Collecting. To bring or gather together. Nostalgia. A sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past.
The intriguing and compelling part about collecting cards is the fact that these items have more than just monetary value. These cards in your collection mean something, they link back to a specific moment in time. The exact period when you purchased it or the milestone that you achieved by doing so. These are the things that make people so invested, the ability to pick up a card from your desk, look at it and remember when you were 7 years old playing Pokémon at your friend’s house and saving pennies to open a booster pack (Read our interview with Leonhart who touches on this here).
The last 12 months have been incredibly taxing to every single one of us, whether that has taken the form of illness, financial struggles, or the sheer lack of excitement in the world due to the lack of experiences outside our own homes. Pokémon TCG has strived in this setting due to the comfort of reflecting back on easier times. The link to Pokémon and nostalgia is often brought up, I’ve reflected on this on multiple occasions – this time, however, I want to focus on the future.
It’s weird to think forward at the prospect of being nostalgic for 2020 yet the way nostalgia works means that we will find some fondness when we look back, no matter what. Heck, I’m nostalgic for March 2020 when I sat at home and watched Bojack Horseman for weeks on end. This brings me to the point of this article, the COVID era of Pokémon cards and what I believe to be the biggest image of modern Pokémon in 2020: Charizard VMAX from Champion’s Path.
Champion’s Path is a strange set, launching in September 2020 amid the Pokémon explosion the hype for the set was off the charts. Inside the packs, a chance at not one, but two of Pokémon’s TCG mascot: Charizard. If like me, you’ve opened many a pack of Champion’s Path only to be met with a guaranteed Machamp holo, don’t get me started on Scraggy, then I understand there’s a lack of fondness for the set. That being said, there’s something poetic about a holiday set launching during a pandemic when Pokémon was arguably at the highest of highs.
Back in September 2020, every YouTuber on the planet had a thumbnail with a rainbow Charizard VMAX. Some love it, some hate it – no one can argue the iconic imagery. For many, this will be the set that they first opened once returning to Pokémon TCG after a decade hiatus. For others, it’s the first big chase card they ever packed. Investment opportunities aside, this card will forever be the COVID-19 Rainbow Charizard, and there’s something quite poignant about that.
As we draw nearer to the launch of Shining Fates and a shiny variant of the same Charizard VMAX artwork, the hype for Champion’s Path has slowly started to dwindle. Elite Trainer Boxes can now be found at online retailers after a reprint, scalpers on eBay have had to reduce their prices and the realisation for many that it’s probably a better financial move to just buy both Charizards from the set rather than open up another booster pack containing Scraggy (I can’t shake this, I don’t like Scraggy!).
From an investment standpoint, nobody knows the future of these particular cards. However, from a nostalgic standpoint there may very well be a point in time where we can go to the cinema again, hug our parents, or even just go to the pub for a beer – When that time comes, we’ll look back at September 2020 and think about a Charizard VMAX, painted in rainbow colours plastered over the front of YouTube.
John-Anthony Disotto – Ludkins Media Editor