Skylanders might be on its fifth iteration and the stress to keep up with all those new figures can be positively overwhelming… for the obsessive-compulsive gamers among us. For everyone else, it’s a pretty good time to reflect on the past games and take a good hard look at the figures that we loved, but have since gone out of favor. In fact, for me personally, almost all my tried and true go-to figures are from the first two games. Here they are, in no particular order.
And yes, a lot of them are dragons.
The namesake of the original game and, indeed, the reason for this entire series, Spyro was and remains a hallmark of power and maneuverability. He can fly and spew triple fireballs, pound the ground, and more. Getting the little dragon up to full strength is worth the effort, as his super-powered attacks and flight make him a shoe-in for boss fights and general usage. Spyro also comes in an absurd amount of different poses (and colors). Not counting the super-cute mini edition, there have been six different variants of the dragon—including two Dark and one Legendary figure.
Of all the giants—and they were all really only useful for their one game—Bouncer’s mix of lasers, lobbing ground rockets, and speed is especially useful, making him a killer agent for crowded and chaotic battlefields. His hands double as old west-style quick shooting laser pistols and by manually targeting his rockets on the fly (which takes some practice), he can do plenty of group damage. Bouncer even has a mean eye beam to plow the area directly ahead of him. He’s also just a cool looking figure, reminiscent of ‘50s-era sci-fi robots with lots of golden shine and style.
Possibly the worst mother in all of gaming, Sonic Boom is another triple threat aerial character. She’s a griffin with surprisingly effective sonic blast powers, but the real appeal of the character is her egg-laying skills. Fully powered, this feathered fighter can lay eggs that hatch into frisky baby griffins and grow to adolescence if they survive long enough. They fight all on their own and are disposable, so when you lose them, she can just hatch more. Yes, it’s wrong, yet highly useful in both single and multiplayer games.
The ultimate vegan warrior, Camo is a tail-thwacking, acid (we assume) spitting, explosive watermelon growing eco monster. Well, he’s half dragon, half plant apparently… Camo is a fast and aggressive fighter, but his death melons are the perfect way to clear a cluster of minor enemies fast. He digs into the ground and launches a circle of exploding watermelons around him. Anything caught in the blast comes out looking like they got their butt kicked by Gallagher, if they come out at all.
Next to Spyro, Cynder is easily the most powerful and versatile dragon of the group. Her lightning breath weapon is a substantial heavy hitter when fully powered. She can summon ghostly servants that will harm anything they touch. Her shadowy speed attack is unrivaled, however, since careful use of this dash will make her invulnerable for a second. This lets Cynder slice through a whole line of enemies, causing lingering damage. Her ability to fly gives her an added bonus as well, making her an all around awesome fighter. An amusing aside about the character’s origin is she used to be Spyro’s villain in his mostly forgotten non-Sony exclusive sequels, before joining sides with him.
The original Hex was one of the most fragile figurines in the entire series—her spindly arms had a bad habit of breaking off at the elbow. Thankfully, real-world dismemberment doesn’t affect her in-game usefulness in the slightest, making this queen of the undead element a great choice for inflicting massive damage on the forces of Kaos. Her terrific and upgradable distance attack spell is great for keeping bad things at bay, but she offers some heavy duty, slower attack and defense spells as well. She can create a towering bone wall to shield both characters in two-player mode (or just her in single-player) and has a literally skull-crushing ground attack where she sends giant skulls high into the air, which promptly plummet to the ground with great effect.
Prism Break is slow, but his prism laser attack is more effective than almost any other standard character’s base power. This laser could blast through crystals in the landscape that otherwise required special bombs to get past and it can burn through enemies with equal aplomb. He’s a lot like a turret, in that standing him in place while constantly shooting his burning laser in a circle is a perfectly viable tactic. That said, he’s a better auxiliary character when playing with a friend who has a more agile fighter.
The last dragon in our list is Zap, a reptile that proves mixing water and electricity is actually a dandy idea. He can’t fly like most of the other dragons, but speedy Zap is just fun to use. He’s quick and trails lightning with his dash move, which does continual damage to anyone caught in its wake. He also comes equipped with an excellent fire and lightning breath weapon and, once upgraded, can send a massive wave out that crushes enemies. He’s like the Geico lizard on steroids.
It takes a while to warm up to ol’ Gill. At first, he seems slow and gawky, but the more you upgrade this tenacious gillman, the better he gets. Eventually, his basic harpoon attack becomes useful and can be charged up into a massive flying anchor. Better yet, his gun can double as a water blaster, sending out a powerful high-pressure liquid stream that pushes enemies back. Finally, all that initial slowness takes a back seat when he upgrades to a water-powered jet pack, enabling him to fly through the levels while doling out damage.
Wrecking Ball wins extra points for being the most adorable and weird of the original Skylanders crew. He’s a bug larva that accidentally grew large and intelligent, with a tongue that can inflict terror and pain on anything in his way. Wrecking Ball likes to either eat his enemies or just barrel through them, and while he would never be a first choice character, his goofy moves are just hilarious to use. He also has a nasty burp and can gain health from devoured opponents. Power him up, and his roll attack generates a deadly energy field as well. Plus, look at that little guy. He’s just so damn ugly cute.
Jason D’Aprile has been covering games and entertainment for the last three decades across a variety of platforms, many of which are now extinct. In addition to covering gaming (both obscure and otherwise), he also writes a bit of the odd fiction and tries hard to avoid social media.