Mattel's Avatar Toys Put Virtual Reality in the Palm of Your Hand

If you don't know anything about Avatar, director James Cameron's $400 million 3-D gamble, you should probably have a look at this:

Pretty cool lookin', eh?

When you have such a jaw-dropping project it is natural to do movie tie-ins of all types.  Lunchboxes, notebooks, party favors, comic books, novels... Hell, I got an Avatar glow-in-the-dark T-shirt for my birthday.  It's cool...

But the major cash cow of movie tie-ins would (obviously) be toys.

I remember when the movie toy-a-palooza started: with George Lucas's Star Wars back in 1977.  If I recall properly, he made a deal with Kenner to get a percentage of all toy sales from his little space-opera.  And he became a millionaire.

Something of the sort is in the works here, I suspect.  This time it's Mattel providing the fun stuff.

I cringed when I found that out.  Mattel is notorious for providing tacky movie toys.  No articulation and bad modeling.  Aside from their absolutely cool Space: 1999 Eagle toy (3 feet of geeky fun with horribly static action figures), they'd not provided a single movie related toy to impress me.  And that was like... I dunno... 20 years ago.

But they've come around for Avatar.  And they've done something that blows my mind:

With each physical toy, you also get a virtual toy.  And that makes me happy.

You can't tell me that's not way cool.

The virtual toys come to life via a little card called an i-TAG.  When this is scanned by a web-cam (or any camera hooked to a computer), the tag displays 3-D models of certain vehicles from the film.  As you can see, the virtual toy reacts to certain commands on the little tag.  What's more, when two of i-TAGs from specific "Battle Packs" are scanned together they will interact on the monitor.  Battle scenes anyone?

Some of the i-TAGs display technical data or characters from the film as well.Some of the i-TAGs display technical data or characters from the film as well.

This opens up a whole new world of gaming stuff, my friends.  Picture various Customizable Card Games such as Magic: The Gathering or Star Wars: CCG utilizing this technology to visualize each player's move...

And the physical toys for Avatar are quite nice as well.  Take the Scorpion for example:

This sucker has 24 points of articulation, fires projectiles, and fits all of the 3.75 inch action figures from the film.

And the action figures don't follow in the non-jointed-statue-like manner of so many figures (I'm talking to YOU Space: 1999 and Judge Dredd).  Take Jake Sully, for example:

Not often do you get an action figure in a wheelchair (though Barbie and Professor X have done nicely).  The important thing here - in looking at a toy - is that, though the character can't walk, his legs can bend.  Other points move as well.  He's not a static toy.  He's an ACTION FIGURE.

And - without giving away anything in the movie - here is Jake Sully's avatar:



24 points of articulation.  This is a far cry from those crappy toys that Mattel used to provide for TV/movie tie-ins.




And let's not forget the critters.  I'll just show ya one.

Scary lookin'...

You can get your Avatar toys at Amazon.  And for more info on the movie, check out the Avatar homepage.

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