The Pokemon Economy

By Nora Berger

We all see it. Pokemon cards that are the most highly coveted cards for collectors. So why these cards? Why not, say, Nidoqueen (EX FireRed LeafGreen #9/112)? Nidoqueen is a rare holofoil card. No. There is something that churns the Pokemon card hysteria, other than whether a card is rare or uncommon or common. The cards that are frequently fussed over include but are not limited to:
-Lugia ex (EX Unseen Forces #105/115) HF
-Wailord ex (EX Sandstorm #100/100) HF
-Espeon Gold Star (POP 5 #16/17) HF
Charizard ex (EX FireRed LeafGreen #105/112) HF

-Charizard (Base #4/102) HF -Dragonite (Expedition #9/165) HF
-Dragonite ex (EX Dragon #90/97) HF
-Umbreon ex (EX Unseen Forces #112/115) HF
-Charizard Gold Star (EX Dragon Frontiers #100/101) HF
-__’s Kyogre Ex (PLAY Players Club #019) HF
-Bubble Mew (CD Japanese Promo) Glossy
-Birthday Pikachu (Black Star Promo #24) HF
-Mewtwo (Unnumbered GB Promo)
-Shining Mewtwo (Neo Destiny #109/105) HF
-Ash’s Pikachu m (Arceus Movie promo #012/022) HF
-Mewtwo Gold Star (EX Holon Phantoms #103/110) HF
-Icy Sky’s Shaymin (11th Movie Promo #001/009) HF
-Luxray GL Lv. X (Rising Rivals #109/111) HF
-Flying Pikachu (Black Star Promo # 25)
-All “PokePark Grand Opening 2005” cards
-All “McDonald’s Promos 2002” cards
-Politoed ex (EX Unseen Forces #107/115) HF
-Treecko (PCG-P Promo #37 [Yokohama])
-Sea’s Manaphy (PCG-P Promo #154)
-Sea’s Manaphy (PCG-P Promo #150)
-Sea’s Manaphy (PCG-P Promo #146)
-Rota’s Mew (8th Movie half deck #2/20) HF
-LaRousse’s Munchlax (7th Movie Half Deck #006/019)
-Rota’s Mime Jr. (PCG-P Promo #86) HF
-Celebi ex (EX Unseen Forces #117/115) HF
-Samiya’s Chatot (PCG-P Promo #143) HF
-Space Fissure’s Deoxys (7th Movie Half Deck #001 & #002 / 019)
-__’s Mew (Play Promotional #13/32)
-Crystal Lugia (Aquapolis #149/147) HF
-Shopping Pikachu (L Promo #79/79)
-Blaziken (EX Ruby and Sapphire #3/109) HF
-Clefable ex (EX FireRed LeafGreen #106/112) HF
-Eevee (Pokémon 2000 Fan Club Member 500 Points “GET PRIZE” Promo) HF

The list grows with each subsequent card set and promo cards released. So do you see the pattern? Some of the most highly sought after Pokemon cards are either a holofoil card or a promo card. The trend does not apply to all of the coveted cards (like the VS series) but the pattern is awfully blatant. Many ex cards are in demand, as well. It does not take an expert in economics to point out that the cards in the highest demand also happen to be the rarest cards : supply and demand.

Case Study: 2010 Lottery Prize Shiny Groudon holofoil (Promo #072/L-P). It is a triple threat – a holofoil card, a promo card, and an ultra rare card. There are only 5,000 of this card produced for all of Japan. There is no English equivalent. 5,000 for the entire world. That would not even support the fan-base here in New York City! As a result, die-hard collectors all want a copy of this card. I have rarely seen this card up for sale. But when I have seen it for sale, I have never seen it priced below $75.00 – and that is the lowest. If we eliminate the holofoil characteristic, then the comparable card would be Groudon (PCG Promo #42). It is a rare card, but not a foil card. It was from Bumper Car Battle: Aqua vs. Magma at the Pokepark in March 2005.

It is not nearly valued at the same price as the 2010 Lottery Groudon. The PCG Promo Groudon could possibly have only an amount of copies that is slightly higher than the 2010 Lottery Groudon. After all, it was only distributed for one month. I have inferred and now I am convinced that if the PCG Promo Groudon was a holofoil card, then its value would rise to a comparable price to that of the 2010 Lottery Groudon card.

If we eliminate the Promo aspect of the 2010 Lottery Groudon, then a corresponding card could be Groudon (EX Hidden Legends #102/101) from the English set only because in Japan, this card was released as a holofoil promotional card at 7-Elevens. Hidden Legends Groudon is a holofoil card like the 2010 Lottery Groudon and is an ultra-rare secret card; hence the #102 in a set of 101. Yet, I have seen the Hidden Legends Groudon card priced at around $6.00 to $7.00. That’s a long way from the minimal $75.00 for the 2010 Lottery Groudon!

Being a promo card clearly has an impact on demand for the card, which directly correlates with the selling price range. If we eliminate the ultra rarity of the 2010 Lottery Groudon, then an analogous card could be Groudon ex (Nintendo Promo #2). The Nintendo Groudon was printed as a holofoil promo card in the October 2003 issue of Nintendo Power magazine, which is quite popular. Nintendo Groudon is relatively easy to come by and highly available online. At places like Ebay and Toywiz, Nintendo Groudon has been sold for around $12.00. That leaves a price gap of $63.00.

Perhaps some of that gap would be filled if the Nintendo Groudon had a more limited quantity available. What we have here is more of a matter of human psychology than pure economics. People want cards that they fear will never be available to them again. This introspected apparatus, if paid attention to, can help Pokémon fans understand themselves and their own wants, not their needs.


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