a Skylander, it will comes with a base level of stats (i.e. Health, speed, etc.). As you play the Skylander, these stats will increase until they hit their maximum.

There are also extra features: Lightcore Skylanders will light up (without batteries) if placed near the Portal of Power.

The Elements

skylanders starter guide - elements

There are 8 elements: water, earth, fire, life, tech, air, undead, and magic. Each of these elements is especially strong against one element, and especially weak against one element.
For example, Fire-element Skylanders are strong against Air, but weak against Water-element creatures.
It creates a rock-paper-scissors dynamic where no one element is more powerful than the other elements.

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

The first game in the Skylanders series is called Spyro’s Adventure and stars a recognizable classic children’s character: Spyro the Dragon. There are 32 Skylanders created for this game, and they are referred to as Series 1 Skylanders.

The Series 1 figures created for Spyro’s Adventure will continue to work in the sequel: Skylanders: Giants.

Skylanders Spyro's Adventure Starter Pack - Nintendo Wii

Skylanders Spyro's Adventure Starter Pack - Nintendo Wii

As a teaser for some more detailed Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure news that we will be bringing you next week during E3, Activision has released some character vignettes, which tell us a little more about the characters that are set to feature in the game’s starter pack. Skylanders Spyro’s adventure involves real life toys, which players will have to place on the Portal of Power to bring them into the game. The three toy characters that come in the starter pack are: Spyro, Gill Grunt and Trigger Happy. We have some information and some short clips where players can see all three characters in action.


Skylanders: Giants

Skylanders Starter - series 1 vs series 2

A Series 2 Figure on the Portal of Power

Do you have your head wrapped around Skylanders yet? Well, in the sequel things get a little more complex. But the new features and characters are what kids love.
Skylander: Giants introduced 3 new types of Skylanders: Series 2 Skylanders, Lightcore Skylanders and Giants.

Series 2 Skylanders

These are updated versions of characters from the first game. The characters have updated poses. They also glow orange at their base when placed on the portal of power, instead of green. They also have one extra ability that you can unlock (called the ‘Wow-Pow’ ability). Both Series 1 and Series 2 Skylanders are able to reach Level 15.

Lightcore Skylanders

All Skylanders are protectors of the core of light. And at certain times they can call upon this light, which will give them magical abilities. There are 11 Lightcore Skylanders Figures in total.


And lastly there are the Giants. There are 8 Giants: one for each element. The 8 Giants came together to fight the Arkeyan King, and despite defeating him, were cast out for 10,000 years. Only now have they returned to the Skylands.

Skylanders Giants Starter Pack - Nintendo Wii

Skylanders Giants Starter Pack - Nintendo Wii

Starter Pack includes: Video Game, Portal of Power, 3-Skylanders Figures,  Character Collection Poster, 3-Sticker Sheets with Secret Codes and 3-Trading Cards


The first Skylanders sequel, released in October 2012, introduced new versions of the original Skylanders (called Series 2 figures), as well as 8 ‘Skylanders Giants’. These characters are considerably larger and more powerful than the regular Skylanders.

This game also introduced ‘Lightcore Skylanders’, which are special versions of the regular Skylanders characters that light up when you place the figure near the portal of power.

Skylanders: Swap Force

Coming out in October of this year, Skylanders: Swap Force characters offer a new feature: recombining Skylanders. All of the Swap Force characters can be switched with each other, turning 6 new characters into 256 possible combinations.

Skylanders SWAP Force Starter Pack - Nintendo Wii

Skylanders SWAP Force Starter Pack - Nintendo Wii

Embark on an exciting new adventure with the Skylanders and the SWAP Force. For generations, the SWAP Force protected the volcano that replenishes Skylands’ magic. That is until an epic battle caught them in an eruption that blasted them apart, sent them to Earth and gave them the ability swap powers. Only you can mix and match their tops and bottoms, put them on the new Portal of Power and help save Skylands.


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