There is a good chance I am having more fun pretending to be Iron Man with Disney's PlayMation toys than any child ever could.
One of the hottest toys going heading into the holiday season, Disney's Marvel-themed PlayMation gear and toys is an interactive electronic way to run about the house or yard pretending you're a superhero. That's why I took the set Disney graciously sent over to my parent's house, which is far away enough for me to be an adult yet close enough for me to still run to my mother if I need to shoot a video or get a boo-boo.
The $US99 starter kit includes a wearable piece of Tony Stark tech called the Repulsor Gear, two Activator bases and two smart figures — Captain America and the Iron Skull.
What does it do? Why, I'll show you what it does.
And then I'll tell you as well, as some of you people hate video.
The child (that's me in this situation — most situations really) straps on the Repulsor Gear and powers it on. Sounds sound. Lights blink. Then J.A.R.V.I.S., the AI eventually known as Vision in the Marvel movie universe, begins teaching the child the way of the Repulsor Gear.
In case you are worried the gear won;t fit your arm, my arm is a tree.
J.A.R.V.I.S. educates the player on how to fire missiles, shoot lasers and power up the old palm cannon. Then the Activators come into play.
These are basically smart targets. J.A.R.V.I.S. and various other Marvel characters will give the player missions — hunting Doombots in New York City, for instance — and the Activators are the robots. The player aims the Repulsor Gear at the Activator, lets loose their weapons and saves the day.
Neat, but that's been done. PlayMation takes it to the next level by communicating with the Repulsor Gear, allowing the player to dodge, jump and roll (I guess the rolling might help) to avoid incoming attacks. Do they press a button to deploy shields, or remain seated and lean to the left like the lazy person in the video above?
They move and jump and shout, of course. This is an electronic toy that promotes active movement, helping tire out your children so they go to bed at the correct time. Also keeping them healthy, I guess. Whatever.
It also helps foster a healthy imagination. As missions progress the Repulsor Gear takes the player around the world. In New York they will hear the sounds of bustling streets as they idle. During battle lights and sounds add a wonderful intensity.
The Repulsor Gear doesn't just play. It also remembers. As the player completes missions (25 of which are included with starter kit) and battle events they will level up, unlocking new skills and enhancing their stats.
Smart figures are incredibly smart. As well as giving players a chance to interact and fight alongside/against their favourite heroes and villains, they also level up, unlocking new skills not just for their character, but for the Repulsor Gear as well. The more figures collected, the more skills are unlocked.
There's one more essential tool in the PlayMation arsenal, and that's the Avengers Net app. It's where players can download new missions and update their gear.
There's an Armory, where players can test their weapons and customise the Repulsor Gear's loadouts.
A Mission Map, where players can explore the various locations and chart their progression.
There's even a S.H.I.E.L.D. database that keeps track of smart figure stats and gives helpful information on strategies used to take down various villains.
All of these elements come together to create an incredibly solid and satisfying new way to play that builds off a very old way to play. Most of us imagined we were superheroes when we were kids. This is that, only with a little technology to back it up.
Of course technology comes at a price. The Disney PlayMation starter kit runs US$99. Each of the addition figures — none of which are required mind you — run US$15. There's an Ultron Prowler robot (which I need) that costs US$40, and the official website lists something called the Gamma Gear as coming soon.
The starter kit is more than enough to set children of all ages on the path to superheroism. Aside from that, PowerA sent along a trio of accessories that make transporting PlayMation toys and keeping them running much easier.
Hey look, it's a themed bag! OK, maybe any bag will do for an adult, but kids enjoy branding. Probably.
PowerA's recharge packs are pretty much required purchases, replacing the AA batteries of the Repulsor Gear and Activators with rechargeable packs complete with USB charging cables.
As much fun as I have sitting in a chair and playing with Disney's PlayMation — and I do have a lot of fun ...
... this is a toy for active bodies and active imaginations. Collectors need not apply, and probably wouldn't apply anyway — the figures aren't exactly pretty. PlayMation's Avengers platform is a toy for the kids running around in their parent's backyard with capes tied around their necks. A beard will do in a pinch.