Chill Clinton is a trading card enthusiast and investor who operates an online trading card store.
Over the past two fiscal quarters, we have seen a decline in most vintage Pokémon trading card products to the tune of 25%-35%. However, following the stabilization of the modern Pokémon market with stores consistently maintaining stock of modern products since November of 2021, aggressive Pokémon speculation has all but disappeared, and its aftershock of sharply declining prices may sputter out soon.
Put more plainly, some collector-investors, myself included, feel that we may soon be reaching a floor, offering an opportunity for new collector-investors to acquire new Pokémon assets at prices far more competitive than those offered even six months ago.
In September of 2021, I published an article that offers five helpful tips for individuals interested in curating investment-grade Pokémon trading card collections. However, this list did not offer any specific items. Below is a list of five fantastic vintage cards that collectors can pick up today for $20 or less.
Of course this list is not investment advice, or necessarily a series of recommendations, but is simply a list for informational and entertainment purposes.
What Makes a Pokémon Trading Card "Vintage"?
A "vintage" Pokémon card is a card produced by Wizards of the Coast, the gaming company responsible for translating and distributing the Pokémon trading card game to the Western market from 1999-2003.
A Note on Condition
The prices for all cards listed below reflect current market prices for cards in "near-mint" condition, which is the most pristine condition as which online sellers are able to advertise their ungraded cards.
While most investment-grade collections will focus on cards that roughly fall beneath the "near-mint" umbrella, collector-investors who are comfortable holding cards with a small amount of wear can accumulate the cards below for even less than the prices listed.
Mr. Mime (Jungle 6) $18
Mr. Mime is everyone's favorite humanoid Pokémon, having been given prominent roles in both the Sword & Shield videogames as well as the somewhat recent Detective Pikachu (2019) movie! However, did you know that you can pick up the unlimited (not 1st edition) printing of Mr. Mime's first appearance in the Pokémon trading card game for less than $20?
Just be careful, when seeking out this card on an online marketplace, that you are purchasing (6) and not (22), its non-holo counterpart, also printed in Jungle. Presently, the latter runs for about $5 in near-mint condition, so if you see that price, you are not getting a great deal, you are getting an entirely different card!
Hitmonchan (Base Set 7) $13
Hitmonchan is one of the most affordable holographic cards from Base Set that collector-investors can acquire. For those familiar with the early days of the competitive trading card game meta, Hitmonchan was an essential element of the "Haymaker" deck archetype, known for its ability to quickly deal damage while nimbly controlling the active position, which also featured cards like Electabuzz (Base Set 20) and Scyther (Jungle 10).
Erika's Clefable (Gym Heroes 3) $20
Did you know that Clefairy, the evolutionary predecessor of Clefable, was the originally intended mascot for the Pokémon franchise? However, GameFreak, the original publisher of the Pokémon videogame, felt that Pikachu would be a more universally appealing mascot.
This Clefable is the most sought after Clefable that was made available through widely distributed booster packs due to its relatively low print volume when compared to earlier versions in Base Set 2 and Jungle.
1st Ed. Dark Jolteon (Team Rocket 38) $13
No list of budget single pickups would be complete without at least one first edition card! Fortunately, you can easily find near mint copies of this Eevee evolution for less than $13 on many online trading card marketplaces. Although this card is only uncommon, and does not come in a holographic variety, it is still highly sought after as an early printing of one of the original three Eevee evolutions.
Additionally, you can purchase both Dark Flareon and Dark Vaporeon in First Edition printings for between $10 and $15.
Mewtwo (WotC Movie Promo) $10
Finally, we round out our short list of affordable vintage era cards with an early promo. In fact, you may remember receiving this card if you were around to see the first Pokémon movie in theaters.
Millions of children and their reluctant parents received this as one of three possible promos distributed with the purchase of a ticket to "Pokémon: The First Movie". This does mean there is quite a high volume of these cards as the population includes all the ones distributed as well as the ones that were printed and later sold as overstock. However, given the fact that many received these cards before immediately entering a movie theater, there is a limited population of these cards in near-mint condition, leaving it somewhat pricey, but with plenty of room for growth.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.