Chances are you’ve seen some of Nintendo’s popular foray into the world of NFC figures floating around your favorite electronics section. Despite their somewhat lacking practical use in actual games they’ve become quite the collector’s item over the past months.

Updates to this article can be seen at the bottom of the post.

Wait, what’s an amiibo do?

As stated above, amiibo are figures that use near field communication (NFC) in their base to store player data or unlock content in games. This kind of “toys come to life” content has been widely successful with both the Skylanders and Disney Infinity series over the past years. Though Nintendo first tried NFC figures with Pokemon Rumble Arena for Wii U, this is their first time producing multiple waves and more detailed characters.

Games that currently support amiibo are Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS , Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad, Mario Party 10, Code Name STEAM, and more. Nintendo has also announced amiibo support for already released and upcoming titles such as Yoshi’s Woolly World and Splatoon. It should be noted that not all amiibo work in all games. For reference use this handy chart that Nintendo has created.

Available Characters

Many waves of amiibo have already been released to the public, with quite a few waiting in the wings.

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Wave One: Mario, Peach, Donkey Kong, Link, Kirby, Yoshi, Star Fox, Samus, Pikachu, Wii Fit Trainer, Marth and Villager. Released November 21st, 2014.

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Wave Two: Little Mac, Captain Falcon, Zelda, Diddy Kong, Luigi, and Pit. Released Dec. 14-30, 2014.

Wave Three: Mega Man, Sonic, Toon Link, Bowser, Ike, Lucario, Sheik, Roselina, Metaknight, King Dedede and Shulk. Released on Feb. 2nd - 28th, 2015. Some figures are not out in stores yet. Bowser, Toon Link, Shiek, Rosalina (Target exclusive) and Lucario (TRU exclusive) are out in the wild. Remaining characters have yet to surface.

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Wave Four: released on May 29th and included Wario, Lucina, PAC-MAN, Ness, Robin, Charizard, Jigglypuff and Greninja. Ness was a Gamstop exclusive, Jigglypuff was a Target exclusive, and Greninja was a Toys R’ Us exclusive.

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Wave Five: Released in two parts. The first featured Dark Pit (Best Buy Exclusive) and Palutena (Amazon Exclusive) and came at the end of July/start of August. The Second half was released on September 11th and featured Olimar, Dr. Mario (Target Exclusive), Ganondorf, Zero Suit Samus, and Bowser Jr. (Toys R Us Exclusive).

Wave Six: Include the first ever three pack of Smash Bros. related characters with Mr. Game & Watch, Duck Hunt, and R.O.B all coming in one bundle. This GameStop exclusive was released on September 25. Mii Gunner, Mii Swordsman, and Mii Brawler were also released in a three pack in November, they were a Toys R’ Us exclusive.

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Mr. Game & Watch is the first and only figure to feature swappable poses and is true to his 2D form.

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Falco came out on November 20, 2015. He was supposed to launch with Star Fox Zero, but the game was delayed to early 2016. Mewtwo was released on November 13, 2015.

Famicom ROB, Roy and Ryu will launch on March 18, 2016. Lucas, another DLC character, will launch on January 22, 2016.

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Future Smash amiibo in development include Cloud, Corrin and Bayonetta. It is not known when they will become available.

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The Super Mario Bros. series of amiibo were released on March 20, along with Mario Party 10 for the Wii U. They include five already released characters (Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach and Bowser) in new poses and introduce a brand new Toad amiibo to the mix. The Mario amiibo included in the Mario Party 10 amiibo bundle is currently a timed exclusive.

In early 2015 Some dedicated amiibo fans over at NEOgaf and Reddit unearthed some information on some upcoming special edition amiibo - Silver and Gold Mario. Gold Mario was revealed to be a Wal-Mart exclusive and released alongside the other Super Mario Bros collection on March 20. He is not easy to come by. Silver Mario launched with Wave 4 on May 29, and is uncommon, but not too hard to find.

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The Splatoon Series of amiibo have launched for the upcoming Wii U title of the same name and came out alongside the game on May 29. You can buy the inkling boy or girl separate, but the Squid only comes with the combo packs that include all three.

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A special Yoshi’s Woolly World series of amiibo has been announced that will actually be made of... yarn! Adorable. These three cuties launched October 16 alongside the Wii U title of the same name.

A mega sized woolly Yoshi is also now available, only at Toys R’ US. He’s huge, cuddly and will cost players $40.

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A Chibi Robo amiibo was announced alongside a new side scrolling platformer title and was released in a bundle on October 9,2015 for the 3DS.

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Two amiibo compatible with Super Mario Maker were announced and launched alongside the game on September 11, 2015. The amiibo represent Mario as an 8-bit figure, both with classic and modern coloring. The modern version is currently only available in a Wal-Mart exclusive Wii U bundle.

The new title, Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival, was announced at E3 2015. The game has a full cast of Animal Crossing characters in amiibo form. They include Isabelle, KK Slider, Mable, Tom Nook, Lottie, Cyrus, Reese, and Digby. They were released alongside the game on November 13. A second wave of figures is coming in early 2016. This wave includes Resetti, Blathers, Celeste, and Kicks. A third wave includes Timmy and Tommy Nook (as one figure), Rover and Kapp’n.

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A card form of amiibo has been released for the new 3DS title Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. Cards were released on the same day as the title - September 25,2015. 100 cards are available in Wave 1, with each pack featuring 6 random cards. A second wave of cards is due out in early 2016.

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During Nintendo’s E3 2015 Digital Event they announced two special figures that will be compatible with both amiibo titles and Skylanders Supercharged. Two characters, Bowser and Donkey Kong have been stylized for the Skylanders series and have bases that can be rotated to work as both Skylander and amiibo. The figures launched alongside Skylanders Supercharged on September 20, 2015 and also feature “dark” versions of the characters.

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The first amiibo to come from an indie title, Shovel Knight, was announced for an end of 2015 release, but was bumped back to early 2016.

A gold Mega Man amiibo will be bundled with the upcoming Mega Man Legacy Collection for 3DS. It will release on February 23, 2016.

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An amiibo of wolf Midna riding Wolf Link will launch alongside Twilight Princess HD for the Wii U on March 4, 2016.

It should be noted that amiibo are not region locked. Meaning that no matter what country you purchase them in/from they will work with your games.

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Rare Characters

Nintendo hasn’t done the best job of getting certain amiibo on shelves this holiday season, especially in regards to the second wave. No one officially knows what kind of run each character will have aside from the fact that well-known characters will have more figures produced and less popular ones will have fewer. This has led to a scramble for lesser known characters and resulted in some outrageous scalping on eBay and Craigslist.

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Hard to find characters at the moment include:

Wave One: Wii Fit Trainer, Villager, Marth, Fox, Kirby, Donkey Kong, and Samus

Wave Two: Pit, Captain Falcon, Little Mac, and Diddy Kong

Wave Three: Rosalina (Target exclusive), Shulk (GameStop exclusive), Meta Knight (Best Buy exclusive), Lucario (TRU exclusive), Ike and King Dedede.

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Wave Four: Lucina, Robin, Ness (GameStop exclusive), Jigglypuff (Target exclusive) and Greninja (TRU exclusive)

Wave Five: Dark Pit (Best Buy exclusive), Palutena (Amazon exclusive)

Super Mario Maker Wave: Modern Mario

Mario Bros. Wave: Gold Mario

Yarn Yoshi Wave: Mega Yarn Yoshi (TRU exclusive)

Marth, Wii Fit and Villager have been highly sought after since their release in late November and have garnered the nicknames “MTV” and “The Holy Trinity” online. Most store exclusives are considered rare as they are in short supply and are not restocked often.

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Store Exclusives

Toys R Us - Lucario, Greninja, Bowser Jr., Mii fighter three pack, Mega Yarn Yoshi

GameStop - Shulk, Ness, and Retro three pack

Target - Rosalina, Jigglypuff and Dr. Mario

Best Buy - Meta Knight and Dark Pit

Wal-Mart - Gold Mario and Modern 8-Bit Mario

Amazon - Palutena, Chibi-Robo (stand alone)

As mentioned above in the rarity section, most exclusives are difficult to locate.

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Preordering

Many sites and stores will allow you to preorder amiibo that have not yet hit store shelves. Sometimes preorders for store exclusives, like Rosalina and Shulk, sell out in minutes. This means you must be ever vigilant! If you’re not sure if you even want a figure it’s best to preorder anyway, as you can always cancel if you are sure you don’t want it. NowInStock.net (mentioned below) can also be used to alert you when preorders become available.

Where to Shop Online

Just like most gaming related merchandise amiibo are sold all over the web and from most big name electronics stores. Stores like Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Gamestop, Best Buy and Amazon all stock amiibo on a regular basis. What they have in stock is the real issue here, assuming you’re not just looking for Mario. Aside from simply checking each store everyday multiple times (which I did for about a month), there are a few ways to keep tabs on almost every store at once.

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Enter NowInStock.net, the best thing since sliced bread (for amiibo hunters at least). After creating an account you can have alerts sent to you via email or text that let you know when a figure has come back in stock online. This can be exceptionally helpful for characters such as Pit, who sell out in mere minutes. You won’t have to worry about checking sites like a maniac and it gives you the advantage of knowing immediately. This also works for pre-orders and store exclusives.

Unfortunately, some figures will not be back in stock online any time soon. That’s where Europe comes in. The continent, not the band. Many folks who don’t really care what version of amiibo they have or are going to unbox them anyway, have been heading over to Amazon.de (Germany) and Amazon.fr (France) to pick up hard-to-find figures.

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Figures will cost a bit more than the $12.99 you’d purchase them for here (and unsurprisingly you’ll have to dole out some decently hefty shipping), but you can finally hold that beloved Nintendo hero in your sweaty mitts. And since amiibo from all over the globe work with any game or Wii U you’ll be good to load that German Marth on to your Smash Bros. game.

Of course you can always try online sites such as eBay and Craigslist, but you’re probably not going to find the best deals. Always be weary of fakes, and make sure you meet up in a public place if you are exchanging money for goods in person.

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Where to Shop Offline

All the stores mentioned above are worth checking if you’re out and about. My main advice when it comes to physical shopping is “Call ahead!” If you do so you may be able to get a kind employee to hold the figure you want behind the counter for you or you may find the store is sold out and not worth the trip.

That being said, always be nice to those employees helping you in store or on the phone. They may not even know what an amiibo is or where to find them. Help them help you. Not sure if they’re actually in the know or have a sneaking suspicion they’re just trying to get rid of you with easy answers? Find/contact a manager or the service desk and have them look up the item as well.

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One way to really help speed things along is to give the employee the amiibo DPCI or SKU number. For example, Little Mac’s DPCI number on Target.com is 207-00-5015. Come in to the store with that number and someone may be able to find you some in the back that have yet to be put out.

Another fantastic way to spread your net over various stores and regions is to enlist the help of your friends and family. Does your mom go grocery shopping every Sunday? Have her swing into the electronics department and do a quick sweep. Have a buddy who lives a few counties/cities/states over? Ask them to check their stores when they get a chance. Just don’t be all weird and pressuring. Help them by sending pictures of who you need. Make it easy for them to help you.

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To Open or Not to Open

Not sure if you should open your amiibo or leave them in box? Hopefully it’s not too difficult of a decision. If you’re planning on using the amiibo to unlock the (somewhat minimal) features in current and upcoming games then open them! Sadly Nintendo put in a special sticker under each amiibo to prevent them from working through their packaging. Though as you can see in the video below it can be surgically removed if need be.

If you simply want to display your amiibo and you care about potential resale in the future then you should definitely considering leaving them in their packages. Want to preserve your boxes in the best way possible AND take those bad boys out for spin in-game? There is a way to do this. Though it is kind of silly all things considered.

Does my amiibo have a rare defect?

Probably not.

Is it sideways, broken or have some slight paint imperfections? If so then it’s sadly nothing special. I can’t tell you how many people are posting amiibo (like the one below) to eBay that they claim are rare defects, but in reality are quite common.

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Most gaming folks have heard of dual-wielding Samus or legless Peach, but these are few and far between. If your figure has an extra feature, is missing something completely (meaning it hasn’t just fallen off in the box) or has been colored wrong in big way then you may have an actual rare defect on your hands. Some of these go for thousands of dollars on eBay (though most don’t), so it’s up to you on what you do with it. I’d love to have some in my collection, but I’m not you.

Scalping

If you find a rare or highly sought after amiibo character you may think to yourself, “I should buy them all and turn a profit on eBay!” You could. You certainly could. You could jack up the price and make some extra cash. But keep in mind that you’re basically screwing over Johnny Everyman, who is on the lookout for these same figures, just like you. Let’s say you heard that a store just got in five Villager amiibo and you really want one to finish out your Wave One collection. You get to the store to find some scumbag loading all five into his cart. Damn. I bet he’s gonna make a bundle! But you don’t wanna be that guy, do you?

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Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t care. People do this kind of thing all the time after all. Just keep in mind that others are out there hunting and you’re making things more difficult for them in the long run.

Join the Community

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Feeling a little alone in your amiibo struggles and victories? Head over to /r/amiibo and look around. Whether you are hunting down a specific figure, showing off your newest finds or wondering how to make a custom display there are dozens of fine folks who can help. It’s a great place to stay in the loop when it comes to stock and pre-orders as well. Not to mention /r/amiiboswap, where you can trade for figures you need. I highly recommend you give it a look if you’re even mildly interested.


UPDATE 1/15/15 - Information about Wave Four and Super Mario Bros. line added. Section on pre-orders updated.

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UPDATE 2/5/15 - More info on Wave Three release and rumors of gold/silver Mario amiibo added.

UPDATE 3/29/15 - Updates to info regarding the Super Mario Bros. line as well as the rarity of certain amiibo.

UPDATE 4/1/15 - Splatoon, Yarn Yoshi, Wave 4 and 5 info added.

UPDATE 6/25/15 - Wave 6, Animal Crossing, Mario Maker, Chibi Robo and Skylanders info added.

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UPDATE 9/25/15 - Releases info updated. Mega Yarn Yoshi and more added to upcoming amiibo.

UPDATE 12/22/15 - New amiibo added to the master list including Shovel Knight, Gold Mega Man, Animal Crossing Wave 2 and more. Rarity chart updated to reflect current status.


Have any tips that I forgot to cover? Feel free to leave any ideas or stories involving amiibo or collecting in general in the comments below.

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Ben Bertoli (GiantBoyDetective) can be found on Twitter saying silly things. Follow him to see more of his rambling about amiibo.