RARE Pokemon TCG Oddities — Ishihara-GX, Protostoise & More!

Hello ChannelFireball readers and welcome back to my Pokemon TCG collecting series! I hope you all enjoyed my last article on errors. If you have not given it a read already, I recommend doing so. As for today’s article, it is sort of a follow up on my errors article, where I covered cards such as Blaine’s Charizard and Blastoise Base Set. Those were some classic errors that are well known by now, but I did not get a chance to discuss some of the rarer and lesser-known oddities in that article since they are not errors. To me, though, they do fall under a similar umbrella, as they are just a different set of unique and collectible Pokemon cards. The ones on this list are going to be far rare and more expensive, though, which makes it a much rougher time on the collectors out there. That does not mean you cannot obtain them if you find yourself dead set on doing so! I believe in you. Additionally, collector or not, this article should be a fun and educational read for anyone out there. I hope you all enjoy it!

Last time I didn’t get into factory printing issues such as miscuts. The fact of the matter is that things like miscuts are far too common and only collected by hobbyists that really enjoy them. Today, however, I will be discussing some oddities that exist in the hobby! All these cards are extremely rare and scarce, for one reason or another, to the point where you may not even know some of these exist. It should be an interesting ride and I hope you all enjoy it!

There are some cards out there that are like the ones on this list, such as the Pikachu Illustrator, but that card is wildly popular and has been talked about to death at this point. Time to give some of the lesser known and even more unique cards some time in the spotlight!

For Position Only


There is a whole lineup of FPO cards, all of which are rare, but Charizard is the most popular of them. The other Pokemon featured are Alakazam, Ampharos, Arbok, Blastoise, Clefable and Dugtrio. There is a very odd eighth card in the set, named Manhole, which features a Pokemon TCG back and Mr. Game and Watch artwork on the front.

As for how they were released, the story is an interesting one. Right after Legendary Collection was released, but before Expedition was released, these FPO cards came into existence. Employees printed them in sealed packs, known to be Legendary Collection wraps and distributed them inside the company, never meant to be released to the public. However, at least one employee ended up taking some sealed packs home, which eventually made their way into circulation when they decided to sell off their old collection many years later. If you want to find out more about these cards, TCA Gaming released a fantastic video showing some of what I am talking about and more, on his YouTube channel many years ago.


This Blastoise was the talk of the town a few months back when it was finally authenticated by CGC. Since then, it went on to sell for a whopping $360,000! That places it in the absolute highest tier of cards and there is good reason for that.

The Blastoise you 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, your 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. I am going to cover that right now, as well as some other information about the card!

As for the most recent part of this card’s history, the authenticity of this turtle 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. Since WOTC was originally the manufacturers of Pokemon cards, they were the ones handling things now. 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 and congratulations to them!

There is also a similar Blastoise to this one that has been shown off recently, which features a blank white back as opposed to the MTG back you see here. There is not much else to say about it, but it is a cool card nonetheless!

Other MTG-Backed Cards

While the above Blastoise is certainly the most well-known one, there are other Pokemon cards that have MTG backs!

These cards are two Weedle, four Nidoran, two Tangela, one Arcanine and one Growlithe. The Growlithe is the one I know most about, as it is the only one, I have seen in circulation. In fact, it just popped back up after being authenticated by CGC! It sold for a whopping $26,400 as a CGC 8!

As for how they came to be, you do have some information on that. Back in the day, uncut sheets were sent facilities where they would be appropriately cut and then sealed into backs for distribution. At one of these facilities, these error cards were noticed after they were cut and stopped from going into circulation. Most of them immediately got destroyed, but an employee managed to save ten of them. This employee then sold them to a huge name in the hobby, TCA Gaming, who then ended up reselling them to members of the community.


This is possibly the most unique Pokemon card out there, as it features a real-life person on it! Tsunekazu Ishihara is the president and CEO of The Pokemon Company, so he is obviously a big deal in the hobby and within the company. At the 2018 Pokemon World Championships, it was Mr. Ishihara’s birthday and there was a private party with his closest friends to celebrate. At this party, select guests were given a copy of this card as a token of appreciation. The estimated print run is between 30 and 200 but was never narrowed down further.

Very few have popped up on the market given the nature of the card’s release. It was something special to Mr. Ishihara, which is why so few were distributed at such a special moment for him. However, two have, with a PSA 9 copy selling for $12,900 and a PSA 10 copy selling for $50,000.

English VS Card Set

The Japanese release of this set was very significant there, as it introduced the Special Condition classification and the Burned Special Condition. Along with this, it also introduced Technical Machine cards and featured an updated card design, which is probably the most important detail to share here.

There was not a similarly released English version, but some English VS Cards made their way into existence in another manner. At the 2001-2002 Tropical Meta Battle tournament in Japan, the English copies were given to English speaking competitors. These cards all feature the Tropical Mega Battle symbol on the bottom right of the card, which confirms this. Additionally, despite being English cards, these have Japanese packs because they were printed at the Media Factory in Japan, which printed all the Japanese cards at that point in time as well.

Not only are these cards unique due to their release and Japanese back, but they also feature many different Pokemon trainers on them as well. You will see what I mean below, where I have included the list of the card names for this set.

  • Bruno’s Hitmonchan
  • Bugsy’s Yanma
  • Chuck’s Donphan
  • Clair’s Mantine (Also an error version with Psychic Resistance)
  • Energy Ark
  • Falkner’s Fearow
  • Janine’s Beedrill
  • Jasmine’s Raichu
  • Karen’s Rapidash
  • Morty’s Hypno
  • Potion
  • Pryce’s Cloyster
  • Super Scoop Up
  • Switch
  • Tropical Breeze
  • Whitney’s Furret
  • Will’s Girafarig

I have never seen these in circulation which goes to show how scarce they are, which is a shame because they are super cool!

The full list of Tropical Mega Battle VS Cards is going to wrap it up for this one, everyone! I think it was a nice end to the article, as those cards are ones that most people don’t know about and it was fun to review them. I tried to cover everything that I felt belonged in this article, which was not a ton due to the nature of these cards, but it ended up being more than I expected at first! I got a nice mix of different distribution methods and cards in general, which felt nice. I am sorry if you think I missed anything! Feel free to comment down below if I did or if you just have a general comment or question. Additionally, I am always taking article topic suggestions, as I would love to write about what you all want to read about! That only makes sense, right? Anyways, I will be back soon with another article, so keep an eye out for that. I hope you all enjoy the world of Pokemon until I return.


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