Best Toys-To-Life Games You Can Still Play

The toys-to-life genre may have died, but some of these games are still functional, enjoyable, and worth revisiting for their story and gameplay.

A short-lived concept to enhance gaming, toys-to-life games offered promising potential as a viable genre, however, they could not hold an audience beyond their gimmicky nature. Gamers love games and they love collectibles from games, so the toys-to-life concept seemed as though it should have taken off. There were several attempts to make this model work in unique styles, yet ultimately none of them quite hit the mark.

The toys-to-life genre has largely become defunct, with many servers shutting down, but there are a few games which – while no longer supported with new content – are still playable and worth exploring. Though toys-to-life was a concept popularized by more mainstream lines like Activision’s Skylanders, it began three years before Skylanders with U.B. Funkeys, a PC series developed by Mattel. Its vestiges can still be felt in things like Nintendo’s amiibo, which don’t have entire games built squarely around their functionality, but still operate in a similar fashion, with physical items having effects inside of a digital game.

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Toys-to-life titles initially seemed as though they might do well in the gaming space, with some strong starts and interesting ideas that felt novel in the moment. But as parents bought more of the toys for their kids, and more toys started releasing for the existing products, issues with the model began to emerge that ultimately spelled the demise of the genre before it could truly take off. Despite this, some of these products are still active.

Toys Take To The Sky With Skylanders

best toys to life games you can still play skylanders

Editor’s Note: A lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which alleges the company has engaged in abuse, discrimination, and retaliation against its female employees. Activision Blizzard has denied the allegations. The full details of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit (content warning: rape, suicide, abuse, harassment) are being updated as new information becomes available.

The most recognizable toys-to-life series is Skylanders. A continuation of Spyro’s story which introduces an entirely new world, each game in the franchise adds dozens of new toys to collect and play with. New playable characters and gimmicks were added over the years and Skylanders quickly became synonymous with the toys-to-life concept. Their last console game, Imaginators, introduced character customization through special crystals which would pulsate with a heartbeat when activated. Activision has since moved Skylanders to the mobile platform that no longer uses these toys, however, each previous game in the series offers plenty of charm and wit to enjoy. The toys are so numerous that they can often be found in bargain bins, dollar stores, or bulk online. These games are very similar to Spyro, with neat puzzles and fun action platforming that is well worth revisiting.

Building Some Fun With Lego Dimensions

best toys to life games you can still play lego dimensions

Already holding a large collection of licensed properties, Lego jumped into the toys-to-life market with Lego Dimensions. This allowed for seven active toys at the same time, including items and vehicles, that could be rebuilt in-game to unlock new powers and abilities. Building off of previous Lego video games, Dimensions offered entire worlds from various properties while telling a cosmic narrative about saving all the Lego realms. They have since stopped producing new content packs, but the servers are still active. Each pack adds anywhere from a few hours to a few dozen hours of gameplay, and many of these packs are the only place to get certain exclusive mini-figs. Lego Dimensions still has all the charm of the Lego series with an incredible amount of options for item customization and team-ups.

Protecting The Galaxy With Starlink: Battle For Atlas


best toys to life games you can still play starlink

Ubisoft’s Starlink: Battle for Atlas was perhaps the final toys-to-life genre newcomer. Its concept was unique, but it unfortunately launched when the genre was already on its way out. Players could build a starship made up of a body, pilot, wings, and guns, which would sit on their controller. Wings and weapons could be removed and added on the fly, causing instant changes in-game. If a ship was destroyed, they could replace it with another and keep going. The flight controls were excellent, mirroring classic arcade dogfighting games, and the seamless transition of launching into space felt amazing. Poor sales and a lack of content eventually led to the game’s end, however, and it’s now offered as a fully digital experience (including all of the interchangeable parts) without requiring the toys themselves. If Starlink had launched in this state instead of focusing on physical toys, it may have faired far better. Fans of StarFox or arcade shooters will likely enjoy what it has to offer, making it still worth a try.

While there are other toys-to-life games that still function in varying capacities, these three may have encapsulated the concept the best, each with its own unique take, and each still fully playable today.

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