Thursday was a dark, dark day for amiibo collectors and Nintendo fans. When preorders began for Wave 4, the Internet was gripped with the kind of explosive frustration usually reserved for network outages and social media gaffs by politicians. In-store, online, early in the morning, retailer exclusive; by mid-afternoon the terms being thrown around were turning into cuss-level derogatory words. People were obviously upset, and Nintendo wasn’t doing anything to help resolve the situation.
I was right in the middle of it, too. And because of all of it I think I’m done with the whole amiibo thing.
I’ve managed to collect every amiibo thus far, be it by trading with friends or the sheer luck of being at the right place at the right time. I have multiples of a few as well, if only because there were several in stock in front of me when I purchased them. These are mostly the rare ones (extra Lucario, extra Little Mac) though I never took more than one or two extra. My intent was that I would possibly open one for game use and keep the other in-box for collection purposes.
I had Tweetdeck open at some point Thursday morning, and noticed tweets flying around about this latest wave having retailer exclusive amiibo again, so I decided to dig in and find out what was going where. Greninja was headed to Toys R Us, Jigglypuff to Target, and Ness to Gamestop. I hopped online to check if any of them were listed on their respective retailers yet and lo and behold Jigglypuff was there. And, after F5ing a couple of times, I was able to preorder one! Bingo! That was easy. Not so much for everyone else, it seems, as the entire pre-order lot was only up for just a few minutes before it sold out completely. Had you been away from your desk or computer, you were screwed out of preordering.
I flipped over to Best Buy at that time and yes, the entire wave (sans exclusives) was available for purchase. I preordered them all in one shot! Again, others who were interested missed out moments later.
Our office closed early for the holiday weekend, so I made a b-line to the nearest Gamestop just after 3PM. I’ll be fine, no one even knows these preorders are going up unless they’re active on Twitter, I thought. Boy was I wrong. Upon arriving there around 3:15, I was treated to a huge line of around 30 people waiting for amiibo preorders. The guys at the front of the line had already been there since 2PM, having found out about stock from Reddit earlier that morning. The preorder process at Gamestop is described as “Web in Store”; basically this means that preorders are done through their network’s corporate website and shipped to homes, instead of arriving in-store. Many interpreted that to mean that orders could still be placed online. Under the weight of the traffic, Gamestop’s network was brought to a screeching halt.
Knowing that the only one I needed was Ness, and that it would undoubtedly be the lowest stock because of rarity, I opted to quit and wait for luck or other methods later on. I wasn’t going to wait in line for more than a few minutes, and so I walked over to the Zoup! around the corner and at a very early dinner. I figured that I would head over once the line started to clear out, believing that it would only be 10-15 minutes total. I scarfed down my soup and waited. And waited. And waited. It felt like some crazy hostage situation, but it was Nintendo and Gamestop that were holding our wallets for ransom.
A half hour later, no one had left the store, and again at an hour. I was paying attention to Twitter and saw that Gamestop’s network was still down, and rarely seeing anyone tweeting their good fortunes. By 4:45PM I was more curious than anything else, and so I walked back into the store. Their network was still down, but there weren’t any visibly frustrated attendees. In fact, the mood was still oddly cheerful. Matches of Smash Bros were being played on 3DSes of the people in line, and a couple had taken to opening their laptops and working. The crowd seemed to expect the mayhem.
I’ll never get Ness, I thought. Oh well.
And then I overheard the kids in line in front of me. “I hope I can still get Lucina and Robin. They’re the only ones I want.” Wait, what? You don’t want Ness? “I love Fire Emblem, so I’ve only really been collecting those figures. I hope I can get Marth one day.”
Huh. That was unexpected. Because if you’re in line this long I guess I’d expect you to be a heavy collector, trying for all of the figures. Sure, there were folks in front of them who (like me) just had to catch ’em all, but these kids just wanted their specific characters.
“Robin, Lucina and Charizard are sold out,” one of the employees said around 5:15. The kids, hearing this, didn’t seem too bummed. They were still smiling, having been able to spend time with their friends after school was out. They opted to stay in line and hold out hope, but weren’t really worried either way.
When it was my turn Ness was still available, so I made my preorder and walked away.
I lost two and a half hours of my life there. Yes, I was at the soup store next door but I could have also been at home, playing a game instead of caring about a figure that I’d never take out of the box it came in. And the kids in front of me who just wanted specific figures because they were fans were out of luck. I felt… dirty. I felt used, too. But mostly? I felt like I had gotten caught up in the social media collective wave that caused an unnecessary fad to become nearly volatile. Nintendo may not be brilliant when it comes to making business decisions, but a huge reason why the amiibo fad is as wild as it is, is because of us. We got sucked into the social media blitz. It’s our fault. We made this far bigger and worse than it really is.
We have become Beanie Baby Moms from the 90s.
All of these amiibo aren’t doing anything for me that I’m finding worthwhile. In fact, I’ve lost hours trying to track them down, ultimately leaving them in boxes scattered around my office until I “figure out what to do with them next.” I don’t even want these. I have a bunch of Skylanders and a bunch of Disney Infinity figures all over the house, and now amiibo as well, never used. Nintendo originally sold us on the intent for amiibo to be a sort of physical avatar. We would buy the one we really want and use it in its associated games. Now there are a bunch of kids out there who, like the ones I met in line, actually want these to actually play with them, and now they can’t. I feel awful, as if I’m “robbing” them of having fun. Nintendo could make a lot more toys, as quantity has been absurdly low, but it’s also on us for unnecessarily inflating their value.
Yes, I know there are collectors out there, but I was never one of them. And I can make the bold statement that the majority of the people spilling vitriol and anger online probably weren’t as well. We did this to ourselves.
So after the long, lonely drive home, and after staring at the jumbled piles of boxes of my home office, I’ve decided to back off from amiibo. I won’t abandon them completely, since there are characters I absolutely love and my daughter gets a kick out of using some of them in her playtime. But I am going to sell or trade or unload the ones that I don’t *really* want. King Dedede, Meta Knight, Lucario? Don’t need them. Little Mac, Wii Fit Trainer? I’ll never use them. So why bother?
It took the amibogeddon to knock some sense into me, I guess. I’m not going to riot, I’m not going to spam F5, I’m not going to kill myself any more. I’m going to save a hell of a lot of money, too, so that’s probably the biggest bonus right there. It may be difficult to quit cold turkey, but I’m going to do my best.
The first step is to open all of the boxes of the amiibo I want. The unopened ones will be what I trade or sell off. If all goes well I’ll go from the dozens I have now to maybe 15 at most. It’s like The Purge, but with plastic. That’ll go for the same with the Skylanders and Infinity figures, since I hardly care about the majority of those and know a few local kids that do.
And then I’m going to make sure that the ones I buy from here on out are those that I really, really want. Not just for collector’s purposes, but for “I’m going to use this in a game” purposes.
You did it, Internet. You made this hobby turn sour, and I’m done with it.
Toys to Death indeed.