The Sky is Limited… Where Are the Skylanders?

Gamers are no strangers to shortages. Most of us learned early on that in order to secure a console at launch, preordering is almost always required. We get it.

Once we have a game at home (and the platform on which to play it), though, we’re used to being ready to play as much of that game as we want. We’re also no strangers to expansions, whether they are available on another disk or as DLC. With rare exception, all we need to do to access those expansions is purchase them digitally and download.

Enter Skylanders.

As you know from my review and our lauding of the game on the N4G Podcast, we’re big fans. The game is a very clever action-RPG that, while designed for younger audiences, is quite enjoyable for adults. Any gamer purchasing Skylanders should be aware before checking out that what you get in the box won’t give you access to every area of the game. In order to access all of the elemental areas, you need at least one Skylander figure in each of the eight elements. The starters come with three, leaving you with five to purchase as singles, in three-packs or adventure packs. You don’t need more than the starter pack to complete the game, and if that’s your choice, you’ll still have a great experience. However, if you want a more complete adventure, you’ll have at least eight figures and you are constantly tempted with previews for figures that aren’t in your collection or aren’t out yet. All you need to do is go to your local toy or game store and pick up more figures. Right?

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Wrong.

Currently, Skylanders are sold out in many areas. You can probably still find the starter packs, but if you are looking for figures to round out your elemental needs, you’re probably out of luck for now.

This exposes a major problem with the game’s model. Unlike DLC for games, which is available at nearly all times and in infinite supply, the Skylanders Toy-loadable Content is a bit trickier. The cost is higher, which should be something anyone purchasing the starter is aware of before swiping their credit card. More importantly, though, you need to find an outlet that has figures in stock. While it was a bit tricky to find specific Skylanders through the holiday season, if you were simply looking to fill an elemental slot without regard for the character, you would most likely find something to meet your needs (except for Air, which is scarcer because one of the two available figures is only available at Target).

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Between Christmas and the turning of the new year, something happened to the supply. After calls to many retailers in a few different areas of the country, and reports from readers, figure packs (in any configuration) seem to be completely depleted from store shelves. Sure, demand is most certainly up. Those gamers, both young and old, looking to build a collection after receiving the game for a gift are on the hunt. Unfortunately, this poses an interesting question for those that want to play the game, “Do I play now, leading to backtracking later, or simply wait until I have one character of each element?” Choice about whether to purchase more figures has been removed from the equation, replaced by a far less appealing one.

We’ve reached out to Activision to gain some understanding of what’s going on with the supply and when stores might be restocked and, as of publishing, haven’t received a response. If Skylanders is to be a model for future game development for young audiences, this issue needs to be addressed. Supply must be constant through the product’s life cycle. No one is expecting every retailer to have every figure, or even every element. For every retailer to be completely devoid of stock, though, is unacceptable. If this problem persists, Skylanders will turn from an astounding success to a horrific failure from a long-term development perspective. Those that jumped on the Skylanders bandwagon will, no doubt, remember product shortages when the inevitable Skylanders 2 (or other toy-based game) arrives.

We certainly hope that this is a very short-term problem as we’re big fans of the game and the ability to move characters across platforms. We’ll be sure to keep you posted if we receive further information.

Update (10:55 AM EST) – This was spotted on the official Skylanders Facebook page (and brought to our attention by Dan Amrich/@OneofSwords):

We are working hard to get more Skylanders in stores as fast as possible! Starting in mid-January, you’ll also be seeing Skylanders that haven’t yet been released. We’ve listened to your requests and are pulling together as much info as we can share – check back at Facebook soon.

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Update (5:17 pm EST) – I happened to be at a local Toys R Us and noticed two things that bothered me.

First, their stock of figures was fully depleted (there were many starters, though). Second, the chain is price gouging. MSRP on Skylanders figures is $7.99 for a single figure and $19.99 for a three-pack or adventure set. Prices at Toys R Us today are up 25% to $9.99 and $24.99.

Additionally, we strongly suggest you stay away from GameStop for online purchases. The figures are only available as a blind buy (random). They are also gouging with three-packs priced at $25 online.

Written by
Mike is the Reviews Editor and former Community Manager for this fine, digital establishment. You can find him crawling through dungeons, cruising the galaxy in the Normandy, and geeking it out around a gaming table.

Have your say!

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34 Comments

  1. I love the game and the concept. The biggest hit ever in my home. Now my kids (and me) are constantly dissapointed in this stocking issue. I call almost every day around and no answers for any of my questions. I am interested in if I can just return it since, for me, it’s useless without other characters that the company has no regard to even announce when more will be out. I see that business is not that important to them or they are so big headed that they think it wont affect them. Well, I’m tired of sad kids and me not able to give them any answer. Makes me feel horrible. So I am done. Going to find another cool family game and stear away from this company. Such a shame too. My kids are sad with my decision on top of everything but at least it will be the finally let down out of so many dragging on. All they needed to do was communicate like a real company who cares about business would…unless they are hiding something or ashamed. Tired of hearing about new characters they are planning. Work on your problem now…then expand!

    • The biggest problem im noticing isn’t the company per say buy the popularity I mean when they sell out of 30 figures the day they get them at my local store what do you expect to happen? the best solution i saw was to have Walmart email you when the figure you want is in stock, and just jump on it asap…..while it is disappointing to not be able to find the figure you want, its also a little fun going on the hunt reminds me of my Pokemon days trying to find a charzard

  2. Yeah, I went to the local Toys R Us and noticed the gouging. I’ve kept an eye out for the figures for 6 weeks now and to this day I haven’t seen anything other than the starter packs in the stores. No single figurines, not triple character packs, no adventure packs, no nothing.

    I was expecting there to be something this far after Christmas, but the shortage goes on. Hopefully one month in the distant future I’ll see some figure somewhere but I imagine most people are like me… they’ll buy the first thing they see because so far there has been nothing to be seen so the shortage will continue.

    Kinda stinks to have a game that’s only 3/8ths playable. Who knows if they’ll ever produce enough figures to reach the common joe.

  3. I am pissed with this game, as enjoyable and great concept that it is it really isn’t worth the headaches trying to get the characters that I want, checking stores regularly and calling several weekly for the past two months, the problem here is too many people are buying them up just to sell them on ebay for 3-6 times their value. I’m not paying obserd prices for a figurine no matter how bad I want it. at this rate I’m not getting any sequel they make as I don’t want to go through this headache again. instead of focusing on making new characters and their giants sequel they need to solve their supply issues. maybe if they made some way to regulate how many skylanders a person could buy they wouldn’t have this problem,

  4. My son plays it, But they need to solve their supply issues before I ever set down and play it for my self. I don’t like the idea of trying to play with only half the game.

  5. This is what happens when companies AND businesses become so big they cannot even handle themselves.

  6. Just like the Wii Shortage. Nintendo has never had a shortage so bad before and ironically it happened as soon as Nintendo got 1st place.

    Same deal with Microsoft and it’s ring of death.

    The moment a company becomes first they suddenly stop caring about their consumers and only care about money to the point they cannot even hear themselves when they speak.

  7. One more thing. This console war actually reminds me of the 1800s railroad war when many small companies owned railroads till they were bought out by a few mega companies (Railroad Giants) that price gouged their people.

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