amiibo: Is It Time to Stop Collecting?

Cue Boyz II Men – “End of the Road.” Or maybe “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” WTF is the difference, right?

I’ve collected shit all my life. (Well, not shit, but you know…) As I’ve gotten older and more means have been available to me, I’ve been able to build more impressive collections. Now whether you’re casual or serious, there are 2 types of collections. First there are those that can never be completed. I mean ok, by some stretch they could be completed vis-a-vis nothing is infinite, but speaking practically, your collection of silver spoons or shot glasses will never be 100% complete. You’d literally have to hunt down every novelty spoon or shot glass in the world. A lot of collections are like this – the collection itself is not meant to serve as an exhaustive or encyclopedic chronicle of the object being collected, but rather it is a reflection of the collector him or herself; a way of saying these are the pieces that I like and that I value. This is how I look at my cube collection. Or if you’re my age (or older) and you remember a time before everything was so fucking digital and disposable, stuff like CD and/or DVD/VHS collections were defining point of a person. I know the first thing I did as a teenager with a newcomer to the group or a friend of friend was bring up music, and depending on the situation, point them towards my CD rack or check out theirs.

The other type of collection is a finite collection – and by finite, I mean one where you can sit down and list out each entry. A lot of times these collections can develop through a subset of the aforementioned “uncompletable” collections. So maybe you won’t ever have a complete collection of all CDs ever, but there’s no reason you couldn’t hunt down every Nine Inch Nails CD. Maybe you’re just interested in albums – and you build a complete collection of NIN albums. Or maybe you want to include anything ever pressed on CD – remix albums, EPs, live albums, video discs, compilations and soundtracks, singles, imports, etc. It may be a little harder to legitimize your borders, but I’d argue that one could build “complete” collections of certain genres, or at least certain genres within a specified era – like classic grunge records, early punk records, or the second wave of black metal.

Now just because you’re dealing with a “completable” collection doesn’t mean that every collector will necessarily strive to complete it, for various reasons. Sometimes even “completable” collections can be very large and difficult or costly to complete. Sometimes collectors will only be interested in a particular subset, which is something we’ll get to when discussing the amiibo specifically. However, when you do run across the collector who has all of or very close to all of a “completable” collection, you can be sure that this collector values the collection overall. I’m not saying the constituents aren’t important, but the collection and the collecting are the end goals, not the collectibles themselves.

For example, if you rifle through someone’s CD collection, you probably won’t find many CDs that the listener doesn’t like or is indifferent to. If so, these were probably purchased by mistake or with the impression that the listener would like them. However, if I start digging explicitly through your NIN CD collection, you might shrug your shoulders at a few. This is because with the “completable” collection – the NIN CDs – the collection is the focus and it stands to reason that you may not necessarily be 100% enamored with every single piece, though each and every piece holds irreplaceable value as a piece of the collection itself regardless of its individual merit.

So how does all of this connect with amiibo and me potentially giving up on this collection? Well, right now, Nintendo’s amiibo are a very “completable,” albeit frustrating, collection. When they first came out, I don’t think I had any serious intention of getting all of them. Early on I picked up Mario, Samus, and Link just because “I liked them.” Note that this sort of reasoning is moot when dealing with someone who’s out for the whole shebang. My most favorite amiibo is just as “valuable” as my least favorite: without either of them, the collection is one short of a whole. Sometime in late December 2014 or early January 2015 I remember reading that all these other amiibo existed: Little Mac, Pitt, a handful of others, and that they were virtually impossible to buy at the retail level. And then, I guess maybe it was February 2015 or so, Target had all of these signs up touting Rosalina as an exclusive. Being a fan of Rosalina as a character, I thought, “hey I wouldn’t mind having her!” and I remember diligently scouring Targets for a month or more, completely oblivious to the fact that these damn things probably sold out within minutes of their release.

What a chump, right?

But see, that shit’s on Nintendo, not me. I in good faith assumed these things would be reasonably available. Nintendo was the one created all the elitism when it came to the damn toys, and what actually kinda sickens me most of all is that the collecting of amiibo was taken completely away from the kids. And let’s be fucking honest: the functionality of the amiibo themselves has never been all that impressive. The only real worthwhile use in my opinion was the mini-game on the deserted island in Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival where you actually used the damn cards to build your team. That was actually a good idea.

Anyways, over the next couple of months, I learned what it really took to become a seasoned amiibo collector. Basically you had 2 options: make sure your ass tuned in for Nintendo Direct and take proper measures to preorder shit immediately. Sometimes, back in the early days, even this wasn’t enough. And some places, like Target, did away with preorders after the first couple of waves in the midst of all that site-crashing shit. The second method was to get to stores early, line your ass up out front rain snow shine whatever, and earn that shit.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t get myself in the grove of listening out for Nintendo Direct. By the time I heard about new amiibo, they’d already been announced and preorders were long gone. Going back to about May of 2015, I sucked it up, got to Target about 15 minutes before opening, and damn, there were like 10 people already lined up. I got most of the wave that day, including the Target exclusive, but I missed out on Robyn and Lucina simply because they only had like 4 of each.

Considering past experiences, this was a pretty decent victory and it was a strategy that served me well throughout the year. However, there was another problem to surmount: Nintendo’s exclusivity deals. To date, Nintendo has offered exclusive amiibo through Walmart, Target, GameStop, Best Buy, Toys R Us, and Amazon.com. At the peak of it all I was seriously halfway expecting exclusives for Kohl’s, Kmart, and Walgreens. (Walgreens gets a good deal of exclusives, from Funko Pops to World of Nintendo figures…it’s even said that the Yellow Daredevil character car is a Walgreens exclusive.)

I won’t go into detail about everything I did to get every single amiibo, just wanted to point out that even showing up early wasn’t enough. Sometimes I got lucky with the exclusives, other times not. I ended up ordering quite a few “Japanese versions” off the web, which are of course identical to their North American (and European) counterparts except for packaging. And you know what? The fucking Japanese (nothing against the Japanese) can’t help but giggle at the situation. Nintendo – over there – makes no such attempt to obfuscate the procurement of a m i i b o. This means no manufactured scarcity, no stupid exclusives…just amiibo.

Now let’s move up to the present, or at least a week ago yesterday. Three amiibo were set to drop: Skyward Sword Link, Twilight Princess Link, & Majora’s Mask Link. Honestly, I’m not wild about 3 more Links, but going back to the philosophy behind the collection, I need all of ’em for a complete collection, so it doesn’t matter what I think.

I set out last Friday morning hoping to get lucky, but realistically expecting very little. Amazon still had no word on their exclusive (Skyward Sword), but I dropped by GameStop right when they opened to fish for any extras. The clerk said they had none, and that they’d only had 3 preorder slots confirming what this other dude had told me a while back. Despite getting there so early, it actually took me forever got get my quick question and naswer out the way because this old bitch in front of me was trying to unload a FUCKTON of 10+ year old games – we’re talking shit that GameStop only stocks online like Xbox, GBA, and PS2 games. What the fuck was she thinking? And furthermore, why do the clerks allow themselves to be monopolized like this? If you’re the only one in the store – which this young lady was – you should not be “allowed” to put the world on hold to deal with this shit when other people are waiting. I deal with this a lot at GameStop due to the combination of knowledgeable staff (which I appreciate…sometimes) and lonely / socially inept customers. Simple questions too often turn into full blown conversations. I mean if the store is slow go for it, but people shouldn’t be forced to wait on this kinda shit. Oh and to top it off the old woman had some stupid question every 3 or 4 games wanting to know how much this or that would be worth and then sighing and groaning upon learning that most GBA games are hardly worth $10. Plus, the bitch is selling them to GameStop, who’s just gonna want to resale them for a profit…meaning you’ll be lucky to get 25 – 40% retail value.

So there I was, making the 12-ish minute trip up to the closest Best Buy almost 25 minutes later that I’d wanted. I get there, ask someone, and they had had 3 extras, but sold them all shortly after opening. Can’t help but wonder if I’d been able to get one if not for Stupid Old Ass 5000 a.k.a. You-Mean-GBA-Yu-Gi-OHh!-Isn’t)-Worth-More!!?? over at GameStop. But who knows, you’ll go crazy asking yourself those questions.

And that was fucking that. I spent the next couple of hours tracking down what I could on eBay. Majora’s Mask was easily the cheapest of the 3, which in a weird way made me feel good about it being the one I was probably closest to getting. If I remember correctly, I snagged both a North American Majora’s Mask Link and a Japanese Twilight Princess for $33-ish each. I held out on Skyward Sword because I had some faith in Amazon. I checked the page throughout the day and evening, and people were “commenting” on the situation via the Q&A section with everything from, “have patience, it’ll all work out,” to, “FUCK Amazon, FUCK Nintendo, FUCK these fucking amiibo goddamn assholes just wanna take your fucking money and I have been a loyal customer until now but fuck this I AM DONE!”

Long story short, it turns out that Amazon did in fact have them up for sale for a small period (couple guys on eBay took a screen cap to prove it), limit one per customer, though the sale was only visible to Prime members. This stipulation was listed no where on the page, nor do I think Amazon has ever pulled any shit like this before. And further-goddamn-more, I am a fucking Prime member and it still eluded me and I know I was checking the page (hard refresh, F5, every time) at least once per hour. But you know, as easy as it is to blame Amazon for the SNAFU, whatever their role may have been, none of it would’ve happened if not for Nintendo’s silly-ass model for contrived scarcity. What I really don’t get is that Nintendo doesn’t benefit from this shit at all. It sullies its own name, brings down the reputation of its affiliates, and puts lots of money into – get this – not their own pockets, but the pockets of the fucking scalpers! I get limited editions and exclusivity and all that jazz, but why make it so fucking impossible?

I don’t know how Nintendo determined how many Links Amazon got (in the same way that it appeared that both GameStop and Best Buy were allotted 3 each) though methinks this may have had something to do with the hold up in availability. What I don’t get is why make it both an exclusive and incredibly scarce? The point of an exclusive is to get people in that store right? So like, it doesn’t matter where you get your amiibo, you must get your ass to a GameStop for Twilight Princess Link. But isn’t the point of driving people to that location totally voided when numbers are that low? Seems like the retailers would put pressure on Nintendo to stock them full of product to make the most out of the experience. Give each store 20 or 30 to sell. I’m not totally against all the limited edition-ness and whatnot, but c’mon, lets plan on having these things around for 2 or 3 days (minimum), not 2 or 3 minutes 2 or 3 months in advance. That’s just dumb, disrespectful, and downright mean.

Oh Nintendo, you did so good throughout 2016. We have lots more amiibo dropping in what I assume to be Q3 and/or Q4 this year…I hope it doesn’t involve exclusivity. So far it looks as if only the “Player 2” variants of the final SSB DLC characters will be exclusive: Bayonetta (Player 2) at Best Buy and Cloud (Player 2) at GameStop – both of which I’ve managed to preorder – and then the Female Corrin / Corrin (Player 2) over at Amazon, which still looks to be a dummy page. It’ll be about 3 weeks before these all drop, so in ideal circumstances Amazon should already be offering these things up.

Beware of all the upcoming stuff though – I’ll do a post on it shortly. We’ve got the new Mario Odyssey series and some new Super Mario series slated for release, then there’s a couple of Fire Emblem guys, a bunch of stuff from the Breath of the Wild expansion, and then a highly coveted Metroid / Samus 2-pack that the bitch at GameStop scared the shit out of me about…turns out Walmart had plenty of preorders available. As it is, I’m a little concerned how many of these I really need to preorder, especially since about half don’t even have release dates.

Majora's Mask Link - amiibo

Just got the first of the 3 – Majora’s Mask – in the mail today.

Well I think that about does it for my bitching slash chronicle of last Friday. Since then I’ve ordered all 3 Links for between $30 and $35 a piece…definitely not ideal but the American releases of Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess were well up in the $70’s. Some people might think it would make more sense to wait for the initial heat to die down, but I’ve found this to be counter-intuitive when it comes to amiibo. Yes, demand is the greatest at release, but so is supply, which means if you’re patient, you’ll land on those guys willing to undercut everyone else just to get their shit sold. Wait too long and you end up dealing with a stodgy group of folks who don’t mind hanging on to the items for months on end to make that sweet sweet profit. In the end, Majora’s Mask is a full-fledged NA release while Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess are making their way over from Japan. I hate the wait time on those but is 2 weeks worth $35-ish? Not really.

FYI, if you are curious about ordering stuff from overseas, it isn’t Japan you need to worry about so much as it is places like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. Most of the folks selling from Japan are reasonably well versed in shipping to the US and rarely are there any problems. You should get your item within 14 days of the ship date. Hong Kong and China are a different story, and since the two are so “philosophically distant” from the US, stuff has to go through all sorts of customs checks and delays, usually before even leaving the country. Once it’s on its way it’s all good, but in all, these things can take 6 to 10 weeks to reach you. Other places in Asia – those outside of a lot of overt Islamic or Communist influence – normally take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive, presumably just due to sheer distance and infrastructure. I’m not as familiar with European goods, though I have ordered the occasional item from the UK, and these tend to arrive comparable to stuff from Japan – about 2 weeks.

Alright fine folks, back to reporting on stuff, I guess, but oh yes, there ain’t much of nothing new happening right now! But like I said at some point, I’ve got a lot of stuff around here that needs opening, and this Character Car Doldrum is a prime opportunity to bang through some of my collection! Get ready! Oh and I’ll be posting some info about new amiibo as well, just need a breather from those figurines for a bit!

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