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The first Box Art Pokemon TCG cards – Generation I & II

Since the release of the original GameBoy games in 1998, the box art of every generation has become iconic, with a focus Pokemon donning the front and becoming the mascot of that particular title. Now, with the release of Legends:Arceus ushering in the next generation of the handheld Pokemon series, we take look back at the original games, the box art Pokemon and their first cards in the English TCG. 

Soon after the Pokemon anime started to air, every kid in the world seemed to have caught Pokemon fever and wanted everything Pokemon – the toys, the cards and the games. When the first Pokemon games hit Western parts of the world, not everyone was familiar with the Pokemon on the front of the boxes, although many would have guessed they were the evolutions of the adorable Charmander and Squirtle from Ash’s party. Back then, kids chose the version of the game that displayed their preferred Pokemon on the front of the box, regardless of the fact that you got to choose any of the three starters when beginning the game. These Pokemon were Charizard for Pokemon Red and Blastoise for Pokemon Blue. Later on, the special Yellow version came along with the fan favourite Pikachu stepping into the spotlight. 

Pokemon Box Art cards
Pokemon Box Art cards
Pokemon Box Art cards

The first versions of Charizard, Blastoise and Pikachu all released as part of Base Set in January 1999. On January 30th 2022, a PSA 10 copy of an Unlimited Base Set Charizard went for $12,500 on eBay. Although this is an eye-watering amount, the holy grail of English Pokemon TCG, 1st Edition Base Set Charizard in a PSA 10 has regularly sold for over $270,000 over the last two years – this card saw huge hype in 2020 when Logan Paul purchased a PSA 10 for $150,000. Raw copies of the Unlimited versions of this card have been selling for between $280 and $330 between December 2021 and January 2022. On February 1st, a raw 1st edition shadowless base set Blastoise sold for $675, while two PSA 10 Unlimited copies sold for $4,300 and $8,000 in January. The first Pikachu card to enter the English game, which shows the original and more stocky design of the Pokemon, has been selling for around $100 for the PSA 10 Unlimited copies. If you’re looking for a PSA 10 1st Edition Base Pikachu then things get more expensive, expect to pay anywhere upwards of $1000 for a yellow cheeks variant or $3000+ for a Red Cheeks.

In November, a 1st edition base set booster box sold for a record-breaking $432,000 through a PWCC Premier Auction, a sale which happened just a week after another booster box went for $312,000 on Heritage Auctions. To read more about these sales, check out our article here

Generation II – Gold, Silver & Crystal 

The Gold and Silver versions launched between 1999 and 2001, and injected 100 brand new Pokemon into the franchise. Soon after, these Pokemon made their debut with the Neo Revelation set, including the legendaries that appeared on the box art – Ho-Oh, Lugia and Suicune.

Although Suicune is just one of the three legendary dogs, it was this Pokemon that fronted the Pokemon Crystal game. The last near mint 1st edition copy of Suicune (14/64) from Neo Revelation sold for $90 over on TCG Player on January 1st, however, a copy of the same rarity did go for $160 after an accepted eBay offer on February 1st. Although we haven’t seen many PSA 10 sales of this card lately, a PSA 9 1st edition did sell for $799 on eBay last month. 

Near mint 1st edition copies of Ho-Oh (7/64) have been selling for around $125 on TCG Player, while eBay has been seeing sales of around $150. There haven’t been many 1st edition graded copies of this card up for sale, although there was a PSA 9 unlimited copy that sold for $268 on January 27th.1st edition copies of Lugia (28/64) have been selling more modestly lately, with the last near mint copies going for $20 on TCG Player and $41 on eBay. A 1st edition PSA 9 copy sold for $108 on December 5th, with another going for $102 on December 23rd. 

Although we have looked at the most valuable Ho-Oh, Suicune and Lugia cards that came with Neo Revelation, Ho-Oh and Suicune also came with an extra card each in the set. Suicune (27/64) has been selling for around $8, while Ho-Oh (18/64) is worth around $10

It will be interesting to see what video game titles will come in the future and the Pokemon that will take centre stage within them. Whatever the focus is, I’m certain its debuting cards will be popular among collectors and players alike. If you would like to see some of our other top pick articles, you can check out our articles below – 

Top 5 Pokemon TCG Arceus artworks

The most expensive Pokemon TCG Rainbow Rares

What’s the most expensive Star Birth card?

What’s the most expensive Pokemon promo card of 2021?

To keep up to date with all the latest Pokemon TCG news, as well as other products and releases, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media

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