When Nintendo amiibo were first revealed at E3 2014, I found myself thinking they'd make for a neat shelf display if nothing else. Their game compatibility was of little concern. Even so, I was well into a sabbatical from amassing plastic whozits and whatzits at that point. I still tend to want everything under the sun, but I was certain I'd be able to walk away without much of a fight.
Upon their initial release in late November, I still got a bit of the familiar "these are pretty freakin' cool" tinge that fueled many of my past plastic-crack purchases. The drop in quality from the prototype stage may have been off-putting for some, but I'm more than well-versed in the inevitability of such things. Regardless, my initial tune didn't change. I was happy to leave them behind, figuring that I'd have plenty of time to start up an amiibo collection.
Oh, how things change.
Within the next two weeks, it was revealed that Nintendo planned to discontinue certain amiibo figures after their initial shipments. Concerns over shelf space apparently fueled the decision, as they want to make sure their evergreen characters like Mario and Pikachu are always available. This is really disappointing in a lot ways, but I get it. Just look at the world of action figures, where companies like Hasbro make sure there's always a Spider-Man or Optimus Prime on the shelves. It makes for a tricky balancing act, but it's a necessity from a business standpoint.
Lesser known characters are often "shortpacked" (meaning there might be one of them per every case sent to a store) and only available for a brief time. The "if I don't get the rarest stuff now, I might never get it" feeling sinks in, and these figures often end up in high demand amongst collectors. It happens again and again, and people continually get caught up in the fuss. It's happened to me innumerable times, and I now know that part of my life is far from over.
When I learned that Marth, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer were already rarer than a unicorn on store shelves and fetching ridiculous prices on eBay, it broke every ounce of resolve I'd built up over the last two years of leaving the collectibles I want for later. I immediately found myself scouring every retail store in town. Unfortunately, it looks like I was too late. I've only been able to find the headliner characters like Mario, and I can't imagine that's going to change any time soon given the craziness of the Christmas shopping season.
It'd be easy to adopt a defeatist mindset here and give-up, but I'm actually electing to remain hopeful. Pulling from my action figure collecting history once more, I can think of times where canceled assortments ended up released as store exclusives down the line due to high demand. In other cases, rare toys with huge aftermarket prices eventually found their way into discount stores like Ross. I'm not saying anything of the sort will happen with amiibo, but I'd like to think that Nintendo might be able to figure something out.
Given all of the additional demand that's been stirred up, it'd be nice if the "less popular" characters are at least given a home on online stores. I'd love to have every damn amiibo out there, but I'm not exactly raring to pay a premium for them. The suggested $12.99 is definitely as far as I'd prefer to go. (Okay, I admit I'd probably shell out more for Mega Man.) Even if those that are discontinued stay that way, maybe the eBay craze will at least die down enough for them to ultimately be available for less than quadruple the original price. I'm sure it's all going to work out some way or another.
In the meantime, I'll likely keep checking my local amiibo pegs just in case.