Though Nintendo’s experienced some hardship when it comes to hardware over the past few years, they’ve also released some amazing innovations and products.
One of their most recent success stories is their foray into toys-to-life: Amiibo. Nintendo first introduced the figures alongside the original Super Smash Bros. as a collectible. These figurines serve multiple purposes, and have become quite the collector’s item. Amiibo, once scanned via the Wii U gamepad, serve different functions based on which game is currently being played.
Although the Nintendo Wii U was seen as a commercial failure, amiibo survived the storm and have seen numerous waves released since 2014. Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch, features an amiibo sensor and allows for the use of all current and future figurines. Like most Nintendo products, scarcity and availability have been a huge complaint amongst fans regarding amiibo. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Nintendo’s found a reasonable solution to producing a limited quantity of products. They’re currently unable to satisfy the fervor for the Nintendo Switch. If you’re looking to jump in and start collecting every amiibo ever released be prepared to burn a tremendous hole in your pockets. There are plenty of figurines you can find for a bargain, but there seems to be more than a handful of elusive amiibo known to bankrupt collectors. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst amiibo Nintendo has ever released.
15. Best: Ike
Ike is a very interesting character and amiibo for Nintendo. He’s somehow one of the most popular and beloved Fire Emblem heroes, but at the same time is probably the least known character featured in the Super Smash Bros. series. Ike offers a lot of the functionality that Marth does but isn’t as rare as the infamous Marth amiibo. Not only do we live in a time were Fire Emblem is in the limelight, but we were also treated to a Fire Emblem focused Nintendo Direct in 2017.
14. Worst: Lucario
Lucario’s amiibo release was frustrating because it was a store exclusive that was handled so poorly by its exclusive retailer. Toys ‘R’ Us was the company fortunate enough to land its hands on the exclusive Lucario figure in Wave 3. As pre-orders went live, it seemed that everything was handled accordingly, and Toys R’ Us had a hefty amount of stock they were set to sell to the masses. A couple of weeks later many consumers were treated to the dreaded pre-order cancellation emails. Not only were hundreds of orders being canceled, the emails were being sent out up to the date of release. This meant that there were tons of people who had Lucario yanked from their grasps at the very last moment. Seems like Toys R’ Us wasn’t prepared for the fervor. Hopefully, they learned their lesson.
13. Best: Peach
We couldn’t leave everyone’s favorite princess off this list. Peach started out as nothing more than a damsel in distress. Over the last 20 years, she’s been able to grow into her own character and has garnered a fandom rivaling that of Mario. She’s a fan favorite in Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. It’s not surprising to see her amiibo contain functionality in 12 games. That’s impressive for a character who was nothing more than a trophy at the top of the hill in her first incarnation. Peach has two amiibo, and they couldn’t be farther apart in terms of design. The initial release amiibo takes a more elegant approach to the princess, whereas the Super Mario amiibo went headfirst into the cartoon style appearance.
12. Worst: Ness
Ness was front and center for what can only be referred to as the Great Gamestop Amiibo Crash. After the announcement of the Wave 4 amiibo, Gamestop tweeted out that Ness would be an exclusive to their store specifically. It also announced that pre-orders would be open in stores only on April 2nd at 3:00 pm. This caused Gamestop’s entire system to crash, yes the entire system. Computers weren’t working. Orders were taking up to an hour to be fulfilled. Some transactions were continuously being denied due to numerous computer errors. These events led to utter confusion as to when a figure was sold out and how many were left to order. This caused a huge headache for anyone unlucky enough to be inside of a Gamestop on that fateful day.
11. Best: Shovel Knight
Now, Shovel Knight‘s amiibo falls in an interesting camp in terms of where it ends up on this list. Its functionality is supremely limited; it’s only usable within Shovel Knight itself. That being said, the fact that a non-Nintendo character was able to land its own amiibo is pretty incredible. Shovel Knight was an incredible game that injected players with nostalgia, while also shuffling in old game mecanics into current day game design. It’s amazing to see a company like Nintendo show the willingness to give the limelight to an IP they didn’t create themselves. Here’s hoping that when/if Shovel Knight 2 ever releases we’re able to get our hands on another Shovel Knight amiibo. Like it or not, the Shovel Knight amiibo will forever be the first non-Nintendo amiibo ever sold and distributed.
10. Worst: Rosalina
Have you ever waited up for hours in hopes of pre-ordering something? Most people seem to understand that pre-orders should go live at a normal time. Target, on the other hand, felt that it would be a stellar idea if they opened up pre-orders for Rosaline at 3:00 am in the morning. Many diehard amiibo fans woke up the next morning to find out that the Rosalina figure sold out in an astounding 20 minutes flat. Something even worse happened for those who were lucky enough to land a Rosalina pre-order in Canada. They were met with the news that Target was closing down all Canadian locations. This meant that all Canadian pre-orders of Rosalina were left unfulfilled and an entire country cried that day.
9. Best: Bowser
We all know Bowser as the big bad of the Mushroom Kingdom. Has anyone ever thought that he was maybe misunderstood and alone? Whether that’s the case or not, we’ve known Bowser for almost as long as we’ve known that famous mustached plumber. Bowser is a fantastic character in terms of his design in relation to other Mario characters. He literally dwarfs everyone around him and becomes a physically imposing force immediately. Both of his amiibo reflect this design choice and take up the majority of the amiibo-stand’s space. It’s great to see Nintendo appropriately translate these characters into figures and equally great to see Bowser have functionality in 12 games total. Who ever said there was such a thing as too much Bowser?
8. Worst: Toad
When it comes to Toad, it’s pretty much a mixed bag of bad implementation and rarity. Toad was, strangely enough, the only amiibo exclusive to the Super Mario wave. Every other character in the wave were also re-released in the Super Smash Bros. wave. This immediately added to his rarity as pre-order numbers multiplied as people found out he was the only exclusive in the set. This in and of itself would have landed Toad somewhere on this list, but it’s the next part that’s really troublesome. He actually released with a functional use in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Once he was scanned it unlocked a new game mode that added hours of gameplay. The fact that he was rare but was valuable in terms of toy-to-life function is a true blunder on Nintendo’s part.
7. Best: Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong, since his earliest incarnation, has rivaled Mario in some capacity. To some extent, that’s even the case in 2017. His amiibo is beautifully designed and shows the necktie-wearing hero in all of his glory. The D.K. amiibo has functions across eleven different games (mighty impressive). He’s a tremendously strong character physically and has made his way into millions of hearts across the world. His amiibo is great and serves as a fantastic return on investment. Hopefully, Nintendo comes to realize how much people love Donkey Kong and treat amiibo collectors to a new and wonderful design. Nintendo, maybe you can move away from the giant white stands protruding out of characters backs?
6. Worst: Villager
The Villager amiibo isn’t just rare. The way Nintendo handled production after the initial release had sold out is utterly atrocious. The Villager was a figurine that released during the 1st wave of amiibo. This fact in and of itself shows where is story is heading. The less known a character is, the higher the chance that it’s going to immediately be sold out and rare as hell. Now, did Nintendo just make another batch of Villager amiibo, either in the United States or in Japan? Yes, yes they did. Nintendo did a second round of production on the Villager figure specifically in Japan. Purists were upset when they found out that slight and subtle design changes took place in the second round of figures. You can luckily get a Villager for around $30, but if you’re looking for the original design, you may be out of luck.
5. Best: Luigi
Luigi, the forgotten hero. Luigi’s usefulness and heroic actions often go unnoticed. Luckily for him, the Luigi amiibo has a ton of useful functions. Luigi can be used with an incredible 12 games, which is a number that can only be topped by his brother, of course. The beauty of being a Luigi fan is that even though he’s often in his brother’s shadow, they’re a constant one-two punch. His availability should never be a question, and you know that Nintendo will add functionality for him as often as they do for Mario. The Luigi amiibo is a win on all fronts, and we hope he’s treated to the same iterations moving forward that Mario receives. Here’s hoping for a new Luigi’s Mansion accompanied by a fantastic amiibo.
4. Worst: Marth
Let’s talk about the rarest amiibo out there, the legendary blue unicorn himself, Marth. It’s a bit funny to see a Fire Emblem character end up taking the title that Marth has in regards to amiibo. His rarity is due to limited stock and tremendous popularity in Super Smash Bros. Wii U. In order to add him to your collection, you’re looking at a starting price of $50-$80 just for a used figure. It’s sad to see such an amazing figure be controlled and distributed solely by scalpers. Nintendo was kind enough to sneak Marth into the release of Wave 4. Hopefully, Nintendo plans on doing these surprise additions for a majority of the rarer figures. The Marth Amiibo is a true sign of a vigilant and dedicated collector.
3. Best: Twilight Princess Link
We could have put a number of the Legend of Zelda amiibo on this list, but the Super Smash Bros. Link (designed to look like the Twilight Princess hero), has some of the coolest functionality in Breath of the Wild. The great thing about The Legend of Zelda amiibo is that they all, for the most part, unlock really cool outfits and items in Breath of the Wild. The Twilight Princess one specifically unlocks the base set from the game, and its design translates so beautifully. The amiibo also unlocks a familiar horse companion known as Epona. When the game was initially revealed, and horse riding was a featured mechanic, many wondered if Epona would be in the game. Turns out she was in the game, and all you needed was some help from an old friend.
2. Worst: Little Mac
Little Mac, as few of you probably know, was the main protagonist in Nintendo’s Punch-Out! series. His amiibo was released during the infamous Wave 2. Little Mac is consistently referred to as one of the rarest amiibo out there. His scarcity had amiibo collectors referring to him as “unicorn,” because of his rarity. The character himself is unpopular, and lent itself to the small number of units that were actually manufactured. One of the only ways for a collector to add Little Mac to their amiibo collection is to find a reseller or deal with the dreaded avenue of shady scalpers. Little Mac symbolizes everything Nintendo has done wrong in terms of amiibo releases and subsequent production.
1. Best: Mario
It’s no surprise that Nintendo would make the face of their entire brand the best amiibo. The Mushroom Kingdom’s beloved hero is compatible in a very impressive 13 games. He has three different amiibo designs, which all show a certain side of the famous plumber. If you’re a super fan of Super Mario, then Nintendo has you covered. You know from the day of purchase that you’ll not only be receiving the most bang for your buck, but because of his popularity, the availability shouldn’t be an issue whatsoever. In 2016 Nintendo released an 8-bit style Mario amiibo celebrating his 30th anniversary. Here’s hoping that Nintendo keeps up this trend and celebrates each of their characters anniversaries with new amiibo. Either way, we can probably expect a new Mario amiibo every year for the foreseeable future.
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