All you need to know about Skylanders Giants

In the space of two years Skylanders has become one of the biggest video game franchises. Whether you’ve read about it in the press or picked up on playground chatter, it’s worth being one step ahead of the kids. Here are our top tips – brought to you by gaming expert Andy Robertson – on how to get ahead in the game without breaking the bank.

The basics

Skylanders is a video-game and toy franchise that uses figures to grant access to characters and areas in the videogame. A starter pack provides the game, a portal peripheral used to bring the toy characters to life in the game and three toy figures.

The Skylanders Giants videogame retails for £49.99 for a starter pack or £39.99 for a booster pack if you already own the original game. The figures sell for between £8 and £15. There are 40 or so toy figures available for each Skylanders game.

The novelty is that the game saves progress to the toy figures wirelessly via the portal. They can be taken on and off the portal at any stage to swap characters in the game. They are also compatible with any version of the game. So, for example, you can take your Wii figures to a friend’s house and use them on their Xbox version of Skylanders.

The toys

There are four different types of figures you can buy; each is distinguishable from its packaging. Series 1 figures (with a green base) are from Spyro’s Adventure. Series 2 figures (with an orange base) are reposed versions of the original figures re-released with Skylanders Giants. New light up Lightcore figures were released for Giants and illuminate when they are on the portal. Eight Giant and eight new normal figures were added to the collection for Giants.

The first game in the series, Skylanders: Spyros Adventure, supports all figures with green bases that were released with it. It also supports characters for Giants (with orange bases) that existed originally. Check packaging for compatibility.

The second game in the series, Skylanders Giants, supports all figures. Original green based figures bring all their upgrades with them into the new game and can upgrade to a higher level. Series 2 re-posed versions of the original figures also get a special Wow-Pow attack and the ability to switch upgrade paths at will. The light-up Lightcore figures get a special smart bomb attack when they join the game.

The video game

Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and Skylanders Giants both offer similar gameplay. This is a two-player simultaneous action adventure where you shoot and fight enemies and solve puzzles – quite similar to the Lego games although without the split screen.

Skylanders Giants offers more interactions from a wider set of figures. It also offers a difficulty level that enables young (or advanced) players to be accommodated and provides another reason to replay the game once it has been finished. The 360 and PS3 version of the original game has a very difficult final boss (also true but less so on the Wii).


You can complete both Skylanders Giants and Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure with just the starter pack characters. Additional figures do extend gameplay by granting access to new characters and areas, but are a “nice to have” rather than necessity.

To be able to access every area in Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure you need one figure in each of the eight element groupings. The same figures can be used to access every area in Skylanders Giants although you also need one Giant to access other areas – which the game comes with.

You can identify which grouping a figure is in from its packaging and the materials of its base. You can also look on the bottom to find the element symbol, or check details in the game by pausing to access the menus.

The figures are not all available at the same time. Shops stock new models in groups with new waves of figures made available during the life of the game. Second hand figures often sell on eBay for much more than their retail price due to their rarity.

Certain figures are available in a limited edition “Legendary” variant that provides increased stats in the game. Some of these variants are only available from a particular retailler. Some are only available in a certain country. Additionally there are a large number of novelty figures that can be found at random at retail. Silver, Gold, Glow in the Dark and even Flock covered figures are much sought after although do not make a big difference in the game.

Saving money

The game contains video trailers for each toy character that are triggered as you play. These advertise new toys that players need to purchase if they want to use the character in the game. It is worth noting the above point that these are optional extras not required to complete the game.

You can use the portal from the first game with Skylanders Giants. To this end there is a Portal owner’s expansion pack that offers better value to returning players. Portals for Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure were battery powered for Wii and PS3, whereas for Giants they are wired. This is to enable the portal to draw more power for the light-up Lightcore figures.

Andy Robertson (@GeekDadGamer) produces Family Gamer TV and the Family Gaming blog.

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  1. We have skylanders port which we use for my Grandsons giants ,he wants to get Spyro -can we use the same port

  2. I own the two games, but I´m kinda new to this game, but one thing that realize its that some lightcore figures works on the 3DS version of Spyro’s Adventure even when the package its marks that only will work on Giants… the ones that I already use on Spyro’s Adventures are Eruptor and Drobot… are there another ones that works?

  3. Skylander giant

    I want to know what is the difference between light core and normal skylanders

  4. This was really helpful! I am getting my son started on skylanders and this helped me figure out which ones to get him. Knowing that they each had an element and that you needed all 8 to navigate the entire game helped me the most. Thanks man.

    • Glad it was useful!

      • Thanks for the info, it was very helpful. If I buy used Skylanders Giants figures on Ebay, will they work? Some of them say they come with the card, but no code. What does that mean? My son just got the Giants starter pack yesterday and I would like to get him some more giants/figures. Thanks.

  5. Hello,
    Is there a difference between the XBox 360 games for different countries?
    I mean – can I buy any xbox 360 game in the US and it will work in Europe?
    Thank you

  6. i am totally knew to this world, but i am wanting to get my boy a starter pack for xmas, being a complete novice, does this hook up to the standard Wii i have, or do i need different equipment, he keeps talking about it (age 6yrs) so want to make sure i get it right..

  7. I am just getting my son started with the skylanders this Christmas what is the best one to start with?

  8. Hello my son who turns 5 just before Xmas keeps on going on about skylanders. He has never played any consoles. Which console do you recommend. The wii, will u or 3ds to play this game?

  9. My son has the Giants game and LOVES it! He talks with friends about the different characters and has it in his mind he wants ghost roaster from Santa. If he is a Spyros will he work with the giants game? He also wants swap force game/pack for Christmas. Just wondering if I need to start a spyros collection since he wants ghost roaster so bad.
    Thanks for the helpful tips!!
    A learning mom,

  10. We’re kinda new to skylanders so thanks for that info, very helpful. We have it on the Wii – and although we have about a dozen skylanders figures now, for some reason when we start up the game, on the menu it only says 7 skylanders… is there some way to update? Thanks :)

  11. Hi,If I were to buy second hand figures from Ebay etc,would the previous owners level be on there or can I erase the memory?

  12. Can I use the giants booster pack with the giants starter pack?

  13. My son wants to buy all 3 of the games. is there 1 portal that is compatable with all the toys and all the games or will he need a portal for each one? he is spending hisown money and i don’t want to see him spend it if its not nessesary. help please

  14. My son has skylanders but some will not work on the portal and i noticed all the base colors are different what dovthe different colors on bases mean?

  15. We have a wii and the portal for the wii and alot of skylander figures. We bought a new xbox 360 so can we just buy the starter pack but still use the old figures we already have or do we have to buy all new figures?

  16. Will all of our wii skylanders and skylanders giants have the potential of being used on the new xbox one swap force portal or do we need to stay with the wii swap force to be able to use all of our older skylanders?


  17. Will the giants work with swap force base?

  18. Once you press the PS button a menu is going
    to be displayed. The Play – Station 3 comes with a XMB (Cross
    Media Bar) menu system which is very easy to navigate and one
    with the choices would be to access a web site browser.
    Now that you have your PS3 turned off, it’s time to install the PS3 Sixaxis drivers and configure the new hardware to do business with Windows 7.
    Though currently unable to make outgoing calls, PSPhone is also capable of communicating
    over both CDMA & GSM cellular networks.

  19. Hi My son would be new to Skylanders and now that Swap-Force has been released, would it be nessary to purchase Spyro’s adventure first then Giants and then go to Swap-force.

  20. I just started playing Giants with my kids. When we complete a level we notice when we are missing something, a treasure, or something similar. Can we go back and replay a level to try and find all of the items?

  21. I have spyro adventure portal, and have adventure game, and Giant game. But I don’t have Giants portal, I have tried adventure portal in Giants game and it works with old figures. I am asking if I buy Giants figure will it work in Giants game on adventure power portal (it is xbox360 and portal is USB)

  22. can you use the skylanders wii characters on the xbox 360 portal

  23. My son wants the Skylander Giant “crusher”. We can’t seem to find it in stores, but I see that it is available on Amazon. However: it says that it is Xbox or Playstation compatible. I was under the assumption that the figures were able to be used on any system as long you have the proper portal. He has the Wii system. Can someone PLEASE help!?

  24. Can the figures cross platforms? (ie Can I use ps3 figures on the wii portal?)

  25. Do the characters work on all portals? Example Xbox to ps3. I have the ps3 portal and want to purchase characters from someone’s Xbox game

  26. We have Swap Force. My son wants Giants now (I know – we are going backwards). Will the Swap Force portal work, or do I need to buy the old Giants portal?

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