Collecting is a choice, not a right. When people get upset about the challenges that come with collecting Amiibos – myself included – it’s important to remember that. However, I do find the act of trying to buy Amiibos in this current marketplace to be particularly difficult and somewhat unreasonable.
Before I go into this, I should state where I stand on Amiibo collecting. I don’t plan on buying all of them. I don’t plan on keeping them all sealed. And I certainly have no plans on profiting through the after market. I’m just a Nintendo fan that wants figures for the characters that mean something special to me that just so happen to scan into my Wii U to unlock stuff. When it comes to Amiibo shopping, I plan on mostly relying on trips to the store, though I may pre-order a few of my favourite characters that may be hard to find in the future.
This is where things get messy. Early on, Nintendo simply put the figures out with little fanfare. I remember going to the store and seeing a full stock of Marth, Wii Fit Trainer and Villager figures and thinking, “I’ll get around to these someday.” Turns out, I may never get the chance to do so, as mixed reports soon came out that those characters will never come back. Just like that, Amiibo hype skyrocketed, as players scrambled to grab their favourite characters before they disappeared, while scalpers swooped in to buy figures in droves in order to turn a profit.
I’m not as mad at the scalpers. They didn’t create this mess. Nintendo did. If some of these characters were going to be rare, some heads-up from them would have been great. That wouldn’t have stopped the scalpers from getting their hands on these figures, but it would at least give the general consumers a better shot at scoring these figures before it’s too late. Ideally, the packaging would have some sort of limited indicator on it, but I get why Nintendo would want to keep things consistent. At least some sort of notification somewhere about the scarcity of figures would have been great.
I’m not all that broken up about missing Marth or Wii Fit Trainer, but I am definitely hurting inside because I missed out on Villager. Had I known, I would have put in the extra effort earlier on to chase him down. Now if I want to grab him, I’m probably going to have to import him from another country at a premium price, though I hold out hope that he does become more readily available in the future.
So now the word is out that some of these toys may not be available forever. At least consumers know what the deal is. The unfortunate side-effect of that is that Amiibo tracking is now destroying my life. With Wave 2 figures on the way, pre-orders disappeared fast for most characters. I scan all of the retail sites multiple times a day for availability, and basically everyone in that set aside from Princess Zelda is perpetually sold out in-store and online. Even some Wave 3 figurines started disappearing from pre-order, such as Ike. Also, don’t get me started on how the Target-exclusive Rosaline was launched for pre-order at 2:30 am and sold out in 30 minutes.
Next best option is to go to the store. But when do these things actually come out? Nintendo last said that Wave 2 figures would come out in December of 2014, though there were some reports about them being split into two groups: 2A and 2B. 2A featured Diddy Kong, Zelda and Little Mac, while 2B featured Luigi, Pit and Captain Falcon.
The reality to me is that there isn’t a solid release date for any of these figures. I’ve seen lots of anecdotal evidence that these figures are out there somewhere in the world, but definitely not here. All of the Canadian sites basically say everything is sold out. Up until recently, I’ve only seen Zelda on a shelf, with no evidence that Diddy Kong or Little Mac ever made it. As for 2B, I’ve seen scores of Luigi, and luckily happened to be in the store during the 5 seconds when Pit was made available.
Being at the right place at the right time was pretty thrilling. Admittedly, the thrill of the chase is part of what makes collecting anything fun to begin with. However, the hoops that people have to jump through now to get Amiibos is a bit too crazy for my tastes. Pre-orders going up at ridiculous times and disappearing immediately makes it so that people are willing to lose sleep while hitting the refresh button in hopes that the next time will be the lucky one. Inconsistent store release dates means that your best bet at snagging one of the harder-to-get figures is to show up to stores as frequently as you can and hope you arrived in the 5-second window when the new hotness is hitting the shelves. Heck, the place where I bought Pit doesn’t even have him listed as an available option on their website, so I can’t even rely on inventory trackers to give me the right information.
Maybe this will all be resolved. Maybe Nintendo steps up their production and locks up more shelf space so that they can keep all of their figures in stock. It might kill the collector market for these, but I personally couldn’t care less about that part. I just want cool figurines of characters I love. This approach is highly unlikely though, as Nintendo is most likely ramping up on even more figures and they simply won’t have the shelf space to accommodate them all. On top of that, they’ve already talked about the card-based Amiibo alternative, which means that they have a fallback whenever they choose to stop production on certain figures.
I appreciate the gesture, though that only drives up the demand for figures in a way. When push comes to shove, would you rather have the figure or the card? In certain cases, I’ll settle for the card due to financial constraints. Otherwise, I’d take the figure every time.
Trying to buy all of the Amiibos in North America is basically impossible at this point. Even in the future, if Nintendo magically shores up their supply constraints, certain figures will inevitably disappear to make room for new ones. On top of all that, I don’t have the time to refresh the Target website at 2:30 am in hopes of grabbing a Rosalina, or dealing with the devastation of Toys R Us randomly cancelling my Lucario pre-order, or walking into every single retailer every chance I get in hopes of scoring the one rare figure to add to my collection.
Instead, I’m drawing some hard lines in the sand for myself. I’ve ranked them all in terms of how badly I want these characters irregardless of how in-demand or how difficult they might be to find. I don’t want to be the guy losing sleep or disrupting real-life plans in order to possibly snatch up a figure that I have no emotional attachment to. With that logic in mind, I’ve ranked all of the first three waves of Amiibo figurines in terms of how much I want them.
Can’t live without these. Will pre-order or jump through some hoops in order to get them. Absolute worst case scenario, would import foreign versions just to have them, though I’m not willing to go much farther than $30:
Samus (got as a gift)
Mega Man (pre-ordered)
I want these. Don’t want them bad enough to pre-order. Will pick these up at the store, funds permitting. If they disappear from the marketplace, I will be sad, but not devastated.
Princess Zelda (bought)
Fox (got as a gift)
Nice to have. Don’t want them bad enough to pre-order. Will probably pass by these a lot at store shelves until I randomly cave someday. Would happily accept these as gifts. Won’t lose sleep over these if they disappear from the marketplace.
Wii Fit Trainer
I have no emotional attachment to these characters. Would happily accept as a gift though 🙂
These are my guidelines going forward. I like the idea of owning them all, but realistically, I won’t have the money to spend or the time to invest to make that happen. When it comes time to making buying decisions, I’ll refer to this list to see what I need to get at that moment or what I can pass on for another time.
If you’ve opted into the struggle how have things been for you thus far?