With the imminent release of “New” Pokemon Snap on April 30th, the nostalgia is about to hit incredibly hard for a lot of ’90s kids. That makes it a perfect time to take a look back at some of the rarest cards in the Pokemon TCG world: Pokemon Snap promos from 1999, with only twenty of each card, ever printed.
Let’s start with a bit of background. Most of us grew up with Pokemon Snap on Nintendo 64, for those that didn’t it’s a rail shooter-style game where you take photographs of Pokemon in the wild to fill your photo album.
Originally released in 1999 in Japan and North America, the game would go on to sell millions of copies worldwide and give aspiring trainers everywhere one of their first glimpses at a 3D Pokemon world.
To promote the game, Coro Coro Magazine hosted a contest to spur creativity within budding photographers. Five winners would each receive 20 Pokemon Snap cards from the Japanese Base Set with their photos from the game as an illustration.
Around the same time, 64 Mario Stadium, a TV variety show hosted a similar competition which led to five more winners. Unlike the Coro Coro competition, the exact number in existence is unknown but believed to also be 20.
The lack of copies in circulation means that we rarely see copies for sale in Japan, let alone in the West. We reported an auction on Yahoo! Japan Auctions back in January for a Charmander Promo that would go on to sell for roughly $75,000 in a near-mint condition.
Throughout the years, more information has surfaced surrounding these cards. That being said, Ludkins Collectables has been very vocal about the journey towards having these elusive Pokemon Snap contest cards acknowledged by grading companies like PSA. Up until September 2019, PSA refused to grade the Charmander, Squirtle, and Articuno cards from the contest due to contradictions between the physical cards and an official image in “The Silver Bible”, a Japanese Pokemon TCG art book from 2000. More information regarding these cards and grading can be found in an in-depth piece here.
As of writing this article, the PSA population report shows one Charmander in graded form, four Squirtles, two Koffings, two Chanseys, and four Articunos. Information from Smpratte on Elite Fourums shows one winner’s 15 raw Poliwags so whilst they are not in a PSA slab we have photo evidence of their existence. For further information related to the distribution of these cards, check out the post from 2016 here.
When the Pokemon Snap sequel was originally announced, we discussed the possibility of a 2021 Pokemon SNAP card competition however, with the release this month this looks to be out of the question. That being said, The Pokemon Company could host a competition to promote the game and boost nostalgia for their 25th-anniversary celebrations.
Will you be picking up a copy of “New” Pokemon Snap on April 30th?
John-Anthony Disotto – Ludkins Media Editor-in-Chief