In respect to Nintendo’s vinyl, NFC-enabled collectible line, you’re in one of two camps; either you’re freakin’ sick of hearing about them, or you’re still freakin’ obsessed with them. Whichever side you’re on, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the picture above is NOT an Amiibo.
My collection began innocently enough. One Smash Bros. Link Amiibo, given to me by my girlfriend as a birthday present. Every time we were at any store, she saw me swooning and inspecting the figurine, and didn’t understand why I was reluctant to grab it. I had two reasons. The first was a matter of practicality; I owned neither a *new!* 3DS nor a WiiU, so I wouldn’t be able to use the figure. The second reason was because of a compulsion I knew I often succumbed to. I’ve been diagnosed with OCD, and part of it involves having an undying urge to hoard and complete collections. My father and his brothers hoarded tools, and my older brother and myself hoard video games and the many items related to them. I learned an easy way to limit my spending (mind you, my spending has never been “problematic,” my bills are always paid and me, my uncle and ferret are always fed) after I sold off my entire collection to pay for hospital bills was to limit my scope. Instead of trying to get EVERY SquareSoft/-Enix game, I’d just re-complete my Final Fantasy collection. Instead of EVERY Capcom game, I’d just get back my Resident Evil’s. Every DS game? I was happy enough just to get my Pokemon’s and my Fire Emblem’s. By not grabbing that Link Amiibo, I was ensuring I wouldn’t get into my old habits of trying to Catch ‘em All! on a bunch of shelf-cluttering, scaled rarity 12.99 figurines. But as I marveled at his meticulously painted details, his nostalgia-inducing Smash Bros. trophy likeness, and even his wobbly, bent sword, I knew I was hooked.
Something I learned years back when I first began collecting hardcore through Yu-Gi-Oh! cards is that if you don’t make your collection work for you, then you’re going to be working for your collection. My original goal of collecting a playset of every Yu-Gi-Oh! card involved obtaining 3 of every card printed, regardless of rarity. I’d buy booster boxes, sell off the big ticket meta cards and keep the remaining commons. Thanks to inevitable reprints in lower rarity, racking up enough money to keep my habit self-sustaining was a simple task, and in my later years until I quit, my only problem with it was constantly running out of room and storage for my 10,000+ card collection. I wanted my Amiibo collection to work in the same way, and if it didn’t, I’d promptly quit. Amiibo were actually easier to maintain than Yu-Gi-Oh! was.
Upon receiving Link, I immediately began researching the values of them online, planning my next move. Link was already hovering at $35, and my girlfriend was extremely excited to hear she made out good on an impulse gift purchase. She said there were more, so we went back and grabbed another 2; another Link and Lucario, who was going for a similar price at the time. I listed both in the parking lot, and shipped them on the way home (they were purchased THAT fast!). $26 sans tax became $72, so I deposited the original $26 back in my savings and the remaining $46 became my Amiibo seed money. I had some good grabs; our local “upscale” dollar store Five Below (everything in their walls is $5 and lower) had a bunch of the Skylanders sets with Donkey Kong and Bowser Sky-Miibos, which brought in around $15 a piece. One GameStop nearby actually had a ton of Ikes for so long that they were discounted, bringing in around $25-$30 each. I also got some amazing trades via the Amiibo Trading Reddit, ranging from a bunch of old YuGiOh! cards for Wind Waker 30th Anniversary Link and Zelda, to a free 3-Pack (Duck Hunt Dog, R.O.B. and Mr. G&W) purchased with GameStop points, to my Ganondorf (in box) for a loose Ganondorf, Roy, and a new copy of Chibi-Robo Zipline. This was insane to me and I asked the guy TONS of times if he was sure. I’m a collector, but NOT a NiB collector (except for trade and sales) since my goal is to play with them. You know, what they’re made to do. Bit by bit my collection grew, and I began to narrow down the groups I wanted. I completed my Fire Emblem collection early on, and pre-ordered Alm and Celica on Day 1. I just received a Waddle Dee and King Dedede in the mail from a completed trade. Everything was going perfect, save a few small itches.
My Zelda collection, the main series I began collecting with the intent of completing, has remained illusive. Whenever I get my hands on one, I lose another in an obviously beneficial trade that will pay off in the long run, and the release of Breath of the Wild has made moving them back and forth very profitable. I’ve never held a Sheik Amiibo in my hands, as its rarity and price has never made purchasing one a sound investment. I’d get my Amiibo profits up to $120 and consider dropping it by half for one, just to finally get it out of the way, then balk at the excessiveness, until one day that a friend’s misfortune became my profit. He had me order for him a copy of the collector’s edition of World of Final Fantasy, a $120 box of awesome involving a soundtrack, 3 mini figures of chibi FF characters, and an awesome box that doubles as a pop-up book. His misfortune was that hearing me praise it, he signed up not knowing the collector’s edition was $120, so he opted to grab his own normal version, telling me just to send it back. I put it on eBay with a reserve on the original price I paid, hoping to break a bit more than even; I was surprised when a week later, it sold for around $300. I had more profit to throw into my machine, and decided to finally breakdown and get the Sheik Amiibo I so desperately wanted, as well as re-get Smash Toon Link, finally completing my Zelda collection, and all the “pricey” Amiibo I actually want.
I hopped onto eBay to see there were no Buy It Now options for these two, and auctions were rising as high as $80 a piece. I abhor auctions, and somehow manage to never be on at the right time, so I went to Amazon. Only available from 3rd Party sellers, eh? That’s ok. I had dealt with Amazon many, many times before and knew what to avoid. I laughed as I thumbed past the first couple of pages. Sheik for $19.99 with free shipping, just a 4 week wait from China! Toon Link for $8.99!! All from sellers with 0 sales and/or 0% reviews. I arrived at the realistically priced (ugh, such a hard thing to say for figures originally sold for 12.99!) figures and started scouting reviews, found a seller for each that was above 90%, read the negatives to ensure I wasn’t being duped, and placed my orders. Sheik would arrive in a week, and Toon Link in 2, so I mentally checked them off and felt the endorphins flow. When the first package came in, I was surprised to see how it was packed. It was a weird taco-shape, wrapped in what appeared to be a grey shopping bag with a label slapped on. I opened it to see an odd case that said “Oakey” (not Oakley), which I opened to reveal a cheap pair of knock-off sunglasses.
I was confused, but (silly me) figured it to be a simple mistake. I opened my phone and went to the order, then clicked the seller’s name. His store was gone. I was livid. I Googled the seller’s name, Hels Make, and saw that many were fooled by their sell-stuff-for-real-then-fake-out-Amiibo scam. They even had a page for them on a website focused on outing Amiibo scammers! This was the first time I was ever scammed on Amazon; I half-expected this sort of thing on eBay, but never my Free 2-Day shipping, warehouse-price-beating, stream from our video library just because friend. And it’s not until something goes wrong that you realize just how terrible Amazon’s customer service actually is, mainly because it doesn’t fucking exist! They intentionally link you to a bunch of FAQs and online guides instead of directing you to speak to someone, and when I finally found a link my problem wasn’t listed in the drop-down menu and it took 3 back-and-forths just for them to get I had received the wrong item! And the first e-mail I received sounded extremely sly to me, telling me I received my item; the tracking number told them so. URGH. And today I checked my purchase of Toon Link, only to see his seller ghosted as well, and I’m left holding the bag. I can only wonder in terror at what my money bought me this time. I’ll find out Monday, when the package is set to arrive.
The message here is that even if you’re trying to do everything right, even if you’re buying from a reputable seller at the estimated market price, PEOPLE STILL SUCK SOMETIMES. Buyer beware. And to other Amiibo collectors? I have just one factoid. MAJORA’S MASK LINK ALREADY WENT UP FOR SALE ON BESTBUY.COM AND IS SOLD OUT. Have fun auctioning against me for too-much-money come July :’(