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Collectors Corner: Pokemon Cards

Collectors Corner
Collectors Corner

Considered one of the most successful media franchises in history, the Pokémon universe is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and it’s creating a marketing problem for some retailers.

The characters made their first appearance in Japan in February 1996 in the Pocket Monsters: Red (aka Pokémon Red) and the Pocket Monsters: Green (aka Pokémon Blue) cartridges for Nintendo’s hand-held Game Boy system. (Just remember: they’re “Pocket Monsters” in Japan, and “Pokémon” everywhere else.)

Players were designated Pokémon Trainers, whose task it was to capture regional and national Pokémon species (creatures), and then train a team composed of their best and strongest Pokémon to battle teams assembled by other Trainers with the goal of winning the Championship.

In the quarter century since, several “generations” of characters and gameplay concepts have been created, and the franchise has branched out into television (anime), films, musicals, board games, comics (manga), theme parks, and trading cards. Now, in celebration of this year’s anniversary, a plethora of products featuring a new generation of Pokémon are being released, including highly anticipated sets of trading cards.

The cards are being released at a time when trading cards – especially Pokémon and sports cards – are experiencing a surge in popularity among both collectors and speculators and are generating record prices at auctions.

While it might be expected that a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card would sell for a record $5.2 million, what explains a 2003 LeBron James rookie card also selling for $5.2 million?

Or a 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Tom Brady for $2.25 million?

Or a 1995 Pokémon Charizard card for the $493,230 that it did earlier this year? (Yes, that 1995 date is correct. It’s the date of the original copyright.)

Pundits have surmised that a combination of Covid-cabin-fever, extra disposable income from federal economic impact payments, and reduced consumer spending in other areas has generated bubbles in collectibles such as trading cards. Whatever the reason, merchants are finding it hard to keep up with demand, and some retailers, such as Target, have had to restrict access to card sets (of all kinds) to prevent hoarding and outright fights.

We recently spied a brand-new, fully-stocked Pokémon card display at our local Walmart; when we returned two days later, it was gone.

Will the current interest in trading cards last, and for how long, no one knows, but this might be a good time to check all those boxes of “stuff” you stashed under your bed or in the closet when you were a kid. At the very least, you’ll finally get around to doing some much-needed cleaning; on the other hand, you might be more than pleasantly surprised.

Happy Hunting!


Baseball cards are booming during the pandemic (Chicago Tribune) – Packs of cards are selling-out within days.

Identifying Early Pokémon Cards (RelentlessDragon.com) – Easy to follow; clear graphics.

The Official Pokémon Website (Pokemon.com) – News includes events celebrating Pokémon’s 25th anniversary.

And here’s a tutorial on how the game is played:

Michele Alice
Michele Alice
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more!