Hobby Outposts from the North: 25 Years of PikachuHobby Outposts from the North: 25 Years of Pikachu – Generations don’t often agree with each other when it comes to  entertainment. Arguments can frequently break out over who was the better band – The Rolling Stones or Metallica, which medical showM*A*S*H* or ER – was superior, and which edition of Get Smart – the original TV series or the remake movie – was funnier. These arguments are natural.

If there is one thing that two generations can agree on though, it’s that Pokemon is an inexplicable craze.

If you’ve been living under a rock (or a Geodude) for the past 25 years, Pokemon are a mixed bag of creatures that emerged from Japan. Bulbapedia, a Wiki for all things Pokemon, describes the origins thusly:

It started simply enough as a hobby of Satoshi Tajiri, who as a child had a fondness for catching insects and tadpoles near his home in suburban Tokyo. Over time, Tajiri decided to put his idea of catching creatures into practice, to give children the same thrills he had as a child.

The Japanese sensation is rooted in three media – video games, cartoons and, of course, the collectible card game (CCG). The objective between the three is pretty universal – collect and battle for superiority. The key for our hobby, of course, is collect, which has become a pursuit comparable to those of sports card. No you’re not going to get battle-used pixel cards or a Meowth autograph (at least as far as I know), but there are some extremely rare cards to try to get your mitts on.

Perhaps the best known among these depicts Charizard from a 1999 release with a “shadowless” effect. Examples of this card in pristine condition have gone for insanely high prices in auctions, including a PSA 10 that went for – hold your breath – over $350,000.

The mania for that card may have originally been centered in the Pokeverse, but Logan Paul blew the collectability of the original set out of the water when he started buying up the few remaining sealed boxes.

Not surprisingly, with the 25th anniversary of the critters upon us, Pokebrass issued a commemorative set, through McDonald’s. One four-card pack was included in a Pikachu-themed Happy Meal, with one of the four cards being a holographic rendition. Just 25 cards are in the set with the most popular Pokemon – Squirtle, Charmander etc. – on the list.

The cards sparked a fervor in the U.S. with many collectors hitting social media, complaining about pack hoarders.Hobby Outposts from the North: 25 Years of Pikachu Still, there is such a high production rate that any kid wanting to do the set can pull off the feat fairly easily (well, except for the fact that, with a perfect hand,  you’d need to order nine Happy Meals).

So should anyone be surprised by the return to the mainstream of Pokemon mania (or, if you will, Pokemania)? Not really. There are so many factors that come into play: old seasons playing on Netflix; Nintendo ushering out new games on Switch; the at-home Covid factor that led to the similar resurgence of sports cards all come into play here.

The more important question, at least for collectors, is whether other games and TCG’s that were popular in the mid-90s will experience the same rebirth (for example Digimon).

Hobby Outposts from the North: 25 Years of Pikachu
Jon Waldman
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