In 2016, Pokémon teamed up with their part-owner Nintendo to create a mashup promo between two of the world’s most beloved characters – your favourite Italian plumber Mario and Ash’s best friend Pikachu.
Originally released in October 2016 as a celebration of Pokémon’s 20th Anniversary, the mashup was unveiled across Japan with merchandise ranging from plush toys to special collection boxes. As you’d expect, the promotion was incredibly popular, becoming almost impossible to purchase for MSRP straight after release.
There are two variants of the Mario Pikachu Special Box, one with Mario and the other with his sometimes forgotten sibling Luigi. Each box includes a Full Art and Half Art version of the chosen brother, as well as a deck box and matching sleeves. Nowadays these boxes sell for over $3500 as a set, originally selling individually between the $20-$30 mark. The box itself has original artwork of Peach’s Kingdom where all characters have been replaced with Pokémon. Bowser is Blastoise, Peach now Diancie, and Toad his mushroom brother Foongus.
It’s easy to understand why a one of a kind promotion merging childhood favourites from multiple game universes is so popular nowadays – the set exemplifies nostalgia, perfect for any ‘90s kid who grew up on Nintendo 64 and Pokémon cards. I’ve touched upon the nostalgia aspect of collecting over and over again yet this promo set is an example of how nostalgia can play into demand for modern products in the same way XY Evolutions Booster Boxes saw a monumental rise in popularity last year.
The cards inside these boxes sell for substantial amounts when graded in a PSA 10 and there’s a lesson to be learned from this specific collaboration: When looking at collecting or investing, products that tie together multiple successful brands tap into the popularity of both. Nothing comes close in collaboration terms to mixing the most famous video game character of all time with the most famous Pokémon of all.
Who knows where the market price of these cards will be in the future but based on their collectibility and the emotional reaction they have with many, they will continue to be amazing modern collectibles for those that love Pokémon TCG and Super Mario alike.
With future collars such as Prankster Pichu on the horizon, it is important to note that not every collaboration will be a financial success. That being said, it’s the meaning that you put into the products you buy that make a collection successful, not emptying shelves to stock products for future gain. One simple example that we often overlook is the potential to hurt the future of the hobby due to the scarcity we create by purchasing whatever is available as we watch demand overshadow supply. If as a community we worry too much about the future of our investments and stockpiling products, we remove the ability for younger children to enter into Pokémon TCG – by doing this, there’s a chance that in 20 years they have no nostalgia for the products they could never even spot in a store. I’ll touch on this later, just remember to purchase what you love because you love it, by doing this the increase in value is an extension of your love for Pokémon TCG not the goal of it.
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John-Anthony Disotto – Ludkins Media Editor-in-Chief