The 2011 launch of Activision’s Skylanders marked the birth of toys-to-life, a hybrid genre that encourages the purchase of toy figurines that interact with console video games, at prices of $100 and up for a set. But the sector quickly became saturated, culminating in Disney’s announcement last week that it would shutter its console division and the toys-to-life Infinity line, and take a $147 million writedown on its games business. Sales in the category were flat in 2015 at about $1.25 billion worldwide, but the loss of competition from Disney should be good news for Skylanders and Lego going forward.
Drawing on Disney’s vast toy chest of characters from “Inside Out,” “Star Wars,” and Marvel, the games and figures were well-received but proved difficult to develop. There is speculation the Disney properties could transition to Lego Dimensions.
Figures from DC Comics, “The Lego Movie,” “The Simpsons,” and “Jurassic World” helped this year-old game rack up the best sales of the bunch. The packs are pricey but integrate with other Lego toys for added playability.
The first entrant into the category drew fans for its unique characters that weren’t based on any existing franchise. Five games have been released, all taking place in a magical universe filled with floating islands.
Introduced in 2014, Amiibo offers figures from Pokemon, Donkey Kong, Super Mario, and other franchises that can be played with existing Nintendo games.