Category Archives: ebay

The Sky’s the Limit: Game Review of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures

I like video games.  I’m not a huge nut nor am I super good, but I enjoy playing video games.  My twins have an XBOX360, my little ones have a Nintendo DS & Nintendo DSi, and we have a Nintendo Wii hooked up in our living room.  For Christmas Aunt Kathy & Uncle Bob gave us all Walmart gift certificates, so the little ones and I combined our cards and purchased a new game, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures.  But Skylanders isn’t just a new game, no, it is a new gaming experience where the sky’s the limit!

Most games merely come with the game itself, the disk or cartridge.  And yeah, that’s usually good enough.  Sometimes a game might come with a collector’s figurine or an action figure to place on a shelf to collect dust and serve as a symbol of geekiness.  Skylanders comes with the game, three action figures and the Portal of Power-all required to play the game.  The action figures are placed on the physical platform; place different action figures on the Portal of Power and they come alive in the game and the game changes as you place different action figures to play different characters.  Different characters unlock different areas of the game.  The game with the portal and 3 action figures cost $70 on all platforms.

Portal of Power

The Portal of Power, the wireless platform that comes with the game, is one of  the first new cool things I’ve seen in recent years-since the Wii Fit balance board.  The Portal of Power platform connects to the game console (XBOX360, PS3, Wii & 3DS, PC) much like a wireless mouse, with a little USB connector. Initial setup was plug and play and completely painless.

Action Figures

Skylanders is one of the first games to take the concept of action figures and collecting to the next level-and they’ve done it brilliantly.  Each game comes with three action figures that become characters in the game.  Up to two action figures can be placed on the portal simultaneously, for cooperative or versus play.  There are 37 action figures in all. Toys R Us even has a couple of different carrying cases!  Individually packaged action figures cost about $8.  3-packs of action figures cost about $20.

Each action figure has a memory chip in the base.   The memory chip  stores progress and since the action figures are not platform-specific, the action figures can be ported to a different system and all progress is portable as well.  For instance, I bought the Wii version of the game which comes with an action figure, Trigger Happy, but I can use Trigger Happy on an XBOX360 (or PS3 or 3DS or PC) and the progress and all the character’s status will follow.

Collect them All?

As stated before, there are 37 action figures in all.  This is where things can get a bit confusing (and expensive).  There are eight different groups or families of characters called Element Classes: Air, Earth, Fire, Life, Magic, Tech, Undead & Water.

Although the game can be beaten with the three characters that come with the game & portal, there are areas of the game that you cannot access unless you have a character from each class.  This is where the marketing guys start to earn their salary! 

So you really only need eight action figures right?  Well…

In other games, any Mario game for instance, you collect free lives as you play the game.  In Skylanders you collect free lives by collecting more action figures!  One character runs out of steam then take him off the portal and replace him with another. Well played Mr. Marketer dude.

There are eight classes with four action figures/characters per class, which is 32 action figures/characters.  There’s a pretty cool full-sized poster of all 32 action figures in between Justin Bieber and The Marvel Superheroes at the poster display.

Although listed as part of the “official” 32 action figures, the Drill Sergeant action figure is exclusively sold at Walmart.  Another point to the Marketing guys!

Ghost Roaster is included exclusively with the Darklight Crypt Adventure Pack (another point for the mad men).

Dark Spyro is not listed among the “official” 32.  The Nintendo 3DS version of the game, portal & figurines comes with Dark Spyro, to my knowledge this is the only way to purchase this action figure-to purchase the Nintendo 3DS version of the game which includes Dark Spyro.  This is where the marketing guys took collecting to the next level!  Dark Spyro is selling for a pretty penny on Ebay. Although Dark Spyro can be played on any of the Portals of Power (any of the game systems) it is only listed in the 3DS packaging.

Toys R Us has three exclusive “legendary” action figures that are also not listed among the “official” 32.  Legendary BashLegendary Chop Chop and Legendary Spyro can only be purchased at Toys R US. More points to the marketing geeks.  When in stock, the exclusive Toys R Us Legendary 3-pack can be purchased through TRU for about $25, or for around $40 on Ebay-again props to the marketing guys for creating a demand for toy collecting.

And last, but not least, according to the Skylander Wiki website there is also a Legendary Trigger Happy that may also be exclusive to TRU,

Legendary Trigger Happy is a rare counterpart of Trigger Happy. Little is currently known about him. He was first

Legendarytriggerhappysmile.png

seen in the 3DS version of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, in the list of all 37 Skylanders.

Here is a complete (as of this writing) list of all 37 action figures/characters:

Adventure Packs & Add-Ons

Adventure Packs come with an action figure and a few other object action figures-magic items.  Think of these as expansion packs.  Place a location figure on the Portal of Power and access a whole new chapter! Experience new challenges, menacing enemies and whimsical adventures.  An Action Pack with one action figure and a few object figures cost about $20.  There are four Adventure Packs:

Unreleased Adventure Packs (as of this post)

The Volcanic Vault is an exclusive portal, part of the Wii/360/PS3 Starter Pack when bought at Best Buy. When an action figure is placed on the Portal for the first time, it unlocks the multiplayer Volcanic Arena for play in Battle mode.

Game Play

The portal, action figures and collecting would be worthless if the game itself was boring and bland.  I’m happy to say that it is a fun game!  The game is geared to younger players, but has been getting very positive reviews from adult gamers (including the guy that works at my local Game Stop-he said he and his girlfriend are addicted!).  I’ve been playing it with my eight-year old and we’ve had a blast!  Like many video games there is a story line version that includes hunting and gathering, fighting, puzzles, collecting and powering up.  And like most video games there is a versus version where the characters fight each other in a battle royale, or street fighter  style.  I will say that the story line version of play, although very entertaining (the story was written by the writers of Toy Story), quick and fun is a little bit easy, but we are only about 15% through the game, so maybe I am speaking too soon.  And the key may be leveling up and buying powers.  UPDATE:  I am stuck at 33%…so it isn’t all THAT easy.

Obviously this game is the ultimate in hunting and gathering games!  There are lots of levels, lots of areas to unlock, lots of characters to collect, lots of things to find, lots of powers to buy, etc.

Playing Online

Each action figure comes with collectable cards and a code that can be entered to play the online version of Skylanders-much like Club Penguin (which means the online play is SAFE!). The Skylanders online game site is FREE and anyone can play without purchasing any pieces of the game.  The online version serves as an extension of the game and is completely safe for kids.  I’ve only played for an hour or so, but it seems pretty cool.  Especially designed for the young ones, if, as a parent, you find yourself addicted to the console game, give the keyboard and mouse to you child so you can play with the controller and nun chuck!

Its Not ALL About The Benjamins

One of the negatives of this game is the price.  The initial game, portal and three action figures, although not crazy expensive will cost you $70 on any console (including the 3DS).  Each additional action figure costs $7.00-$9.00 (dependeing on where you buy and if you buy in packs of three).  37 figurines x 8.00 = just under $300!  Plus the expansion packs and carrying cases…UGH!  Yeah, it can add up fast.  Here’s the good news, the game can be completed-without exploring ALL areas of the game-with the initial three action figures that come with the game.  And, if you aren’t into collecting, but want to complete all the areas of the the game, a minimum of eight action figures (about $75) are needed to unlock all of the areas of game play (maybe excluding the chapters introduced by the Adventure Packs).  However, if you really suck, keep purchasing more action figures to get more chances to pass that area you’re stuck on.

In all fairness it sounds like Activision’s marketing geniuses didn’t know that the game would take off.  Game Stop says that production should pick up and characters should flood the market at the end of February.

Overall Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures is an awesome game!

Skylanders Buyer’s Guide


Air
Lightening
Rod


Sonic Boom
Skylanders Spyro's Adventure: Sonic Boom

Warnado


Whirlwind

Earth
Bash

Dino-Rang

Legendary Bash

Prism Break
Skylanders Spyro's Adventure: Prism Break
Twrafin

Fire

Eruptor

Flameslinger

Ignitor

Sunburn

Life

Camo

Stealth Elf

Stump Smash

Zook


Magic


DARK Spyro


Double Trouble

Legendary
Spyro


Spyro

Voodood

Wrecking Ball

Tech
Boomer


Drill Sergeant


Drobot

Legendary Trigger Happy
Trigger Happy

Undead
Chop Chop

Cynder

Ghost Roaster

Hex

Legendary Chop Chop

Water
Gill Grunt

Slam Bam

Wham-Shell

Zap

3-PACKS Eruptor,
Chop Chop
Bash

Wrecking Ball,
Stealth Elf,
Sonic Boom


Whirlwind,
Double Trouble,
Drill Sergeant


Zap,
Hex,
Dino Rang


Drobot,
Flamslinger,
Stump Smash

Prism Break,
Boomer,
Voodood

Legendary Spyro
Legendary Chop
Chop Legendary Bash


ADVENTURE
PACKS(Expansion packs)
Darklight Crypt

Pirate Seas

 Empire of Ice

STARTER PACKGame,
Portal.
3 Skylanders
XBOX360

Wii

Nintendo 3DS

Playstatuin 3

PC

CASES(To store your Skylanders in!) Zip Case

Tower Case

Durk

Book Review: Titanium EBay by Skip McGrath

I love eBay. I love buying on eBay. I love selling on eBay. I love browsing eBay. I love sneaking in eBay at work. I love looking for silly stuff on eBay. I love wasting time on eBay. I love designing auctions and creating descriptions on eBay. I love making money on eBay.
It is that last one that I have been spending much time and interest in lately. And to that end I have picked up a great book by
Skip McGrath, entitled Titanium EBay.

Titanium is the top level of eBay power seller. A power seller is someone who sells a certain amount of stuff on eBay…the bottom level is brownse-$1000 a month. Once you have sold $1000 worth of stuff on eBay for three consecutive months and met the other requirements (account in good standing a descent feedback score, etc) then eBay invites you into the Power Seller Program. This doesn’t mean that they have profited $1000, just moved that amount of stuff on eBay within a 30-day period for at least 3 consecutive periods. If one is at the Titanium level then they are selling over $150,000 A MONTH on eBay! Basically you are an eBay Rock Star! There really are Titanium Power Sellers out there!

Titanium EBay is written to teach how to be an eBay rock star! It really is a great book. It covers all of the basics-getting officially organized as a business, how to sell something on eBay and where to find stuff to sell on eBay and how to sell stuff more efficiently on and off of eBay. It talks about business management, financing and organization. The not-so-basic is how McGrath simply explains the ins and outs of those subjects.

I have been thinking about officially getting organized (in the IRS sense) as a business for some time. But I thought it was expensive and complicated; I was very intimidated! But McGrath explains the process in plain English and it turns out it is fairly simple and not too expensive! Chapter 3 is dedicated to the different types of businesses-how businesses can be organized. Chapter 4 talks about local business licensing, federal tax ID numbers, state sales tax numbers, and talks about employee taxes. The author even provides links to download forms for organizing businesses. I printed out several forms and have been carrying them folded up in the book!

The book gives you very simple and powerful tips and tricks to sell on eBay. Much attention is given to researching products to sell on eBay. In my opinion this is one of the most important subjects of the book. My problem of late is not finding a source from which to buy products to sell, but which of those products will actually turn a profit on eBay, which ones will sell! McGrath goes into great detail about the different methods to research the salability of a product. He talks about life-cycles of a product. And even how to track products that have sold through eBay.

My other problem of late has been finding stuff to sell on eBay at a cheaper price! McGrath spends much time addressing this as well. In my opinion this is the other most important part of the book! One of the best quotes from the book:

There are four levels of wholesale distribution: manufacturer, importer,
distributor, and middleman. The closer you can get to the manufacturer the less
your product will cost. Never buy from the last level, the middleman. It is
virtually impossible to make money.

So of course I currently have access to a middleman. But after reading Part 3: Product Acquisition, I have a much better knowledge about finding products at a cheaper price.

I discovered that there is a whole lot that I am doing right on eBay and a whole lot that I already knew about. For instance, using auctions to promote store items and using the “About Me” page to promote an Internet web store (off eBay). It is a pretty cool feeling to know that I am on the right track. But there are many things that I learned and can’t wait to implement.

One thing that I did not know before reading the book and did not wait to implement was almost worth the price of the book: How to extend an auction from the normal 7 or 10 days to 26 days! This was almost worth the price of the book. Almost because eBay changed their policy! So this trick no longer works. I lost some money figuring that one out, over $100.00.

Which brings me to a big disappointment: The author directs you to his website where there should be a section devoted to those that have bought this book, his book; a sort of community. I was hoping for updates, corrections, or expanded explanation, maybe questions submitted by readers or a blog. But if you go to that address www.skipmcgrath.com/titanium the only thing you will see is “UNDER CONSTRUCTION”. I have been checking for about a month with the same results. The book has a copyright date of 2005, plenty of time to have SOMETHING up and running. I contacted Mr. McGrath and he responded to this issue, he had requested a Titanium site from his web server and they merely hadn’t put it up-they forgot (or made it a low priority) and no one had ever brought the issue to his attention, he promised that the site should be up in a day or two of our correspondence. The site should be up and running at the time this is initially posted. On a related note I was very impressed that the author took time out of his busy schedule to not only reply to my email, but respond to my specific issues and to correspond with me, thank you sir.

Automation is another huge issue that is addressed in the book. With the right tools one can automate most of the selling and buying process. There are many tools out there that will help you post many auctions or store items in large quantities. For instance, you can post 100 or even 1000 items at once. The more auctions the merrier right, more money to be made. But this brings a whole new problem: WHAT IF THEY ALL SELL?! How are you gonna handle that many orders? Again, automation is the answer.

With the tools mentioned in Titanium EBay one can easily impliment automation. An initial automated email from the seller indicating that the buyer has won an item. An automated email from the seller acknowledging payment has been received. Automated feedback. An automated email to the seller specifying what items need to be shipped and to where! An automated email from the seller verifying that the item has been shipped and maybe providing a tracking number. An automated follow-up email asking the buyer to provide feedback or asking them if they are satisfied. Customized up sells can also be provided at every level of the correspondence directing buyers back to an item you are selling on eBay or, better yet, directing them to your personal website where they can place an order. Automation solutions to automated postings. AWESOME!

I would have liked for the author to go just a little deeper concerning how one might “connect’ up with eBay. For instance, one of the things I would like to learn how to do is integrate my website with eBay’s so that I can automate myself. I would like to use my own code to interface with eBay and implement automation.

For instance I would like to create my website so that I can provide feedback automatically to an eBay customer; use the website that I am helping design so that MY website can automatically give an auction winner the appropriate feedback. I know it can be done; the author lists many services that are already doing it. Instead the author directs you to a myriad of services who have already figured out how to integrate with eBay. He could have, at the very least, pointed in the general direction. But the author lists many websites and programs that are available for folks to automate certain facets of their business operations. I contacted Mr. McGrath and he responded to this issue, it is possible to integrate with eBay, but that I would have to become an “eBay Certified Solutions Provider” and that “costs a lot of money”. McGrath encourages the use of Vendio within his book and within his email correspondence. Again, thank you Mr. McGrath for addressing this issue personally. This was especially useful to me as there may just come a day when I bite the bullet and take the Ebay certification journey.

It is fairly easy to implement automation. Most of these solutions require the eBay seller to direct the eBay customer to a 3rd party non-eBay site (such as Vendio). I would like to avoid that; I would like to automate as much as I can without directing the buyer to a different site, even if it is my site. I’ve heard negative feedback concerning having to use a checkout process that is not eBay’s-at best a matter of inconvenience at worst a nightmare of confusion for the buyer to make a payment! Regardless, the buyer’s info has to be initially entered into a personal website or a 3rd party site for the automation to work, so the final question is should the buyer do this manually or should the seller do it manually for each and every purchase?

One thing is for sure: It takes money to make money. For the person just starting out, there does not have to be that big of an investment, but there may be smaller profit margins than if you have money to invest to buy product at a cheaper cost. McGrath also addresses this problem with chapters on how to raise money; either through loans, grants, or investors. He also talks about creating business plans and proposals.

All in all it was a great read. It was an easy read and mildly inspiring. There was much information that could direct newbies to many different paths that could lead to success with hard work and determination and with just a little bit of money. Skip McGrath’s website is full of excellent resources, and I hope that web experience will only be enhanced once the Titanium section is finished.

-Durk-