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Hulk, Tinkerbell and a flying bed make Disney Infinity's 'Toy Box' a whole lot weirder

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Disney Infinity 2.0 may still be seen as a kids' game, primarily — but it will also let you put Tinkerbell and The Incredible Hulk in bed together.

"That's the bed from Bedknobs and Broomsticks," said John Vignocchi, the game's executive producer, just so we were both clear. It's a vehicle, OK, in Disney Infinity's "Toy Box" mode, where gamers take all of their virtual toys and play with them together, regardless of what continuity or movie or product line they come from. (Bedknobs and Broomsticks was a Mary Poppins clone from 1971 starring Angela Lansbury. It featured a flying bed.)

Disney Infinity is the latest money-printer in the toys-to-life genre, in which players bring heroes and other characters into the game by stacking a cool little figurine on a special controller. With Marvel's characters coming en masse to Disney Infinity 2.0 on Sept. 23, Toy Box, the game's freeplay mode, is gonna get a whole lot weirder.

Vignocchi delighted in finding as many strange pairings of figurines and Power Discs — modifiers like alternate costumes and powers — to show off a mode that users spend 60 percent of their Disney Infinity time playing, according to the game's telemetry, he said.

Hulk and Tinkerbell ended their whimsical time in bed together, landed, and then jumped in a pair of Spider-Copters (remember those things?) to duel each other over a Lion King landscape, as the soundtrack from that flick played. Then came the coup de grace. The infamous "Kittens for Fists" Power Disc that maybe we weren't supposed to see yet, but what the hell. This comes from Gravity Falls, the Disney Channel animated series, in which main character Mabel is journeying through Grunkle Stan's dreams, and gives herself the ability to shoot kitten heads from her fists.

Do you want to see Hulk with the Kitten Fists? Of course you do!

Kitten Fists will be in one of two 20-disc series of Power Discs; these are randomly packaged, with some more rare than others. Other discs include costume variants for the Marvel Heroes (8 are confirmed so far).

Two Power Discs, included with the Marvel Heroes starter pack, are mini games unto themselves: "Assault on Asgard," which Vignocchi said is a tower-defense style game inspired by Orcs Must Die!, and "Escape the Kyln," a procedurally generated dungeon crawler drawing on the Guardians of the Galaxy, recently announced for the Disney Infinity 2.0 roster.

Toy Box will get some serious tools, time-savers and other upgrades in Disney Infinity 2.0, too. Vignocchi acknowledged that the set-building tools in 1.0 could be a barrier to those who just want to get on with it and ruckus around with their toys in something other than an open landscape. Now, creating procedurally generated structures like castles or pirate hideouts is as simple as selecting the template, setting the size of the structure along its three dimensions, and pressing a button. AI helpers from Disney flicks like Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean and others will also get to work building smaller structures to round out the village. Race course creation takes longer because it computes all the ways to run a circuit around your playscape and then chooses the optimal one, but it does work.

disney infinity toy box

Part of Disney Infinity's charm is the fact that, when it says anything and anyone under Disney's massive media empire is fair game for the game, it means business. Vignocchi's job often is to approach nonplussed executives at ABC or ESPN or some other division not familiar with what's going on, and explain why someone or something they manage should be in the Toy Box. He has an easier time with some of the more obscure characters in Disney's library. Like Gus, the field-goal kicking mule from the 1976 film of the same name, starring Don Knotts.

Vignocchi points out that Lilo (of Lilo & Stitch) and Merida (from Brave) were made into figurines largely thanks to fan support on the game's Facebook page — which has just put out another call for suggested figures. He says he's going to try to sway the latest result.

"It's my mission to rally the Internet to say Captain Eo," he said with a broad smile. "Can you imagine? We'd need approval from Disney, Lucasfilm, Francis Ford Coppola, and the [Michael] Jackson Estate. But we can do it!"

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