On June 10th, 2014, Nintendo announces their NFC entry into the Toys to Life arena with the reveal of amiibo. What is amiibo, you ask? amiibo are small statues that sit on a base as an NFC chip which can be read by an NFC reader on 3DS, Wii U, and the Switch to unlock a variety of items for games that support it. Some saw this as “DLC” or cheating, depending on what the amiibo unlocked in the game, but most saw it as something cool to have. I’m going to talk about my experience with hunting amiibo in 2014 and beyond, and trust me it was a hunt.
Wave 1 – Introduction to amiibo
Announced at E3 in 2014, the first wave of Smash Bros amiibo was revealed and at first, it didn’t get my attention. Mainly due to the fact that the amiibo would just allow you to train that amiibo figure to fight in the game, but you couldn’t control it. It was mainly to fight against others in amiibo battles or in matches vs yourself and others. I trained it, because I wanted to fight as it. But alas, that wasn’t the case here.
Launch day was here, which happened to be the same day that Smash Bros for Wii U launched (3DS launched a month prior), I’m browsing the aisle and I see the 1st full wave to launch, which consisted of Mario, Peach, Donkey Kong, etc. (Pic of Wave 1 is found above). I picked up the Mario amiibo and Smash Wii U and went on my merry way. I get home and realized something before even opening the box – I wanted more of them. They looked so cool on my shelf and I thought, “I should go back and get the others,” but I waited because they had STACKS of them and I didn’t think they’d sell out.
Wrong. Very wrong.
Reports started to flood Twitter that Nintendo didn’t make enough, and they would be in short supply. I went back to Toys R Us, and it was all GONE! The only amiibo left were Mario and Link. I missed my chance at the wave and thought, “It’s fine. They’ll get another shipment,” but nope, they didn’t. Then, they announced Wave 2 which had lesser figures in it.
Wave 2 – amiibo missing in action
The hunt was on for Wave 2 for Zelda, Luigi, Little Mac and others. I was able to get Zelda, Luigi, and Diddy Kong really easily, but Little Mac, Captain Falcon, and Pit were nowhere to be seen on shelves at any place I went. Then, reality set in that I’m still missing 3 from the 1st Wave. These 3 (Wii Fit Trainer, Villager, and Marth) would be considered the “Holy Trinity” of amiibo.
The hunt was getting harder, because now I had to track down 6 amiibo figures from both waves. Captain Falcon, I found randomly in the cereal section at Target. For Little Mac, I stalked a Toys R Us that was getting a shipment in that morning, and I had waited in my car for hours before the store opened to get it. Then, Pit was put back on the Toys R Us site right around the beginning of 2015. Still, the Holy Trinity eluded me.
Wave 3 – Putting in the work to collect them all
On January 2015, Wave 3 gets announced and everyone collectively groans, because… (here we go with what everyone was afraid of) store exclusives! The amiibo at every retailer were Sheik, Bowser, Toon Link, Ike, Mega Man, King Dedede, and Sonic.
Toys R Us had Lucario, GameStop had Shulk, Target had Rosalina, and Best Buy had Meta Knight. Every single exclusive was a shitshow to get. Toys R Us had me waiting at 4 am with a few friends to get Lucario, Dedede, Toon Link, and I think, Sheik. The long line started at 5 am, so we were first in line. Then, my memory gets jumbled because some from this wave was staggered throughout February 2015.
To get a hold of Meta Knight at Best Buy, me as well as 2 of my friends sat outside since midnight. Target had Rosalina show up online, which crashed the website within seconds! I couldn’t get one, but a friend did and traded me for my extra Dedede that I was able to get.
GameStop had this “in-store launch,” but it was more of, “Hey, we’ve only got 8 of them”. The people in line actually had a fight, because people showed up late and tried to cut in front of someone who went to use the restroom. The guy saving his spot got his amiibo and left. I was able to get all of wave 3 by the end of February, just in time for the delay of wave 4 to be announced, because they were announcing a NEW amiibo line…
Camping out for Super Mario amiibo with die-hard fans
Super Mario amiibo was coming and I hated it. Not because I didn’t want them, but because I did want them. amiibo hunting fever was setting in, and the thrill of the hunt was what made it super exciting. The amiibo line was to go along with… something that I can’t even remember at the time of this write-up. All I knew was that they had Silver and Gold versions of the Mario amiibo respectively, and I had to have them.
Silver Mario was everywhere, I believe, but a new challenger was entering the arena when it came to retail exclusives: Walmart. Walmart would get the Gold Mario amiibo. Several friends and I waited for 24 hours inside Walmart, so they could sell it to us at midnight. That was a fun one. People showed up around 3 pm, brought chairs and “camped” out in front of the counter in the video game section.
There was about 30 people behind the 5 of us. Around 10 pm, my friend’s wife came to bring us food. People yelled at her for cutting the line and started to scream some not-so-nice words, so it was embarrassing to say the least.
I’ll never forget the time that some guy came up to her, and made sure she didn’t sit down with us and tried to stay. He literally hovered over us as we ate. So, we got up and said, “Do you have a problem with my friend’s wife having dinner with her husband?” He replied with, “As long as she’s not getting an amiibo.” Soooo that led to my friend saying something along the lines of, “Fuck you!” and then pushed the dude into the CD rack and said, “She’s having dinner and couldn’t care less about getting a plastic toy and so when you get up, go wait back in line.” That dude left right back to his spot in line real quick.
11 pm rolls around, and Walmart thought that was the best time to tell people they only had 25 of them. Not when they KNEW they had 25, which according to the sales guy, was 2 days prior. Not when the line had hit 25 people, which was around 7 pm, but at 11 pm, 1 hour before they could sell them. And not when it would have helped the ones after the 25th person. But, it’s Walmart and they Walmart’d.
Wave 4 – Playing hard to get
April saw the announcement of Wave 4. Smaller wave than 3, but still a pain in the ass to get. This time, the exclusives were Jigglypuff to Target, Ness to GameStop, Greninja to Toys R Us, and the rest of the wave, that being: Wario, Charizard, Pac-Man, and what would become the most wanted duo, Robin and Lucina, was everywhere.
GameStop thought it was a good idea to sell their exclusive in a bundle with the other figures, but only offer them up for pre-order in-store. There was a line for in-store orders, but their system straight up crashed. No one could get an order in and within minutes, the bundle was sold out. People got out of line, but I thought to ask, “Can I just order Ness?” and sure enough, it worked! So, now I had to hunt the rest of the wave, plus the store exclusives, sigh.
I decided that Toys R Us was the best bet. They had Greninja as the exclusive, and I would buy the rest of the wave there. All I needed to do was to be on my phone when Target would put up Jigglypuff. 3 of my friends and I got to Toys R Us at 10 pm the night before and were first in line. And I’ll say this: that was a long ass time to wait for these things, but again the thrill of the hunt took over, and I was all in on these figures.
Now, I was getting smart. I brought a friend who doesn’t collect them, and I had them get extras for me. Specifically, Robin and Lucina. This night wasn’t as eventful, but it was great to talk with my friends about anything and everything for nearly 12 hours! Those memories, as well as the ones camping out for other waves were awesome, and I’ll always cherish them.
Target popped up right at 6 am and I got Jigglypuff for store pick-up. Then, at 10 am, Toys R Us opened, and I got the whole wave as well as some extras. It was a long, long night, but it was worth it.
Wave 5 + 5.5 – Robbing my joy… or did it?
Next came Wave 5 and Wave 5.5. Nintendo staggered Wave 5 out. They were all announced at the same time, but wouldn’t release until months apart. This is where I couldn’t stay up late anymore. I couldn’t take PTO from work and my GF at the time was like, “AGAIN!?!” So, I made the call to just import them. Japan had the waves earlier, so I jumped on Amazon JP and ordered from there and/or used Amazon UK with a routing address to get it shipped to the US.
But then something happened.
Nintendo made enough. Starting with the retro 3-pack of Duck Hunt Dog, R.O.B. and Game & Watch (which was exclusive to GameStop), Nintendo finally made enough to meet the demand that’s been running wild since late 2014. It was the most beautiful thing I’d seen, but then that’s when it really set it.
The hunt was over.
Stalking the retailers’ online stores, the campouts, the trading of each rarer figure, the flipping/scalping; the hunt was done. The only thing left was the thrill of completing the Smash Bros amiibo line, which, to my surprise, took a left turn and then a right.
DLC Wave – Player 2 versions?
Nintendo also released the DLC characters in amiibo form as well! The last 3 being: Corrin, Bayonetta, and Cloud. The catch here was something they never really followed up on. They introduced “Player 2” versions of these amiibo, which meant they would get a 2nd amiibo of these characters, but in a different alt attire and pose. Corrin’s was the female version, Cloud’s was from Advent Children, and Bayonetta was from her 1st game. I was convinced we’d be getting “Player 2” amiibo, but only those 3 amiibo got them.
With Smash Ultimate releasing on Switch, the amiibo hunt continued to finish the line. As of now, only several amiibo are left to go, but for the time being, it’s all done. I’m still waiting on my Byleth “Player 2” amiibo for Nintendo! Nintendo didn’t just make a Smash Bros amiibo. They made various ones. Some say it’s what slowed their pace down from bringing more out.
Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Animal Crossing amiibo – Was it overkill?
Animal Crossing for 3DS was an amiibo that some say killed the fun, or at least was overkill when it came to stock. You could get those figures for as low as $2 at Toys R Us, because the big N supplied the heck out of them. They even released amiibo trading cards for Animal Crossing, and those are selling out quite well, now that Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Switch was the top game for them in 2020 (We don’t need to remember why). They even released Series 6 and a crossing amiibo pack with Sanrio.
Legend of Zelda – A must-have for super fans!
The hunt returned for a brief moment when Nintendo did what a lot wanted: the Legend of Zelda amiibo line launched and it’s LEGENDARY! A Link from each of the main line games was seen: 8-Bit, ALTTP, Ocarina, Wind Waker, TP, and Skyward Sword. Followed up by different versions of Zelda, monsters, and Breath of the Wild Champions! The Legend of Zelda line is a must-have if you’re a fan of the series.
There were a few random amiibo as well. Heck, Yacht Club Games released Shovel Knight Series amiibo. There was also Yarn Yoshi’s, Retro R.O.B. colored amiibo, Gold Mega Man, Splatoon, Diablo, and even an amiibo cereal box!
Toys to Life commentary
2015/2016 was, for sure, the height and hype of all things amiibo as well as Toys to Life. I had the pleasure of working with some of the top players in that space when it came to content creators. Josh “The Noyse” Brown and Jason Inquires ran, what I thought and still think was, the BIGGEST Toys to Life podcast and website. They covered everything in-depth as much as they could. I even guest hosted on one episode and joined up with them for some other content as well. We’ve lost touched over the years, but I was able to reach out and get a few comments from them.
Jason – “[My] favorite amiibo memory had to be the Modern 8-bit Mario amiibo release on Black Friday at Walmart. [I] went with my brother-in-law and just had a hilarious time trying to get through the standard Black Friday crowds, just to go and find this random amiibo on a shelf somewhere. Otherwise, my favorite moment during that time was, honestly, just walking up and down the aisles at the stores.
My favorite part of the Smash Bros amiibo was just the bright, beautiful colors on the boxes. So, I had a lot of fun just checking the aisle and just seeing the pegs full of color (even if there never were any rare ones!)
The hardest amiibo to track for me was the Wave 4 amiibo. I had pretty good luck at getting pre-orders, but that wave, I was missing a couple. I went to Toys R’ Us with a bunch of others, and we couldn’t find Robin/Lucina, but then we spotted 2 of each on the bottom shelf of a random shelf. So, we dove for them, and we were the only ones to be able to get them that day. What a crazy time!”
Josh – “My favorite memories are pretty much everything to do with the Toys For Games Podcast. That podcast was created because of the incoming craze, and I’ve met some life long friends because of that podcast. It was one of the things that I’m most proud of, creatively speaking. And thankfully, I never had much issues getting the impossible to find ones, because of how relentless I was in hunting. I think the one that came the closest to not happening was Meta Knight, where after 4 Best Buys, I managed to get ticket 21 of 21 to be able to purchase it. That was the craziest one that I remember.
amiibo. I continue to collect them, but mainly the ones I find useful and cool looking. Any Smash Bros, Fire Emblem, and Legend of Zelda are instant buys for me, but the rest I pick and choose for sure. Will it ever get the hype and hunt of 2014-2016? Let’s check back when that Sora amiibo drops…
Oh! Before I forget… I did end up getting the Holy Trinity amiibo. I got Wii Fii Trainer from trading online with Armando, who had a great Nintendo Podcast along with a few of his friends whom I still talk to this day! Marth was traded to me for a Rosalina & Lucina in front of Target from a really cool dude who worked at Hot Topic. Super nice guy. Villager was gifted to me from my friend at work, who traded their DS Lite for it or something, I can’t recall. Anyways…
Let the hunt begin.. again.
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