Eli5. How do you Skylander toys work?


Exactly as the title says. My nephew is into Skylanders and he’s asking me how it works. For those who don’t know Skylanders are a toy that you put on top of a platform called a “Portal of Power”. It’s connected to a PS3. The toy then shows up inside the video game and that’s how you play with a toy. Can someone please explain to me how it works? Literally explain it like I’m five. I need to tell my nephew the same thing.

Edit: Thanks for all the prompt replies. My nephew thinks his uncle is very smart, because of you!

In: 3

the toys contain a little chip, called a Near-Field Communication (NFC) Tag. As the name implies, when the tag gets near a receiver, the two can communicate with radio signals. This is the same way touch-to-pay credit cards work.

So basically, the toys have a little transmitter that sends the character information to the platform

So the toys have a computer chip in them, and that chip tells the game that the character can be used. The characters are already in the game, but they don’t unlock until you have the toy.

On a more technical level these toys use NFC, or Near-Field Communication, which operates somewhat similar to the tap function of a debit card, for example. It’s preloaded information that sends signals to whatever they’re designed to work with that say its okay to use the thing. The toy doesn’t actually do anything itself, and is mostly an excuse to be charged the extra cost.

You can actually buy cards with this information preloaded on them online for a fraction of the cost. I did this with the amiibos on Switch and got about 40 of them for $38.

NFC specifics, ELI5 version:

The device consists of a small bit of circuitry, and a few winds of wire trace – in total usually the size of a smaller fingernail, or smaller.

Here’s the clever part: There’s no power supply! Instead, the wire is organized such that, when it moves through a specific radio field, enough power is generated (induction) to power the circuit, compute the unique data, and transmit it! 🙂