Activision hit it big last year with Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure thanks to a smart pre-holiday season release date and an innovative strategy for monetizing a video game. Having collectible action figures which open up new game elements and characters makes Skylanders an easy game to market towards kids, and it worked.

We had reports coming in from everywhere not long ago of parents experiencing enormous difficulty trying to locate specific figures to purchase, with them selling out at many retailers. This success warranted a follow-up for Activision who love their annualized sequels, and today they’ve officially unveiled Skylanders Giants, a game we new was coming from Activision when they registered the “Skylanders Giants” domain names last month.

Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure has 37 playable characters and the actual game only comes with a few in the starter pack– The rest need to be purchased individually or in packs of three. During gameplay, players place the figures on the ‘Portal of Power’ and each character has their own special ability, some required to reach certain areas. Skylanders Giants builds upon that model, adding new characters and gameplay features.

Skylanders Giants introduces twenty new characters, among them the super-sized Giants with powers to match as well as a set of figures with new lighting technology that builds on the magic of the toys.  Additionally, the game features new Hero Challenges, more Battle Mode gameplay, and advanced integration across console, handheld, mobile and the Skylanders online universe.

37 + 20 characters makes Skylanders an impossible franchise to “collect ’em all” so to speak. The popularity of Spyro’s Adventure made the financial investment only made worse with online retailers charging an arm and a leg for individual figures at 3-4 times the actual suggested retail price. We hope with the Skylanders Giants there will be increased supply to meet demand and affordable bundles for players to acquire the “Giant” characters which are twice the size of the standard figures.

Wondering what the game does new?

Aside from new, larger in-game environments and gameplay features, the titular Giants are not only physically bigger but they come with powers/abilities appropriately scaled to their size. Of the new characters, some will feature “lighting technology” which has them glow when near the Portal of Power input device. All characters from Spyro’s Adventure will be playable in Skylanders Giants so the game is fully forward compatible.

Skylanders Giants will be on display at Toy Fair 2012 from February 12-15.

The Skylanders Giants starter pack will retail for $69.99 this fall for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii and handheld/mobile devices.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

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