Disney Stuff - Disney Infinityby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Welcome back to Disney Stuff.
Last Christmas, my boys were both excited about a new game for their Wii called Skylanders. I wasn't sure what it was all about so I went down to the local Toys R Us to check it out. What I found in front of me on the shelves was a stroke of marketing genius: To really get the most out of this video game you had to buy action figures that had an electronic chip of sorts in their base. The starter pack came with a small pad called a portal that connected wirelessly to your game system.
Once you turned the game on, you placed one of the Skylander figures onto the portal and they were instantly "transported" into the game and that action figure was now a playable character in the game. Needless to say, every kid that had the Skylanders game wanted as many different action figures as possible to load up their game with characters. My sons, of course, enthusiastically jumped on that bandwagon. At a minimum of $9.99 per action figure, Skylanders has earned more than $1 billion—yes, that's a "b" for billion—since its release in 2011. Game publisher Activision has reportedly sold upwards of 100 million Skylanders toys.
Somebody over at Disney must have been paying attention. If Activision could sell 100 million toys based on newly created characters, then certainly Disney's stable of recognizable and established characters gave them an instant advantage in this new market. And so it was.
Disney Infinity was announced and this past Sunday, August 18, it was at long last released. MousePlanet's own Stephanie Wien was at the recent D23 Expo at Disneyland Resort and took in the Disney Interactive presentation. Disney Interactive, for those of you who don't know, is the Walt Disney Company's game developing division and is responsible for the creation of Disney Infinity (read Stephanie's report and watch the awesome MousePlanet video of the presentation here to see more).
I suppose it goes without saying that we had Disney Infinity on pre-order. Not only did we want to guarantee getting the game right away, but Disney was offering a great deal through just about all of its retailers. If you pre-ordered Infinity, you would get a free action figure of your choice and a free Power Disc Pack to enhance your characters' abilities in the game. This meant that on release day, we would have the three characters that came with the game—Mr. Incredible, Jack Sparrow, and Sulley—and one extra, as well as three of the Power Discs. The collection has begun! We chose Dash Incredible as our free figure and, naturally, the boys dug into their allowance a little, and with some help from yours truly, we also picked up Mike Wasowski, Mrs. Incredible, Randy Boggs, and Hector Barbossa. Let's take a closer look at these very cool Disney Infinity figures.
The starter pack came with these three:
These three came in a "sidekick pack:"
Dash Incredible is sold in a solo pack…
…as was Randall "Randy" Boggs from Monster's University:
Here are some of the Power Discs from the first series:
This is the Power Pad seen here with Mr. Incredible and son:
So what can I say after having Disney Infinity in the house for the last four days? First of all, the action figures are extremely well done. As a collector of lots of different Disney figures, I'm pretty impressed with these. They have a slightly different stylized look to them. They look like their video game counterparts as opposed to looking exactly like their original animated forms.
Of course, characters like Jack Sparrow and Barbossa are appearing in animated forms for essentially the first time (by the way if anyone at Disney is reading, and I hope you are—seeing Jack and Hector in this animated form screams for the creation of a Pirates of the Caribbean animated series. I know I'd watch, and I'm sure I wouldn't be alone).
In between games, my sons have been playing with these figures as toys, so they obviously give them a thumbs-up. I can't wait for the next series of figures to be released, and the possibility exists for so many more in the future. I can't even begin to calculate which characters from across the Disney universe will be chosen. [And yes, if you watched the video in Stephanie's article, you can only imagine how scathingly jealous I am of my MousePlanet colleagues that were in attendance that day at D23 who walked out with a Sorcerer Mickey figure! I have to wait until January to get my own.]
As far as the game goes, we've barely scratched the surface. I've mostly been playing in The Incredibles' Play Set mode and I have to say it's been… incredibly fun. My sons have started to explore the Monster's University Play Set as well, and are beginning to make more headway than their old man. The thing we haven't done so much yet is to explore the Toy Box mode. This is what will set Disney Infinity apart from the Skylanders series. It's in Toy Box mode that the creators have taken that extra special Disney step and given us the tools to mix up our favorite characters and customize vast worlds. As we unlock content in the different play set modes, items are imported into our Toy Box. We can then visit the Toy Box and use those items to enhance and create our own worlds. It's an awesome concept and I can't wait to see how it delivers. Once again, if you've watched the video, you know just how much I can't wait to unlock buildable items like Epcot's Spaceship Earth and Disneyland's Matterhorn.
Overall, I'm impressed with Disney Infinity. I think the figures are quality and the gameplay is fun. Most importantly, the door is kicked open for this to be an endlessly changing gaming experience. At one time, as far as video games were concerned, Disney was more known for taking their current animated films and churning out a decent game spread across all of the popular game platforms. In recent years, however, with the releases of Toy Story 3, the Epic Mickey series, and now Disney Infinity, Disney video games are becoming much more immersive and in line with what big Disney fans are looking for in a video game. It finally seems like there are some serious Disney fans developing serious Disney games and in turn, Disney fans and gamers alike out there are definitely benefitting.
Just like a great Disney attraction or your favorite Disney theme park or resort, Disney Infinity deserves your attention. There's a lot here to uncover, and it's going to take a while to completely reveal everything it has to offer. As far as I'm concerned, they had me at hello, so let me stop writing so I can get back to the unfolding adventure that Disney Infinity is proving itself to be.
Thanks for checking back in with Disney Stuff. If you've taken the Disney Infinity plunge this week, let me know what you think. If you haven't yet, let me hear what you think of the whole concept and of the great figures. Click on the link below; let me hear your thoughts and I'll see you next time with more of that great Disney Stuff.