As Pokemon turns 25 years old, there’s a lot of celebratory things to look forward to. On VG247, we’re mostly focused on the games, which are providing us with an anniversary-fitting look back in Diamond and Pearl remakes while also casting an eye forwards to Pokemon Legends: Arceus - but the single anniversary element that’s grabbed me most powerfully is, of course, the trading cards.
The decision to release the ‘Pokemon Celebrations’ expansion is just such a no-brainer that it’s difficult to even give The Pokemon Company a lot of credit for it. But, we have to - by reissuing old cards, they’re scratching a specific and potent itch so firmly that I absolutely couldn’t resist. They’ve drawn me back in.
That’s no mean feat, really, given that I haven’t really actively bought any Pokemon Cards for a great many years. Back in the day, I was super into them - as a pre-teen, I’d trawl card meets every weekend, buying, selling, and swapping rare cards. My grandfather, always willing to entertain my hobbies, learned to play and had an impressive collection of his own. I’ve still got all of my original cards, including complete sets of the first five or six expansions.
At some point I fell off the game, and that was that - though I’ve always flirted with the online version, and was left quite excited by the prospect of that app being redeveloped into a more ‘proper’ gaming experience. I love a bit of Hearthstone and all that, but give me a digital version of the Pokemon TCG that functions as well as that and I know I’ll pump hundreds of hours into it.
But, anyway - yeah, the 25th anniversary ‘Celebrations’ expansion pack is ridiculously good, and is clearly precisely calibrated to rinse those with nostalgia for various eras of the trading card game of their hard-earned cash. The Celebrations set features reprints of classic cards - so for me, the holy grails are the reprints of Charizard, Blastoise, and Venusaur, looking exactly as they did back in their nineties ‘Base Set’ configuration, just with an extra 25th anniversary slapped on top. For others, different cards will tickle that bit of the brain that feeds voraciously on nostalgia - and I honestly think it’s brilliant to have a set that represents all eras, with every card reproduced almost exactly as it was.
Of course, my falling in love with this expansion set has been marred by scalper idiots. We all know the Pokemon Card market has been gradually expanding, underlined most boldly by some YouTuber spending a quarter of a million on a high-graded Charizard - but that means that the Pokemon TCG, like graphics cards, is now owned by scalper idiots.
What’s amusing to watch is how the prices tumble. On ebay, the prices of cards such as the Celebrations set Charizard have gradually tumbled to more reasonable levels. One ‘Elite Trainer Box’ was listed for over £1000; over twenty times its actual retail price. Naturally, it hasn’t sold - The Pokemon Company has wisely reacted to the demand and printed so many of these that it’s been relatively easy to get your hands on them - at least if you’re willing to sign up for email and tweet alerts, waiting poised like a ninja to order some cards within five minutes of them being restocked. Which, now I write it out like that, isn’t that easy after all. In fact, it kind of sucks.
After getting some and opening them, however… the joy is still there. There’s something about these cards, and the way they slot into the mantra of the Pokemon universe, that is just endlessly captivating. I’m gripped with The Fear as I can sense the gaping maw of The Pokemon Company yawning wide ready to swallow my wallet and kick off another addiction. I suppose we can call this 25th anniversary celebration a success, then. Well done.
Also… does anyone want to trade their Base Set reprint Charizard for a Base Set reprint Blastoise? I'll meet you on the playground at lunch break.