Into the Toy Box: Amiibo

Collecting figures and statues has become one of the cornerstone hobbies in all of nerdom. How could one not want a well-crafted collectible representing their favorite characters from TV, movies, comics, and games? It’s a fun way to express what you’re a fan of. One thing that could make that experience even better is if you could somehow use those collectible figures in your video games. That may sound crazy, but that’s exactly what toys-to-life allow. 

Toys-to-life is a video game feature that uses physical figurines or action figures to interact with the game. These toys use near field communication to determine if the figurine is close enough to the scanning device (usually a platform that comes with the game or the system’s controller depending on which toy is used). Player’s progress with the toy is saved within a storage medium in a device within the toy itself. Some games known for this are Skylanders, Lego Dimensions, and Disney Infinity. The most notable or sought-after toys of this nature are , however, Nintendo’s Amiibo.

These adorable-yet-awesome toys-to-life figures initially released in late 2014 by Nintendo. While other toys-to-life figures belong to games that require the toys to be used, Amiibo stand out by providing optional features to existing full games. Amiibo can be used on The Wii U, later versions of the Nintendo 3DS, and the Nintendo Switch. Essentially, Nintendo started producing collectible action figures that can also be used in their popular video game series in different ways. An action figure that I can use in video games would have absolutely been my favorite thing ever if these came out when I was a kid. Even without having the games to use them in, you’d at least get a cool toy to play with. 

Amiibo were first announced for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which meant that every playable character in the game was featured as an Amiibo figure. We essentially got Smash Bros. action figures, which is also something I would have craved in my younger days. For Smash Bros., the Amiibo allow the player to play against and train the character the Amiibo depicts, leveling them up after each fight. Amiibo for Super Smash Bros. are still releasing today with the DLC for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and are undoubtedly the most popular ones.

Amiibo have also been released for several other games, including Animal Crossing: New Leaf where the Amiibo can be used to summon villagers and vendors to a new campsite area, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker where the Amiibo place a “pixel Toad” in the level or extra lives to collect, Kirby: Planet Robobot where the Amiibo allow the player to gain abilities and items in-game, Hyrule Legends: Age of Calamity where using the Amiibo unlocks materials that can prove helpful for completing quests, and quite a few other games with other unique capabilities. 

Not only are they exciting and helpful to use in games, but they also provide the fun of having your favorite Nintendo (and some third party) characters as action figures. With these, you’re able to collect fan-favorite characters including Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog, Shovel Knight, Kirby, and many more. 

On top of the amount of your favorite characters you can collect, the figures themselves have outstanding detail. Each one is posed in a manner fitting of the character, and looks as if that character has come to life. The scales on Bowser’s shell and the feathers on Pit’s wings look almost perfect. Each figure comes attached to a stand that contains the memory storage device, which is what is scanned to send them into the video game. The stands also differ depending on the game the figure belongs to. The Super Smash Bros. Amiibo depict a gold Smash Bros. logo on it while ones in the Super Mario Bros. series come with a red stand. Splatoon Amiibo look as though ink is flowing from the stands. Each figure is roughly 4 inches tall, but it varies depending on the character’s height. They may be a bit small, but look great on a shelf. Plus, their small size makes scanning them into a game easier. 

Most of the other toys-to-life games have either lost popularity or have been completely discontinued, but Amiibo still fly off store shelves nearly the moment they release. People, including myself, are still waiting for the next set to release to snatch them up once available. In fact, they sell out so quickly that it leads to a bit of an availability issue. In 2015, pre-orders for Amiibo figures crashed Gamestop’s website. Once an Amiibo is no longer in rotation, they can be pretty hard to find again. There has always been a supply issue with Amiibo, unfortunately. On one hand, it does make collecting them a lot more thrilling. However, it does make collecting the characters you want a much more challenging. It also doesn’t appear to be an issue Nintendo plans on resolving anytime soon. 

Overall, toys-to-life figurines allow you to use action figures in your video games. For anyone who grew up playing with or collecting action figures and playing video games, that’s a dream come true. That’s all I would have wanted as a kid. Amiibo are undoubtedly the coolest and most popular form of toys-to-life devices considering the wide range of characters and amount of games they can be used in. They can enhance a video game’s experience and look amazing on a shelf with the rest of your collectible figures and statues, making them some of the most unique toys to collect. Check out more about Amiibo figures on Nintendo’s Website.

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