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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Skylanders Academy is an obvious choice for kids who know and like the toys that inspired it, but it's a genuinely captivating series with excellent animation, strong characters, and broad appeal. Battle scenes feature explosions, fire (Spyro breathes it, Eruptor shoots it from his head), and some weapons, but no injuries. There's also some name-calling such as "jerk" and "stupid." Strong messages about humility, teamwork, and being mindful of other people follow Spyro's every move, and his struggle to keep his ego in check is a constant effort. Because it's aligned with an extensive product line, there's a commercial aspect to this show that should be considered before you give your kids the OK.
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What's the story?
In SKYLANDERS ACADEMY, a headstrong dragon named Spyro (voiced by Justin Long) joins a legendary line of warriors tasked with protecting his homeland, Skylands, from people and creatures who mean it harm. As the most talented cadet ever to attend Skylanders Academy, Spyro seemed destined for greatness, but his oversized ego keeps him from achieving success like his friends Eruptor (Jonathan Banks) and Stealth Elf (Ashley Tisdale). Only with some hard-fought lessons in humility and a new dedication to being a good teammate will Spyro rise to the ranks of the Skylanders and fight alongside his friends to keep their home safe from the likes of Kaos (Richard Horvitz) and other would-be villains.
Is it any good?
Exceptionally animated and boasting an impressive voice cast, this series doesn't settle for simply winning over fans of the toys that inspired it. The story is intriguing right from the start, centering on the lovably arrogant Spyro, who's destined to become a hero but seems lacking in some important qualities for the job. Luckily he has his two best friends by his side, both of whom bring out the best in him even when he doesn't know it's there. He's also helped along by his eternally patient adoptive father and mentor, Master Eon (Daniel Hagen).
Skylanders Academy is a must-see for kids already familiar with the toys, but for those seeing the characters and learning the story for the first time, the show may turn their heads to the related merchandise. Even so, it's a highly entertaining blend of comedy, action, and the struggle between good and evil, decided by powerful young warriors with magical, elemental skills and a determination to save their homeland.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about heroes such as those in Skylanders Academy. Can a person be a hero even if he or she isn't necessarily likable? How do you balance people's positive and negative qualities?
Is Spyro a good leader for his team? Would they work better together if they all acted like he does, or does it take different personalities to round out an effective team?
Are the bad guys in this show scary? How does this compare with your kids' fears in the real world? Is it always possible to understand a person's motivations from the start?
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