By Sam Clements (Almiraswolf)
I started collecting Pokemon items in 1999 when it first started to
hit the UK and become a craze. Despite the popularity, merchandise
levels started to fall within less than 3 years and it became harder
and harder to find items. The Pokemon games released every few years
would kick start the craze again but the UK never got as wide a
variety of merchandise as Japan.
When I started doing more shopping online, I began to find a variety
of sources for collecting more hard to find and exclusive items. The
biggest and perhaps most well known place to look is Ebay – with users
all over the world buying and selling collectibles (some so rare that
they can go for thousands of pounds sterling/dollars). Despite being
the biggest resource it can also be difficult to distinguish items
that are the real deal from fakes. I generally try and stick to buying
items from sellers that are located in Japan rather than say China to
try and avoid possible bootlegs.
Next we have independent sellers that are based in Japan who buy stock
directly from the Pokemon Center (usually on day of release) and offer
it for sale directly from their own websites, Ebay etc. Some of these
sellers are able to pick up very limited or hard to find items for
customers that you will probably be unable to find anywhere else,
unless you live in Japan.
There is also the option of using a “middle man” based shopping
service, that lets you buy and bid on items that are only found on
websites like Yahoo! Japan auctions and Amazon Japan. However using
this method is not the easiest and it can become quite expensive with
all the additional fees. Most middle man service sites also require a
deposit payment up front for membership and use of the service.
If you attend anime conventions there is a chance you’ll find Pokemon
merchandise being sold by dealers at very reasonable prices. For
example I found a large DX Banpresto Ho-Oh plush for £15, at the time
they were selling for around £30 on Ebay!
And finally there are the fan-run communities that have hundreds,
sometimes thousands of members of all age groups from many different
countries all over the world. The communities get many posts each day
with members showing off their collections, selling items, trading
items, doing group auctions and even holding meet ups for fans in
specific locations. Lots of discussion on Pokemon merchandise news can
also be found, including photographs and articles from Japan featuring
information about items not yet released!
Of all the above, my favourite method of buying is through an
independent seller (hardrock-pokemon.com) and though a fan-run
community (pkmncollectors). I have been using both methods for over 5
years and am very happy with the level of communication and the
quality of the products sold to me.
My best purchases to date have to be my 1:1 Tomy Totodile plush, shiny
Raikou pokedoll, lotto large (1st prize) Giratina origin form plush,
Groudon large Tomy plush, Banpresto fuzzy Raichu and the trio of
Tsutarja (Snivy) evolution Tomy plushies.
To end this article, I will also mention that the official Japanese
Pokemon site; pokemon.co.jp is a good place to look at new merchandise
photos (even if you cant read Japanese, just click on the tab near the
top of the page that looks like a Pokemon center!).