2022’s first Pokemon TCG expansion, Brilliant Stars is just over a month away. That means the brand new VSTAR mechanic is nearly upon us. VSTAR brings in a new era for Pokemon TCG with cards that expand on the V and VMAX variants we’ve seen throughout the Sword & Shield era. In this article we’re going to take a look at Gold Star cards, the spiritual predecessor to VSTARs and some of the most highly sought-after Pokemon cards in history.
In October of last year Pokemon TCG: Celebrations brought back huge waves of nostalgia for Pokemon TCG players and collectors alike. In Celebrations, we were given access to two Gold Star cards. The first, a promo included with Celebrations Elite Trainer Box became the first new Gold Star release since POP Series 5 in 2007. Speaking of POP Series 5, Celebrations also introduced a special subset of 25 cards that are close remakes of iconic cards from the history of the Pokémon TCG one of which was the elusive Umbreon Gold Star, this time with a holographic and full textured pattern.
So what exactly are Gold Stars?
The cards themselves launched in 2004 during the EX era and EX Team Rocket Returns as an even rarer secret rare for the set. The cards show a small gold star, hence the name, next to the name of each Pokemon in their shiny variant, the first time since Neo Destiny in 2002. These cards were also tied in with Delta Species, a mechanic which shifted the typings of traditional Pokemon types.
Including the new Greninja Gold Star promo from Celebrations, there are currently 28 English Gold Star Pokemon cards all illustrated by Masakazu Fukuda who used different angles and the EX style of art to give a 3D effect to the Pokemon as they protrude the card frames.
Gold Stars are incredibly rare, with a pull rate (depending on the set) of one Gold Star every two booster boxes. Taking into account that sealed booster boxes of the EX era of Pokemon currently sell for tens of thousands of dollars it’s no wonder Gold Stars are so expensive to obtain.
After the highs of Pokemon TCG’s boom over the last two years, Gold Star Rayquaza in a PSA 10 now sells for over $40,000, and just a few months ago a BGS 9.5 Japanese Umbreon Gold Star sold for $70,000 on PWCC Auctions. The Japanese versions of the Eeveelutions (Flareon, Jolteon, Vaporeon, Espeon, and Umbreon) are the hardest cards to obtain due to their release as tiered prize cards to members of the Pokemon Players Club in Japan. Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon would later be reprinted in Japan although Umbreon and Espeon did not.
To originally receive a Japanese Eeveelution, players would need to attend weekly events to rack up points that could be exchanged for promotional cards, five of which were the highly sought-after Gold Stars.
Whilst Gold Stars are far and beyond VSTARs, it’s cool to see Pokemon TCG pay homage to their past and bring in cards that have a retro feel and look. Are you excited for the future of the VSTAR mechanic?
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John-Anthony Disotto – Ludkins Media Editor-in-Chief