Protostoise, Crazy Blank & MTG-Backed Pokemon Cards & More!

Hello everyone, I want to start off by thanking you all for the success and positive feedback my last article saw, as that means a lot to me and lets me know what you all like and what you don’t. If you haven’t checked it out already, I covered the top ten most expensive English Pokemon set cards – I recommend giving it a read!

More Collecting Content

As for today’s article, whether you have heard of the somewhat shocking sale of the Blastoise prototype card that occurred less than two weeks ago or not, that is what I am going to be covering in detail today. If you haven’t heard of it at all, you should have a fun time learning all about it today! Even if you know the details of the sale, I am going to cover the history of the card, along with a very rare Blastoise that is similar in nature and looks to the one that sold. There should be something for everyone today! Without further ado, let’s kick off the article with a look at the Blastoise that has been causing some commotion lately.

The Card

Now, as strange as it may sound, there are in fact a few rare error Blastoise cards. Not only that, but there are two remarkably similar ones when it comes to what we are talking about today! I will cover the one being featured today to start, as it is the focus of this article, but I will also cover the similar Blastoise card later in this article.

As for the star of the show today, the Blastoise we will be discussing has been deemed the “Protostoise” because it was intended as a prototype and is vastly different than a majority of other Pokemon cards out there. The main difference here is that the back of the card is completely blank, it is just white and there is nothing else to it. As far as specifications go, the Blastoise also features square cut corners, a galaxy holo pattern, no rarity symbol and different fonts throughout the card. Each of these fonts are different than what you would see on other Pokemon cards, as they have a more comic feel to them than anything else. Additionally, instead of having a Retreat Cost, the Blastoise has an “escape” cost. Lastly, our turtle friend does not even have a Resistance listed. Just looking at the card, though, I am sure you will be able to tell that this card is simply wildly different than other Pokemon cards, having a lot of other small differences as well.

Now that I have given a general overview of how the card differs from other Pokemon cards, I am sure you are wondering how this beast came to be…

As for the most recent part of this card’s history and for the Blastoise covered below, the authenticity of these turtles was a huge point of debate whenever the cards stepped into the spotlight in recent years. I certainly remember people getting hostile in online forums and confidently declaring the card was fake without much of anything to back it up. Clearly that was not the case, as CGC used state of the art equipment and advanced forensic technology to verify that these cards are in fact legit, leading to them being authenticated and graded.

Obviously, this card was not intended to be used for playing the game and was more of a test print to work on the card design. WOTC was originally the manufacturer of Pokemon cards, they were the ones handling things at the time this was printed. It was created in 1998 and was intended to be an example of what an English Pokemon card would look like. It was featured in an interview upon its creation and was intended to be used as a promotion for media use. It is truly a shame that the interview is unable to be found, as that would be an incredible thing to watch and it would have helped a ton when it came to authenticating this card years ago! Since it was just supposed to be an example, the back of the card had not been designed yet, which is why it ended up being blank. The “Commissioned Presentation” descriptor on the label makes sense when you think about how this card came to be, as it was never intended to be an official release and was more of a promotional item at the time. Since its release, a past member of the WOTC public relations team has maintained ownership of the card. I would assume that is who sold the card, congratulations to them!

Many test print and other factory errors are out there, all of which are appreciated by the collectors of the world, but it is cool to know that this card was more of a promotional item in the draft stage than an error item, I think that makes it even more of an oddity.

The Sale

The Pokemon market has been absolutely booming lately, with record breaking and breathtaking sales happening frequently. While this Blastoise was certainly a surprise to some and a different change of scenery from the Charizard dominance that has been in effect lately, this is truly a wonderful thing to see for many reasons.

Just as a quick precursor to the juicy details of this transaction, I wanted to give a quick overview of the platform used for the sale. For any who do not know, Heritage Auctions is a big-time auction site used for high end sales and has been used for expensive Pokemon items in the past. In recent memory, 1st Edition Charizards and booster boxes have been sold on there and now this Blastoise joins them. Even if you don’t intend to participate in these auctions yourself, it can be fun and informative to pay attention to the sales that do occur there, so I recommend giving it a look if that seems up your ally.

As for the sale itself, this CGC 8.5 Protostoise sold for $360,000 on Heritage Auctions on January 14th, 2021. The fact of the matter is that this card was recently authenticated, which certainly helps its price and we had never really seen one up for sale like this. The price seemed to be getting bid up between two buyers for a while and was sitting at around $200,000 while the auction was approaching a close. At some point, though, it appears these two went back at it, as the price nearly doubled before the auction ended. This sale price ties for the highest publicly completed sale, which just goes to show how much the collector who bought this values the card. A card is worth what someone is willing to pay, in fact and that was quite the haul in this case. If you have interest in watching how the auction unfolded yourself, CGC put out a video covering the auction in real time and some other details on their YouTube channel.

This sale is very cool to see in my opinion because it just goes to show where the hobby as it right now. Not only is the attention of this sale great for the hobby, but the price point realized here is partially a product of how well the market and Pokemon as a whole are doing. On top of that, this Blastoise and the other ones like it were not even authenticated until very recently and the demand for it was immediately there for it thereafter, which is just cool to see. Additionally, the seller got to rake in quite the payday and the buyer got to obtain a card that I am sure they will greatly appreciate having in their collection. At the end of the day, that is all you can hope for in a transaction such as this one and I would like to congratulate both participants.

Time to look at this turtle’s brethren.

The Other Blastoise

Even though this card is not the focal point of this article, this turtle is nothing to scoff at. It is incredibly rare, like the Protostoise in a lot of ways and is a fantastic collectible. Whether you appreciate the card or not, there are people out there that do and its backstory is truly something!

As for sales history, we have not seen any of these authenticated copies complete sales yet, but I would not be surprised if that happened soon. Funny enough, I know that some of these were posted years ago at a much lower price point and many people ragged on the seller because the card was not yet authenticated. Now the card is authenticated and certainly worth substantially more than the seller(s) were asking at that point in time.

How did this card come into existence?

As discussed above, these turtles were finally authenticated after years of debate and speculation. I spoke more about how this unfolded in the section above, so look there if you missed it. Additionally, CGC put out an informative article on the situation, which would be a great read for anyone interested in this topic.

Unfortunately, this card has a similar story to the one above, but I do have some additional details to include. Since WOTC handled things at the time and they also handled Magic: The Gathering, it does not seem farfetched that they either used the MTG back as part of there test process or accidentally included it along the way. Creating Pokemon cards might seem like you can just slap some ink on and call it a day, but this process must have been a very tedious and important one for them, meaning it took a while.

As for where these cards have been all these years, I have some of those details for you. Unlike the Protostoise, I had known of these cards existence before they received authentication by CGC, as they had been posted on forums numerous times. They had also been taken to various shows in an attempt to be authenticated, which lead to be it being determined to be an authentic card by the panelists. Despite these panelists being very informed in the matter and highly regarded as experts, it does not seem like this was enough for the community to accept the card.

As far as the owners of the cards go, there seem to be two. The first owner, James Burton, who is the person I saw posting the card many years ago, seemingly purchased the collection of a previous WOTC employee, where he found two copies of this card and many other oddities. The other owner, Zechariah Maples, purchased the storage unit of an old game store, where he ended up uncovering the third MTG Blastoise card.

Like I said earlier in the article, there are a lot of misprints and oddities out there, but I would have to say that this one is my favorite. Unless you count the private Mitsuhiro Arita drawings that were included in the Pikachu Illustrator trade, as those still take the cake for me.

There are also a few German Base Set cards with MTG backs. I wonder if we will see any of these cards on the market anytime soon!

Differences Between the Blastoises

I just wanted to include a quick list of differences between the two Blastoises, as it may be easier to recognize and appreciate each of them after absorbing it:

  • Multiple MTG Blastoises authenticated, only one Protostoise authenticated
  • Protostoise has a blank back, whereas the MTG Blastoise is rocking a Magic back
  • Once graded, these Blastoises both have a different name on the case. The Protostoise is labeled as “Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Holo” and the MTG Blastoise is labeled as “Test Print (Gold Border) Foil MTG Back”

It was a lot of fun to watch the auction unfold! I could not be happier for the people involved with this sale, as this is truly a historic moment and great for everyone involved in the hobby. It seems that these significant sales are happening more and more lately, which is great to see and I for one am extremely excited to see how things progress. With that being said, I will continue to cover any further developments to significant sales such as this one. If you have something you want to see covered, leave a comment down below! I would happily write about what the readers want to see more of, don’t be scared to share your thoughts.



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