At the midnight launch for Smash last November, my friend who manages the local game shop jokingly asked if I wanted one of each Amiibo to go along with my copy of Smash for Wii U. Just to be funny I bought a Wii Fit trainer and a Fox Amiibo and called it good. Then my fiancee hooked me up with Mario, Peach, and Donkey Kong Amiibos for Christmas and all of the sudden I had five of the first wave of tweleve. From then a sickness developed in my head and I decided that I had to have them all. Now I had wished I taken up my friend’s offer that first night Amiibo were around, little did I know at the time I would be scouring the internet and the real world for Amiibos until I found them all.
If you don’t know what Amiibo is, consider yourself lucky, but here is the cliff notes. Nintendo saw the success of Skylanders and Disney Infinity and wanted to get in on that action themselves so they decided to launch their own “toys come to life” series called Amiibo. Initially these figures were all Smash Brothers characters sharing the same pose as their trophy in the game, but slowly Nintendo has expanded with other series, the latest being a Mario Party series and Splatoon series. Unlike Skylanders or Infinity, Amiibo kind of do their own thing depending on what game you scan them in for. For instance, in Smash Bros you can level up an Amiibo as an AI, give it a set of moves and basically train it, where in Mario Kart, the same Amiibo might unlock a special racing suit in the style of that particular Amiibo. This flexibility makes Amiibo appealing as they can provide extra functionally for multiple games but in a sense they are shallower than a typical Skylander as there is no dedicated “Amiibo World” game (yet).
Where the fun comes in with any collecting is the chase, and with Amiibo, that chase has really gotten out of hand. During wave 1, all the big Nintendo IPs were represented, Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Pokemon etc, but there was also a Villager from Animal Crossing, Marth from Fire Emblem, and Wii Fit Trainer from Wii Fit. After these particular characters sold out they were never restocked and quickly became known among collectors as the Holy Trinity. This pattern continued into Wave 2 with some Amiibos such as Luigi being common and others such as Little Mac being next to impossible to find. By the time Wave 3 came around Nintendo had started to have retailer exclusive Amiibo which made them even rarer and more difficult to obtain. Those who got their exclusive Rosalina Amiibo at Target on day one they were released considered themselves lucky, those who did not were basically SOL and at the mercy of scalpers and Japanese importers.
I decided for Wave 4 I would venture out into the real world, a little piece of hell on earth called Gamestop. I never venture to Gamestop but dammit for Wave 4 they were the exclusive retailer for Ness. Freakin Ness, the collectible character to end all collectibles and they made it a Gamestop exclusive. I took a late lunch last Thursday, got a slice of pizza at the food court in the mall and wandered over to Gamestop a good 30 minutes before pre orders were to open. I told the dude working the counter what I was there for and he told me I was first in line so I was feeling pretty good. After awhile a few more collectors wandered in and stood in line behind me and the pre orders opened up promptly at 2 PM. I ordered the whole damn wave at once, 77 dollars of amiibo, including the exclusive Ness and then the Gamestop servers crashed hard. Across the country 1000s of Gamestops were all processing the same orders from the same web portal and the 83x black friday traffic was too much. My order reset once, there was lots of nervous waiting, the guy behind me was getting a really sour look on his face, but then after 45 minutes I got a confirmation, I paid my money and the dude working the counter even gave me 5 bucks off for the hassle. It was a small victory in the Amiibo war, and I really won’t feel great about it until I see those Amiibos show up on my door step in a few months but for the moment I was happy.
Later that night I set the alarm for 530 AM, the time the online Toys R Us pre order for their exclusive Greninja Amiibo was rumored to go on sale. I woke up, cracked open the website, and they were already sold out. Checked reddit and the preorders had gone up at 3 AM my time. Mother fuckers. Thats what its like fighting in the Amiibo wars and I wouldn’t have it any other way.