I arrived to pick up Clark at the grandparents' and he surprised me with a Wham-Shell.
Wham-Shell was the last Skylander we needed (out of 32) to complete the set. We got into Skylanders figuring "Oh sure, we'll just get one from each of the eight elemental categories so we can unlock everything in the game. Fin." Well, *I* got into Skylanders figuring that. But the stores kept running sales and deal gimmicks, and the fever to collect them all started burning.
A minority portion of our collection was assembled for free, because last winter it seemed like there was always a BOGO deal or some other kind of offer in place. But in the end, I'm still loathe to calculate the overall expense in play here. Skylanders has probably defeated the original Animal Crossing as the single game in which I've invested the most bucks.
Wham-Shell was the last dude we needed. His partners in this last rarity wave, Warnado and Camo, were found at Toys R Us several weeks ago. Clark and Grandma found Wham-Shell at a K-Mart. I'm told the K-Mart had two of them. The good side is that we never had to resort to paying secondary market prices for anything. We just waited out the lean times and stumbled into every great find... which was the silent deal I made with myself when we leaped into collecting these dumb things: that I would never stoop to paying some eBay asshat 5x price just because he got to the store before I did. GameStop, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, we checked them all and they all had figures we needed at one point or another. (Can't wait for the heat to completely fade and these damn things to start popping up at closeout shops like Five Below. #eyeroll)
I said 32 figures, but the total toy count is actually quite a bit higher. We have all four adventure packs (which are now all quite commonly found, which is good to see because if you're considering buying into Skylanders, you really need to get the adventure packs if only for the power-up toys). We have the dumb Best Buy exclusive Volcanic Vault. We have all four Legendaries... and Dark Spyro. We have the silver Spyro I picked up at E3. We have the translucent red Drill Sergeant and the translucent blue Bash... it would be nice to know if there's any more of these off-color figs coming as retailer exclusives, incidentally.
We've sent in our order forms for the sidekick mini-figures available only on the Frito-Lay snack offer.
And it all begins again when the sequel game, Skylanders: Giants, comes out this fall. Which will have another 32 figures, ahem. My fingers are crossed that they seriously improve the actual GAME part of Skylanders. What we have now is mostly good, but obviously clunky in parts and in severe need of polish. A sequel could really solidify things and justify all the money we've put into Skylanders. It would be a predictable shame if Activision just gave up and settled in for more toy money. I saw Giants at E3, but the demo did not show off much other than "Hey, now you'll have Giants in the game that can pick up boulders."
Another wish for the future: some toyetic that uses the figures. Like, a board game or playsets or something else to do with the toys themselves. Some years back, there was a line of microchipped Pokemon toys that worked in concert with a battle arena playset. It would be super cool if Skylanders could come up with something like that as well.
The absolute best Skylander side project is the iOS game, Cloud Patrol. It lets you unlock in-game characters for free if you have the corresponding toy. And it happens to be a fun game as well, considerably better than the console original.