Did some cruising around the internet since the recent announcement of Skylander's Giants. I am going to use this post to report on some of the results.
Skylander's Giants will introduce 16 new characters. 8 will be the Giants, new figures that are over twice the size of regular Skylanders and which will be equally larger in the game. 1 for each element. The only one we know for certain is Tree Rex, a monstrous Life-based Giant that looks like something from Shadow of the Colossus.
There will be "Giant gates" (I'm making up that term, there's no hard word for it established) that can only be 'opened' by Giants. Like the elemental gates, but merely requiring a Giant to do so (not a giant of a certain element). On the opening video one can see Tree Rex pulling a small island closer with a chain, also in the same video Tree Rex jumps down and cannonballs through a stone floor, breaking through it.
Giants all have an 'orange' base (as opposed to the basic 'green'). This indicates they have a new design built in. Apparently it uses fiber optics or something similar to cause pieces on the figure to light up when it's placed on the portal. (I assume this as it's been confirmed they do not need batteries to light up.) I saw references to this being called "Lightforce".
There are 8 non-Giant new Skylanders. Again, 1 for each element.
The Magic elemental representative is confirmed to be "Alchemist", a little guy who wields a beaker of glowing fluid. He appears to have a melee attack and some sort of explosive ranged attack (either magic or perhaps him sloshing stuff from the beaker, or maybe he makes grenades or something, it's hard to see in the short video). One of his attacks is a transformation--he drinks the potion he's carrying and then hulks out into this blue, feathered form that fights with claws and fire breath.
There is another Skylander who has been shown, but his name has not been given. He is a blue-and-white feathered bird man with mechanical backpack and what seems to be a gatling gun held in one arm and a gun-like device with a propeller on one end. Videos have shown him firing some sort of pushback blue glow and he seems to be able to fly quickly. Videos have shown him balancing on his gatling gun to use his propeller, I assume this is a PBAoE melee attack, but am not certain. His name and element have not been given, but it seems highly likely he is the new Air type normal-sized Skylander. If he is not Air element, then he is the Tech representative. I figure the former is more likely since all the Tech characters currently in the game have a sort of manic or crazy look to them. This guy looks quite sane and serious.
All the "new" Skylanders have the orange (Lightforce) base just like the giants.
There are also returning 'normal' Skylanders with the Orange base. They have new figures that use the Lightforce technology to light up their eyes, runes, etc. Supposedly they will be similar but will keep one or two old moves and gain one or two new ones. These 'alternate' versions will not be reverse-compatible with the previous Skylanders game.
Confirmed "returning" Lightforce Skylanders are:
Zook (Great... this guy's not even out yet in normal version.)
Given that information, I'm going to assume that the 'orange' base not only indicates the ones with Lightforce, but will also be a visual cue to seperate 'versions' of the game. IE: Basic are green, Giants are orange, and future games will use another color to differentiate themselves and make it easy to keep them seperate.
Supposedly the Giants are the primal Skylanders, the ancestors of the current crop (though not necessarily biologically). Apparently in their history most Skylanders were much larger. The Giants were sent to Earth in aeons past for an unknown reason... either banished by Kaos or for some as-yet-unrevealed motivation.
The Giants fought Kaos in the past. Not seeing how this works since he's not visually old, but that doesn't mean much. Supposedly Kaos once had vast war machines (perhaps similar to the Arkeyan Colossi) which the Giant Skylanders battled with, destroyed, and he was forced to retreat (I imagine to Outland). His grumpiness with his current crop of Skylanders minions may have something to do with the fact that his machines were obedient.
(area reserved for more info later)