It’s no news that Pokémon saw an incredible resurgence in popularity in 2020’s trading card market. Everyone got in on the action, including celebrities and entertainers such as Steve Aoki, Logic, and Logan Paul. Across social media and streaming platforms, live content and “box-breaks” took off allowing collectors the opportunity to watch and buy into live Pokémon breaks.
So, what’s next in the world of Pokémon? I’m going to explore some key 2020 sales, highlight products to look out for, and suggest some unique opportunities for your collection. I’d love to hear from you (I’m @laurrrrmeow on Instagram) if you need advice on your collection, or come across any newly discovered Charizards!
2020’s Biggest Sales
PIKACHU ILLUSTRATOR CARD
At a record-breaking $233,244, the Pikachu Illustrator card broke the internet and went down in history as one of the most important single Pokémon sales ever. The Pikachu Illustrator card is incredibly rare, as it was given out as a prize only to winners of a 1998 illustration contest. It is estimated that only 20-39 of these exist in the world and even fewer that remain in PSA-high grade condition.
1ST EDITION SEALED BOOSTER BOXES
The OG for most collectors is Pokémon’s inaugural 1999 Base Set. Base Set soared as collectors and entertainers chased after increasingly-rare sealed products, with 1st Edition Sealed Booster Boxes leading the way, now commanding at least $300,000 in the open market. With the growing popularity of community box breaks, the 1st Edition Base Set product is becoming incredibly scarce in sealed format, fueling explosive price growth. If the trend of “unboxing” continues, the supply will continue to run thin on early-era Pokémon sealed products.
Pokémon Cards to Watch
There is no denying Charizard is one of the only Pokémon to hold value and interest no matter what era or set it comes from. The holy grail is the 1999 Base Set First Edition Shadowless Holo which sells for upwards of $25k based on its condition. More than 20 years later, the big guy has the hobby on fire (no pun intended) making a popular appearance in
Champion’s Path, which can barely stay in stock in retail locations. If you’re lucky, you can find a Champion’s Path Elite Trainer box at retail ($50) on the shelves at your local Target or Walmart giving you a chance to pull one of these fiery beasts. There are many key Charizard cards from over the years, so it’s important to research their differences in rarity and value. You can’t go wrong collecting Charizard as you will always find new opportunities to add to your collection.
1ST EDITION PIKACHUS
I purchased a 1st edition Jungle Pikachu in a PSA 10 on October 12th for just under $500. On October 18th, it sold at auction for $950. It almost doubled in price in under a week. Now with any dramatic price increase, you should think carefully about what the price reflects. From being Ash’s starting Pokémon in the anime to starring in the Detective Pikachu movie, Pikachu is iconic and a natural starting point for collectors entering the market. As the 1st Edition Base Set Pikachu starts to become too expensive for most collectors, they will look towards other desirable Pikachu cards. 1st Edition Jungle is one example, but there are a lot of incredibly fun Pikachu promo cards and holo releases.
Promo cards are a major part of Pokémon, with the majority being Japanese-exclusive. Some promo cards (like the Illustrator) tend to be very exclusive due to the fact that they are produced in limited quantities for special events, sometimes unavailable to the general public.
Japanese Promo cards have been causing quite a stir in 2020. I recently purchased the Lillie & Clefairy Pokémon Dream League Promo back in September for $25 and we’re seeing bids at Auction already for $120 in PSA 10. Another Promo Card released this year was the Eevee Futsal, only available in the UK. This exclusive card was only given out if you were a registered Club team for The FA Pokémon Youth Futsal Programme. These cards are already seeing strong price growth, and word on the street is that the Pikachu Futsal promo card is next to be released!
Another hot promo this year was the Special Delivery Pikachu card, and it was FREE. If you follow me on Instagram (@laurrrrmeow), you know I gave early access and details on how to snag one via my story. If you didn’t catch it, stay tuned as I release promos and special deals on a daily basis. Charizard is next and it’s going to break the internet. Believe it or not, this promo was absolutely free with any purchase over $20 on pokemoncenter.com, but you had to know where to look. The card was under a “hidden category” and quickly went out of stock as soon as word got out. If you were lucky enough to get one, consider holding on to it. This free card is now selling on eBay for $130 raw and the scarcity of the card could drive the price up well into the new year. The free bundle also came with a Pikachu Christmas ornament. Check it out below.
If you can get your hands-on sealed products from early-era Pokémon in 2020, you have gold! Some sealed products to consider investing in are Japanese Base Set Starter Decks (did you know you get a random holo in each one?!) and older sets (depending on your price range). The newer products to look out for are Hidden Fates and Champion’s Path, and the exciting new Vivid Voltage.
My number one tip whether you’re just starting to invest in Pokémon, or you’re expanding on your personal collection, is to collect what you love, and not just buy what’s popular. No matter what is happening in the market, it is important to consider what matters most to you as a collector. If you are investing in this market, start with cards or sealed products that have some level of rarity. Whether it’s 1st Edition Base graded cards or exclusive promos – it’s hard to go wrong. If you are just starting out or have a small budget, I would suggest entering the market gradually. Educate yourself on promo releases and try to build a unique collection. Build on that gradually, accumulate some binder pieces that mean something to you and keep your cards in mint condition. Pokémon is redefining the definitions of modern art and investing and 2021 is going to be another revolutionary year!
Do you collect Pokémon cards? Check out COMC’s selection of over 20,000 different Pokémon cards at comc.com/cards/pokemon. If you’re looking to cash in on your collection, COMC actively accepts your Pokémon cards for consignment, including CGC graded cards! For more information about consigning trading cards with COMC, visit comc.com/sell.