I have to catch them all: Pandemic sends jumping prices for Pokemon cards

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pokemon has grown, and so have its prices.

Two decades after playing with Japanese trading cards became the biggest thing in schoolyards around the world, Pokemon cards are bringing six figures up for auction, in a boom that seems to have been fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.

“When COVID-19 hit, a lot of Generation X and Millennials were looking for something to do, and we found that a lot of these guys and girls started playing Pokemon again because they grew up with it,” said Joe Maddalena, executive vice president at Heritage Auctions. based in Texas.

Maddalena said the boxes of the 1999 U.S. first edition have sold at auction for about $ 400,000 in recent months. One mint-state ticket for popular firefighter Charizard was sold in January for $ 300,000, while at the end of 2019, asking Charizard card prices were around $ 16,000, he said.

Once crammed into pockets or thrown into toy boxes, Pokemon cards become so sought after that long lines form in front of stores when new series are released.

“It’s crazy because I know you could only go anywhere just a few years ago, and the walls had Pokemon cards and it all just came back,” said Megan Meadows, 29, who lined up in front of the Next-Gen Games store in Los Angeles last week.

“For me personally, it is one hundred percent nostalgia. I was a big Pokemon child in the late 90’s, early 2000’s, and I find such joy again in a time when it’s a little hard to get joy and it’s kind of clean and fun, “she added.

As Pokemon prepares for its global 25th anniversary celebration on February 27, Heritage is holding its first auction dedicated to Pokemon cards. The online auction will have 200 Pokemon lots from February 25 to March 25, including what Maddalena called the “Holy Grail” – a sealed set of wizards from the coast from 1999.

“We last sold for $ 406,000 – who knows what it could go for?” He said.

But you don’t have to be rich to play a game or collect cards. Maddalena said that there will be a lot of tickets at the upcoming auction at lower prices than those in the mint, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Maddalena is reluctant to use the word investment.

“I hope they buy them because they love them,” he said.

Reporting Jill Serjeant; Additional Rollo Ross reporting; Editing Aurora Ellis