Skylanders 101 presented by SCL

Skylanders Waves

Skylanders ship in waves. This means that not all new Skylanders characters are available on the same day the game is released. This also means that as you get further away from the release date, many of the early releases become hard to find and some even go out of production.

Generally there are 5 Waves per game. These Waves are not officially announced by Activision or the stores. So it is often hard to identify which Skylanders characters belong to which Wave and when each Wave actually begins.

The shipping containers that stores receive are marked with a Wave number, but these are usually removed before they reach the sales floor and therefore are not usually seen by the general public. To make things even more confusing, Activision has been known to sneak in extra Waves (i.e. Wave 2.5, Wave 3.5, or Wave 5.1).

Due to the unpredictability of these Waves, fans and collectors always need to be on the lookout for new characters when visiting their local stores.

Why are they shipped in Waves?

If you've ever worked in retail, you probably have a pretty good understanding of why Skylanders ship in waves.

  1. Production Time

    It takes many, many months to push out the millions of Skylanders produced each year. So by creating Waves they can prioritize which figures need to be produced first and ship them to stores while they get started on the next Wave.

  2. Shelf Space

    Product creators and vendors typically have to pay to get shelf space in stores. Naturally, the more shelf space you want, the more it's going to cost. But at the same time you can't fit 30, 40, or 50 different products in a 4-foot space. So unless you're Lego (who will buy out entire aisles in the toy store), space is limited.

  3. Continued Interest

    All in all though, I really don't think Activision really minds this arrangement. As a byproduct of the limited shelf space and production waves, it means that they are putting new product in the stores almost year-round. This means that they have fans and collectors like us in the stores looking at and talking about their product all year long. I don't think they could ask for much better than that.

When does each Wave release?

While it is fairly common knowledge that Activision does not publicly announce their release dates, data collected over the past five years shows us some semblance of a pattern.