SBox Soapbox: To Open or Not To Open… (A Collector’s Struggle)

Yesterday, I got my Ness amiibo in the mail from GameStop. For those who don’t know, amiibo are figurines sold by Nintendo which can be used within Nintendo’s games. Unfortunately, they’re notoriously understocked. Luckily, anyone involved in the amiibo hunting knows that the past week has seen some restocks on some of the hard-to-find figures, and the first to do so was GameStop followed by Target and Walmart.

I was unaware of this until an email alert came on. I couldn’t believe my eyes. After all, Ness is a “unicorn” (collector’s term meaning “beyond rare”) among amiibo. GameStop’s servers were going crazy upon this news, but somehow my phone superseded it and allowed me to make the purchase.

It’s been two days since I got it in the mail, and the question that’s been on my mind was this: Do I open it?

The difficulty stemmed from its rarity. I have three other amiibo: Mario, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. These are all common finds that I have opened without hesitation (or at least much hesitation). Anybody can find them at their original $13 price, they’re easy to replace if they get damaged, and they aren’t worth much. However, this is the first rare amiibo I received. Suddenly, this isn’t an easy decision.

I weighed out the pros and cons, starting with reasons to open it.

Now, I’m not a collector by any means. There are those who seek every single one out, but that’s not how I am. There’s a reason I only have three so far, and it’s not due to finances or ability. I only buy the figures I want most.

The way I set it up, each character I have means something to me personally. Mario is my favorite Nintendo franchise. Donkey Kong is one of my favorite arcade games. Pac-Man is one of (probably the) first games I ever played. There are other characters I wouldn’t mind having, but I knew those were the ones I must have.

Ness was among that list, too, because Ness is my main in Smash Bros (you know, before Lucas came back). I never really thought I’d be able to get him, but I did. In a way, I should be anxious to open him for in-game purposes. And that’s what amiibo are all about. They’re meant to be played with. However, this isn’t the only variable here.

Rare amiibo, like Ness, go for double, triple, even quadruple its original price on Ebay and other places. The more limited and in-demand they are, the higher they go for. What adds to certain amiibo being more expensive is that some become store exclusives. This limits the availability even more and drives its price higher. Furthermore, some amiibo get low print runs from the get-go depending on how many Nintendo thinks they’ll sell. They judge this usually by popularity of the franchise it comes from.

Ness is a GameStop exclusive amiibo from Eathbound, a franchise so small and obscure that few copies of the SNES game were even released. Is it any wonder he goes for $40-50 on Ebay?

Now I’m thinking like an investor. Sure he’ll go for a decently high price opened, but worth a lot more in-box. $40 isn;t a lot now, but when this figure is officially out-of-print, this could be worth 60, 70, maybe even $100 in time. Or it could stay the same price, but that’s still profit. That extra money could mean a lot to me in the future.

Although, I don’t intend on selling it anytime soon. Insurance is a nice thought, but how likely is it that I will end up selling it? At the same time, there’s no way of knowing if it’ll come to that. Part of me is saying best be safe than sorry. Another is doubting I’d even have it in me to sell it.

With that, I realized that talking resell value goes against the very reason I bought the amiibo in the first place. I started remember why I really bought it, and the reason was for display.

This leads me to the deciding point. It all depends how I prefer the amiibo to sit on my shelf: in its box or out of it. This is where I decided to swallow whatever doubt I had, open it up and display it.

I’m in love with how my shelf looks with the three I already have opened and standing uniform. Three icons of gaming standing in a row. Mario to the left, Pac-Man in the middle, and DK on the right. And while I wasn’t too enthralled with it initially, the look of Ness in-box on the shelf directly below the other three is pretty awesome. However, something about it still didn’t feel right. It simply lacks uniformity with the others.

While part of me then feared it would throw the top shelf’s theme off, I know it’s temporary until I get another amiibo, like a Charizard or Luigi, to place on the shelf below it.

You may wonder why I decided to make this post. I made it for two reasons. First, this is a struggle many have with rare products such as amiibo. This is a very classic dilemma when collecting anything: vintage games, old toys, cards, etc. Any collector of anything probably relates to this issue. The second is basically to rationalize me opening the box. After this is posted, I will open my Ness amiibo, display it, enjoy it, and name is Iwata for memorial sake.

Thanks for listening to my rambling and rationalizing. If you are able to relate to debating whether to open something MISB (mint in sealed box), tell me about it in the comments. I always like hearing what you guys have to say.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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