Ultra-rare Pokemon cards could fetch millions, like the $5.28M Pikachu Illustrator card. Here are the ten scarcest Pokemon cards collectors covet.
Updated Aug 1, 2023
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Ultra rare Pokémon cards? They're the real deal. With 200 to 440 unique finds released yearly, collectors can't get enough. Just look for the shiny white or gold stars.
And their value? Through the roof. Ranging from thousands to an epic $5.3 million for the iconic Pikachu Illustrator card. Yup, these rare beauties make quite the addition to any collection. Let the Poké-fun begin.
Pokémon card values are influenced by factors like rarity, cultural significance, market forces, online marketplaces, quality, condition, and the franchise's enduring popularity.
The odds of scoring an Ultra Rare card in a booster pack shifted from 1:12 to 1:24 after Soul of the Duelist. Thanks to new games, movies, and TV shows, the Pokémon craze remains strong, helping maintain high card values.
This competitive, ever-changing market sees prices swayed by supply and demand. So, as long as Pokémon capture hearts and minds, card values will likely stay high, making them quite the prized possession for collectors.
Ultra Rare Pokémon cards certainly live up to their name—they're incredibly hard to find. As Rare Holofoil cards, they boast unique symbols and replace the rare card in Booster packs.
Take the ultra-rare Pikachu Illustrator card, for example—only 39 were passed out in 1998, and just ten confirmed copies exist today. This elusive gem was a prize from 1990s contests, enhancing its value and rarity.
Now, let's dive into the ten most valuable ultra rare Pokémon cards.
Logan Paul purchased the 1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Pikachu Illustrato-Holo for $5.3 million in July 2021.
The Pikachu Illustrator card is widely considered the rarest and most expensive Pokemon card in existence. Originally given as a prize in a 1997 art competition by CoroCoro, the card has consistently fetched high prices over the past five years, typically between $375,000 and $6 million.
In 2020, the card set a new record when it was sold for $250,000, which was then surpassed in 2021 when a PSA 7 card sold for $375,000 during a PWCC auction. However, in July 2021, Marwan Dubsy sold a Gem Mint to YouTuber and wrestler Logan Paul for $5.3 million.
In recent years, the value of the 1999 Pokemon Game Charizard-Holo First Edition #4 card has soared, with the 1st edition being the most coveted. The shadowless variant, which lacks a border shadow, is even rarer and more valuable.
On October 9, 2020, rapper Logic purchased a Gem Mint First Edition Charizard for over $226,000, setting a new record. However, just two months later, that record was broken when a bidder at a PWCC auction paid $350,000 for the same card. Incredibly, another first edition reportedly sold for $369,000 at a Goldin Auctions event in December 2020.
Only 123 of these cards have a Gem Mint rating, making it one of the most valuable TCG collectibles of all time.
An unusual addition to any Pokémon card collection, the rare promo card features the artwork of Tsunekazu Ishihara, the CEO and President of The Pokémon Company. This one was originally distributed to employees who attended his birthday celebration in 2017.
A limited number of these distinct Pokémon TCG promo cards, ranging between 30 to 60, are highly coveted by collectors. In fact, one of them fetched an amazing $50,000 in an auction back in April 2020.
In 2021, a PSA 7 card signed by Ishihara was sold for $247,000 at a Goldin Auction. This signature transformed the card into a one-of-a-kind gem among die-hard Pokemon card collectors.
The 1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Kangaskhan-Holo Family Event Trophy Card #115 has only 12 PSA 10-graded cards as of April 2023.
The 1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Kangaskhan-Holo Family Event Trophy Card #115 was only obtainable by participating in a special tournament in Japan where a child and their parents had to battle together. The card features a charming illustration of Kangaskhan with its baby in its pouch surrounded by holo sparkles.
This Pokémon card's rarity significantly affects its value—only twelve PSA 10 cards exist. In October 2020, two were sold for a remarkable $150,000 and $150,100.
In a PWCC auction held in May 2021, the 2000 Pokemon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Lugia-Holo #9 fetched an impressive $144,000.
Lugia, one of the most beloved legendary Pokemon, made a splash with its debut as a TCG card. Years later, the psychic bird has become a highly coveted item among collectors, especially from its Neo Genesis expansion. Only 45 PSA-10s exist in the wild.
In 2020, a First Edition Lugia sold for $129,000, but it didn't stop there. In May 2021, a BGS 10 raked in an even higher price of $144,300 at a PWCC auction.
The 1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo University Magikarp Tamamushi University Prize #129 will cost from $2,000 to $65,000, depending on the grade.
In 1998, Shogakukan’s Magazine organized a contest in Japan for school students who were fans of Pokemon. The best performers received invites to a special conference held in Osaka that year, where they would participate in a unique Pokemon card battle tournament.
The winners of this contest were awarded the Magikarp Trophy Pokemon card promo. It's unsurprising to see this ultra-rare collectible sell for $66,100 at a PWCC auction in February 2021.
The 1999 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind is truly ultra rare, with only three PSA 10s confirmed.
The 1999 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind is popular among Psyduck fans. This rare Pokémon card depicts the water-type Pokemon playing the ukulele while relaxing in a hammock with Jigglypuff, making it one of the cutest cards you can collect.
Before The Pokemon Company established the World Championships in 2004, Japan held an earlier version of the TCG competitive scene known as the Tropical Mega Battle.
In 1999, the tournament was hosted in Honolulu, Hawaii, and only 50 players from different countries were invited to compete against each other. As a result, the Trophy Pokemon cards distributed at the event—including the Tropical Wind iteration—are extremely rare.
In October 2020, the Tropical Mega Battle card went on auction and sold for an impressive $65,100.
Between December 2016 and December 2020, the value of the 2004 Pokemon Ex Team Rocket Returns Torchic-Holo Gold Star #108 went up more than 4,000%.
In 2004, The Pokemon Company (TPC) introduced a new line of collectibles called "Gold Star" Pokemon cards to revive interest in the hobby.
These ultra-rare cards had a low print run and were released alongside the Team Rocket Returns expansion, which unfortunately did not receive the attention it deserved. One of the rarest Pokemon cards released that year was the Torchic card, featuring the adorable Hoenn Fire-type starter.
The card’s popularity soared, making it a highly coveted item among collectors. In December 2020, a Torchic Gold Star card #108 got auctioned for $25,400—which is remarkable when you consider that the same card was selling for around $560 in 2016—meaning the card's value rose by more than 4,000% within four years.
The Skyridge Crystal Charizard fetches between $1,175 to $20,000 depending on its condition or grade.
If you're hunting for the Holy Grail of Pokémon TCG, buddy, strap in because we’ve got news for you. Swooping in from the radiant skies of the 2003 Skyridge expansion pack, the First-Edition Skyridge Crystal Charizard #146 card reigns supreme. It's not just a rare Pokémon card, friends, it ranks among the rarest Pokémon cards ever. The collectors' fraternity practically trips over itself to snag this beauty.
This fiery fellow is no ordinary Pokémon card. Born in the earnest days of Game Boy Advance, when Pokémon card collecting was gaining momentum, this shiny Charizard card packs a mean punch. Not just because it’s a 1st edition card—although the first edition stamp does give it some serious street cred—but because our buddy Charizard here is a Crystal Charizard, a new type of beast. And man, does he shine brightly in the Pokémon world.
Let's talk scarcity: gold star cards, trainer cards, even the elusive master key card—they all pale compared to the Skyridge Crystal Charizard. Like the legendary Gold Star Torchic card, of which only seven copies existed, we are dealing with an extremely rare card here. Demand among Pokémon card collectors for this fire-breathing bad boy makes it more sought-after than a Trainer card at the Pokémon World Championships.
And oh boy, have you seen the price tag that comes with all that glory? Unsigned copies floating around have sold in the ballpark of $1,175 to $12,927, depending on the condition. But let's put a PSA gem mint stamp on it, and hold onto your hats, because this card just leveled up to super secret battle status, with eBay sales ranging from $598.50 to $2,000.
In the storied Pokémon history, the First-Edition Skyridge Crystal Charizard #146 is a trophy card every collector dreams of. It embodies the nostalgic glory of Pokémon TCG and, with its ever-increasing value, this is Charizard's badge of honor. So, ladies and gents, round up your pokéballs and prepare for the ultimate catch.
The 1998 Backless Blastoise card, one of only two known to exist, is valued at $360,000.
The Pokémon trading card game has seen innumerable rare and valuable Pokémon cards, but one that stands out in terms of rarity and value is the 1998 Pokémon Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Promo “Backless Blastoise.” This ultra-rare card features the immense water-type Pokémon, Blastoise, presented against a cosmic galaxy star background, making it one of the most sought-after cards among Pokémon card collectors.
This unique card represents a pioneering endeavor by Wizards of the Coast at the dawn of the Pokémon trading card phenomenon. Produced in 1998 as a test print, the Backless Blastoise was a tangible manifestation of the first efforts by the company, which had also launched the omnipresent collectible card phenomenon Magic: The Gathering. What contributes to the mystique of this card is its lack of a card back, a distinguished feature of this early prototype.
Blastoise has always been celebrated as one of the original flagship Pokémons, and its presence on one of the rarest cards in the Pokémon TCG only enhances its profile. The fact that this card was considered a test print augments its rarity, with reports suggesting only two of these cards exist—the scarcity of these artifacts of Pokémon history amplifies their worth.
This rarity symbol's scarcity, historical pertinence, and allure qualified the Backless Blastoise as an astounding investment asset. This card's value at auction underscores its desirability among collectors and investors alike. One of the Backless Blastoise cards graded a CGC 8.5 was reportedly sold in January 2021 for a staggering $360,000, making it one of the most valuable Pokémon cards ever sold—the other peaked six months earlier at $216,000.
Given the unrivaled scarcity of this card and the enduring popularity of the Pokémon franchise, it’s likely that demand for this extremely rare card could continue to rise. While the volatility of collectible markets should always be noted, the Backless Blastoise presents a remarkable potential for price appreciation.
As with the gold star cards and other trophy cards, understanding the history of the 1998 Pokémon Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Promo “Backless Blastoise” card is crucial for collectors and investors. These pieces of Pokémon history represent the nostalgia of the game and tangible assets whose values have demonstrated a propensity to grow over time.
While no investment is guaranteed to provide returns, the Backless Blastoise card, given its scarcity, historical significance, and enduring allure in the Pokémon TCG community, offers an intriguing prospect for those collectors and investors navigating the market for these coveted and scarce collectibles.
Now, let's tackle the main question. Given their growing demand and scarce supply, investing in ultra-rare Pokémon cards could be profitable. Some investors even claim that Pokémon cards can outperform stocks, with certain cards witnessing a 500% increase in value since 2019.
When investing in graded Pokémon cards, consider the cons like high grading costs, which may outweigh the card's value, and long waiting times to get cards graded due to overwhelmed grading companies. Additionally, increased card production might affect scarcity-driven values.
So, it's wise to carefully weigh the costs and potential growth aspects, especially for newer cards, while staying updated with market trends and expert advice. Be cautious when investing in Pokemon cards and other collectibles because profits aren’t guaranteed.
But, if you play your cards correctly (pun intended), you could end up with a valuable collection worth more than Logan Paul's 1998 holographic Pikachu Illustrator.
Some investors would argue that the game is more than a playground—it's a goldmine. Can your rare Pokémon card give the stock market a run for its money? The stats are hard to ignore, with some cards clocking a 500% increase in value since 2019.
But investing in the Pokémon world isn't all rainbows and unicorns. When grading Pokémon cards, it's an entirely different ball game. The much-coveted perfect gem mint grade can make your wallet considerably lighter, and sometimes the card’s value might not justify the grading costs. Factor in the long wait times to get your cards graded, and you realize patience will be a virtue.
While these investments, like the GX promo card or the neo genesis 1st edition, may reflect past prosperity, treading lightly is advised. As the saying goes, yesterday's golden goose might be today's feather duster. The allure of the extremely rare card could ebb with increased card production, potentially diluting scarcity-driven values. It's a super secret battle, no less.
When playing your cards, staying updated with market trends is crucial, and tapping into expert advice is wise. If you believe that 'collectible toys are the new stocks,’ consider looking into 'Toy Money: Their Future of Collectible Toys.' When weighing the costs, you must factor in grading charges which can be tricky. This article on '3 Quick & Easy Steps to Get Your Cards Graded by PSA' may be beneficial. And never forget, though many valuable Pokémon cards have sold at monumental prices, not every trophy card guarantees a profit.
However, a blend of strategy and a pinch of luck could help you build a card collection that might rival even Logan Paul's much-talked-about 1998 holographic Pikachu Illustrator. So, pull out your Pokémon daisuki club membership and brace yourself for the thrill of the collectible trading world with the Pokémon trading card game.
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