A few days ago, Logan Paul spent another $3.5 million on sealed Pokemon cards. In February, he spent $2 million on first edition Base Set booster boxes which he auctioned and opened on stream. It was all a scam – he earned more in selling NFTs of himself than his initial outlay, and by my reckoning earned a healthy $10 million from the stream. But it was a signifier of something bigger – Pokemon cards are valuable now.
Rare Pokemon cards sell for extortionate amounts of money nowadays. They have to be rare and in good condition to reach the eye-watering figures the likes of Paul bandy about, but cards that are graded ‘gem mint’ by external companies can be worth as much as half a million dollars. The more people that open these sealed boxes, the more rare the cards get, and prices will only increase as we move forward.
However, this has had a knock-on effect on modern Pokemon cards. While perfect cards from the latest sets aren’t worth a fraction of a first edition Charizard, many people believe that they will be if they keep them sealed for 20 years. But that’s not the case.
Scalpers have ruined modern Pokemon card collecting, both online and in-person. People will queue up at shops to fill their trolleys with thousands of dollars worth of cards, leaving none for the genuine collectors or players who want to build competitive decks. Some of these selfishly bought cards get immediately flipped for profit due to the scarcity the buyers create, but many are kept sealed – a supposed investment for the future.
I get it. If I had a surefire way of spending 70 quid on something now that would be worth £200,000 in two decades’ time, I’d buy it too. But the people making these investments don’t understand why the Base Set cards have risen to such a price. You see, very few people kept Base Set booster boxes in mint condition – with shrink wrap and everything – back in the day. If a kid pulled a first edition Charizard, it would be handed around a hundred grubby fingers in the playground and be traded a dozen times before they eventually took it home at the end of the day. Despite some adults enjoying the TCG back in the day, very few people would pull any card and immediately double-sleeve it and store it safely away.
First edition cards from the earliest Pokemon sets are valuable because so few people kept them pristine – and nobody hoarded them. The sheer quantity of Chilling Reign or Fusion Strike sets that will be available in mint condition in 2041 will make them worthless. Fewer people are using Pokemon cards in the way they were intended, i.e. actually playing with them, and therefore their value will never take off in the same way.
So is your ‘investment’ really worth it? Or are you just denying a bunch of kids the chance to have the same fun we did when we were their age? Pokemon cards are made to be used – to be traded and played with, to get a bit worn around the edges, and to be eagerly opened up by children around the world, hopeful that their favourite monster might make an appearance. Cards are meant to be at the very least opened, not stored away in hermetically sealed containers to be resold decades later.
Maybe I’ll be wrong, and perhaps you ‘collectors’ can all send me a link to this article when you’re sitting in mansions’ swimming pools in 2050 and I’m just a Pokemonless pleb, but for the meantime I’m going to open up whatever cards I can get my hands on and actually have some fun.
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