The writing is on the wall. I think we have the “Tickle Me Elmo” of 2016. The NEW NES Classic Edition was announced recently, with a release date of November 11th. Just in time for the craziest shopping day of the year! Black Friday.
Twenty years ago, Tickle Me Elmo was released in July 1996. The new interactive toy sold well through Thanksgiving, and then Black Friday came. The day of the year that most households begin their Christmas shopping. The dolls completely sold out across the country on that day. Tyco, maker of the toy, quickly ordered another 600,000 units. But this would take time to fulfill. In the meantime, demand for the toy soared. Customers would go to great lengths in order to have a chance at purchasing the toy. They would find out retailers delivery schedule and camp out to be the first person in the store the next day, hoping to get their hands on a freshly delivered Elmo. Fights would break out when the shelves were stocked, between customers contending for the few that were available.
Some that were fortunate enough to get their hands on Elmos recognized the crazy demand for the toy. Ads were placed in newspapers, Craigslist and other publications, selling the toy for crazy amounts of money. Far more than the retail price of $28.99. There was a report of an Elmo in Denver being sold for $7,100. This was before the internet was as widely available as it is today, but people still managed to cash in on the craze.
In the years since, a few toys have reached the “Elmo Level” if you will. Furbies in 1998 selling for as much as $300. The Wii in 2007 selling online for 8 times the retail price. The $9 Zhu Zhu Pets in 2009 selling for as much as $60. All of this extreme demand and pricing fueled by the Christmas season.
30 Years in the Making
Fast forward to the present, 2016. Nintendo announces the NES Classic Edition. A small version of the Nintendo Entertainment System they released in 1985. Thirty years later they are bringing the 8-bit system back and including 30 of the most popular games for the gaming system. 2 weeks before Black Friday, Nintendo is dropping this system on us. Plenty of time for the initial fury of sales on the product, only for demand to wipe out availability. Leading into Black Friday and beyond.
Undoubtedly, retailers will make some units available for Black Friday purchase. They will do this to bring people into their stores. But it won’t be many. Many will try, few will succeed. For the many that don’t luck out, they will turn to other alternatives. This is where the resale market comes into play. Sites like Ebay, Facebook, and Craigslist will see these NES Classic Edition posted for far beyond the price of $60 that they were purchased at.
Initially, these Classics will be posted for sale for astronomical prices. Sellers try to cash in on the high demand on the product. Hope to make possibly hundreds of dollars on their $60 investment, and they will. There will be people out there with cash to burn and care about nothing other than having the latest and greatest in demand toy/game system.
Little by little, the prices will come down. The craze priced ones will disappear, but they will still be put up for sale for 2 or 3 times their retail price. As Christmas gets closer and closer and the small amount of units that do appear on shelves are gone long before the word gets out that they are available. Parents that are desperate to get the Classic under the tree will have no choice but to shell out the premium price for the Classic to make sure Santa delivers.
Unlike the toys of the past, this one is different. It’s not just for the children who ask Santa for one. If anything, this system is not even geared towards children. Its target customer will be millennials. Those that had the original NES as a kid 30 years ago, and now have the chance to relive all those memories with the Classic and share the experience with their own children. So you have an even larger pool of potential customers that will be gunning for this gaming system.
Or, none of that will happen. Nintendo of 2016 will learn from the past. They will read the climate and demand for this system and produce enough units to keep them on shelves after the craze. Anyone and everyone can just walk through a store, see them on a shelf and decide to buy one.
Either way, Nintendo is going to kill it with this product this Christmas. This is going to be Nintendo’s “Elmo” this holiday season. I have no doubt the NES Classic Edition is going to sell like crazy and be the most popular toy under everyone’s Christmas tree. The only question that remains to be seen is how easily is it going to get there.