I still remember my first real hunt.
I had found a sealed copy of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure shortly after the game's release in 2011 at Goodwill for the ridiculously low price of $24.99. However, I wasn't sure the three included figures of Spyro, Gil Grunt, and Trigger Happy could satiate me. I'd already splurged on Stealth Elf, Hex, Drobot, and Wrecking Ball to start building a stable of warriors that could cover any in-game eventuality, but knew I needed more to ensure I'd be prepared for any situation. Plus, the figures looked incredibly cool.
It was then that I decided to take the game and my burgeoning collection to my friend's home. We have a weekly game night, and I reasoned Skylanders would be a nice addition to our entertainment lineup. It was better received than I expected. Coos of "He's just a baby!" and "I want to play as this guy. You can have this one; I want this one." filled the room. Of course, it didn't take long for my friends to echo my sentiments that the Skylander army we had wasn't enough; we needed more.
This was back toward the end of November of 2011. Skylanders were at a premium then, even less desirable ones like Dino-Rang or Boomer, who would eventually be so prevalent that stores can't get rid of them even with "Buy one, get one free" specials. At this point, we relished the chance to possibly find new figures.
Which meant we spent two hours going up and down North Avenue in Elmwood Park, Illinois, checking every possible store that might sell Skylanders. We hit Toys “R” Us, Target, Meijer, GameStop, and even Walmart. Our search wasn't especially fruitful at the time, though we did acquire an Empire of Ice Adventure Pack someone had hidden in the action figure aisle at Toys “R” Us and a Triple Character Pack with Drobot, Flameslinger, and Stump Smash at Target. Yes, practically one day in and we already had a double because somebody—who I swear wasn't me—desperately wanted Stump Smash, and Drobot was so cool that we reasoned a second figure would be necessary for when one of my friends obtained her own copy of the game because she fell in love with the robot dragon too.
Subsequent Skylanders hunts haven't been nearly as satisfying as the first, but there's still something special about each one. Once you know there's just one or two figures you really want, there's a sort of rush and thrill as you take a moment to check the racks for that one figure that can perfectly complete your collection. I waited weeks for Cynder, and, when I heard some stores were finally getting her single character pack in, I headed to the most out-of-the-way GameStop I knew to begin my search. It was the same one, in fact, where I found my backward-compatible PS3. The gamble served me well, as they did in fact have a single Cynder, who quickly found her new home and went on to become one of my most-used and favorite figures.
That same rush just hasn't been there for Skylanders Giants, I will admit. It's primarily due to timing. The only figures I felt I truly needed were Pop Fizz, Fright Rider, Hot Head, Sprocket, Flashwing, Eye Brawl, and Hot Dog. Of those, only Hot Head and Hot Dog were really rare. I found Pop Fizz and Fright Rider easily after getting the Portal Owner Pack for my PS3 for my birthday. Hot Head was a happy surprise. I was mildly interested in him, picking up a Nintendo Points card as a gift for a friend from Target and saw his box on a shelf. I wasn't even looking for him, didn't know he was already released, and there he was. I was initially thrilled when I found Sprocket, as she was the only one at GameStop at the time I looked, but that happiness at finding the figure faded when I was walking through Walmart doing some grocery shopping, went past the toy section on the way to the registers, and saw an endcap that had three of her figures and two Flashwings.
However, I have high hopes for the Eye Brawl and Hot Dog hunts. Rumor has it they're far rarer than the other figures have been and it seems some scavenging may be necessary for my crew to come up with one or both of them. Silly as it may sound, I look forward to it. The companionship on the journey and good times to come once the figures are accumulated make the effort worth it.
So long as I have first dibs on actually using Hot Dog. That fire-puppy is mine, people, and don't you forget it. You can go play with Spyro or Zap now. They're old.
Date: February 7, 2013