CHAPTER 1 – A JOURNEY TO COLLECT THEM ALL
When Nintendo announced their line of figures that were set to rival Activision’s Skylanders, or Disney’s Disney Infinity, the internet exploded. Originally made for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, it was clear from the get-go that these figures were going to be HUGE. All over the web, people were talking about how they wanted to collect them all, and stores like EB Games were selling out pre-orders faster than you could say “Do you have Villager?”
What nobody could anticipate however, was just how large the demand was going to be. From the second they launched, these colourful, intricately detailed figures of people’s favourite childhood game characters practically flew off the shelves. Not only that, but entire communities on Reddit, Facebook and Twitter were formed just to discuss and trade the figures, as well as tracking which stores had what figure, and which were the rarest and most sought after amiibo.
So recently, when I got an email from EB Games about the limited edition “Silver Mario” amiibo did I decide to try a little experiment. I wanted to collect each figure in the line. Sounds easy right, especially since ANYTHING is easy to collect, as long as you have the money to do so. Well, with the scarcity of some figures, individuals out there were buying out rarer ones in bulk with the sole intention of reselling at a huge markup to gouge the customers, so my aim was to avoid these sellers at all costs.
In the end, I decided that I would shop only from retail stores like Target, JB Hi-Fi, EB Games etc just like any other ordinary consumer, with the goal of seeing just how hard it was to collect every amiibo out there. Not only that, but I wanted to share my adventures with you all. (just note however, that I live in New South Wales, Australia, so my adventure isn’t guaranteed to reflect your own search for amiibo). So before we get onto any of the adventure, first lets talk about the rules:
- Figures must be purchased from a retail store
- No more than $18 can be spent on a single figure
- Online orders are allowed but not encouraged
- Pre-orders are NOT allowed
- Lay-buys ARE allowed
- Shopping can be done at any time of the day or night
So why those rules? Well like I said above, I wanted to avoid the online scalpers and gougers and see just how difficult it is to track down amiibo figures in the wild. I want to avoid online orders as much as possible and instead use the online shopping capabilities of Target and EB Games as more of a tool to determine scarcity than anything else.
I decided to not pre-order anything, because, well it kind of seems like cheating to have a figure before it is in the wild. I did however decide that lay-buying already released figures is a little more acceptable so that I don’t spend my week’s rent in one trip to Kmart. I also wanted to be able to shop at any time of the day, because I know a few stores around me that are both open early and closed late, which makes it a little easier to pick up some figures as they are released.
So lets jump right in! My amiibo collection started the day I picked up Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, when I picked up a Wii Fit Trainer with the sole purpose of training her up to Lv50 on Smash and showing my brother that she really is a force to be reckoned with. As I picked up the figure, next to her was Animal Crossing’s Villager, one of the figures I actually really wanted from the set (as at that time I had logged almost 400 hours into New Leaf), but I had already spent too much money on games that day so decided “next time…” Oh boy was that a mistake.
Fast forward to Christmas, and I got gifted a Donkey Kong amiibo by one of my brothers, as Donkey Kong had been my absolute favourite Nintendo character ever since I was a child (in a story that I may tell you all another time). Since I had never seen another Villager amiibo hit the shelves, I figured this was about where my collection would end. That was until I got an email from EB Games… This email in fact:
Just on a random whim I thought “that one looks kinda cool, why not,” and immediately pre-ordered the figure online. A few hours later and they were completely sold out, and going for $90+ dollars on Ebay. Yikes! This revelation is what sparked me to try this little experiment in the first place. I will say though, that since Silver Mario was pre-ordered, I will not be officially including him in the list until I see at least ONE on a store shelf somewhere.
Fast forward to May 29th, the day before Splatoon’s amiibo triple pack, Jigglypuff and Greninja were set for release. I was browsing around an EB Games store that was a little out of my usual shopping area when I saw one figure that was listed as “in store only,” and two that were flat out listed as “Out of Stock” on their website. These figures were Toad, Bowser (Super Mario), and Ike respectively, so I nabbed those bad boys and increased my collection ever so slightly.
Feeling pretty proud of myself, I made sure to take note of which figures I had seen time and time again (ones like Link, Zelda, Mario, Yoshi, Pikachu, Donkey Kong etc) and headed on my way. I needed to get an early night’s rest to ensure that I would be up bright and early for the release of the Pokemon amiibo.
May 30th, It was 5:30am and my car was frozen over, but none the less my girlfriend and I rugged up in our thickest woolen hoodies and headed down to nearest Target which happened to open at 6am. My plan was to grab the Greninja, Jigglypuff and Splatoon amiibo then head out for some hot breakfast. When we arrived however, We saw that there were more than one amiibo hunter already waiting, and not only that but the figures had not yet been placed on the shelves. So, I decided to check out the rest of their stock while the employee fished them out from the back for us.
When I got to the shelves, I was stunned. There were plenty of amiibo that I had never seen out in the wild before. Meta Knight, Sonic, Wario, Pac-Man, CHARIZARD! I wanted to grab them all, but since I was already buying almost $90 worth of amiibo, I decided to only take Charizard with me and rushed the other four off to the Lay-buy department until a later date.
By the time I got back to the entertainment section, the store employee had fished out the Jigglypuff, Greninja and the Splatoon amiibo and us three amiibo hunters who had braved the elements and the early morning for glory were all debating who should go first in line. I know what you’re thinking and this wasn’t some neckbeard argument in the middle of the store, or people trampling over one another. No quite the opposite in fact, everyone there was polite and courteous and offering for the others to go ahead of them in line. So be sure to take that on board folks, all of those horror stories about people pushing kids out of the way or buying eight figures at are just a vocal and horrid minority!
As far as stock levels go. It looked like they only had four of each Greninja and Jigglypuff, but an absolute boat load of the amiibo individuals and triple packs. These numbers seem about accurate for everywhere else I have gone since then. Anywho, after a few computer hiccups and a McDonalds breakfast, we were back home with my collection having grown a little bit:
Not too bad for two days worth of shopping!
At the end of every chapter, I will be putting in my own personal progress report that summarises the week’s activities in the form of an infographic. I found this one, posted by Reddit user MrMime_Time, that perfectly suits this purpose. If an amiibo has a tick over it, that means that I either have the figure or have it on Lay-buy. The squares underneath the figure show how rare I have found it to be during my adventures, with the key as follows
- Blue: Not yet released
- Green: Common
- Orange: Uncommon
- Red: Rare
- Rainbow: Haven’t seen one/Unicorn
Ok folks, that’s the end of Chapter 1. What did you think? Let me know in the comments below what you liked, what you hated and what you would like to see in following issues. Also make sure you come back for Chapter 2 – Leave Luck to Heaven
From today (June 4th, 2015) I will be live-tweeting my adventures in amiibo hunting, so follow me on twitter at @APhenomenalDay for all that goodness, and to maybe snag yourself one of those rare amiibo you have been searching for.
We here at Capsule Computers talk about just about everything pop culture related, from video games to movies and anime, so make sure you stay tuned for all that awesome good stuff too!