The 1998 Vending Machine cards – Series 1

In 1998, while Pokemon fever continued to spread throughout Japan and western countries, the Pokemon company came up with several genius ways to market their trading card game. One way they did this was through the introduction of Pokemon vending machines all around Japan, which offered some incredibly unique cards to collectors. 

The first series of Pokemon vending machine cards are very different to any regular expansion, as they came on randomised sheets that the buyer had to peel off themselves to discover what cards they had pulled. Despite being known as the Vending Machine Series, which was a name created by fans and collectors, the official title is the ‘Expansion Sheet 1’. Series 1 of the vending machine cards were printed on glossy card stock, although many of the cards were later reprinted on non-glossy stock for other products. For example, the Bulbasaur card later appeared in the Green Deck of the Quick Starter Gift Set. 

Vending Machine Cards - Series 1

The first series of the Japan Vending Machine cards were released on March 23rd 1998 and included 36 cards in total. Each of the sheets of the Japanese Vending Machine cards belongs to a specific category, with sheet one to three belonging to the Professor Oak’s Laboratory area, four to six belonging to the Viridian Forest area, sheet seven to eight focusing on Mt. Moon, sheet nine to 10 including Pokemon from the Safari Zone, sheet 13 to 15 belonging to the Cerulean Cave area and the last three sheets focusing on the Pokemon found in Cerulean Cave.

Professor Oak’s Laboratory

Vending Machine Cards - Series 1
Vending Machine Cards - Series 1
Vending Machine Cards - Series 1

Viridian Forest

Vending Machine Cards - Series 1
Mr Mime

Mt. Moon

Vending Machine Cards - Series 1
Fossil Excavation
Moon Stone

 Safari Zone

Vending Machine Cards - Series 1
Vending Machine Cards - Series 1
Nidoran (male)
Nidoran (female)
Vending Machine Cards - Series 1
Vending Machine Cards - Series 1

 Cerulean Cave

Vending Machine Cards - Series 1
Vending Machine Cards - Series 1

Celadon City


Interestingly, a special expansion sheet could be purchased at the 1997 Next Generation World Hobby Fair held to promote the National Dome Cup Tournament, which took place at five venues throughout Japan. These cards are regarded as part of the Vending Machine series 1 and include  Pikachu, Mewtwo, and Mew unnumbered promo cards which are now nicknamed ‘Series 00’.

It is amazing to think that the Pokemon Card Game has been around for three decades without losing its popularity. This is down to the clever development of the franchise as a whole, which has continued to evolve along with its fans from each generation. Nostalgia is a powerful tool in the Pokemon TCG’s arsenal, which you can learn more about in our article here

To keep up to date with all future Pokemon TCG updates, as well as other TCG news, head over to our  Instagram or Facebook and follow us there. 

Mathew Parkes – Editor-in-Chief Ludkins Media

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