Of course this year, in fact just couple days ago, they released the NEW Skylanders game: Skylanders SwapForce, which has an even more gimmicky (and more expensive) new feature for the figures. But as a result, there was suddenly a sale on Skylander starter sets that I felt very reasonable for a video game. (They were at Target for $40.) So I picked it up... and holy crap everything in the game is designed to make you addicted. You get in game bonuses for owning as many of the characters as possible. Want to be a little more powerful in game? You just have to have at least 12 characters... but with 16 you'd be even more powerful... You have 3 characters from the machine class? Then all your machine characters get a bonus... and if you had 5 they'll get an even bigger bonus...
There's even a bonus for having characters from the previous game that are retired and thus hard to get. What I'm saying is that the makers of the game get the collector mentality. Thank god the figures are decent enough that if you get them on sale the price doesn't feel like too much of a rip off. They're insanely more detailed than the Disney Infinity figures, but are all original characters from the video game developers.
Two things keep me from feeling to bad about this spending. 1) The game is decent and using the different characters actually extends the fun of the game. (The RPG leveling up aspect plays well to the collector mentality as well.) 2) More importantly, the voice acting in the game and for each character is really well done. And they've got some great voice actors... to the point that the majority of the figures I've bought so far are due to who does their voice. Also, NPCs include George Takei.
Those characters in the picture immediately above are voiced by Kevin Sorbo (Hercules the Legendary Journeys), Dwight Schultz (Barclay from Star Trek: TNG and Murdock from A-Team), and Bobcat Goldthwait (Too much to mention). I've also picked up figures voice acted by John Kassir (who does his cryptkeeper laugh), EG Daily, Kevin Michael Richardson, and hope to get some Tara Strong in there soon.