Pokémon turns 25, here’s what the anniversary could mean for your card collection

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    Pokémon is moving into its 25th year.

    The quarter-century anniversary of the 1999 Pokémon release in the U.S. marks the brand as officially “vintage,” which has collectors assessing the value of their cards and other collectible items.

    Nat Turner, CEO of Collectors, a third-party authentication grading company in New York, expressed his optimism about the upshot in Pokémon’s value in an interview with Fox News Digital.

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    Pokémon cards are an “incredibly important cultural collectible,” Turner said, as children in the late ‘90s embraced their collections as part of a “global phenomenon.”

    Now, 25 years later, these kids are “all grown up” and have “a little more disposable income” to spare, he said.

    Pokémon was originally released in Japan in Feb. 1996. The first base set made its way to the U.S. in 1999. (Ken O’Connor / Fox News)

    “My parents would always say, ‘Buy gold,’ but that’s kind of boring,” he said with a laugh. 

    “You’d probably rather have stuff that takes you back to when you were a kid. Nostalgia is a very powerful drug for a lot of collecting folks.”

    Turner considers Pokémon collectibles to be in their own “asset class,” especially the cards that are now dubbed vintage, he said.

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    These older cards are being sold based on grade, quality and rarity rather than the game-play element, Turner said.

    Certain Pokémon cards have seen a large spike in value recently, according to Turner and Goldin Auctions pop culture lead Jared Mast.

    logan paul pokemon card

    This lone PSA 10 1998 Japanese Promo Pikachu-Holo Illustrator copy in the world is owned by Logan Paul, which he purchased for $5.2 million, according to Collectors. (Collectors / Fox News)

    Mast, who is based in Florida, told Fox News Digital that he’s seen cards exceeding five to 10 times their original value for the last several years.

    “A lot of people who grew up with these things are into their moneymaking years,” he said. “They’re also connecting with their children over Pokémon, [as they are] still involved in the game.”

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    “It reconnects people to their childhood. It creates nostalgia,” Mast went on. “And that increases the market for Pokémon, which is the largest IP [intellectual property] on Earth by far.”

    Pokémon cards that are in good condition are “highly scarce,” which adds to their individual value, he added.

    A Nov. 2023 Goldin auction featured a rare illustrator card – a 1999 Pokémon Japanese Promo Corocoro Best Photo #1 Snap Bulbasaur – which was on the auction block for $51,000.

    1999 charizard card

    PSA’s price guide provides an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000 for PSA 10 Charizard examples, according to the company Collectors. (Collectors / Fox News)

    Mast has seen cards go for “upwards of even seven figures,” he said.

    “Routinely, we see Pokémon cards sell for over six figures,” he said. “There is a lot of collectible interest and enough of a market that you see these kinds of sales for multiple different cards.”

    Turner added that there are “plenty” of 1999 cards that are worth close to $1 million.

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    Just two weeks ago, a Pikachu illustrator card “walked into” the Collectors Tokyo office and was graded an 8 PSA (professional sports authenticator) out of 10, Turner said.

    The near-mint card sold within one week for $750,000. Only around 40 of them were produced.

    “It’s truly like a piece of art,” Turner said. “That’s a perfect example of scarcity meets cultural zenith.”

    Hallmarks of value

    There is nowhere to go but up for the Pokémon brand, according to Turner and Mast, as it continues to pique the interest of ‘90s kids and Generation Alpha alike.

    “I would imagine the cycle is just going to continue … as people are kind of reestablishing their childhood connections,” Mast predicted.

    pokemon cards

    The CEO of Collectors called nostalgia a “very powerful drug,” especially for collectors. (Nicole Pelletiere/Fox News Digital / Fox News)

    Even new cards pulled by the younger generation will likely accumulate in value over time, according to Mast.

    Countries outside the U.S. have also bought in on the phenomenon. Turner said that 85% of all cards submitted for PSA are Pokémon cards.

    While the baseball card hype set a timeless trend in American collectibles, Turner said the value of any type of sports card will be dependent on the featured player’s performance during any given season.

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    “Pikachu doesn’t ever have a bad game or a bad season,” he said. “Sports cards are very much tied to the performance of a real human. Pokémon is not.”

    Baseball great Mickey Mantle had his 1952 rookie card sell for $12.6 million in 2022, ESPN reported — and Turner projected that another 25 years could mean an even larger surge in value for Pokémon.

    pokemon cards on display

    Collectors CEO Nat Turner projected a $10 million Pokémon card by the franchise’s 50th anniversary. (Ken O’Connor / Fox News)

    “I think you’re going to have a $10 million Pokémon card,” he said. “I wouldn’t doubt that at all.”

    “The kids aren’t going to care about that Mickey Mantle card as much as they will about Pikachu and Charizard,” he added. “That generation’s going to transition from those cards to the next, so it’s a really big moment.”

    Mast said Pokémon cards are the “most graded” on Earth – more than all sports cards combined – which makes it “hard to even fathom” where the market might go.

    “We’re still only at the gestation of it,” he said.

    Investing tips

    If you’re thinking about scouring the attic for your old Pokémon binder, the experts noted what to look for in potentially valuable cards.

    Mast encouraged collectors to recruit help from an expert who “has your best interests” in mind, such as from an auction house where their “interests are aligned.”

    “You don’t want to see money go out the window by selling it to someone who … is just going to try and make a profit on you,” he told Fox News Digital.

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    The cards lose their value the more they’ve been tampered with and played with, Turner noted, so collectors should store high-value cards in plastic card savers.

    The expert recommended looking up the estimated value of a card that is in good condition and has a rare element – and to take it one step further by getting it authenticated and graded.

    pokemon cards in plastic

    A collectibles expert noted that the cards lose their value the more they’ve been tampered with, so collectors should store high-value cards in plastic card savers. (Ken O’Connor / Fox News)

    For those who are interested in purchasing Pokémon cards, Turner advised people to “collect what you like.”

    “Don’t just get into it blindly and buy everything you see,” he said. “Stick to the things that you connect with.”

    Those looking to invest should research pricing and grades and should only purchase authenticated items, Turner said.

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    “There are a lot of counterfeits,” he said. “The more expensive the item, the more you should take authentication and grading seriously.”

    He added, “Focus on scarcity and … [on] the blue-chip stuff, where it’s undeniable that these cards will be popular and worth something 25 years from now.”

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    As with art, wine, watches, handbags and other collectible categories, Turner said the same rule applies: “The more scarce something is, the more likely it has upside.”

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