First Edition Pokémon Base Set box sells for $408k at auction

A First Edition Base Set box from 1999, containing 36 booster packs of 11 cards each, sold at a Heritage Auctions event in Texas last Thursday. Due to its limited run, the box is super rare and that’s how it commanded a price of $408,000 at auction.

The lot was part of 16 Pokemon-related lots from Heritage Auctions at the Comics and Comic Art Auction. In total, they raised $1.3m. Already, the new owner of the box is willing to sell for a minimum of $468,000 and that’s irked me a little.

It’s been about 20 years or so since I sold a collection of Pokémon cards my cousin gave me (must have been around 200 of them) for £20. Big mistake. They weren’t necessarily rare or worth more today but I’m into Pokémon cards again and they were part of my childhood. Seeing cards from the same set selling for this much and being tossed around purely for money, during a pandemic where billionaires get even richer and the poor get even poorer doesn’t sit right with me.

Former(?) rapper Logic purchased a holographic Charizard card for $220,000 last year, which set a record for the most expensive Pokémon card purchase ever. I have no desire to own the card (Charizard isn’t my fave; Blastoise is) but… I dunno. These are all personal feelings and not many fans will share them, I guess. People will say it’s a business and that’s just how things are and my feelings are perhaps too sentimental.

But an element that gets overlooked is how new fans entering into the TCG and wider Pokémon community might be priced out or get the wrong impression about what it’s all about or perhaps join purely to make money and price other fans out further.

I decided to write this article after this tweet and subsequent reply.

SAME. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Youtubers open some vintage packs. But it’s gone overboard recently. All these videos are titled with a huge monetary figure, so it’s very clear what the draw is.

So many new ‘fans’ coming into the hobby just for the money, not the love.

Lex Lofthouse (@Loftio) on Twitter

That doesn’t sound like community spirit to me. It should be fun and exciting to get your favourite Pokémon cards. Now it’s all about breaking boxes and PSAs. If that makes me an old (31) man yelling at a cloud, then so be it.

“You won. Enjoy the cards, I hope it makes you very happy.”

(P.S. – in case the money is going to charity, I take some of this back but still don’t like the money-focused aspect of it all)

Update: Since writing this, I’ve found a few links that explain the situation better than I have. The first is this great video by PKMNcast about how certain YouTubers are scamming their viewers. Then there’s this awesome piece by Dan Dockery on how TCG became a recent gold rush. And finally, the news that TCG eBay sales have increased by almost 600% last year.

Update 2: Another article on TCG scalpers and the effect of reprints on their schemes.