By Joe Cammisa
Like I said in the headline, my name is Joe, and I'm an Amiibo Addict. I didn't start off as an addict. I never even saw the addiction coming. It just hit me out of nowhere and I can't really stop. Here is my story.
When Amiibos were first announced by Nintendo, they announced a handful of characters from the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS games. They'd release a couple of the more popular and unique characters and if it went well, they'd release more, with the potential to have other series follow down the line.
As expected, they didn't just sell well, they made the internet f*cking explode. Well, not right away, but it was definitely in the future, in a near literal sense. The first wave of Amiibos came out to somewhat little fanfare at first. Little plastic figures that you could "train" in Smash Bros. seemed cool, and they were famous Nintendo characters, but they didn't seem like they'd do too much, though there was potential.
Figures like Link, Samus, Mario, and Pikachu seemed like no brainers to have and collect. Some legendary figures of legendary Nintendo characters to sit on the shelf at home and use in games. Sure, those are going to sell well, right? But who is going to care as much about characters like the Villager from Animal Crossing? Sure, it's a popular game, but it's still a new franchise, right? Marth from Fire Emblem might do decent, but it's definitely more of a Japan centric title considering the limited number of titles that released in the US. And Wii Fit Trainer? Are they serious? Nobody is going to want that figure. I mean come on…
People like me were wrong. REALLY wrong, as those figures sold out relatively quick and the word from Nintendo was that once a figure was gone, they'd move on to new characters. This left a lot of people upset at not being able to get a Villager or Marth, and the people who HAD gotten those figures decided it might be best to sell it for a profit. That started a chain reaction of evil proportions.
Wave 2 had more niche characters like Captain Falcon, Little Mac, and Kid Icarus star Pit. As with the first wave of Amiibo figures, the lesser known characters were the first to fly off shelves and instead of fans being the ones to get them, it was people who were buying them with the explicit goal of selling them for profit. The dreader scalpers were here and they were going to destroy everything Nintendo was planning to release including Majora's Mask special editions and 3DSXL consoles, and future Amiibo figurines.
Wave 3 introduced store exlusive Amiibos, which only made things worse. Lucario was only sold at Toys R Us, Meta Knight at Best Buy, Rosalina at Target, and Shulk from Xenoblade was exclusive to GameStop. Obviously those exclusive characters were snatched up to be resold faster than anybody before. At this point, some of the harder to find characters from all three waves to date were fetching prices over $100 from resellers.
Now, I said at the beginning I was an addict and it's time I told my own story. At the beginning I only had plans for three characters I wanted. I wanted to have a Pikachu Amiibo since Pikachu was my Smash Bros. main from all the way back in the Nintendo 64 days. I wanted Shulk due to being a huge Xenoblade fan, and I also wanted Ness (if he was ever to be released) since I consider EarthBound from the SNES to be my all time favorite game to the point that I even organized an EarthBound remix project called Bound Together nearly a decade ago. Yay self promotion!
Things started out innocently enough with just buying Pikachu. I was content. I thought a Villager looked cool, but I could never find out. When Wave 2 came out, I saw Luigi and grabbed him. I was always more of a Luigi fan than Mario, and I wanted to represent Luigi. Then I found a Craigslist post that changed everything. Somebody had Amiibos to sell or trade and I messaged them asking if they had a Villager and what they wanted. Some chatting back and forth led to a trade where I gave them my GameCube controller adapter for the Wii U in exchange for Zelda, Little Mac, and a Villager. I know. I totally made out on that trade.
This ignited the addiction. From then on, I was checking every store looking for any of the hard to find figures. I saw Yoshi, Peach, and Donkey Kong all on sale for $9.99 each and grabbed them because they were cheap. Can't pass up a deal! When Rosalina released, I just so happened to hop on Target.com to see it was in stock and ordered it right away. Pure luck. Finally, I went to GameStop the day after Christmas to throw a preorder down on Shulk, who I did NOT want to miss. He was one of the main guys I always wanted. And GameStop was done taking preorders. That was the final straw. I knew I couldn't miss out again.
From then on, I made sure I got what I could. I made an hour long trip for Mega Man. I placed import orders at higher prices for figures like Wii Fit Trainer and Pit. I never paid $100 for a figure, but I was close to doing it with Meta Knight. When a Shulk reprint preorder was announced, I immediately drove to GameStop to get a preorder in. I should finally get it this Saturday after a few months of waiting.
The biggest day for me, and the day I realized I was developing a huge problem was the day that Wave 4 preorders were going live at GameStop. Remember when I mentioned earlier that Amiibos made the internet explode? This is the day I was talking about.
GameStop sucks. Let me get that out of the way first. I still shop there, but when it comes down to important things, they blow it almost all the time. The company does stupid things and their stupidity hit its peak on the day Wave 4 preorders went on sale. This was when the Amiibo craze was at it's highest to date. GameStop knew how in demand things were, so they made the decision that at one specific time, every single GameStop store in the country would take preorders all at once. Along with everybody at home F5ing gamestop.com in hopes of getting an order in.
The call was made to start orders at 3pm EST. GameStop allegedly made a call to do web orders at a later time, but never actually told anybody, so people were still online hoping for the best. Somewhere around 2:57pm, the website and all in-store computers pretty much died. For a long time. I was in store around 2:30 since I was trading stuff and wanted to be near the front of the line. It happened I was the first guy there, so my transaction was left up so I could be ready to go at 3pm. The problem is, when 3pm hit, the comptuers were still down. The line hit about 15 people or so around that time with more coming in as the minutes passed. Around 3:30, I noticed the line was getting smaller. In that half hour, I still hadn't gotten an order in. In fact, it was after 4pm when my order was FINALLY able to be placed and I had a Wave 4 six pack order placed, including my much awaited Ness Amiibo. When I turned around to leave, there were 3 people left.
As the day went on, social media was filled with pissed off people. People complaining that they didn't get an order in despite being 5th in line and waiting two hours. People who claimed a GameStop employee's friend let the guy in front place numerous orders. People who hated Nintendo, people who hated GameStop, and people who wanted to sell their Amiibos. The backlash was starting, but I guess because I wasn't affected, I didn't care as much, so I just kept on collecting.
Last week was the official day that Wave 4 launched. May 29th, it felt like the craze was back, but MUCH smaller. I never got a Jigglypuff Amiibo order placed. Jigglypuff was another store exclusive only being sold at Target. I went to my local Target at 7am and there were already three people ahead of me with the store not opening for another hour. As that hour ticked away, more and more people showed up, but not nearly the number I expected. Target also had a very plentiful supply of Jigglypuff Amiibos. Everybody in line got one, and there were still about 10 or so left. Even the employees noted the lines were much smaller than before.
Later that morning I went to Toys R Us to get another exclusive, Greninja, another Pokémon figure. I was late to showing up, so I fully expected me to have missed out. Seeing a table of Amiibos at the front devoid of Greninja was enough to make me reconsider long drives to get Amiibos, but when I saw a handful behind the counter, I asked an employee if any were available. As he handed the very last one to a different customer, he just smiled and said they did. He pulled out a few boxes from the back. Not only did they have some, they had a bunch.
I kind of didn't want them to have any. Missing out would almost make me regret doing what I've been doing, but walking away with two of the store exclusives in one day, with the third being shipped to me, just fueled that Amiibo Addiction even more. A trip to Best Buy later that day resulted in me getting a long desired Meta Knight. They were getting a minimum of $50 on Amazon and that Best Buy had a whopping TWENTY of them in their shipment and I picked up two (sold the second to a friend at cost since he couldn't ever get one). Everything was coming up Millhouse.
Two days ago I got my Wave 4 order in from GameStop. Ness is on my shelf, along with Wario, Robin, Lucina, and others. I got a Silver Mario from Target. I got a Gold Mario from Walmart. I got a Dedede imported. It seemed I was getting more and more of them, but it's never been enough. I don't have Diddy Kong. I don't have Lucario. I don't even have a Smash Bros. Series Mario! I have the Gold and Silver Marios from the Super Mario Bros. lineup, but not the Smash version.
It's turned into a real addiction from me. I originally wanted 3, and when my Shulk arrives this Saturday, I will be at 35. Thirty goddamn five. Nintendo is reprinting harder to find figures, reseller prices are getting lower and lower, and not as many people are searching for the figures. Most of those people are scalpers. Supplies are getting more plentiful and easier to find for the most part. Sure, nobody will ever walk into GameStop and find a Ness, but for the most part, even the rare figures are getting a little less rare.
Easier to find figures and lower priced second hand market? That only fuels an addiction further. High prices won't push people away. Long searches won't push people away. Nintendo started the addiction, and now they're making it even easier to stay addicted with better supply for many Amiibos.
I'm Joe, and I'm an Amiibo Addict, and I can't wait until I can preorder Wave 5 and beyond.
Joe Cammisa is an unemployed nerd who spends his time gaming, no longer hosting The SML Podcast, and sharing pictures of his five cats on Facebook. Yeah, five. You can annoy him on Twitter or on pretty much any gaming service under the name JoeCamNet.