As I shut the car door behind me, I realized that all these cars in the lot may have only been here so early at this store this morning for the same reason I was: for Nintendo Amiibo. Regardless, others were already here moments after this store had opened and chances are a handful of others did want what I wanted as well. I began to panic thinking that whatever goods were inside as the doors unlocked were probably already pillaged by the Amiibo community. And at that moment, I knew I had underestimated my opponents. It made me feel like a greenhorn Amiibo collector, and in all honesty, I was.
“How bad could it be? What I wanted couldn’t have been cleared out already, right,” I asked myself as I passed thru the stores entrance. I moved towards the back of the store as I knew where that these items would be found near the electronics. As I approached the display, I suddenly became speechless as I witnessed a dozen or so steel pegs that laid bare. The tags on the front of the pegs reaffirmed that the Amiibo (apparently the plural is still Amiibo), that had only been able to purchase now for less than an hour, were indeed already gone. And this was proof, proof that I was a greenhorn to this new sport and this did not bode well for my first experience in “hunting” the beloved Nintendo Amiibo.
Nintendo of America Inc. definitely knows three things: their fan base, supply, and demand. Since Nintendo’s launch of the Amiibo’s in November of 2014, Amiibo have been a well-talked about and well-sought after accessory for the Nintendo Wii U console owner and for collector at heart. With it’s innovative tap to activate sync, you can add characters to games like the well-known, Super Smash Bros., and the Mario Party franchises, as well as the just released Wii U game, Splatoon. These Amiibo characters can be trained to be your partner or adversary and customized to your preference by completing challenges that only these Amiibo can offer ranging from $12.99 to $13.99, depending on your shopping preferences. Sounds like a home run of an add-on for Nintendo and their Wii U owners. Then, Nintendo announced that Ness, the beloved protagonist from Earthbound on Super Nintendo would be an Amiibo available to purchase as part of the May 29th release date of much anticipated wave four.
With this news, Ness had given me a reason to go “Amiibo hunting” (coined by the crazed community of collectors). Nintendo announced that the community could look forward to collecting Splatoon’s Inkling Boy, Inkling Girl, and Inkling Squid, a Silver Mario for Mario Party 10, and Super Smash Bros. fighters Robin, Charizard, Jigglypuff, Greninja, Lucina, Wario, Pac-Man, and Ness Amiibo. Needless to say, the community and myself, were very excited and amped to attempt to collect these Amiibo. But, none of those were in front of me. I was too late. I shunned the abundance of Pikachu’s, Mario’s and Luigi’s as I turned back in the direction of my car. I had a Ness, a Wario, and a Pac-Man to claim as my own before the day was over and after what I had just seen, I knew every second counted.
As I approached my second location, I expected that there would be a line of antsy Amiibo hunters worming under the canopies of the mall. But, surprisingly not. Checking my watch, I made sure that they weren’t open yet and I wasn’t late. As I walked up to the store I had noticed that, in fact, they had been open for awhile and once again, I was late. They opened early due to the release of the fourth wave of Nintendo Amiibo. I was definitely out of my element with these Amiibo. I had no idea that there was such a demand for them and the supply was so little. I entered, scanning for any Amiibo on the walls but, I saw nothing except Skylander Giants. I turned around and as the employee shifted, I noticed the fourth wave of Amiibo on the back counter. Out of 11, I saw 5.
“Are those Amiibo for sale,” I asked. “They are,” he replied. I became antsy suddenly to think that the nice couple in front of me wanted the same thing but, thankfully not. I noticed that none of the Amiibo were Ness. They had an abundance of Silver Marios, Pac-Mans, and the Inkling siblings and only one Charizard. “I’ll take one of each,” I informed him. I could relax knowing that Pac-Man was off my list. But, what about the others?
After only picking up a Pac-Man at a megamart, and nothing at two different megamarts, it had dawned on me that I might have collected all the Amiibo I was going to get that day. It was a legitimate thought. In four stores, I hadn’t even seen half of the other Amiibo. I begin to think that maybe the entire fourth wave of Amiibo were rare. With the demand for Amiibo being so high, the hunters had graded all the Amiibo from common to unicorn. With common to semi-common Amiibo like the aforementioned ones left on the shelves and unicorns such as Captain Falcon, Wii Fit Trainer, and Little Mac, I began to fear that Ness was a fourth wave unicorn. I strolled into the fifth store expecting the common grade Silver Mario’s and Pac-Man’s, as well as the Inkling couple but, to my surprise there was a Wario Amiibo.
Two Wario’s Amiibo. I grabbed one, as well as the last 3-pack of the Splatoon Amiibo, which included the Inling Squid as it’s third. I looked over at the last Wario and debated purchasing both. Was that allowed? I had seen photos across the internet, let alone stories from friends & acquaintances, that store owners had informed other hunters that you could only buy one of each. I also saw that they had restocked a Toon Link Amiibo & being a fan of the Legend of Zelda series, I debated for it but, ended up against the purchase. At this point, it was clear that the Silver Mario, Pac-Man, and Inkling Amiibo were wave four’s common grade. After joking with the cashier that Amiibo weren’t toys, I was feeling optimistic that Ness had possibly been overlooked in one of my last two spots.
My second to last spot yielded nothing except an Amiibo annoyed employee equipped with a line if you were to ask about the new wave. “Yeah, what can I say except Nintendo loves staggering the production of these things.” And he was right. With restocks few and far between, he had probably been ambushed by Amiibo fans for the past eight months that they’ve been round. He had probably dealt with delusional greenhorns like me ambling into his store and thinking I’d find a Robin, Lucina, or Ness hours after they’ve opened and hours after the hunters had been there. Him and I both knew that this hunting expedition was not going to end as happily as I wanted it to. I thanked him, and left him with common Amiibo behind the counter. Was my last place going to yield anything I hadn’t seen? No, it didn’t.
And just like that, it was over. I had only crossed the Wario and Pac-Man Amiibo from my list. I didn’t even see Robin, Lucina, Jigglypuff, Greninja, or Ness once. Unicorns, is what they were to me. I had missed my chance to snag the Ness, I so desperately wanted. I had entered the world of Amiibo hunting and came out on the other side, not as a beginner with any luck but, an experience that I had cut my teeth on. It’s no surprise though that dedicated Amiibo collectors had beaten me to the punch with twitter accounts such as @AmiiboNews on Twitter created to inform the Amiibo loving community when restocks are happening, e-mails sent out by Nintendo when new Amiibo are announced, and with the pre-orders being taken from local stores to Amazon. Even Kotaku had a report that a “…truck filled with Wii U games and Amiibo…” were stolen in a heist of sorts in the UK. And even counterfeit Amiibo are being found on digital marketplaces. It’s obvious, that this is not some flash in the pan of collecting but, something much, much more.
But, I learned my lesson that: I was too late getting into the hunt. The hunt for Ness, the unicorn. I knew that May 29th may have been the only chance I could (legitimately) find a Ness Amiibo.I now know that the fifth wave (due out in July) I’ll have to be camped out to get the Amiibo I want because if Nintendo knows anything, it’s three things: their fan base, supply, and demand.
*What Amiibo would you like to see?