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Nintendo has a habit of producing different kinds of hardware to experiment and see what people really like. That can make for some great devices (I’m pretty fond of my Wii U 7 Ways The Wii U Is Better Than The Xbox One And PS4 7 Ways The Wii U Is Better Than The Xbox One And PS4 While the battle between the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One rages on, a third competitor watches from the sidelines: the Wii U. Read More ), and some more questionable ones (oh, hello, Virtual Boy 4 Nintendo Products That Were Way Ahead Of Their Time 4 Nintendo Products That Were Way Ahead Of Their Time Nintendo has always been an innovative company, but even their lesser-known products were ahead of their time. Read More ).

Nowadays, we have access to tons of peripherals for Nintendo’s newest consoles, the Wii U (our review Nintendo Wii U Review and Giveaway Nintendo Wii U Review and Giveaway Despite the increasing shift to mobile gaming, consoles are still very popular devices for playing immersive, graphics-intensive games; and that won’t change anytime soon as long as the major console makers continue to improve with... Read More ) and the New Nintendo 3DS (our review New Nintendo 3DS XL Review and Competition New Nintendo 3DS XL Review and Competition The New 3DS XL is here, and it brings some interesting changes – but is it worth upgrading if you already have a 3DS? Should new users save some cash and buy the older generation? Read More ). Some of these are Nintendo-made, and they’re called amiibo, but you could also buy Activation’s Skylanders or Disney’s Infinity figurines.

All three of these options allow you to essentially buy a toy that comes to life within the game, but they vary a lot in the way that they handle that. We’re here to break down all the differences and help you choose which to invest your money in.

Amiibo

Famous for being highly desired and nearly impossible to get a hold of, Nintendo’s amiibo launched last fall with the release of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS. 12 core amiibo were available at launch (if you were able to order one before they sold out), and Nintendo has been releasing more every few months.

They’ve since created a bunch more amiibo-compatible games, though some figures are only compatible with certain games. While Super Smash Bros. and Mario Party 10 support a wide range of amiibo, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse only supports a Kirby figures, and Hyrule Warriors only supports Link and Toon Link.

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Likewise, the amiibo serve very different functions in the various games. While amiibo in the Super Smash Bros. world can be leveled up and customized, the Kirby amiibo in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse only gives you a special in-game bonus once every day. Nintendo has a nice compatibility chart for seeing which games work with the different amiibo.

And Nintendo has no plans of slowing down. The upcoming Yoshi’s Woolly World is set to feature plushy wool amiibo, and Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival will be compatible with eight brand new Animal Crossing-based figures as well as new amiibo cards.

Figures are currently sold individually for $9.99 to $12.99 each. They’re the only toys on this list that are supported without an external reader. Amiibo are read via the Wii U’s GamePad or the lower screen on the New Nintendo 3DS. Because of this, however, they are the only toys on this list that are limited to only Nintendo-consoles in terms of compatibility.

Amiibo uses NFC technology NFC! What Is It Good For? Here Are 5 Uses NFC! What Is It Good For? Here Are 5 Uses If your phone doesn’t already have a Near-Field Communication chip in it, your next one probably will. High-end Android handsets are quickly adopting the tech and while Apple has so far shrugged it off, adoption... Read More to do this, and they plan to launch a peripheral for the old Nintendo 3DS that should allow people to use amiibo with those devices — though you might just want to look into upgrading to the New 3DS Nintendo's New 3DS - Here's Why You Should Be Excited Nintendo's New 3DS - Here's Why You Should Be Excited More than just the size and style redesign of the 3DS XL, the New models are a half step toward being a new generation, with a faster CPU, more buttons, and an exclusive game announced. Read More at that point.

Skylanders

Chronologically, Skylanders are actually the first of the toys that come to life (technically, they’re second to the UB Funkeys, but Skylanders was the first to be widely successful). With a little help from the famous Spyro series, Activision basically created the popular market that Nintendo and Disney later jumped into.

The first ever Skylanders games, called Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, came out all the way back in 2011. It came with three characters — Spyro, Trigger Happy, and Gill Grunt — but there were 32 total standard characters available for purchase, each belonging to one of the eight elements of the Skyland world (though this was later expanded to 11 elements).

The next game in the series is Giants, followed by Swap Force, then Trap Team, and now Superchargers. Superchargers is set to come out on September 20th, and it will be the first of the series to use vehicles.

Nintendo and Activision also reached a deal so that Donkey Kong and Bowser could make an appearance as playable characters in the game. The Donkey Kong and Bowser figurines will actually have a switch on the bottom that allows them to switch between being amiibos and Skylanders.

Prices of the Skylanders figurines vary wildly, and they can be sold individually or in packs. Since they’re necessary for the game, Starter Packs are generally sold with several characters included. You also get a Portal that allows your characters to jump into the game.

Older figurines from the earlier series are often much cheaper, and most of them work with the newer games. Compatibility has been a been confusing with so many games and figurines available, but there is a fantastic website for seeing which figurines are compatible with each game.

Skylanders can also be used across platforms. The newest game currently available, Trap Team, is on the Wii, Wii U, 3DS, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, and iOS.

Disney Infinity

Launched in 2013 after the initial success of Skylanders, Disney Infinity is very similar. It’s equally cross-platform and uses toys that you place on a reader (called the Infinity Base) to make them appear in the game. There are also World Discs that unlock areas to play and Power Discs that can enhance characters and can change the environment.

The original release, Disney Infinity, included popular Disney characters from movies like Frozen, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Cars.

The second edition of the game, Disney Infinity: Marvel Superheroes, featured characters from Big Hero 6, Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers, and more.

The upcoming third installment, Disney Infinity 3.0 (which will be released on August 23rd), is based heavily on the Star Wars franchise, introducing Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and more.

Like Skylanders, figurines can be bought individually or in bundles with prices varying wildly. Cheaper figurines can go for $6 while bundles of multiple can sell for upwards of $30. The good news is that older figurines are always playable on the newer games (though newer figurines won’t work on older games).

The game also has two main game modes, Play Set and Toy Box. While Play Set has a story line, Toy Box is more of an open world adventure. Toy Box does manage to set Disney apart from Skylanders in terms of replay-ability, and most people probably have a stronger connection to the vast array of well-known Disney characters than the relatively less known Skylander characters.

Wait, There’s More?

Not to be left out of the toys-to-life fun, LEGO will be launching LEGO Dimensions on September 27th, 2015, which will feature (you guessed it!) LEGO toys that can be zapped into the game.

Even though it will be coming out around the same time as Skylanders: Superchargers and Disney Infinity 3.0, it has no previous iterations for us to judge it on.

The idea is similar to Skylanders and Disney Infinity, though. You have a device that you place toys on, allowing them to come to life within the game. LEGO characters come from a variety of universes including DC Comics, Lord of the Rings, the Wizard of Oz, the Simpsons, and more.

While it is cross-platform in terms of consoles, LEGO hasn’t said anything about it being available on mobile operating systems like Android or iOS.

Which Is Your Favorite?

These toys-to-life games, while fun, can be a major drain on the wallet. One report found that in the last six months, parents have spent $131 on average for toys-to-life figurines like amiibo, Skylanders, and Disney Infinity figurines.

So, while you should try not to get that sucked into this money grab, it’s probably likely that you’ve at least purchased one of these. They are pretty fun, after all.

Which is your favorite? Have you gotten a bunch of amiibo for Super Smash Bros., or are you more a fan of Skylanders or the Disney universe? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Naxia9
    November 2, 2016 at 1:25 am

    skylanders,amiibo,infinity,and the league are the same.They should join together as one

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