Nintendo's amiibo have been a hit at retail, with around 5.7 million sold through January, and counting. Yet that sales success doesn't mean that supply is plentiful, and for the most eager of fans collecting some of the toys - particularly those that are a little most niche - have been a tale of endurance. This wasn't just the case at launch, either, with each successive wave becoming increasingly sought after and difficult to obtain.
As Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai has personally attested, certain amiibo remain very difficult to come by at local retailers, with multiple new figures selling out within moments of store openings, or even the opening of online pre-orders. In response, collectors have often banded together to uncover dates of local store shipments, tease out individual retailer policies, and even act as competition among one another. Tales of their successes and failures have been populating internet message boards, of course, many of which bring life to Nintendo's sales figures.
We decided to gather some of these tales - many unfortunate, some amazing.
One of the largest obstacles to collecting - particularly in the thriving US market for the toys - is the legion of scalpers that abound in the amiibo market, of which there are many first-hand accounts.
First, from poster 'apterous':
So I was unable to get out to Target this morning (was out of town), but stopped at the Mason, Ohio (largest in Cincinnati) Target on the way home around 3:00 with low expectations. Grabbed a Bowser, asked about Rosalina. The guy looked confused and said "oh yeah, you didn't see 'em? We put the last dozen out 5 minutes ago." He said since they had 44 in the store, they held some to have for later in the day once the morning opening madness had dies down.
We went to where he had put them out and they weren't there - gone.
I was about to just walk out, but he immediately jumped on his walkie-talkie-phone thing and had people looking to stop anyone from breaking the 2-per-customer limit and told me if they could do it, they'd get one for me. After 10 minutes of back and forth, he told me that they had been sold before he put out the call, sincerely apologized, checked to see if any more shipments were coming in (there weren't), and grumbled that the cashiers should have known better and angry words about people who would do that. He told me he knew what these were going for on eBay and was doing his best to make sure everyone could get one by enforcing the sales limits.
…apparently someone bought 12 from the store in one transaction and was checking out right as I was walking in, and picked them off the rack as soon as they were put out and the guy turned his back.
Another story from poster 'Drclaw411':
I went to Target today. My first half of wave 3 pre-orders from Amazon (Bowser, Sheik, Toon Link) all say I won't get them until March 2nd. So I went to Target after checking stock online, all three in stock. I get there and see many of them in a shopping cart behind the counter in electronics. I ask for them. The person behind the counter told me this: "I'll be honest with you. I have these reserved for myself to throw on eBay, I'll be buying them at the end of my shift." I asked if I may please buy one of each, and she said "Sorry, no. These things are money." I was just about to ask for the manager, until I realized that this lady IS the manager. I straight up asked her if she's going to be buying all the Rosalinas on the 1st. Her response: "Honestly, I'm not working on the 1st. I am going to try and be here to buy them all, but my son has a doctor's visit that morning and it's really hard to find a doctor on a Sunday so I can't cancel. So we'll see if I make it. Best thing to do is call and ask if I've bought them yet.
Although not reportedly frequent, there have been several stories of employees cutting ahead of customers. From 'Detectiveconana113':
I ran into one of the kids I gave a (Rosalina) to when they pulled two more out of the back. He was first in line there, waiting for Best Buy to open, and looking for Sheik too. We had a nice talk, discussed how our organized line descended into chaos because of the two runners who couldn't wait… As if on cue, a Best Buy employee comes out of the exit (now, at this point I've been seeing a few of them come in and out). What's in his hand? A bag of 2 amiibo. Guess which amiibo weren't at that store when it opened? le sigh.
Stories of "amiibros" gone bad get worse before they get better. This "too-ridiculous-to-be-true-but-is-it?" story circulated on some message boards for days, from poster ''elvis 731:
In case you want to hear "Jerk Hoarder Screws All" story #752...
I had to work this morning but my girlfriend was awesome enough to get up early and go to Target for me. I asked her to try and be there at 7:30 She gets there at 6:45 cuz she's amazing and is #2 in line. More people start arriving around 7:30. Jerk on a bike arrives at 7:45. Doors open at 8:00 and jerk rides his bike into the store. The rest of the line walks calmly to the electronics department where jerk on bike had just finished buying every Rosalina figure.
How the F was a per person limit not a standard policy on something like this? My g/f doesn't like to stir up trouble in stores but I'm definitely going to be going down there to get a manager and raise some (heck)!
And this heart breaking report, also from 'Drclaw4111', does at least have some redemption:
...during wave 2, a little boy came into the store, decked out in a paper Captain Falcon mask that he clearly made himself, asking for a Captain Falcon amiibo while (the scalper) was still in the store from buying all the unclaimed pre-orders. The guy had all of the leftover Captain Falcon amiibos bought already. The disappointed kid walked up the the guy and asked if he'd like to trade him one of the Falcons for the kid's services in shoveling snow off the guy's driveway. This guy then told the kid no, because he can't sell his clean driveway on eBay.
Apparently the kid's dad then asked the guy if he'd be willing to just sell one of the Falcon's to him, and the man wanted $90! Meanwhile, my friend (the employee) called the Walmart that's basically behind the GameStop to talk to another buddy of his and had him hold the last Falcon for the little boy. While they were leaving, the scalper asked my friend "Walmart Falcon, first come first serve?", and he just told him nope, they're holding it for the little dude. He told me that he then sarcastically said that kids always come first, and angrily left.
Not all stories are entirely dis-heartening, it must be said. Here's a good example of some unexpected generosity from poster 'AH_BareGarrett':
So I went into our local GameStop where it was just the manager tonight. In 15 and had to wait for my dad to get back from The Home Depot across the street, so I figured I'd buy Smash and just play the demos until he got back. I bought Smash and the manager said to me "You want any amiibo? They're pretty cool." He said this really dreary like and you could tell he wasn't in a happy mood, more of a sad one. I said Ya but I already have all the ones you have out here. He said "Ya I get that a lot, wanna play Smash Bros in the back?" Being a naive 15 year old I said sure! He's already got the Wii U and Smash going so we play a few rounds before my dad calls and says he's done. I thank him for letting me hang out with him and he says "No problem, highlight of my day. You're pretty good by the way." Just as I was about to step out he says "You want a Little Mac and Villager Amiibo?" I questioned him and he said "I just broke up with my girlfriend this morning, I was gonna give these to her. You can have them if you want." Of course I said yes and am now the proud owner of a Little Mac and Villager.
And finally, this from 'pandaman27':
So I frequent another of the popular amiibo forums as a way to live vicariously through others. I haven't been able to buy amiibo the way I would like, as I am finishing grad school and there just isn't the money to buy them all. As a life long Nintendo fanatic, this had been killing me. But even reading about other's hunting and big finds brought me some joy, so I kept doing it for awhile before finally posting and telling everyone how cool they were for helping each other find them all.
I receive a PM asking for my story from another poster, and within a few private messages, he asks me for my address. I wasn't sure if it was a great idea, but I did it anyway (!), and sure enough, a few days later I receive a mint condition Pit in the box sent to my mailbox!
As amiibo continue to be scarce while rising in popularity, stories like these are likely to continue pouring in; though Nintendo is planning amiibo cards later in the year, collectors will likely still desire the toys above all else.
Do you have any amiibo shopping stories? Let us know how amiibo hunting affects you in dealing with Nintendo's newest craze.
Main image credit - Imgur