Welcome to hell.
If that didn't just send a chill down your spine, then consider yourself lucky. Over the past six months, amiibos have been the most dreaded Nintendo product in existence. These little tiny action figures are meant to be Nintendo's answer to Skylanders and Disney Infinity. However, amiibos have only been cemented as and absolute insane, frustrating, and impossible product to collect. Normal consumers can't get a hold on them, collectors have to pay with their first born children to get one, and they block off cool features in Nintendo games that many players want to use.
Now make no mistake; I love collecting amiibos. I love the collect these little guys and display them. I'm planning on collecting the entire Super Smash Bros series, which will eventually include over 50 amiibos. As of right now, I have 37 amiibo from searching, retail, trading, and importing, but I hate the overall business culture that surrounds amiibos. What's even more interesting is trying to explain to people what the problems are with amiibos. Most of my friends don't play video games, and the ones that do either think I'm exaggerating with "amiibo war stories", or are completely clueless with what's happening. So consider this an informative Top 10 list. The amiibo that are on this list are because their release was poorly handled, information about them was poorly handled, or just anything was unique about them to make them an inconveinice for consumers to actively purchase them. Also, I'm include every amiibo series produced, which means I will include the Super Smash Bros series, the Super Mario series, and the Splatoon series. It's the entire line that I want to discuss and not just certain aspects of them.
However, Toad earns his entry on this list be being the sole amiibo that works with a previously released Nintendo game, Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker. The game released in December of 2014 and was touted as having exclusive content that could only be unlocked with the Toad amiibo. The mode turned out to be a hide and seek challenge where in every stage, you had to hunt for a tiny pixel Toad to complete the challenge. It's innocuous and fun, but not essential to the game. Still, the fact that the entire mode was hidden unless you had a Toad amiibo, which sold out very quickly, is the ideal reason why he should be on this list. Thankfully, Toad has been slowly getting a decent restock and people are having an easier time finding him, but it's still unfair that he was hard to get an essential to fully play a game.
Shulk is from Xenoblade Chronicles, a game that you've probably never heard of until I told it to you. It's an RPG from 2012 (though was released in the rest of the world as early as 2010. It took the game several years to be localized) that just recently had a remake on the New 3DS. No one knows where Shulk was from, yet he was a popular Smash character. So when a relatively unknown yet popular character is announced as a Gamestop exclusive figure, people began to sweat. They worried that he would sell out instantly and that no one could get their hands on him ever again. As it turns out, the exact opposite was true. Gamestop had several weeks of preorders on their website, he sold out a few weeks before release, and he was also the easiest store exclusive to get. If all of that is true, why is he on this list?
Because he was still incredibly hard to get! After he sold out, people were scrambling to try and find him because he unlocked, yet again, exclusive content in the remake of Xenoblade on 3DS. Without him, you couldn't get the content. Not only that, but Gamestop announced that they would have a restock of Shulk in May of 2015, saying that if you missed out the first time, you can get him again. So people bought him as fast as they could, he sold out even faster than before, and we are STILL waiting on his restock to come. Rumor has it that the restocks will be shipped in the beginning of June, but it's a month and a half after when he was promised to be delivered. Amiibo shipping dates range all across the board from "fairly accurate" to "only Cthulhu knows when he'll be shipped, and he's an elder God from another dimension". For both his good policies and his bad policies, Shulk at least deserves some mention.
|#8: Wii Fit Trainer|
If you want to make an amiibo fan squirm in their seat and cry in a corner, mention to them the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity, for those that are unaware, are three amiibos that released in the first wave of amiibos. There are 4 waves in total: Wave 1, which had 12 amiibo and released on November 20th, Wave 2, which had 6 amiibo and released throughout December (more on that in a bit), Wave 3, which had 11 amiibo and released throughout February, and Wave 4, which had 8 amiibo and just released today. Now, back when Wave 1 first hit, no one had any idea that amiibos would be as popular as they would, and some amiibos had fewer numbers produced then others. The three amiibos that had criminally low stock sold out within days, had no restocks, were confirmed by Nintendo that they may have been discontinued, and were therefore called the Holy Trinity. The Trinity consisted of Marth, Villager, and of course, the Wii Fit Trainer.
The Holy Trinity is most likely the main reason why scalpers exist in the amiibo community in my opinion. When Wave 1 launched, there was no regulation as to how many amiibos of a specific character you could buy. It was highly feasible for a person to buy 5 Wii Fit Trainers, keep 1 for themself, then sell off the rest of them at an inflated price, and because no one could find a WFT anywhere else, they had to go to the scalpers. Sclapers are the most hated aspect of the amiibo community, and for good reason. However, Wii Fit Trainer does not fetch an immensely high price. Retailing at $13.99 MSRP, most WFT's could be found on ebay from anywhere to $25 to $40. I've very rarely seen a WFT that has gone above that asking price, and thank God for that. As of right now, she's only compatible with Super Smash Bros, which is fine. She doesn't block off exclusive content, so no harm no foul. Still, for creating the mess that we're in right now, WFT deserves mention. And don't worry, the rest of the Trinity will make it on this list.
...Until people began to receieve confirmation that their preorders were cancelled by Toys R' Us. Yes, Toys R' Us, for one reason or another, began to send out massive emails to people that legitimately purchased Lucario and told them that their order was cancelled and no longer valid. So if you preordered a Lucario amiibo and got an email saying your order was invalid, you were out of luck. Most preorders were sold out, he was exclusive, so there was no other way to get one, and he was slightly rare at that, making his price on import sites fairly high. The worst part about it though was that emails were being sent right up until he was released, so people could have their order cancelled mere days before he was to be released.
Wave 3, on the whole, was handled fairly well to the point where common amiibos from that wave were made readily available to the masses, but the exclusives were a whole different story. Stock allocations and cancellations made preordering a nightmare, and very few people were actually able to get a Lucario on release day. He was hardly available in most Toys R' Us's, so it was either preorder or bust... until you get inevitably cancelled, in which case, bust.
|#6: Captain Falcon AND Pit|
Wave 2 was originally pegged to come out in December of 2014, but it had no set release date, even after Wave 1 launched a few weeks prior. Suddenly, right in the middle of December, reports came trickling out that the 6 Wave 2 amiibos would be split to 2 separate days in December, but no one knew when. To make matters worse, most of the amiibos were or characters who weren't featured that much in Nintendo games, so they sold out as fast as they appeared. When a report came in when the Wave 2 amiibos would be released, reports came in just as fast that their were either sold out at retailers, or had a single digit stock for most stores. To say it was anarchy was an understatement. Pit and Captain Falcon were released on December 29th without any fanfare or surprise, and sold out in that same day. To most consumers, these amiibos don't even exist to their knowledge.
They were so poorly handled that Nintendo tried to justify the limited stock by saying that it was because of a shipment strike off the Pacific ocean. A port strike along the West Coast delayed several amiibo shipments from arriving to the United States and caused very limited stock as well. Now this would be a fine and understandable explanation, but there are two problems with it. 1) Nintendo gave this report out in the middle of January, weeks after Wave 2 released that caused this whole headache. They provided the explanation after the fact and after everyone was at each other's throats over the issue. 2) Hypothetically, if the port strike was responsible for the delay, it still does not excuse the fact that Nintendo never told people when Wave 2 was going to ship. It's one thing to explain why the problem happened, but shipment information does not correlate to not letting the general consumer know when they can buy their product. And at the middle of it was Captain Falcon and Pit, who were unknown for months, still are hard to find, and had everyone begin to doubt Nintendo and their capabilities of handling amiibo.
Rosalina was a perfect storm of awful ,practices, awful ideas, and awful everything that made amiibo collectors want to rage quit the whole hobby. Rosalina was a Target exclusive for Wave 3 (of course it's Wave 3) and was set to sell out relatively fast, even though she was a fairly well known Mario character. And so, people eagerly awaited preorders for Rosalina... only for people to wake up in the morning to learn that she sold out. Yes, Rosalina went up for sale at 3:00 a.m. and sold out about 20 minutes later, denying anyone else from buying her. Even worse, it was most scalpers that bought her due to lackadaisical policies, so she began to be sold for no lower that $30 online. For the legitimate people that were able to preorder her, they had fairly no problems, except if you lived in Canada.
In Canada, Rosalina was also a Target exclusive amiibo and had preorders as well, but a little kink was thrown into the mix a few days after preorders for Rosalina ended. You see, Target was shutting down all of its stores in Canada. No more Target stores would be featured in Canada, and any preorders for Rosalina were essentially worthless. Just imagine that, not just a few people, but an entire country was shut out of preorders for Rosalina. Now, compensations were made regarding Rosalina preorders in Canada, and it's not even Nintendo's fault for Target shutting down in Canada, but it's still awful none the less and made getting Rosalina a nightmare for collectors. If you have a Rosalina, chances are you had to import it. If not, then you're just like the majority of America: Rosalina-less.
However, Marth is pretty much mundane in why he's rare. He had limited stock in Wave 1, no reprints for months, and has exclusive content in Codename S.T.E.A.M. when you scan him in. It's almost like putting Marth on here is an obligation. Scalpers have hiked his price no anywhere from $50 to $80 dollars, and that's just used! Scalpers control the market on Marth and trying to get one fairly is no easy task. However, life was made much easier with a long awaited Marth reprint. More Marths were made by Nintendo and were intended to be sold in late April. However, because this is amiibos, that plan was quickly scrapped. For the past month, Marth has been randomly appearing on online stores like Target and Amazon. He would go up for one minute, then would quickly sell out. Rinse and repeat for a little over a month.
The only time where there was an official restock was today, when he was quietly snuck into the Wave 4 releases. The only problem was that there were barely any Marths in this "retsock". The Toys R' Us I went to, which had a huge selection of amiibo release that day, only had 6. Six! In comparison, Lucina, a unicorn of Wave 4, had 16 units in store, while Greninja, TRU's exclusive amiibo this time around, had several dozen available. And Marth only had 6 for a well publicized "restock". Lovely. For his rarity, infamy in the hobby, and the frustration he brings, Marth needed to be mentioned.
So Villager was released in Wave 1 like the rest of the Trinity and sold out just as fast. There was no word on a restock, reprint, or anything of the like for months. Villagers fans were out of luck and had no way to get a hold of him. Import sites didn't have him because of how rare he was, even in Japan, and scalpers were able to buy him in droves and sell him for prices that matched, if not exceeded, Marth's price. So getting a Villager was a mess for a while and still is, but fate shined upon us! Nintendo announced a reprint of the Villager... in Japan only.
So Japan got a reprint of the Villager, but in a stroke of awful fate, they made changes to the Villager. The changes to him were very slight, mostly to eye positions, the size of his forehead, his arms, and other very minuscule details, but the scalpers were still able to get a hold of plenty of Villager reprints. In fact, because there were now two visually different Villagers, the scalpers upped the price for original Villagers citing them as being "original first edition collectibles". Thankfully, the Japanese reprints are mostly hovering around $30, but that's not including shipping, handling, and the fact that most orders will take over a month to ship. At least Marth had a chance to be sold in store multiple times. Villager is so rare the only way to get him is to import him, wait a month, and hope that nothing goes wrong with your order.
Ness is a Wave 4 amiibo and was just released today. When he was announced for release, it was during the April 1st Nintendo Direct. Immediately afterwards, Gamestop tweeted that Ness was an exclusive amiibo for them and that preorders would be in store only on April 2nd at 3:00 p.m. What follows is anarchy and the truest definition of amiibogeddon.
Before 3:00, numerous people lined up in Gamestop ready to preorder. Gamestop had 6 amiibo up for preorder, Ness included, and had a bundle where you could choose to buy all 6 of them and save on shipping. So when 3:00 p.m. hit, preorders went live. And then Gamestop crashed. The entire Gamestop network, servers, registers, and their website, crashed due to a high amount of traffic. It was to the point where in store, people could not preorder any amiibos because the systems were too broken and slow. It took anywhere between a half hour to 90 minutes to place a single preorder for a Wave 4 amiibo. What's worse was that during this whole time, there were numerous people in line, so if it takes an hour for one person to place their order, best of luck to you. But it gets worse! During this catastrophe, some orders were able to go through during this server meltdown, but due to how slow the system was, people had no idea if their order was accepted. So a person could order the bundle of all 6 amiibo, but have it get cancelled because they ran out of the bundled after waiting for over half an hour.
But it gets worse!!! If a bundle sold out, people had to buy their amiibos individually because of it, which would require another half hour or so to process the order. BUT IT GETS WORSE! During aaaaaaaall of that, it was incredibly likely for an amiibo to sell out while you were waiting for hours to place a single preorder. You could try and order Ness, in two separate ways, only for the employee working there to tell you that Ness was sold out. All of your time was wasted to try and order Ness and any other Wave 4 amiibo, so the best you could do was sit around and fume over the fact that you had your dream shattered numerous times because of Ness. The servers broke, people waited for hours on end to order, some people couldn't order, and the exclusive amiibo that won't be sold anywhere else sold out, leaving everyone hopelessly defeated. Gamestop killed Ness.
|#1: Little Mac|
Hailing from Wave 2, Little Mac has no reprints, was released the day after Nintendo announced that Wave 2 would be split, never appeared on store shelves in most areas, was bought by scalpers instantly, and sold for incredibly high prices. In his hay day, Little Mac amiibos could range up to $100 he was that rare. What's even worse was that he was a character no one had ever heard of, so he stock was even more limited than Ness and the Holy Trinity. Sure, he wasn't a store exclusive, but Little Mac is downright mythical and created the term unicorn to describe amiibo that are non existant. Little Mac is the OG unicorn.
I'm pretty sure that Little Mac is an amiibo that everyone aspires to have, but will never likely get. The only way to find him is to go to a scalper, because not even Japan has a reliable stock of Little Macs. You essentially have to go to a shady individual to get him and be horribly price gouged to keep him. It's awful. Little Mac is the embodiment of everything wrong with the amiibo figures. He's rare to the point where the common consumer does not know he exists, he's a scalper's best friend, he cannot be imported easily, and he's barely used for only games. He's only in Smash, making his practicality infinitely less than his worth. Little Mac may not have a colorful story to go behind him, but he's everything wrong about how Nintendo handled the amiibo craze. Poor communication, poor stock supplies, no abilities to prevent a scalper invasion, and just an awful mess that has made Nintendo millions. They promise that things will get better, but in a case like this, can you really believe them? Amiibos, as of April, have sold over 10 million units in 5 months. They've made bank hard and can say that amiibos print money. However, the profits for them prevent them from seeing how poorly things have been handled, how dissatisfied gamers are, and how insane thing have been.
I personally had to line up at a store at 8:00 a.m. today just to make sure that I could get 4 amiibo I didn't have, and it was cutting it close. I got the last Lucina and if I showed up later on in the day, I would have had junk. However, I love collecting these little figurines. I wouldn't change what I've done for a second. Still, this cannot be the norm for future waves. Wave 5 is supposed to release in July with 2 amiibos, then have a second release of 5 amiibos in September. Hopefully everything will be ironed out by then, or we are all screwed for future releases.