If you have spent any time recently in a store that sells video games you may have noticed the hundreds of little figures marked Skylanders, Disney Infinity, or, the most recent addition from Nintendo, Amiibo. While these all use a slightly different way of communicating they all serve the same basic function: to be purchased, used in a video game that can read what toy it is, whether from some additional accessory or a built in NFC chip, and then once you realize how great it is to have all these characters in your game you’ll go out and buy more.
Skylanders and Disney Infinity both each made one specific game for their platform of toys that they worked with. So you would buy there figures and then use their scanning pad and voila that character would appear in your game. Disney Infinity saw enough success that they released a second game that also saw them introduce Marvel characters and I suspect with the release of Star Wars Episode VII this December we’ll see them incorporate that as well, at that point Disney Infinity will be that much harder to resist jumping into.
Nintendo has taken a different approach, as they have been doing since the Wii era. Instead of making one specific game, their toys work with many different games. The caveat is if a game saves data back to the Amiibo it can only store one game save at a time. This is all for another time. What I want to talk about moves from the realm of gaming and into an area that Nintendo didn’t realize they had stumbled upon: collecting.
I don’t collect much. I make light of how many video game consoles, games, and accessories I have by saying it is my collection, but it never moves past that into where I have to everything, or all the rare prints, or anything of that nature; and so I assumed my experience with Amiibo would be the same. I would buy the couple that I wanted and that would be that. I bought a couple, took them out of their package, and it turns out they work really well. It also turns out that just having two of them on a shelf looks pretty pitiful so I purchased a couple more. It still just looked like it was incomplete.
It turns out Nintendo has, without much trying on their part, made these so well and so appealing that I currently own around 21 Amiibo, and have many more on the way as they are being released. Anyone who is familiar with the Pokemon series will know the idea around the game is that you have to catch them all, they even made it their slogan “gotta catch ’em all”. This idea has left the world of digitally catching all the little creatures and entered a world of checking websites many times throughout the day for when new Amiibo are available.
It has also caused me to turn to overseas markets to find Amiibo that are sold out here in the United States and only available from private sellers trying to make a few bucks anywhere from $20-$200. Some have gone even higher on ebay. As a collector of these Amiibo I would like to have them all without paying $200 for something that sells retail for $12.99. So, along with hundreds of other collectors, have turned to importing.
It’s pretty easy to do, Amazon UK is in English so its just a matter of converting the currency, but using Amazon France, Amazon Germany, or Amazon Japan is still pretty simple since Google Chrome will, usually with a high success rate, translate these websites into English. Prices and shipping costs vary, but given the right amount of patience and a little guess work on what the best deal is they can be imported for near the same price as buying them retail here in the United States.
Nintendo has realized that their small production they had planned is not near enough to keep up with demand for their Amiibo figures and has said they will be re-releasing some of the ones that did not have as many made. This collector will continue to import any that can not be locked down with a pre-order or first week purchase here in the United States.