For the longest time, it felt like collectors of Pokemon cards were secondary to players of the TCG in Pokemon’s eyes. New TCG mechanics would come out, card layout would be changed, but there was little innovation in card dynamics. Full Art EX cards, while beautiful, existed for close to five years and two whole eras of the TCG. Bland GX Full Art cards followed, marking a step backwards for collectors. A somewhat collector-focused set would come every now and then such as Evolutions and Shining Legends, but overall from Black & White up to the Tag Team era, collectors were by far and away Pokemon’s forgotten market.
Over the past year, however, Pokemon seems to have discovered the massive untapped demand of collectors–not only have they built more products positioned towards collectors, they have done so incredibly well. Special art cards were revived not only for Tag Team Pokemon cards, but regular ultra rares. An incredibly wide selection of artists are employed for special art cards, making each one beautiful but also unique. Their relative rarity makes them more desirable for collectors, but since a large number of special art cards are included in each set, it is not overly difficult to pull one. However, special arts are not the only way Pokemon has stepped up with art–even common and uncommon cards now feature beautiful art from a wide range of artists. Gone are the days of stock Ken Sugimori art on a computer-generated background.
With special arts, improved artwork across common cards, and top-notch selection of Pokemon for main sets, Pokemon has made almost every set exciting for collectors. There is no Sun & Moon: Crimson Invasion or Black & White: Emerging Powers in the special art era, and I am confident in saying there never will be. In addition to this, Pokemon is now producing collector-focused sets more frequently and with high-level quality. Celebrations is arguably the most exciting set for collectors ever produced. Offering a small set list and iconic reprints from throughout the Pokemon era, Celebrations offers collectors of all ages the opportunity to pull the cards they grew up with. As vintage Pokemon products have exploded in value, Celebrations not only offers this opportunity, but does it at a much more accessible price point. From all indications, it appears as if Pokemon is committed to printing large numbers of Celebrations product to make it as accessible as possible.
The changes Pokemon has made to set design and product over the past several years, but especially over the last year, has made it more fun than ever to collect modern Pokemon cards. The variety of art styles means there is so much to choose from, and new sets like Celebrations provide outstanding collecting experiences. We can only hope these changes are permanent and that collectors remain well-served by Pokemon in the future.
Ethan Pohl – Ludkins Media
Follow Ethan on Instagram and Twitter @fourthstartcg
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