Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Skylanders' the limit

We bought Michael the video game Skylanders as a gift after he got the palatal expander put on his teeth (instead of getting a series of much, much more expensive retainers). It instantly became his favorite game. Skylanders is basically a combination of Pokemon, the Lego adventure games and Gauntlet. The game is somewhat geared toward grade-schoolers and comes with a special controller: a platform on which you put action figures, which then appear in your game. The more varied action figures you possess, the more gameplay options you have. The concept is ingenious, guaranteeing kids will want more action figures. Since it was released last year, Activision has sold 20 million Skylander figures. The game is fun, and Ben now loves it too -- not just the video game, but also playing with the action figures by themselves.

Not surprisingly, finding the Skylander figures since Christmas has been difficult. Fortunately, I found a few extra figures when I bought the game a couple weeks ago. The boys got a little bit of Valentine's Day money from relatives, so I proposed we go on a search for Skylanders. I wasn't optimistic, but thought the quest might be fun for a Saturday afternoon.

We went to Sears first. I thought Sears was a good possible choice for Skylanders because it isn't really a destination for video game purchases (unless it's 1980 and are buying Sears Tele-Games -- basically, an Atari 2600 under a different name). Alas, Sears was a bust. We walked into the mall to try GameStop, only to discover that GameStop had closed up shop in this location. Our next destination was another GameStop right near a Target, with the plan we would go to both stores. We struck out in both stores, though in between, the boys got new shoes way on sale at a Skechers outlet.

Michael had a gift card from McDonald's and offered to buy lunch if he got to go to McDonald's. After lunch, we headed for 900 East, on which is a Kmart and Walmart across the street from each other. Kmart seemed like a likely choice because, well, no one shops at Kmart anymore. No dice, so we drove across to Walmart. A couple days ago at a different Walmart, I found no Skylanders, so I wasn't optimistic, but then to my surprise, this Walmart had three packages of one figure left in stock. Excitedly, we bought Double Trouble (the name of the Skylander) and departed, feeling embiggined enough to try another store.

Unfortunately, Toys 'r' Us was a dead end. Leaving the parking lot, I couldn't make a left turn because of a median. I turned right, and instead of making a U-turn, I pulled into a Shopko parking lot. I knew that the last time I was at the Shopko near our house, it didn't have any Skylanders in stock, so again, I wasn't optimistic. I told the boys to think positive thoughts as we walked inside. The positive thoughts worked -- we found two Skylanders we didn't have, including a fire element Skylander (the game features eight elements, but we were missing figures from two of the elements, fire and undead)! When a Shopko employee asked if he could help us out, I asked if he had any more figures. He said no but said to try another Shopko because they might have got some in stock, too (adding that his store just got a shipment yesterday and was almost sold out again). We giddily bought Boomer and Eruptor, and I proposed we hit the Shopko near our house to see if we could find an undead Skylander.

We hit the mother lode. The run on figures we saw at the other store hadn't reached this Shopko. The boys couldn't believe their luck. I couldn't believe our luck. Thinking we might not see this many figures in one place again, I let the boys use up all their Valentine's money and chipped in a little too, and we left with four more figures -- Zap, Whirlwind, Drill Sargent and the undead Chop Chop -- to give us seven on the day.

If only we had gone to Shopko first, our three-hour quest would have taken just 10 minutes. But then it wouldn't have been the fun adventure it was. We got to spend an afternoon together, than a little extra time later trying out the new Skylanders (Eruptor is my favorite one we bought today -- as Michael so eloquently put it, "You press B and he barfs lava!). There's the adage that it's the journey, not the destination. In our quest, the journey and the destination were equally as important.

No comments: