Collecting Pokemon Cards

Pokémon Cards were released in English in 1998.
In 1998, they were an immediate success and were massive in schools in the UK with kids turning up with their elastic-band covered bundles, ready for trades and to show off their shinies.

Having collected football stickers for many years it was the new and ‘in’ thing and seemed like the natural thing to do. I still remember my first encounter with the fabled Charizard (base set) card.
It was the holy grail of cards back in those days. I managed to trade a bundle of about 100 mostly rubbish “commons” and “uncommons” for it, which thinking back was hilarious but the kid was older than me so he either didn’t care or didn’t have a clue of it’s worth. Either way, I got it! I was King for a day.

When the Fossil expansion was released, one of my friends had a holographic Dragonite Card, which looked pretty awesome. I had to have it. After some sophisticated pitching, he accepted a large bundle of my duplicates plus the Gyarados deck holo, and he went for it. I was hooked.

At the age of 13, you’re pretty much collecting for the sake of it, and I guess it’s a consumer-based psyche of the need to collect things and to keep up with your friends, but it does bring people together in a common goal and shared enjoyment.

Have you ever noticed that if you like collecting things, like trading cards you also like playing computer games where you have to invest in your character, and develop it over time and.. wait for it.. collect things? I’m sure there is a condition for that. Of course all of the Pokémon Computer Games for Gameboy, DS, Switch etc. all excel in player investment and the joy of completing or collecting something. Take a look at Pokémon Go and how that brought people together with the shared joy and need to complete the Pokédex. They’re on to something there. Neopets?! Digimon?! Same thing.

I digress –

The collecting of Pokémon Cards.

If you’re going to collect Pokémon Cards, you’ll probably fall into one of two camps of people.

Camp AThe careful & Patient Gatherer
The first, will carefully review what needs to be collected and will go about it in a logical manner. They might look for specific cards or occasionally buy booster packs. The expansion will be completed when it’s completed. They’re patient.

Camp BThe energetic and Impulsive Hunter
The second type of person, is probably equally as interested in collecting, but wants to complete their expansion NOW. They will seek out cards they need once or twice a week, often buy packets and box sets randomly and will buy booster boxes with the impending excitement of carefully but hurriedly opening them up.

I am in Camp B. I guess being the owner of this site probably gave you an inkling..If my experience has taught me anything, it’s that either camp is fine, but it helps to have some kind of logic.

A Camp B contingent encounters an illusive Charizard

Some people collect in different ways, personally I like to complete the older sets carefully and patiently – mainly because they have gained in value and are a little harder to find, but I’ll also quite happily buy a number of cards from the newer or current TCG expansions and I’ll try out the new decks with the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. It’s great fun organising custom decks. I’ll be writing about that soon.

If you consider that, as of March 2019 there are 82 Pokémon Trading Card Expansions, you’re not going to complete them instantly, it takes time. Enjoy the process, take your time and buy wisely.

I’d advise against “buying retail” as at £4 a packet in the UK, it is going to get very expensive if you go via that route. You can buy booster boxes (36 packet boxes) for about £100. Whilst expensive, it will save you money. Where you’ll need to be a bit smarter, is how you acquire the remaining cards that you need. Or, you could spend about only £15 and complete all of the non-holo cards almost instantly. That’s why I created this site. It’s quite a hassle completing an expansion, and that’s coming from personal experience. So, I wanted to make it easier for people to buy just the cards they wanted, so that they didn’t have to spend lots of money in the hope of maybe getting the cards they need in a packet.

Where to begin with your collecting?

I’d like to suggest that you look at both ends of the history of the game. As Pokemon was released when I was a child, I’m very fond of the early expansions – Base Set, Jungle, Fossil, Team Tocket, Gym Heroes etc. they all bring back a lot of nostalgia and it feels special when you complete one of those sets. The game is over 20 years old now, the cards will and do increase in value, so think about getting in as early as you can.

You can buy individual cards for reasonable prices or you could outright buy a complete set. Expect to spend some money. I think I bought the entire Team Rocket set for about £80. That’s very cheap.

Then, you can also take a look at what’s around at the moment. I had a long pause in my collection and started again with the Sun&Moon expansions, lots of excellent cards, fantastic graphics/art and it’s been a blast – I love the new Team Up expansion!

Keep records – if you buy Elite Trainer boxes, they come with checklists which are useful, or you can print them directly from the official Pokémon website. I use a spreadsheet, and have over 5,000 unique Pokémon cards. Tracking your progress is part of the fun.

Being Sociable with your collecting

I recently learnt that one of my friends also collects, and I had no idea.

Wow, that was a funny realisation. What a great discussion we had. Now we are two 30+ year old adults discussing what we need to complete the original sets and how we should have a catch up where we can show off each other’s collections. Pokémon is enjoyed by people of all ages, look at the buzz and excitement Pokémon Go generated when it was released. On community days I see 60 year olds and families playing together, that’s awesome. If you like playing the game either online or with another person in front of you, go to gaming hobby shops or local events near you, it’s fun and you’ll make friends with like-minded people.

How to organise your collection

This is a tricky one. These are 5 most commonly used ways to organise your cards

  • By Expansion. Organise your cards in sections, from #1-#180.
  • By Energy type. Huge sections but easy to manage.
  • By Rarity & another criteria. For example, put all of your holographic cards in their own folder, and then sort them by energy type. I do this, it’s not the most organised way but it is easy to manage. With 15 huge binders full of cards this can become a problem occasionally.
  • By Pokédex number. Die-hard fans of the game like to do it this way. It’s actually quite smart but you need to be careful if you have new cards of the same pokemon, it can get messy.
  • By no logical manner whatsoever – just put them in and keep adding to it.

Tips for collecting

  • Budget what you want to spend, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Be mindful that you won’t quickly complete a set just by buying packets.
  • Talk to others who collect and trade your duplicates.
  • Consider selling what you have copies of; there is a huge second-hand Pokémon Card Market. Use that cash to put away, or buy more cards!
  • Enjoy what you’re doing, and appreciate the artwork on the cards. It’s not only about completing the set.
  • If you don’t already, think about playing the game. I recommend starting out online as it teaches you very quickly how to play properly. It’s really quite a clever game!
  • Pick an expansion or two, and aim to complete those first. Taking a scatter-gun approach to just buying everything you like is an endless task, and can get extremely expensive.
  • Be patient, you don’t need to complete your expansion today. Take your time if needed.
  • Think about valuing what your card collection is worth, if you look after your cards and protect them, they can be an investment for you.
  • If you buy a lot of packets, think about streaming your ‘opening’ online. You’d be surprised how many people are interested in that. Take a look on Youtube!
  • If you have or ever do have children, share your enjoyment and nostalgia about Pokemon with them.

Lastly, share your collection online. Take photos and share what you have. You’ll create intrigue and envy no doubt, but for sure your friends will want to collect what you have.

Here are a few snaps from my collection – some of my favourites.
Please send us photos of your collection, we will show them off!

David