Anticipation for James Cameron’s 3-D sci-fi adventure Avatar has been at a fevered pitch for seemingly forever, and cinephiles and geeks everywhere now have less than five months to see if it lives up to the hype (it’s scheduled to open December 18, 2009). But for the Comic-Con audience, where the toys are almost as important as the movie they’re tied to, Mattel set hearts aflutter with its announcement of its line of Avatar action figures that are expected to hit store shelves in October. And, get this: The toys offer augmented reality. (The good news just keeps coming).
Although details are extremely sketchy at this point–no official video, no pricing, no specific release date–we do know that the line will feature the characters, creatures, and vehicles from the movie. The figures will come with a 3-D Web tag, or i-TAG, that when scanned at home with a Webcam reveals special content and information on your computer screen, such as biographical information or animated models.
That doesn’t sound like augmented reality as much as an enhanced CD, but the deluxe figures (again, sorry to disappoint, nerds, but Mattel isn’t squawking about pricing or much else) will come to life on screen as animated 3-D models when you scan their i-TAGs. Have two figures? Scan both tags and watch them interact with each other (certainly sounds cool, although we would have liked to have seen it).
The lack of detail hasn’t cooled the ardor of Comic-Con attendees, so let’s hope that Total Immersion, which developed the technology used in the iTAG and recently let you navigate the Enterprise via this AR app for Star Trek, nailed it. When a 3-D Sigourney Weaver is running across planet Pandora on your computer screen, you’ll know who to thank.
UPDATE: We discovered a fan video from Comic Con that appears to demo the augmented reality features of a Mattel Avatar “Flying Vehicle ‘Scorpion’ Gunship”–but we can’t be 100% sure:
[photos via Empire Online]