With the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Nintendo gave us a small set of figurines inspired by the Skylanders craze. Toy’s to life was in full swing when Amiibo launched into headstrong, but Nintendo wasn’t backing down, they had Mario, Link, Kirby, and Pikachu! Nintendo couldn’t fail, could they? Nintendo promised the world with Amiibo. One for every Smash 4 character, including DLC fighters.
When Amiibo first launched, it was the shiny toy that everyone wanted, it had multiple rare figures. That original wave of 12 still inspired nostalgia in many. Many still remember the characters they picked up close to launch, or opened for Christmas that year. My first Amiibo were Link and Fox. I wasn’t a fan of Zelda, and I’d never played a Starfox game. I’m still not sure why out of all 12 in front of me I chose those two. I’m not sure I’ll ever know.
Dozens of characters for the first year, or so were rarities. Marth, Wii Fit Trainer, and Villager are remembered as a trinity. Little Mac and Pit were wave 2’s special collectibles. After that, they introduced store exclusive Amiibo with Meta Knight and Lucario. Amiibo lost a lot of steam with Wave 3, but they reignited the fire fast. With the launch of the Super Mario Series, and more notably the Gold Mario Amiibo, they rekindled a dying flame.
All good things must come to an end. How is Amiibo doing just over five years later? We’ve gotten multiple waves for games outside of Smash Bros. Ultimate seemed to reignite a spark within the community. Amiibo figures for beloved gaming icons like Simon Belmont, Ridley, and the promise of Banjo has recaptured many who thought they were done. Amiibo output has slowed down considerably with the launch of the Switch.
As a long-time collector of Amiibo, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I don’t want to see these things go away. They’re cheap well-made and an easy way to get merch for games that otherwise don’t have a lot. You can’t just go buy a plush of Simon Belmont, or Bayonetta. Yet I can walk into Best Buy and buy a Little Mac, Simon, and Bayonetta figure on a whim.
The concept of Toy’s to Life isn’t appealing to everyone. Most adults scoffed at the idea. I happened to be the perfect bullseye for Lego Dimensions and Amiibo. I happened to be someone those particular brands were able to easily ensnare. Yet there is something special about Amiibo, and I know exactly what that specialty is.
Amiibo, especially those in the Smash line, can represent one’s love of gaming. At a cheap price, for a wonderful figure. They work with the games too! Smash allows you to train up a CPU partner, and Mario Kart gives you exclusive mii costumes. They give us figures of well-established characters that people love. The game functionality is little more than a bonus to most.
Many who would otherwise never hop on Toy’s to Life got Amiibo. Because Amiibo IS Nintendo, it is their childhood, is their passion. They don’t care about training a partner, or getting to put on a Sonic mask in Mario Kart. They care about Richter Belmont, about King K Rool, about Captain Falcon! Characters who rarely, or would never, get merchandise otherwise. That’s why Amiibo is so important. They don’t need to work with the games to matter.
That’s why I’m so glad Nintendo has continued with Ultimate, and promised us the Fighter’s Pass. Figures of Terry Bogard, the Hero of Dragon Quest, BANJO FOR GOODNESS SAKE! I hope they continue afterward. Not just because of my love for Smash, or my hope that my favorites will get in. Because I know that they’d produce quality figures for a character that dozens love! I don’t care if it’s the Doom Slayer, or Jill Valentine, or even The TF2 Scout. They’d never get physical representation otherwise.
Nintendo has struck gold with this particular idea. With time that gold has slowly started fading. It’s started losing its shine, and it’s value with it. I hope this article has given people who’ve disregarded Amiibo something to think about. Because the way I look at, Amiibo are so much bigger than the bonuses you get in game. Because Amiibo are a way to see a part of ourselves.