Pokemon TCG: Interview with Uri Geller – The return of Kadabra!

Uri Geller has long been a household name for his psychic abilities, fetes of illusion and energetic personality, with a career that spans almost 50 years. With such an impressive track record in the entertainment industry, it’s no surprise that some franchises have decided to pay homage to the mysterious man over the years. One such franchise was Pokemon, which included a pocket monster known as Yungerer in Japan and Kadabra in the West. The problem was, permission was never given for the use of Uri’s likeliness, which led to a $100 million lawsuit and resulted in Kadabra’s exclusion from the Pokemon TCG since 2003. In 2020, however, Uri had a change of heart and decided to allow Kadabra to go back into circulation after he was inundated with positive messages from the Pokemon community. Two years on, we are yet to receive a new Kadabra card, but after a recent phone call with Uri Geller, it appears that fans of the spoon-wielding psychic type may not have too much longer to wait.

The Kadabra Lawsuit – 

Ever wondered why most Alakazam cards are basic and don’t evolve from Kadabra? When the first Pokemon games were created, Game Freak, the developers of  Red/Green (and later Blue) most likely had no idea how high their game would soar in popularity. This is probably why they thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to base several Pokemon on real-life media personalities. One such Pokemon was Kadabra, which was based on Uri Geller. The very similar Japanese name ‘Yungerer’, and the fact that the psychic Pokemon held a spoon, made the inspiration undeniable. This led to Uri suing Nintendo in November 2000 in a $100 million lawsuit, as they had created the character without his permission. The success of the lawsuit meant that appearances of Kadabra would be limited and resulted in the Gen 1 Pokemon not having a new card since the 2003 Skyridge set. This means that to date, there have only ever been seven Kadabra cards introduced into the Pokemon TCG, making it one of the lowest featured Pokemon in the game, despite being part of the franchise for 26 years. 

Uri Geller Kadabra
Uri Geller Kadabra
Courtesy of Uri Geller (kadabra collection stored at the Uri Geller Museum)

At the Uri Geller museum in Israel, which showcases the extensive career of the illusionist and psychic, Uri displays a number of Kadabra figurines and cards, as well as the story behind the lawsuit in his own words –

‘In 1999, I was filming a millennium special in Tokyo. I visited a Pokemon store and was mobbed by hundreds of children shouting, “Un-Geller! Un-Geller!” At first, I thought that this was their pronunciation of my name, but then my Japanese agent showed me a Pokemon character called “Un-Geller” and said: “This is you”.

It seemed like Kadabra would stay in retirement forever, but in December 2020, Uri had a change of heart about the circulation of the Pokemon, reaching out to the Pokemon president Tsunekazu Ishihara with a kind letter releasing control of the character. During our phone call, Uri explained how he got in contact with the right people to free control over the Kadabra image –

“I have an Agent in Tokyo, Masako, who is a major businesswoman. I sent my letter to her and Pokemon sent two directors to pick it up. After reading my letter, they sent me their letter.”

The response was received by Masako, who has direct contact with the Pokemon Company. In the correspondence, it thanks Uri for generously allowing Kadabra to reenter circulation and opening the door to future Kadabra cards.  

Is Kadabra returning to the Pokemon TCG?

The question on everyone’s lips is, when is Kadabra returning to the Pokemon TCG? In the letter to Pokemon president Tsunekazu Ishihara, Uri explains that it was the sheer volume of emails showing love and support for the character that prompted his decision to free control. In the letter, he writes – 

‘Because I care very much and the fans of Pokemon, I give you permission to bring my card and image back into circulation. I don’t want any remuneration.’

Of course, that was two years ago and Kadabra is yet to be seen in a new card form. Now, it seems like the wait may be over, after Uri shared that a new Kadabra, after 20 long years, could be released soon.

“I constantly get emails, Mathew, from around the world, with kids, teenagers and grown-ups asking me: “When is your card, Kadabra and Yungeller, coming back?” So, I called Masako and asked her to call Pokemon and ask them when they are planning to release a new card. What I understood from her, and this could be in the realms of rumour, but she thinks it could be very soon.”

Kadabra has now been officially reinstated in all visual forms, which opens the doors to new Kadabra cards coming to the Pokemon TCG, which Uri believes could be soon. There is a chance that with the reveal of the ‘ex’ cards returning with the Scarlet and Violet series, Abra ex and its full evolution line, including Kadabra ex, could be the perfect poster children for the first set of the series. This would make Uri’s prediction of Kadabra’s imminent return more likely, as the set releases early next year. It is interesting that the original ‘ex’ mechanic launched in 2003 with the Ruby & Sapphire era of the TCG, which was the same year Kadabra was taken out of the TCG. Whenever the Pokemon does make its return, one thing is for certain – it will make Pokemon TCG history! 

At the end of our call, Uri hinted that something big was in the works for him and the Pokemon TCG, saying –

‘Very soon, there will be a mega surprise for all the Pokemon lovers, but I can’t yet say what it is. But you will know about it in the coming weeks.’ 

What could this big news be? With Uri involved with it, it’s most likely connected to Kadaba. This could be a special promo, a product endorsed by Uri, or some kind of collaboration with the ‘Save a Child’s Heart’ charity, which Uri raises money for. Of course, this is just speculation. 

Lamb Island and the future of Uri’s Pokemon adventure!

Travelling to a new continent to explore strange new lands (and their inhabitants) is a fixture of the Pokemon franchise. Well, since 2009, Uri has been living this adventure in real life after buying the remote and mysterious Lamb Island, located in the Firth of Forth, north of Edinburgh, Scotland. While telling me about the mysteries of the volcanic island, Uri shared an idea he had about burying a Kadabra card in weatherproof plexiglass so that, “people will discover it in 400 years from now, which will evoke amazing Pokemon memories!”

Image Credit: Google Earth

What is also exciting about this venture is that anyone can become an official citizen of Lamb Island, which Uri has turned into his own micro country. Among the famous citizens of Lamb Island are Peter Andre and Stephen Fry, with Uri being kind enough to share images of their citizenship certificates. 

Courtesy of Uri Geller (Taken at the Uri Geller Museum)

For as low as $1, you can become a citizen of Uri’s own country on Lamb Island and help children live through the ‘Save a Child’s Heart’ charity. ‘Save a Child’s Heart’ has saved the lives of over 6000 children to date, allowing open heart surgery for children with life-threatening heart conditions. While speaking with him, Uri also hinted that in the future, he wants to develop his country further to allow citizens to visit. To become a citizen and contribute to the ongoing fight to save young lives, visit Uri’s website www.UriGeller.com.

To keep up to date with all Pokemon TCG updates, as well as all other leading TCG news, make sure you follow Ludkins Media on Instagram or Facebook

Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media Editor-in-Chief

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