Activision notched an unexpected hit this year when they mashed up collectible toys and video games to create Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure. The idea of static toys that you could bring to life inside of a playable world appealed to kids and adults alike, including Kotakuites Brian Crecente, his son Tristan and Mike Fahey.
Sales for Skyalnders figures have proven brisk so it makes sense that Activision would grow the franchise while buzz is hot. Remember this is the company that squeezes every bit of juice out of its franchises, sometimes to great success as with Call of Duty and sometimes to exhaustion as with Guitar Hero.
Skylanders Universe is a virtual world not unlike the kind that Sony Online Entertainment's previously done with Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures and Free Realms. You don't have to own a piece of Skylanders-branded plastic to sign up and users can grab their own virtual patch of Skyland and customise it as they want, along with a Skylander character. It's filled with low-impact activities and will surely get the kind of constant content update that makes these kinds of enterprises go. Time will tell if Activision's new expansion will be able to compete with the Webkinz and Club Penguin offerings that already dominate this part of the kids-web landscape.