Franchise debuted in Oct. '11, spawned collectible figures

Activision’s gamble has paid off: The videogame giant’s “Skylanders” franchise has generated more than $500 million in the U.S. since it debuted in October 2011, and reached the mark faster than any other kids gaming property, according to NPD Group.

The sales are a milestone for the industry’s top gamemaker, who at launch, envisioned “Skylanders” as a way to create a new kids property that would enable it to sell traditional games but also a wide range of accessories, including collectible figures, as well, generating a new revenue opportunity.

“Skylanders Giants” is developed by Toys For Bob, an Activision studio located in Novato, California.

“Just a year ago, the concept of bringing toys to life in a virtual world was an untested play pattern that Activision and Toys For Bob believed in,” said Joshua Taub, VP, product management, Activision Publishing. “Now the category has been established in the market and embraced by parents and kids everywhere,” “We’re humbled by the continued support and acclaim from parents, kids and critics alike, but more importantly, it’s gratifying to see kids excited about the adventures that await them both in the digital and physical worlds.”

With “Skylanders'” success, Activision has essentially created a new gaming category for the biz, with Disney announcing its own version of “Skylanders,” called Disney Infinity, which will also have kids use game pads to interact with collectible figures on screen.

The “Skylanders Giants” and “Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure” figures have outsold top action figure lines in the toy category in the U.S., including Beyblades, WWE and “Star Wars,” NPD said, based on sales figures from January through November of last year.

And “Skylanders Giants,” a sequel to “Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure,” was the best-selling kids game of 2012, earning more than $195 million in the U.S. That includes action figures and accessory packs.

The franchises also boast more than 120 licensees worldwide that produce plush figures, apparel, home decor, bed and bath products, party goods, board games and back-to-school merchandise featuring the “Skylanders” characters.

“Even before the concept was fully formed, we were immediately taken with the charm and magic behind the ‘Skylanders’ property,” said Richard Barry, executive VP, chief merchandising officer, Toys “R” Us.

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