by Doc – Owner, Founder, First Person with Economics Degree to Apply It To Garage Saleing For Amiibo
Garage Sale Shifts
I am an avid garage saler, and many of the classic video games that I’ve picked up over the years are sourced from garage sales just down the street from my childhood home. It’s a tradition that I have – leave the house with $20 cash, and come back with as many video games as possible.
Two years ago I noticed something. While it’s normal for garage salers with newly-minted adult children to sell their old video games, there was suddenly a new subcategory of garage salers that hadn’t been in my city before – middle-aged adults with children aged 12-15. These salers acted much like their older counterparts, but their wares were different. They had very underpriced amiibo.
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What’s an amiibo?
Amiibo are simple. They’re plastic figures of Nintendo and third-party characters that are collectible, high-quality and unlock functionality with Nintendo games. For a while, they were sold on shelves for $13 or $16 each, and then were never sold again once supply ran out (save for a few “reprints” that have occurred sporadically). These days, you can buy most amiibo from garage sales for <$5.
This is where the fun begins. Amiibo are not only still getting interest, but in many cases their demand is actually growing. This is because of how amiibo function with Nintendo games: if a Link amiibo has amiibo functionality in the upcoming sequel to the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then demand for the Link amiibo increases, and so too does the price.
How does amiibo pricing work?
This has a scarcity effect on prices: right now, the “Mii Brawler” amiibo has never been reprinted in the last four years, and it wasn’t sold very widely when it was on shelves, because it was sold bundled with two other amiibo, raising prices drastically. These days, loose Mii Brawler usually goes for $60-80, if you can even find one.
Remember one very important thing: with very few exceptions, no amiibo have ever MSRPed for less than $13, so nearly every loose amiibo will go for more than that. We’ll read more about the exceptions later in this post.
The functionality combined with the scarcity of amiibo creates an interesting market dynamic: garage salers don’t know what they’re worth and just want these blasted toys out of their house, so they sell for cheap. Meanwhile, we have this going on on eBay:
Typically you’ll find amiibo going for about $30-$35 secondhand on eBay, depending on their “series”. Smash Bros series amiibo, like Link, are the most popular and most widely sold, but also tend to fetch the most consistent prices. It’s rare to see a Smash Bros series amiibo going for less than $25 minimum, unless they’ve been reprinted recently. While reprints do tend to lower the secondhand prices, you’re almost guaranteed to sell it for $16 minimum online because that was the original MSRP.
That’s the game – buy from garage sales, and resell for a typical $15-20 profit online.
The One Pitfall
Animal Crossing amiibo and amiibo cards. For the last three years, Animal Crossing amiibo have been underused in games and oversupplied, leading some retailers to list them for less than the MSRP and eat their losses. While the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons caused demand for these amiibo to spike, prices never broke through their original MSRP, and have since settled down to roughly $5 each secondhand.
You can tell what’s an Animal Crossing amiibo by the base of the figure. Look at what these have in common.
Do you see the green triangle pattern? That’s Animal Crossing. Compare that to the Link amiibo above, and you’ll notice that they’re different. Avoid Animal Crossing amiibo like the plague. That includes their cards, which are effectively overpriced cardstock, and shouldn’t sell for more than $1.50 online except in rare circumstances. There’s a few rare amiibo cards that are in the $8-10 range, but the likelihood that you’ll come across those in the United States is nearly impossible, so you don’t need to worry about them.
What about New in Box?
The odds that you’ll come across a collector selling their New In Box collection and not selling it on eBay is slim, but if it happens, be sure to scoop it up. While very-recently-reprinted amiibo are usually only worth the $16 MSRP when New In Box, basically any other amiibo is worth far more if it’s still in the packaging. If you see something in the original box, look up “[Character name] reprints 2020 2021” and if nothing comes up in the last twelve months, definitely sell that sucker online.
Where Can I Find Prices?
Unfortunately, video game websites like pricecharting.com don’t track amiibo sales data very closely, and usually can’t take into account the other factors that make them worth more or less. Your best bet is going to eBay, filtering through the sales that were completed, and getting your estimate from there.
A Final Note
That’s about it! When you’re buying amiibo, remember two things: 1. Avoid Animal Crossing amiibo and cards, and 2. Be sure to ask the name of the character if you don’t know, and confirm their secondhand value. There’s no indicator of their name on the figure itself, so asking the original owners is your best bet.