The release of amiibo alongside Super Smash Bros. Wii U on November 21 caused me to do something I hadn’t done in roughly 10 years, collect toys. Star Wars was an addiction in the mid 90s to early 00s, inspired by The Power of the Force action figure line and the arrival of George Lucas’ prequels. I spent an unhealthy number of hours visiting malls and big box stores in search of hard to find toys, the holy grail being Darth Vader with removable helmet and Slave Leia, neither of which were readily available.
There were no online store inventories that I knew of at the time, and options to pre-order figures were few. Instead I relied on daily trips (so much gasoline wasted) and calling places, where confused employees left me on hold several minutes before breaking the bad news: there were no Darth Vaders with removable helmets or Slave Leias, and no timetable on when or if these stores would receive them. Even comic book shops were sold out and had no way of knowing when these toys would appear in those randomized boxes.
Months went by, week after week of anxiety and disappointment, until one day I spotted Darth Vader in KB Toys and had one of those intense euphoric moments. Of course I bought Vader immediately, and Slave Leia eventually followed via one of those aforementioned comic book shops. After that I saw both figures in a handful of stores for a brief period of time before they disappeared for good. Collectors had their fill of the toys and/or Kenner (eventually absorbed into Hasbro) satisfied the demand. Regardless, I was thrilled.
Despite the desire to lock the sealed toys away and hope for significant appreciation in value, I opened both and looking back, this was a great decision. This particular Vader sells anywhere between $10 and $20, while Slave Leia hovers in the $5-10 range. It would have sounded bizarre all those years ago, but there’s a surplus on eBay. Sold on the cheap, no less.
This brings me back to amiibo and the characters no one sees in stores, namely Marth, Wii Fit Trainer and the Villager (otherwise known as the holy trinity or MTV), as well as Little Mac, Pit and Captain Falcon; the latter three are somewhat easier to track down. Do you continue checking stores in the hope of Nintendo reprinting these amiibo, all of which are available overseas, or snatch them up on eBay for wallet-busting prices? Marth routinely sells for $130 and higher, while the Villager is almost there.
It’s a difficult question and there are multiple answers. If you see an amiibo you want (even a little bit) in stores or know of one coming out, buy or pre-order it immediately. In regard to eBay, it’s a gamble. By purchasing Marth for $145, you’re betting Nintendo won’t address the supply issue in the U.S. and subsequently roll out new waves. If that’s the case, Marth may remain at that value or appreciate. If the opposite happens and Nintendo produces tons of Marth for at least a month (this is a likely scenario that allows fans one last chance) then the $145 value may significantly depreciate.
There’s also the Darth Vader and Slave Leia scenario, where despite these figures being rare and now gone from stores, the Star Wars Power of the Force Line significantly depreciated. So much for putting children through college.
Unfortunately none of us know what’ll happen over the next several months, especially with Nintendo’s vague responses. Either you and I will randomly walk into a Target one afternoon (perhaps the Rosalina pre-order fiasco was overblown, and there will be plenty for everyone) and have a brain explosion upon seeing three Villagers nestled among Mario, Luigi and Pikachu, or he’ll never see another U.S. run and we missed out on buying him for a decent price.
Unless, of course, amiibo popularity stabilizes and he winds up on eBay for $12.99. With that in mind, I have no idea where Darth Vader with removable helmet is. Time to scrape up loose change and buy another one.