Pokemon TCG: Celebrations released to huge success and an overall positive response last month. The set, which features reprints of some of Pokemon TCG’s most famous cards, has a high pull rate and a small number of cards making for a fun experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome. With product releases spread apart, the final release hits stores today, Friday 22nd October, and with that comes the most anticipated Pokemon TCG product of 2021, the infamous Pokemon TCG: Celebrations – Ultra Premium Collection.
Back in July, Celebrations preorders started hitting online storefronts after the initial announcement of the set’s existence. Like many, I jumped online looking to preorder the products I wanted for my collection. The largest and most expensive product happened to be an Ultra-Premium Collection (UPC) similar to the gold Sword & Shield UPC we had seen earlier in the year. After quickly glancing at the contents and spotting “two commemorative metal cards featuring base set Pikachu and Charizard”, I placed a preorder at a local game store. The Ultra Premium Collections retail for £150 in the UK and $149.99 in the US, these are by no means cheap products and the LGS I used took payment leaving a £150 hole in my wallet.
As the months went on information began to surface surrounding the low quantities of products to expect in the initial wave of Celebrations but more importantly for the Celebrations Ultra Premium Collection as a whole. Allocations for products are fairly simple to understand. Each country has their main distributor, in the UK the company is called ASMODEE, and shops place orders with a distributor based on the amount of each product they wish to obtain for sale. Once the orders are in, the Pokemon Company alerts the distributor with quantities of products and the distributor decides how to distribute the products between their clients (the stores). This can cause problems when stores sell X amount of products without knowing how many they’ll receive for sale, in the case of the Celebrations Ultra Premium Collection between one and five boxes per store (large retailers aside).
In the build-up to Pokemon TCG: Celebrations launching on October 8th 2021, official images of the collector’s box alongside the Gold Pikachu and Pokeball promos, and finally the metal Pikachu and Charizard cards started to appear. As more and more people started to pay attention to the UPC, the hype continued to build.
For most people, Pokemon fan or not, Charizard is the king of Pokemon TCG. So when casual fans and scalpers looking to make a quick buck cottoned on to a box containing a metal commemorative Charizard to celebrate the 25th Anniversary the chance at getting one for retail became near impossible.
At the start of this week, the LGS I had preordered my box with finally decided to cancel my preorder and send my money back. Bear in mind, most stores received their allocation a couple of weeks prior yet this one decided to hold my money that little bit extra (not like four months was enough already).
With this newfound disappointment, I had five days to source an Ultra Premium Collection. A huge challenge considering the lack of products allocated to stores and the difficulty of beating numerous bots online. I started to contact stores in my area to see what the situation was. Most stores had sold out completely or had one to two boxes for sale at 9 am on Friday morning, not ideal considering the cold winter weather beginning to hit the UK. One store, which I won’t name, told me that they had sold a UPC early to a customer after the customer spotted it behind the till. They told me that they didn’t take preorders nor would they have any for sale, yet somehow someone had managed to snag it up unfairly before the public even received the opportunity.
This under the table exchange of UPCs and other highly in demand Pokemon TCG: Celebrations products like the Pikachu VMAX Premium Figure Collection is becoming more and more prominent with the rise in popularity and prices of Pokemon TCG. Some stores haven’t even released one UPC because they’ve all been snapped up by employees or owners alike.
On top of this, there’s the huge scalper problem that has been prominent for the last couple of years and overly discussed at this point. It’s no surprise that sellers on eBay have multiple Ultra Premium Collections for sale at double MSRP – and people want them so they’re selling!
For a box worth £150 MSRP, there is no surprise that everyone and their gran is trying to pick one up with sealed boxes selling for upwards of £300. The Gold Pikachu V and Pokeball SWSH promos are currently selling for around £100, the Gold metal Base Set Pikachu and Charizard cards for around £200 currently, and then there are 17 packs of Celebrations + 8 other Pokemon TCG packs. The Celebrations Ultra Premium Collection is a great deal, it’s just too bad it can’t be bought for a reasonable price.
After trying every local store and even making an Excel document with locations I could try on Friday morning I finally lucked out on a company called Chaos Cards who dropped their products at an announced time for everyone to try and buy. I have no idea how I was fast enough considering the Celebrations Ultra Premium Collection sold out in the space of half a minute. This however is a good example of how to conduct an online store: wait for your allocation to be confirmed and sell the items you know you have. By selling products and taking money for orders that you can’t fulfil causes disappointment, financial annoyance, and is just sheer disingenuous.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I put in the effort to secure a box and I’m happy that I managed. That being said, I can’t help but feel a little disheartened by the hundreds of comments I’ve seen on social media today alone with people unable to purchase the one product they so desired as others sit on a cash cow. If Pokemon TCG: Celebrations has taught us anything, it’s that Pokemon is meant to be fun and exciting alone or with others. Queuing for hours only for someone to purchase all the stock in front of you, list them on eBay in the car park, and walk away with twice the amount of money they paid for the products a mere hour before – That’s no fun.
John-Anthony Disotto – Editor-in-Chief
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