Pikachu is the most famous Pokemon ever created. Even if interested individuals don't recognize its name, chances are good that interested individuals will recognize an image of the lightning-tailed rodent. However, it should be mentioned that Pikachu's position as the mascot for the Pokemon franchise wasn't some kind of predetermined thing. Instead, it seems to have secured it through happenstance.
By default, one would think that the cover Pokemon would have made the most natural mascots for the Pokemon franchise. For Generation I, those were the final evolutions of the three starters - Venusaur, Blastoise, and Charizard. That might sound rather strange to interested individuals. After all, Pokemon Blue featured Blastoise while Pokemon Red featured Charizard, so that raises the question of where Venusaur was featured. If they are curious, well, suffice to say that those two games were called Pokemon Green and Pokemon Red in Japan where they were followed by Pokemon Blue a few months later. However, the people behind the Pokemon franchise didn't go with the cover Pokemon, perhaps because their looks weren't very useful for capturing the interest of both boys and girls. Instead, the initial choice of mascot was Clefairy, as shown by how it was the starter Pokemon in the first manga based on the Pokemon franchise. Amusingly, Pikachu built up its popularity through more organic means, partly referring to its adorable appearance and partly referring to its high-value status as a rare Pokemon found in a very early part of the Generation I games. When it was chosen as the starter Pokemon for the Pokemon anime, that cemented its status for the next two decades and counting.
Naturally, this means that Pikachu has been featured on a lot of Pokemon merchandise. After all, it is the most famous Pokemon ever created, so it makes sense for the people behind the Pokemon franchise to capitalize on that popularity as much as possible. Generally speaking, they aren't worth that much. However, there are some Pikachu-themed merchandise that can sell for a fair amount of money, which says much about the value that people put in them. For proof, look no further than some of the Pikachu-themed Pokemon cards that have been released.
5. Pikachu on the Ball - $800 to $900
Pikachu on the Ball shows Pikachu playing with a Pokeball-looking futsal ball. In fact, the card was given out to people participating in the FA Pokémon Youth Futsal Program for the 2020-2021 season, which explains much about why it looks the way that it looks. As such, Pikachu on the Ball is a relatively new card, meaning that its value has seen a fair amount of flux because it hasn't finished settling in place. Originally, there were reports that it was selling for as much as $2,000, presumably because it was being boosted by the initial hype. However, the initial hype has died down, with the result that the card is now selling for much lower prices. There are now reports that it is worth just $800 to $900, though it is also possible for interested individuals to come upon more expensive examples. Still, that is a sizable sum, so it will be interesting to see where its price settles in the times to come.
4. Pokemon: The First Movie Misprint - $3,000
There have been a lot of Pokemon movies. So far, there have been more than 20 animated movies as well as one live-action movie. This is possible because they have been making Pokemon movies on a regular basis ever since the first one came out in 1998. By that point, Pokemon cards were already a thing. As a result, promotional Pokemon cards were handed out to a lot of interested individuals. For the most part, they aren't worth that much. Yes, it has been a long time. Even so, a lot of them were handed out. This one managed to sell for $3,000 for the simple reason that it was a misprint, as shown by how the Pokemon: the First Movie in the corner is upside down. Moreover, it is believed that just a single sheet of Pokemon cards were misprinted. Since there were four of these promotional cards handed out, a single sheet of 120 Pokemon cards means that there should be 30 of these cards in existence minus any that have already been destroyed by the passage of time.
3. No. 1 Trainer - $200,000+
Strictly speaking, the No. 1 Trainer isn't a Pikachu card. However, it does feature the image of a Pikachu, so it is close enough for most people to count it as such. In any case, this is the card given out for people who win World Championships, so it should come as no surprise to learn that it can sell for a fair amount of money. On top of that, it should be mentioned that wasn't always the case. Originally, these cards were given out to people who won certain tournaments in Japan, so those are a thing as well. Besides these, it should also be mentioned that there are Pokemon cards for second-place finishers. Suffice to say that these cards can sell for a lot of money, so much so that some of them have managed to fetch more than $200,000.
2. Pokemon Illustrator - $375,000
The Pokemon Illustrators are extremely rare. This is because they were handed out as prizes for selected winners of three illustration contests held by CoroCoro Comic in the late 1990s. As a result, they aren't just rare, they are also high-prestige. Less than 50 of these cards were ever made. On top of that, rumor claims that there are less than 10 of them still in existence. One of these cards sold for $195,000 in 2019. Similarly, another one sold for $375,000 in 2021.
1. Pokemon Illustrator - $900,000
At the time, the Pokemon Illustrator that sold for $375,000 managed to break a record by overtaking a very rare holographic Charizard as the single most expensive Pokemon card ever sold. However, that record didn't last very long because another Pokemon Illustrator in somewhat better condition managed to sell for $900,000 in February of 2022. It remains to be seen how long this record will last, but it seems reasonable to speculate that it will be sticking around for a while.
Written by Dana Hanson
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