Resisting the Urge to Buy Amiibo Has Taught Me a Lot About Myself

By Keza MacDonald on at

My name is Keza MacDonald and I have a debilitating addiction to buying pointless plastic items. Things got really bad when I moved to Japan in 2008 and discovered a whole new world of tiny things; robots, miniature food, and of course, video game merchandise. I have two display cabinets full of the fruits of years’ worth of addiction to plastic tat, and that is probably less than half of my collection. I have all the Spelunky miniatures in a box in my desk because there is no room for them. I didn’t know what to do with all of it, so I started a blog documenting it all that I always forget to update.

I also grew up Nintendo, and am still a very big fan. I literally have a version of the Hyrule Crest tattooed indelibly on my body, the result of a questionably wise decision that I made when I was 21.

But I have not bought a single Amiibo. Resisting the temptation to do so has turned into a revealing exercise in self-discipline.

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A bit of my display cabinet. I am not proud.

There’s no good reason that I should resist Amiibo more than I should resist any of the other overpriced toys that I covet. If anything they are more useful than most of my collection, because they do actually have some utility in games. As a big Nintendo fan I should be all over them. The one good reason to abstain from them is the expense; but then, I can hardly feel noble about that because I have, in the past, spent upwards of £150 on a single figure. More than once.

When the figures were announced, I fully expected to end up buying them all. I saw some pre-production figures at E3 last year and was seduced by the level of detail; I’ve got an eye for this stuff, now, and those figures were nice. The embroidery on Zelda’s dress was moulded, not painted. Donkey Kong’s fur was meticulous. Naturally, the actual production figures aren’t nearly as beautiful. I got sent a few Amiibo when they launched - a Mario, a Link and a Pikachu - and it was jarring to see how different they were. That was when I suddenly thought: hey, maybe I don’t need these things. But it has now become a matter of personal pride.

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Here is a tiny little PlayStation from my collection, just because I think it's cool.

I’m awful at self-discipline. I can’t diet, I struggle to stick to a regular exercise routine (or any kind of routine), I can’t resist chocolate that is put in front of me for even 30 seconds, I am appalling at getting up in the morning. (Thank God I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like junk food, or I’d probably be about two stone overweight.) I’m extraordinarily impulsive with my money and time. So my battle with Amiibo has become a complexly symbolic way of proving to myself that I do have some form of control over my whims. If I can resist these toys, my internal logic seems to dictate, then I am not in fact completely at the mercy of whatever I feel like doing or buying or eating at that precise moment. I have some control over myself.

I’m fully aware that it is ridiculous to frame a decision not to buy some toys as a kind of monumental personal achievement, but I am embarrassed to admit that’s honestly how it feels.

It does not help that my friends are terrible enablers. Today, my friend Matt posted a picture of his new Toon Link and I felt a real twinge of longing. Here’s how that went.

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This, meanwhile, is the collection of my former boss Peer Schneider. He’s bought a special stand and everything.

I know that I can’t buy even one of these things because if I do, I will have to own them all, and I will have to spent £300. My partner - who has lived with all my stupid collectibles for many years now - reckons that I will eventually crack and end up spending twice as much as I otherwise would have on the rare ones, which will by then be eye-wateringly overpriced. He’s probably right.

In the meantime, though, I am enjoying the sense of self-control that not buying them is giving me. It is a rare feeling, for me, and it instils a small measure of hope that I can introduce self-discipline into other areas of my life, and maybe one day be a person who can get up more than 5 minutes before I have to be somewhere and go to the gym three times a week.

Plus, I’ve got that extra £300. And are some really nice Wind Waker figurines on the horizon.