So far, trying to get Amiibo in North America has been a volatile, bumpy ride.
When Amiibo launched alongside Super Smash Bros. for Wii U on November 21, I expected a good, fun time looking for the figures over the next few months. That was mostly my experience with the early days of Skylanders, even if some of those early figures were very hard to find. Much like I had a good time searching for Skylanders, I had a blast on my journey through different retail stores on Amiibo launch day.
Then, it just got worse. By the end of that launch weekend, Nintendo fans seemed terrified by the fact that Marth, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer would be near impossible to find after the first few days. Nearly three months later, their worries were right on the money. You either need to import, time travel, or live within a block of Nintendo World Store in New York City to have a prayer of getting that rare trio now without paying out your ass on eBay.
Since then, we've only had more figures join the rare list. While any stumbling drunk can find a Luigi or a Zelda Amiibo from the second wave these days, you'll go insane, and likely poor, trying to nab Little Mac, Pit, or Captain Falcon. Now, as we enter the retailer-exclusive-riddled third wave, it's only getting more frustrating and arduous to find most Amiibo.
I was out on the front lines on February 1 to try to get a Rosalina, which is exclusive to Target (Target shut down in Canada; I don’t even know where they’re selling Rosalina there). Both Targets I stopped at had lines at opening and were sold out, seemingly for good, within minutes. That wasn't isolated; Rosalina is nigh impossible to find in North America now. Some rumored in-store memos heavily hint at Rosalina never being sold inside a Target store again (along with the rest of the third wave only being sold online). I was fortunate to order a Rosalina off of Target.com later in the day for the 15 minutes she was available. The truth is, right now, if you want Rosalina now you have no way to get her outside of the reseller market or importing.
The worst part about this is that a lot of the frustration could be easily remedied by just a few reassuring sentences from Nintendo. During the January 2015 Nintendo Direct, Nintendo of America's Bill Trinen did assure the Nintendo faithful that Marth's Amiibo would rise again, likely around the launch of Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. in March. I’d like to assume that when a new Animal Crossing game comes out, we’ll be able to get a Villager Amiibo, or when the next wave of the Super Mario series Amiibo hits, a new version of Rosalina will be a part of it.
But there are few reassurances. There is little-to-no communication regarding Amiibo. The only reason we even knew that Rosalina was hitting Target on Sunday morning is because people have been constantly hounding retailers to get information. Did Nintendo send out a note being like "Hey gang, maybe line up outside of Target on February 1 to get Rosalina? It's your only chance."? Nope. Nothing. Radio silence.
Much like the second wave, the third is scattershot, with different retailers launching different Amiibo at different times. Toys"R"Us has been sporadically getting in Bowser, Toon Link, Shiek, and Lucario since mid-January. At GameStop, Bowser is the only third wave Amiibo available with the rest coming maybe on February 13 or something. Best Buy has some Bowsers or something. Nintendo World Store gets everything, but since it's the only store of its kind in the biggest city in the country, apparently the lines are hours long and no one knows exactly how many Amiibo are in stock.
This nonsense is just frustrating, and I'm likely the least flustered person about this who is actually trying to collect Amiibo. I've seen folks on Twitter essentially decry their Nintendo fandom over how poorly handled the Amiibo situation has been. While I don't think hunting for Amiibo actually takes years off your life, a hell of a lot of people claim it is.
From the looks of the Amiibo scene, the end isn't in sight. The third wave is likely being handled worse than the first wave two months ago. The Super Mario series, due out in late March, sold out on Amazon quickly. There might be gold and silver Mario variants. By April, we'll have just shy of 50 Amiibo out on the market, and it seems like certain retailers are phasing out carrying every single new one in stores. It's assuredly a success for Nintendo right now, and as long as the bubble doesn't burst, more Amiibo will be coming at a regular clip. We've still got a little less than 20 Smash Bros. figures left and an infinite supply of other franchises to support.
At this point, I've got the entire third wave on lockdown. I pre-ordered everything at GameStop, Toys"R"Us, and Best Buy. I decided back in December that I wasn't messing around with this and would just make it easy. That’s my recommendation at this point: Buckle in and pre-order when you can. This insanity doesn’t seem to be going away.