The multi-billion dollar Skylanders series, adored across the world by children and adults, wouldn’t have come to fruition were it not for the London Underground.
While this isn’t a heroic tale of vaulting the ticket gates and racing through the Victoria line to sign a contract in time, Polygon’s feature on the history of the Skylanders series presents a story just as interesting.
It turns out that the radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips in the Skylanders toys - used to identify the figures, store information on them and recognise them when they are introduced into a game - were very expensive.
‘Very expensive’ wasn’t something that Skylanders was meant to be – it was supposed to be an affordable toy for parents to treat their kids with.
But around the time Toys for Bob, the original Skylanders developer, was making the game, Transport for London was ramping up production of the Oyster card – a now-ubiquitous transit pass using the very same RFID tech.
Paul Reiche, co-founder of Toys for Bob, said that the sheer volume of Oyster card production helped make RFID more affordable.
“So there were billions of these cards being made and there was this race down in price.
“Bless the London Underground because I think that was what did it for us.”
There’s also the interesting nugget that Nintendo turned down the chance to release Skylanders itself, meaning the company missed out on one of the most Nintendo-ish series ever.
Silly, silly Nintendo.