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(Pocket-lint) - Activision has announced 16 new characters for its Skylanders game that are likely to have kids wanting to play the game even more than ever.

The new characters, announced at the New York Toy Fair, now have swappable top and bottom halves, to give you more than 250 customisable characters in-game.  

Skylanders, which debuted in 2011, is a video game with a big difference: extra characters can be bought in real life from your local toy shop and then transported into the game by placing them on a special mat, called a portal, which is connected to your console.

The idea is that gamers can collect extra characters, swap with mates, and expand the possibilities of their gameplay on and offline.

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New this time is the ability to swap characters' powers in-game by physically swapping parts in the real world. Demoing the game to Pocket-lint, Activision showed how one in-game character who didn't move very fast could be enhanced by swapping its bottom half with that of a character that had a wheel instead of feet.

In Skylanders SWAP Force, "Portal Masters" - that's you - embark on an all-new adventure in the mysterious Cloudbreak Islands, home to a mystical volcano that erupts every 100 years to replenish the magic in Skylands. 

The graphics, while not mind-blowing, look great, and are fun.

Where the concept also works really well is that physical toys are console agnostic so you can play your characters on all versions of the game regardless whether you've been playing on an Xbox and your mate has a Nintendo Wii.

Skylanders SWAP Force features 16 new SWAP Force characters, along with 32 core Skylanders characters (16 completely new Skylanders and 16 new versions of fan favourite characters from previous games) and eight new LightCore characters all with their own special powers.

The news follows an announcement from Disney that is will soon launch Disney Infinity, a similar concept with Disney characters that can be transported into a console game in a similar way. 

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 16 April 2013.