I caught the fever.
I’m not entirely happy about it, because I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at avoiding it. But thanks to some “friends” that you may or may not know, I’m back on the amiibo train, and have been riding it hard for a few weeks now.
As you could probably recall, I was on board at the very beginning. I happily bought my Link and Mario amiibo when I purchased Super Smash Bros. when it launched. Did I know the craze these figures were going to cause? Heck no! I don’t think anybody did. I mean seriously, it’s hard to believe the Villager amiibo is still getting bids for over $100, and you could look it up and see for yourself!
To be fair though, the only reason they became such a sought after product is because of the demand Nintendo has created for them. It’s something that still makes me upset when I think about it, tell you the truth. No one gave a flying goomba about these figures until Nintendo announced they won’t be restocking certain ones. That my friends, is when amiibo went from cool Smash Bros. content, to today’s most sought after gaming collectibles.
The craze is definitely hitting hard. As a collector, I knew exactly what was going on. Because I was trying to avoid it, I may not have known which figures were in demand the most, but I knew it was happening. The common consumer or even gamer on the other hand, probably have no idea how deep this rabbit hole goes. What was supposed to be a simple toy figure that added content to a game, turned into an infectious craze with a dark, seedy underbelly of a black market that is reminiscent of the Tickle Me Elmo and Furby rages of the late 90’s.
Do you remember those dark times? Furby riots. Unsavory characters on the street corner whispering to you as you walked by that they have 3 Tickle Me Elmo’s for sale. Even retail outlets were capitalizing in some way. At least it was for charity, right? Ah, the 90’s.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are grown adults who scour stores on a daily basis hoping to get their dirty hands on a rare amiibo. Not caring, but banking on the desires of fans and collectors that have either had no luck or who have just given up the search for the missing spots on their shelves. It is not beyond these bags of filth to sleep in their cars in the Walmart parking lot, waiting for a delivery in order to be the first person to pick through the freshest shipment. It’s at the point where if you’re a child, and you actually wanted to play the game with a certain figure that happened to be rare, that parent would either have to spend 6 times the price on eBay, or import it from another country.
from The Nintendo Club Podcast
Which, by the way, is totally doable. Countries across the pond don’t have an amiibo shortage like we do here. They can easily walk into a store and pick up any figure they’d like. So if you’re looking for a specific one and don’t mind the packaging in a different language, go ahead and import. The figures themselves are totally the same.
Why are they replenished and we’re left looking for water in the desert? Who knows. When it comes to the deep questions regarding these little figures, no one really knows anything. Like I mentioned, a lot of people had no idea things got this crazy for amiibo. I mean, Nintendo World in NYC had a line 300+ people long because they were selling figures there before anywhere else. On top of that, they were selling the store exclusive ones that can only be found in 4 specific places.
Oh, you’re curious about what’s rare and who is in what wave? I won’t list it out completely here since I’m already blabbering on about nonsense. But if you’re truly wondering:
Here is a great chart that specifies the rarity of each amiibo.
Here is a rundown of the figures and the wave they belong in.
And if you’re looking for a compatibility chart, then look no further. @MoldyClay from twitter has us covered. From what amiibo we can use where, and what they do in the game. Damn sweet chart, if I do say so myself.
I’d be lying to you if this mad scramble to find the uncommon amiibo wasn’t the reason why I came back to them. It’s a thrill. The great hunter looking for another prized head on his mantle. I have to admit, that’s half the fun in collecting them. Store employees always ask me why are people looking for these things. Why such a big deal for a toy to use in a game. I tell them it’s beyond the game now. No one is really looking for them to play with, they’re looking for them to collect. When you look at them, they’re honestly a cool gaming collectible without even putting them to use in a game. So knowing there’s one coming out that will not be restocked – like Rosalina, Target’s exclusive figure, who unfortunately for most wasn’t revealed to be discontinued until after she sold out – it quickly becomes a sport in trying to obtain one. But even with that thrill, there were a few times I fought the urge before I dove back in. And for a while I blamed scalpers for that disinterest in wanting to collect. But really, my angered sights should’ve been aiming much higher…
Since I took myself out of the amiibo mix early on, it didn’t hit me till recently. When the New 3DS was announced a few weeks ago and the Majora’s Mask bundle was unveiled, it became the system to pre-order for those Zelda fans who were upgrading. But no one knew how limited this edition was going to be. So when it sold out in minutes every time it came in stock for pre-order, people were flipping out when figuring out the facts. Gamestop had it available for about 2 hours, Best Buy around an hour, all while Target holds the record at 10 minutes shortly after their page went live. Which is impressive since it randomly went live at 3 a.m.
It’s also surrounded in controversy weeks before it released thanks to The Great Best Buy Cancellation of 2015. Best Buy went live with the pre-order of the console one day, then about a week later, those who ordered two had one canceled. Best Buy was praised for stopping potential scalpers who already had eBay flooded, but the mood changed a few days later when roughly 75% of the pre-orders were canceled. Fast forward to today and there are STILL numerous people reporting they have yet to have their Limited Edition handheld ship.
As if that wasn’t bad enough for the blue giant, about an hour before the mass cancellation, GameStop mysteriously opened their pre-orders for the limited system a second time. It lasted just long enough until the first few reports of cancellations from Best Buy started coming in, ensuring those who thought they were safe to miss out on the opportunity to get it once again. It was a chaotic and confusing time leaving many Zelda fans and hopeful upgraders who thought they were secure, with nothing but empty hopes and broken dreams as more and more of these coveted systems started hitting eBay.
Along with the email notifying of the cancellation, Best Buy gave everyone who was impacted a $50 voucher for anything in the store. An apology for potential costumers hoping it would be enough for forgiveness. And for many, it was. But that didn’t get them a guaranteed Limited Edition Zelda console at launch. At this point, even if you had a pre-order it wasn’t guaranteed. No one was at ease and no one felt safe until they got it in their hands.
I, myself had to venture into the wild to grab mine. Turns out Target was the only retailer on the east coast (Fry’s along with Target in other parts of the country) who was carrying the system in store. Maybe they cut the pre-order window so short in order to have stock for store shelves? Whatever the case, I lucked out and was able to get one of the two in my Target. It paid to get there an hour before opening I’m sure. I was stressing about it though, and more so than anyone should have to. Too much craziness and bad ju-ju was surrounding this release, and in the end, you were seriously lucky to have one in your hands.
So who was really at fault here?
Was it Best Buy, overselling their allotment of consoles by a large margin and realizing it a whole week later?
Was it Gamestop, who mysteriously had a fairly large amount of consoles to pre-sell at the same exact time a fairly large amount of consoles were canceled at Best Buy?
Or was it Nintendo? Who never listed Best Buy as a retailer who will be receiving the system come release day. And maybe told them they could, but realized soon after they couldn’t spare as many as originally thought from the official retailers, forcing Best Buy to cancel orders.
…No one will ever know.
But. We do know this. Nintendo is the heart of the beast. Whether it’s amiibo and the short supply of random figures, or the seemingly first truly limited Limited Edition console in a long time, Nintendo has the answers to all the questions.
Is it a conspiracy? Is Nintendo conducting some crazy, massive social experiment? Are they going back to the old tactics many believed they used back when the Wii launched and creating false demand by limiting supply of products people want? Or are they just oblivious to what their fans really want here in the states?
Creating false demand would make sense seeing as how amiibo were brushed off by the majority of gamers until Nintendo announced they won’t be making certain figures anymore. And it also makes sense with the launch of yet another revived version of the 3DS which might have been hard to sell after so many revisions.
Personally, I think Nintendo is passed all those tactics and they just didn’t foresee the demand for their products. I like to think of them as a company that does care, and knows they have fans, but not as many as there really are.
But the facts are indeed hard to ignore… If they are using false demand to their advantage, they deserve far more respect than they are getting. Because if you stand back and look at the mass chaos that is surrounding amiibo and the Majora’s Mask new 3DS, you’ll see that there is a whirlwind of fans, scalpers, and collectors riding a massive cyclone in hopes of grabbing something they’ll hold dear for some reason or another. And whether they admit it or not, they’re enjoying every minute of it.
Until, of course, they come up empty handed.
So what do you think? Is Nintendo the center of a grand scheme? Or are they underestimating the desire of their products here in the states? I honestly think it could go either way.