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Nintendo promotes Wii U with toy figures

SAN FRANCISCO, California--Nintendo on Tuesday said it is adding real-world game figures to Wii U play to boost the popularity of its console, which has lagged rivals in the market.

Nintendo is blending Will U virtual play with tangible toys as it faces off against powerhouse offerings from Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at an E3 gathering here.

The Japanese video game stalwart is jumping on a trend that has paid off for publisher Activision with “Skylanders” and for Disney Interactive with “Infinity” play launched last year with characters from Pixar film “The Incredibles.”

“It's been very successful,” Disney Infinity senior producer Sean Patton said as he showed off new 'Marvel Super Heroes' interactive game pieces due for release later this year.

Game pieces give players toys then can hold, collect, and taken with them in ways that extend on-screen fun into the real-world, Patton noted while discussing their appeal.

Those being play at the Disney booth on the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) show floor included Hulk, Iron Man, and Spider Man. Versions of Disney Infinity are tailored for all major consoles.

Toys To Life

Activision pioneered the “Toys-To-Life” category in 2011 with the introduction of “Spyro's Adventure” in a shrewd move bridging virtual worlds and real life when it comes to video games.

Skylanders has become a US$2 billion franchise, according to Activision.

“We shook up the kids game industry, and it was a phenomenal success,” said Paul Reiche, co-founder of Toys for Bob studio that created 'Skylanders.'

“People grow up thinking their toys are alive; we just want to make that true.”

Actually handling toys and sharing in-game experiences with them has resonated with players young and old, according to Reiche.

While the prime demographic for “Skylanders” is pre-teen boys, there was a lengthy queue waiting to demo a coming “Trap Team” version of the game at E3 where children are not allowed.

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French television reporters look at Amiibo characters for the Wii U at the Nintendo booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo on Tuesday, June 10.

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