Buying Amiibos in Japan, and Selling them on eBay

I found a new hobby lately. These toys are a pretty hot item. Almost everywhere in the U.S., they are sold out. Even the common ones can be tough to find. And the uncommon and rare ones? They sell pretty well on eBay.

In Japan, though... they are not so scarce. And after returning from winter vacation, I've been buying the ones difficult to find and reselling them on eBay. An alternate title for this entry might be Confessions of an Amiibo Scalper.

Amiibo

First, What are Amiibos? Amiibos are these things:

They are figurines of Nintendo characters created by Nintendo. But in addition to being a figurine, each one has a chip in its based and can be used with various games on the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS. The most prominent game being the new Super Smash Brothers title.

The first wave of these figures was released in November last year. However, given Nintendo's risk aversion and general misunderstanding of their demographic and fan base, they did not create enough figures to match demand, and certain figures became incredibly rare quite fast, and extremely difficult to find. Additionally, this was on the heals of Christmas, so they became quite a hot item, and demand continued to increase.

That's in the U.S., though. In Japan, most people don't care that much about video games. The 3DS is pretty popular, and most kids have those. But most families do not have home consoles because they're expensive, and take over the family TV which should be shared by everyone. Also, kids don't really care about Smash Brothers. They're more interested in Yokai Watch and Monster Hunter. So, Amiibos aren't selling nearly as much as the states. Also, I think they've shipped more in Japan, than in the states (at least per capita).

Before winter vacation, I spent some time reading about all the horror stories of gamers trying to get their hands on these things. I thought, really? A few weeks prior I saw a full display of (maybe) all the figures at a Toys R Us. The prices on eBay seemed to corroborate with the stories. Some figures were selling for 3 times their MRSP. One in particular, The Villager, was closer to 7 times. Amiibo figures retail for $12.

After coming back to Japan from winter vacation, I hopped on the Amiibo bandwagon purely to resell them on eBay.

Waves

At that time, there had been 2 release waves of figures. From the first wave, The Villager, Marth, and Wii Fit Trainer were the uncommon or rare figures. Though, I think Samus, and Fox are getting hard to find now. From the second wave, Little Mac, and Pitt became quickly scarce. Captain Falcon is starting to get rare, too.

In Tokyo, before returning to Takayama, I went to a few Toys R Us's and other stores, and easily found plenty Marth and Wii Fit Trainers. I could not find any Villagers, though. Those were actually rare in Japan, too. After returning to Takayama, I found a Little Mac, and Captain Falcon, plus plenty more Marth and Wii Fit Trainers. I've never seen a Pitt, either.

In January, Nintendo released their third wave of figures. These figures would be released in the U.S. a few weeks later. But, in the U.S., four of these figures were retailer exclusive, meaning you couldn't figure them just anywhere. That was not the case in Japan. These figures were Rosalina exclusive to Target, Lucario exclusive to Toys R Us, Meta Knight exclusive to Best Buy, and Shulk exclusive to Gamestop. These seemed like they would be the most difficult to find in the states, so when they released in Japan, I bought plenty of each. (Shulk has yet to release in Japan, though.)

Buying in Rural Japan

In large cities, you have tons of options, but out here in the forest and the mountains, the choices are much more limited. Takayama isn't all that bad, though. We have a Geo ゲオ, and an Edion エディオン. Both stores have full displays of Amiibos and received full shipments of Wave 3. Apita アピタ has 'em, too, but seemed like they only received half a shipment of Wave 3. That rental store in Kokufu 国府 occasionally has some, too.

Here's the display at my local Edion, taken on Sunday. They had plenty of the common figures, and a few of the uncommon ones. This is in STARK contrast to any shelves in America where only Peach can easily be found.

This weekend, I decided to drive around the Hida 飛騨 area and raid all the stores for their rare and uncommon Amiibo figures. I drove south to Gero, then west to Gujo, and quickly further south to Seki.

Gero 下呂

Still within the Hida region, comprising the southern towns and villages is Gero City, with Hagiwara 萩原, and Gero 下呂 being its population centers. These are about an hour away from Takayama. In Hagiwara, there's a Yamada Denki ヤマダ電機 with a Techland. And in Gero, there's another Edion エディオン with a Neverland. These distinctions are important. Without a Techland, or Neverland, these stores only sell appliances.








Both stores were pretty light. It seemed like they each only got half shipments on the figures. The Edion in Gero was so small, but they somehow packed everything inside. Amiibos weren't on the shelves. I asked, and they had boxes of them in the back. I shifted through and found another Wii Fit Trainer. I bought a Rosalina and a Meta Knight from Yamada. Its Lucario was damaged.

Gujo 郡上

Gujo is directly west of Gero. There is a road that connects the two cities, but it has not been reworked for the modern age. Some construction has begun, but it is decades away from being a fast, convenient route. So, there's plenty of mountains to climb and descend with plenty of winding icey roads to guide you through the deep fog. It took about an hour to get to Hachiman 八幡 from Gero.

In Gujo, there were two places that carried Amiibos. In Hachiman 八幡, there was a Geo, and in Yamato 大和, there was another Yamada Denki. Additionally, next to Yamada Denki in Yamato, was a used book and game store, but they didn't have any Amiibos.








Both stores still had some in stock, but not a whole lot. Geo had very few. Only Rosalina was worth it, but I didn't buy it. I had enough. Yamada was mostly picked over, too, but they did have a Wii Fit Trainer.

Crossroads

So far, my trip was mostly a bust. I figured these out-of-the-way places would have decent stocks, but apparently the distributor sent them exactly the right amount. I got a few more figures, but it wasn't the bounty I hoped for.

I had really only planned to visit these two places, then return home. Gujo sits besides the major highway that cuts through northern Gifu. Takayama is a mere 45 minutes north. Though, to the south is the next major city with some stores, Seki . It's only 35 minutes away. Even though the sun was starting to set, I decided to run south.

Seki

Seki is a pretty big place. I only focused on going to stores right next to the highway, rather than venturing deep into the city. Near the highway was a Geo, and an Edion.








And both were basically busts. Geo had a decent selection, but there were all common figures. Edion was similar. At Edion, they didn't even have shelf space for the figures. They just set up several peg hooks with tags you were meant to bring to the check out line. A paged through the tags, but they were all common. I asked if they had anything else in the back, but they just directed me to back to the shelf. I don't think they wanted to deal with a foreigner.

Back Home

So, that was basically it. I might go out again soon, but I'm starting to think the stores in Gifu will be similar to Seki. Supply versus Demand is good out here in the sticks. There's less people, but I think the overall demand is lower, too. There are more nerds closer to Gifu City, more people, and I don't think the supply is that much greater. Nagoya may be a better choice.

Next week, Wave 4 will be released in Japan. This is a small release of Shulk, Mega Man, and Sonic. Shulk, especially, seems to be quite sought after in the states. I plan on buying plenty of those. Mega Man and Sonic should also be lucrative.

Back on eBay, through the course of the weekend, I sold 4. Here's how I ship them.

Shipping Figures

For shipping these figures, I create my own custom boxes similar to the ones I've made in the past for action figures. Though, this time I'm using a lot more bubble wrap and cardboard.

First, I cut two strips of bubble wrap. Enough to wrap around the figure. Then I cut out some card board to wrap around the clamshell of the figure packaging. I cut some more cardboard for the card backing, too.




I completely wrap the figure in those two sheets of bubble wrap, taping each end. Then, I cut some cardboard edges. 6 sides to create a box. I tape together all the edges of the box on the inside. When folding the edges together, I tape them on the outside. Overall, each edge of the box is taped from the inside and the outside keeping everything together very tight. I add some more bubble wrap inside to fill the space.




The box is complete, and pretty secure. But, I think it's still a little fragile. My final step is using postal wrap to completely cover the box, and keep everything together in a nice package. I add the address on the outside, and it's ready to go.








The next step is going to the Takayama Post Office is sending them on their way. At this point, the dude at the post office knows who I am. Now he simply asks, 今日は何個? "How many today?"

Profit

Every Amiibo figure sells for 1180 plus tax in Japan. So far, my Amiibo figures have sold for $30 to $35 on eBay. Additionally, it costs me about 700 to ship these figures to America. So, I'm roughly making a $10 profit. That's not particularly huge, but the boon is being able to convert my yen into dollars, and being able to transfer that into my back account. This is amazing, and if I can sell enough of these things in a month, it totally mitigates my need to send money back to the U.S..

Unfortunately, I don't think this is a renewable resource. It's good for now. I'll be able to make some cash in the short term. But supply will continue to dwindle here in Japan. And perhaps Nintendo will get its shit together and meet demand. Who knows? Best to strike while I can.

Lifetime Sales

It's been almost 7 years since I started selling things on eBay on a regular basis. It started with a bunch of extra video games, movies, and action figures I had in my possession and no longer cared about. I've written about this several times in the past. (September 18th, 2008, July 7th, 2009) With all cash I've made, I finally bought the turnable of my dreams, along with tons of vinyl. I've spent the money on music and artists. I've bought plenty of games, too. Ultimately, it's just trading old stuff for new stuff. Getting rid of the stuff that doesn't matter, and keeping what does.

I found my lifetime sales total on ebay the other day. As of Sunday, February 8th, I've made nearly $10,000 reselling crap on eBay.

Unfortunately, eBay doesn't really keep user records further back than 3 months, so there's no way to see a breakdown of this number. I would love to see a chart of my highs and lows throughout the past decade. At one point, I was selling so many things that I actually became a top seller. It didn't last long since my supply was never all that large. I was only a top seller for 3 months (2 of which were the grace period at the time).

Anyway, I should easily top $10,000 by the end of the week. Also, I'm getting pretty close to Top Seller status again thanks to Amiibo. Whee!




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