Get in line now: Toys R Us restocks the NES Classic Edition console on Sunday

Nintendo NES Classic Edition
A spokeswoman for Toys R Us confirmed with CNBC on Thursday that the popular toy store will have a limited supply of the highly sought-after $60 NES Classic Edition console this Sunday. It’s part of the chain’s Big Christmas Sale beginning December 4 and concluding on December 10. The spokeswoman said Toys R Us expects the console — along with Hatchimals selling for $60 each — to sell out right after the doors open at 8 a.m.

In addition to Toys R Us, Target is also shooting to get a new supply of the console soon too. “Target is actively working to meet guest demand, and will continue to replenish inventory throughout the season,” a spokesman for the chain told CNBC.

The NES Classic Edition is a sparkly new console from Nintendo that’s identical to the original Nintendo Entertainment System launched in the mid-1980s, only smaller. It comes with one “classic” NES controller, HDMI connectivity, and 30 pre-installed games spanning from Super Mario Bros. to the original Final Fantasy to the first Metroid installment.

And while owners can play these classics directly on an HDTV the same way we did on analog TVs decades ago, the new NES Classic Edition crowd receives an additional bonus: the ability to save the state of a game at any time. Because we live in a hectic, “constantly-on-the-go” digital world, Nintendo borrowed from the 3DS and added four slots to its revised console for suspending the current game indefinitely until players can return. Man, that would have been handy in the ’80s!

Sadly, you can’t have this console — at least, not right now. We previously spoke with several GameStop stores who said that Nintendo only provided a handful of units to begin with. Because of the extreme stock limitation, many stores posted signs on their doors the night before its release on launch day to reflect the units they had at hand. But that didn’t stop many gamers who lined up outside stores anyway on the following morning, waiting for the doors to open as if it were Black Friday.

Several local GameStop stores opened at 10 a.m. with about 12 units, only to be sold out by 10:30 a.m. A Toys R Us store had between 14 to 16 units to sell and the stock was quickly depleted. Best Buy wouldn’t provide numbers, but did admit that its stock was slightly higher than the numbers that the GameStop and Toys R Us received. The store manager also confirmed that customers were lined up outside the store long before the doors opened at 8:30 a.m.

What’s interesting is that the manager of a local Best Buy said his store didn’t receive phone calls about the NES Classic Edition console until just a few days ago. Calls continued after that, including our own.

It’s not surprising is that Nintendo released a very limited number of units. It’s a tactic to increase consumer demand: initially release a small quantity (tease) to dedicated customers (fanboys) so there’s inflated panic and excitement ahead of the following wave, which drives sales. Several stores we consulted felt this limited release purposely set up the console for huge numbers during the post-Thanksgiving shopping spree. After that, market saturation is expected.

On a hardware level, Nintendo presumably isn’t bottlenecked in the manufacturing process, as it would be in a similar scenario with the Nintendo Switch. The NES Classic Edition runs 8-bit games, after all. But according to the company, it’s “working hard” to keep up with consumer demand, which doesn’t make sense given the console’s 8-bit-focused hardware and overall size. The company pointed to a fuller release during the holiday season, backing the assumptions made by the retailers we contacted.

“There will be a steady flow of additional systems through the holiday shopping season and into the new year,” the company stated on Friday. “Please contact your local retailers to check product availability.”

Sorry Nintendo, we did that, and they’re presently clueless about your plans at the moment. Still, gamers eager to keep track of the new console’s availability should keep their eyes glued to the retail partners listed on Nintendo’s site including Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, and Walmart. Toys R Us, for some reason, isn’t on the list despite the fact that it’s selling the product.

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