And I thought Steam Sales were the bane of my wallet.
So what in the hell are these things?
For the uninitiated, Amiibo is Nintendo's range of small plastic figurines that function as both NFC figures that unlock in-game bonuses in Nintendo video games, as well as cool looking dust collectors. They are essentially Nintendo's answer to Skylanders and Disney Infinity figures (as any parent of small children will know all about.)
The launch of these plastic toys was to coincide with the release of Super Smash Bros for Wii U. The line would consist of every playable character in that game (which, I might add, is a damn lot) and along with being compatible with SSB (they could be used as NPC characters you could train up), some would also unlock small bonuses in other games (such as extra suits for your Mii in Mario Kart 8).
After thinking Disney Infinity sounded way cooler than it actually turned out to be for me, I wasn't really fussed with Amiibo. Meh, more money soaking figures that don't really do that much in the games I play. A horse armor kind of play. The cost far out ways the use.
This is now my collection.
What was a "yeah, I might just get the ones I really like" turned in to a sport that I like to call Amiibo Hunting.
Let's back it up a little. The first 'wave' of Amiibo was released towards the end of November 2014. This wave consisted of the first 12 characters. I hadn't paid much attention to the actual release of these, until one fateful day in mid-December. There were some vague reports coming in that Nintendo were discontinuing three of the figures from the first wave - Wii Fit Trainer, Villager and Marth. Being a massive Fire Emblem fan, I was torn by hearing this. With Marth being a fire emblem character, was I going to miss out on getting my hands on this toy? What if the next Fire Emblem game used this Amiibo to unlock some sweet stuff? I'm not usually one to get into figurines and other gaming memorabilia... but I better just grab one to be sure.
After heading down to my local Big W after work at 8pm on that fateful Tuesday night, I noticed one of each of the three to be discontinued. I ended up buying all three, just in case.
The very next morning I went on my first Amiibo Hunt. I still wasn't sure if I was actually collecting these yet, but I decided I wanted to keep these three rare ones in boxes and actually find a Marth to unbox and use. I wasn't to fussed - if I didn't find one I would've just opened the one I had. As it turned out, I found the last Marth in my town at my local EB, literally seconds before a staff member walked over to the Amiibo stand, on the phone, saying "No sorry, there are no Marth's here."
Saturday rolled around, and I had to work. After several talks with my girlfriend Loren about whether or not I should be collecting these, I was still unsure - but the collector in me was stirring. It had been years since I'd managed to collect a mass of over 1000 pokemon cards - but this was different. I was starting something.
I came home on that Saturday afternoon to find all but two of the available Amiibo (which now stood at a total of 18, as the second wave of six Amiibo had been released that day) sitting on the bench. The hooks were in Loren too.
The following week, on the Monday night, I had this weird dream. In it, I went to Target to check for Amiibo, and I flipped out because there was a little mac there. At this stage of the collecting, little mac was one of the two we still didn't have, and he was by far the rarest (the other being Link - I had a hunch Link would get made again, so I wasn't so worried about him). Tuesday morning comes around, and I decided eh, why not, lets go for a look. You never know.
SOME GUY HAD A DREAM AND WHAT HAPPENED NEXT WILL SHOCK YOU.
It was meant to be.
Since that week, over Christmas and then up to this day, I've been doing what I like to call 'Amiibo Runs'. These entail a quick trip through Kmart, Big W, Gametraders, Target, EB Games and JB Hi Fi, to check for any extra Amiibo. I managed to find a Link on one of these runs, completing my set - until the next wave, anyway.
This brings me to January 29th 2015, or what is now known to me as Amiibo Day. Wave 3.
Due to the scarcity of these babies, I preordered the entire set twice, one at Gametraders and one at JB, purely to make sure I didn't miss out on any. I was able to cancel the ones I didn't need. I organized the morning off work in order to do my run through all the stores at opening, to be sure I got them all. The rush was real. Exhilarating.
I now own a boxed collection of each, plus a few extras of the ones I like to actually use out of the box.
This is what it's come to. I'll admit it. It's an obsession.
What has happened to me.
The rest of the story
Nintendo has a fantastic thing going for it. It took a while to get into the game, and some were speculating that it was to late following in the steps of Skylanders and Disney Infinity (seriously, there are a ton of those things out), but come on - it's Nintendo. They have a whole swath of lovable characters that are synonymous with gaming, and the technology in their newest consoles to put that to use. Due to the popularity of the other gaming figurines available, it only made sense.
As it stands, there are 29 Amiibo out now. there are two more waves set for release soon - wave 4 in March, and a new Super Mario Brothers line due out in April alongside Mario Party 10. Nintendo is going to pump out these things as much as they can for as long as they can.
In their first quarterly earnings report in which Amiibo were a part of, Nintendo announced that they had sold 5.7 million Amiibo.
But are they really that popular? It's hard to tell. Nintendo are notorious for under supplying for demand (*cough* limited edition Hyrule Wariors, 300 copies in America *cough*) which leads to there being only a few to go around. This has lead to increased demand for these from other channels, such as ebay, where prices for the rarer figures sometimes crossing over into triple digit dollar range. This then leads to scalpers grabbing a ton of the harder to find figures, in order to make a quick buck, leaving barely any for the rest of us.
I think this is the first time in my life I am glad to live in a rural town instead of a big city.
Adding up what we already have, plus what we know is coming, this brings us to a total of 41 Amiibo out before the end of April. This is only counting the actual known Amiibo already announced, with dates - this doesn't include the other 13 super smash bros characters, the Mii default characters, the seven potential variants for Bowser Junior, future DLC characters like Mewtwo, variations on every damn character...
And that's only for the smash bros range! I can foresee Nintendo adding all the characters from the upcoming Puzzles & Dragons - Super Mario Bros Edition to the Super Mario Bros range (the name is a dead give away) including a "baddie" set with goomba, koopaling, bullet bill, bomb-omb etc. Then there's the upcoming Zelda & Star Fox games, which could have their own ranges... God help us all if they make a range specifically for Pokemon.
Like I said, my wallet hates me.
I now have a collection of resources that I use to get my Amiibo fix - news, release dates, other info. Apart from typical websites such as Kotaku & Polygon for general gaming news (including Amiibo), I love listening to the Game|Life podcast - where Chris Kohler often has something Nintendo-related to talk about (praise, hate, curiosity - it's just great. Seriously, just go listen to it.)
I follow two twitter accounts to keep me up to date - Amiibo News & Amiibo Inquirer. These guys work overtime to bring every bit of Amiibo related info and stories straight to your screen - including having their own respective websites with news, Amiibo info and more.
I have also stumbled upon Amiibo Owners Australia, which is a fantastic group for Australian collectors of Amiibo. This group is full of fantastic people who are happy to help each other out for everyone to collect 'em all. No Scalpers Allowed!
Other little tidbits
There truly is a fascinating culture springing up around Amiibo - and collecting them all is only part of it.
I've heard stories of people training up their Amiibo to their maximum levels in super smash bros, then unleashing them against each other in tournament form. There was also a story involving someone training a pikachu to spam it's down B move - any fellow SSB fans out there will understand how much of a troll that can be.
Other collectors have taken it upon themselves to spruce up the already fantastic design of the Amiibo. Take a look at Evilos' fantastic paint job of Samus -
Painting Amiibo sounded like such a fun and fantastic idea. So much so that I thought I'd give it a go.
I guess painting wasn't my calling.
How far is this thing going to go? Who knows. But I'm hooked.
What about you? Do you care about these toys at all? Did you know what they were before reading through this painful explanation, or were you a full blown expert with tips to help me with my painting? I'd be oh so grateful.