The rumors are true, the Pokemon Trading Card Game is launching a special expansion in September to honor the original 151 Pokemon, appropriately named Scarlet & Violet—151. The set will include all the Pokemon from the original games, newly created in the Paldea region, with many ex, ultra rare and special illustration cards to catch. Pre-orders have already started (and sold out) at the Pokemon Center. GameStop and Best Buy will have their own promotional cards. Already grossly overpriced listings are appearing on eBay. This is going to be a really big deal, but can we please try to be normal about it?
It’s been a while since there’s been this much buzz around an expansion. Last year’s Crown Zenith was popular for its beautiful Galarian Gallery, and 2021’s Celebrations excited long-time creators, but we haven’t seen this kind of fanfare since 2019, when Hidden Fates brought brilliance to the game in a big way. Going back even further, the Evolutions deck had incredible durability, containing a ton of reprints of base deck cards. Much like 151, it ticked off a lot of nostalgic boxes for collectors and casual Pokemon fans. The Evolution was also so overprinted that some products were still easy to find three years after they were first introduced. Pokemon hasn’t printed a set like Evolutions since, and I highly doubt 151 will be an exception.
I know I’m still reeling from the trauma of Covid, but I’m worried about what kind of people the 151 will attract. Pokemon card collecting has reached a new high in 2020 thanks to pandemic boredom and Logan Paul manipulating the market by overspending on vintage cards so strong enough to cause an industry-wide boom. Suddenly, every short-term investor and market speculator saw Pokemon as a successful investment, and all available products flew off the shelves overnight. For much of the Sword & Shield era, it was almost impossible to find cards without overpaying eBay resellers for the privilege, and it took years for stocks to recover.
I often blame Paul and the content creator community for turning my hobby into a circus, but their spree of public consumption was just a microcosm for a larger societal problem. Social media notoriety, the over-commodification of nostalgia, and the rise of the gig economy have turned us all into weird little gnomes who can’t enjoy anything unless we have a way to make money off of it. We sold our childhood and turned everything we loved into a side tax. It’s so easy to forget why we love Pokemon and TCGs when there’s money to be made, and 151 is already exciting a lot of people for the wrong reasons.
All I’m saying is buy a 151, open it up, play with it, enjoy it. Share it with your cousins and nephews. Go to a pre-release event at your local game store. Make some new friends. Please don’t buy a case and shove it in a closet thinking that in 20 years someone will pay you $10,000 to see if Charizard is in there. Don’t spend double or triple the MSRP on online seller packages. Don’t load up a cart full of things you don’t plan on keeping just because Target doesn’t have an item limit. Please be normal about it. After all, this is a card game for kids. If there’s nothing left on the shelves for the kids to discover, who exactly do you think will be buying all your discontinued products in 20 years?
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