“There is an incredible shift, many wealthy people aged 39-42 would rather have a Charizard Holo 1st edition PSA 9 than a piece of modern art (…) and express their wealth through graded sports, Pokémon, and alternative cards. This effect will trickle down.”American Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee)
A very impactful quote that has led many newcomers to the trading card hobby to take a step back and think about the physical items they now own in their home.
A Pokémon card, a print of an original piece of artwork printed onto a playing card and distributed through booster packs or special events. 20 years ago, if someone had attempted to make a comparison between a Charizard and a piece of modern art they would have been laughed out of the room. 20 years later and there is a real discussion to be had about alternate investments and buying into Pokémon TCG.
For many, owning a card they could never have afforded as a child is an incredibly fulfilling achievement. That elusive Base set Blastoise that you always wanted but could never afford. That Base set Charizard Jimmy in the playground refused to trade as his collection grew at a much faster rate than anyone else’s thanks to his uncle working for Pokémon (you know the Jimmy I’m talking about) – now these children have hard-working jobs and expendable income with the ability to spend over $1000 on a collectible trading card.
When thinking about a Pokémon card as a piece of art, there is one particular modern promo set that blurs the lines to an average consumer more than any other: 2018 Munch: A Retrospective.
Edvard Munch, the Norwegian painter famously known for his painting “The Scream” has inspired popular culture through cinema (the mask worn in the film Scream is a novelty mask created in 1991 as a reference to Munch’s painting), television (The Scream character appears in multiple The Simpsons episodes), and since 2018, Pokémon.
There are 5 cards in the Munch: A Retrospective collection, some harder to acquire than others. Eevee, Rowlett, and Psyduck were acquired by purchasing 2 expansion packs from the Pokémon Center in Japan. Mimikyu was obtainable by purchasing a mini binder themed around the collection. And finally, Pikachu was distributed to visitors of the exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum during Pokémon Week, which ran from December 10 until 16, 2018. The card was limited to 1 per person.
Initially, these cards were easy to obtain but have seen a large increase in value over the last 12 months as the hobby becomes increasingly mainstream. A PSA 10 Pikachu now sells for over $1500 on eBay and Mimikyu, due to its packaging leading to a PSA 10 scarcity is selling for over $1700.
When thinking about the last year of Pokémon TCG, it’s no surprise that this promo set, in particular, has gained widespread popularity. With casual collectors joining the fray, a card representing real-life artwork is as close to a merging between Pokémon and art that’s available on the market. When someone stumbles across an image of a Munch: A Retrospective for the first time they think about “The Scream” painting rather than a Pokémon card – this creates intrigue for those interested in Pokémon and those that happen to stumble upon it.
These cards are the most explicit example of Pokémon as an artform that springs to mind and, as a set create a beautiful piece to display rather than lock away in storage. For those connected to the world of TCG there are many more cards out there that emphasise the artform more than Munch: A Retrospective, for those passing through, it epitomises it.