Hello ChannelFireball readers, welcome back to my collecting series. All the articles I have written to far are timeless and should be entertaining and informative for anyone with an interest in the collecting hobby or the economics of the Pokemon TCG in general. Speaking of which, I highly recommend checking out my previous article where I covered the options for selling your extra Pokemon cards!
- Unexpected Pokemon TCG Collecting Gems
- The Nearly $1 Million Pokemon Card Trade — All the Details and More
- The Best Winter Pokemon TCG Items
- How to Sell Your Pokemon TCG Collection
- The Top 10 Most Valuable English Set Pokemon Cards
- Protostoise, Crazy Blank & MTG-Backed Pokemon Cards & More!
- The Shining Fates Pokemon TCG Investopedia — The Cards
- The Shining Fates Pokemon TCG Investopedia — The Products
- The Top 10 Pokemon Cards from Hidden Fates & Shining Fates
- The Ultimate Guide to Collectible Card Game Grading
- Pokemon TCG News — Latest Shining Fates Takes, Grading Updates & Logan Paul
- How To Identify Fake Pokemon Cards
- Money Talks — A Financial Set Review of Battle Styles
- The Top 10 Pokemon Cards from Battle Styles
- Errors Everywhere! — Exploring the Many Mix-Ups of the Pokemon TCG
- RARE Pokemon TCG Oddities — Ishihara-GX, Protostoise & More!
- NEW Battle Styles & Shining Fates Top 10 — Analyzing My Predictions
- Pokemon TCG Bulk — What, Why & Where Does It Go?
- Breaking News — The Current State of Trading Card Game Grading
Today I’ll be discussing the value of some of the hottest cards in the hobby! Specifically, I’m going to be covering the top ten most expensive English Pokemon cards in their ungraded forms. I think that will capture a nice look at where things are right now, without getting involved with the super unobtainable stuff or the grading craziness currently unfolding. Now that I have laid that out for you all, let’s move on to an overview of the article.
This list is going to be a little different than others you might have seen recently, as it has some specifications to it to keep things interesting. Throughout my time here at ChannelFireball, I’m sure you have heard me discuss trophy cards and the value increase that grading a card can create. The fact of the matter is that trophy cards are the most expensive cards out there. There is a little bit of competition, but a top ten list would be quickly filled up with some of the rarest, most unobtainable cards that the hobby has to offer. To avoid that, I’m going to be discussing English set cards today. Additionally, for the sake of sticking to the theme of being at least somewhat obtainable and focusing on the cards themselves, this article is going to be discussing ungraded cards (for the most part). Graded cards are always going to demand a premium over their ungraded counterpart, so that is something you can keep in mind throughout this article.
I’m sure I will eventually write about the top ten most expensive Japanese Pokemon cards, as trophy cards and other scarce promos are some of the coolest cards out there. As I have stated in previous articles, many collectors, myself included, would have to say that they have some of the best artwork in the hobby, which is never something I would want to shun. Looking at the most expensive graded cards is something I have done a little bit already and would have some overlap with the Japanese promos assuming there were no limitations, but I’m sure I will create a dedicated article to that topic as well. Like I always say, I have a long list of topics in mind and am constantly adding to it!
For each card, I will include some details of the card, some interesting facts if available, and a look at its sales data. Not only should the sales data provide you with a look at what the card is worth now, but it should give you an overall view of its price movement. While I will not have a ton of sales data for each card, it should be enough to give you a glimpse of its past, a look at the present situation, and leave you to ponder where it might go in the future. Speaking of not having a ton of sales data, the fact of the matter is that a lot of these cards do indeed get graded, so for some of the price points below I will use graded examples to display the current value of cards. These will not be high end grades, any grades included will be in the 6-7 range, and are solely meant to provide a more complete sales history. Additionally, all graded card sales will be identified as so, so no need to worry about what is what.
The Top Ten
Some of the positions could be changed around, as prices are constantly changing and some of the cards don’t have a ton of sales data. The list will contain ten of the most expensive cards, along with a short list of honorable mentions. Let’s get started with a card everyone should know well at this point!
While this list is packed with very recognizable cards, this is one should be familiar to everyone at this point. There was a huge boom in Pokemon lately, mostly centered around celebrities getting involved with this card and sealed 1st Edition Base Set booster boxes.
Released in 1999, 1st Edition Base Set is the first ever released Pokemon set! It had a very small print run and is the most sought-after set in Pokemon today. This Charizard is the star of the show and is the most iconic card in the hobby! It also competes for the most valuable card in the hobby, regardless of what sector you are looking at.
One small note, like other 1st Edition cards in this article, the non-1st Edition variation of this card does exist and is a good option for anyone looking to appreciate the artwork of the card. In most cases the other variations are less expensive. While that remains true with this card, the Shadowless and Unlimited versions of this card both contend for the top ten list, but they are not nearly expensive as the holy grail we have here.
Here is some sales data for one of the most recognizable cards out there:
- Near mint copy sold for $20,300 in November 2020
- PSA 7 sold for $13,500 in January 2021
- Cheapest near mint listing available on eBay is a PSA 7 for $12,000
Unfortunately, this is one that is hard to capture sales data for. Prior to the big increase we saw around April of last year, these were selling for a lot less. I do not see the price falling to where it was prior to that, but we are currently experiencing a retrace. I personally believe the price of this card will increase from here on out.
This is one of the more unique items on the list, it’s from the POP Series packs. It was released in POP Series 5, which were distributed at Pokemon leagues as part of the participation rewards. While this is a grey area in terms of my parameters for today, I decided to include it, as I thought it would be a fun card to cover for you all today.
Due to the nature of the release, this card was not taken very seriously at first. Additionally, the pull rate was relatively low and pop packs had a much lower print run than many regular set releases. On top of that, due to how they were being distributed, a lot of these cards were probably lost, destroyed, or damaged throughout the years. This makes near mint copies carry a large premium!
Here is some sales data for this previously underappreciated card:
- Near mint sold for $1750 in December 2020, multiple times
- PSA 7 sold for $3,000 in December 2020
- Cheapest currently available is a CGC 7 with decent subgrades for $5,000
Rayquaza Gold Star is probably the most popular gold star out there, as Rayquaza is one of the most popular Pokemon out there. It is certainly a beautiful card with wonderful artwork, and a lot of people consider it to be the Charizard of its era. It was released all the way back in 2005, in the Deoxys set. Despite being so old, this makes it one of the newest cards on this list! That just goes to shower, the older you go, the scarcer it gets for cards like this.
This one has always been relatively expensive, but let’s look at some of its sales history.
- Near mint sold for $4,072.65 in November 2020
- Cheapest currently on eBay is a PSA 8 for $5,000
- While a lot of these cards have minimal listings available on TCGplayer with ridiculous asking prices, this card literally has zero available for all conditions
This is the sister of the Umbreon described above, as they are both evolutions of Eevee and released in the same POP Series set. With, everything I included above about Umbreon could be said about this Espeon.
This Espeon Star and the Umbreon Star above are the only two Stars that have no foiling whatsoever, which makes them a unique subcategory. This originally deterred people from being attracted to them, but now add to an already unique Pokemon card. All the information above, along with the fact that it is a popular Pokemon, make for quite the expensive card.
Similarly, to Umbreon Star, I also feel this card was underappreciated in the past. Time to look at what the numbers say:
- Lightly played sold for $3,000 in January 2021
- CGC 8 sold for over $3,000 in November 2020
- Cheapest currently available is a BGS 9 for $3,018.74 (I honestly think this is a good price, which is the only reason I included a higher grade)
- Very low selection currently
While Charizard is the most featured Pokemon on this list, I was relieved to see that there was some variety to it. I must be honest, going into this I was not entirely sure what the list would be comprised of, and I was glad that the answer was not entirely Charizard. This one is special because it was the first shiny Zard ever released! It does, in fact, have Shining in the name. This beast was released in Neo Destiny way back in 2002, and while it was not the first set to feature Shining Pokemon, it is the best one. Despite Shining Pokemon cards being quite expensive, it took Charizard to carry them into the top ten, which is surprising to me. Shining Mewtwo and Shining Tyranitar were decent contenders for this list, and all the Shining cards have incredible artwork, but at the end of the day, Charizard is the only one to have broken through.
This is one that was always considered expensive in relation to other card values at the time, but with the recent boom, this is one that saw a significant increase. Where did the price end up settling? Here are the numbers:
- PSA 7 sold for over $5,000 in December 2020
- PSA 6 sold for $2,800 in December 2020
- Cheapest currently available is a PSA 7 for $4,500
Following the first ever shiny Charizard we discussed above, we have the second ever shiny Charizard right here!
Turns out, people like shiny Pokemon and Charizard! This is evident in the fact that other shiny Charizards, from Hidden Fates and Plasma Storm, are hanging outside the top ten and could eventually make their way in! It is wild that such modern Pokemon can command such a premium, but I guess that speaks to the dedication of the Charizard fans out there.
As for this Charizard, it was released in Dragon Frontiers in 2006. This was right when I started playing (eight years old), so this is a very nostalgic set for me! Anyways, Dragon Frontiers is not a particularly sought-after set in the grand scheme of things, but its age and the fact that it contains Stars means it is very expensive, nonetheless.
This is one of the most popular Stars, and despite its price tag, is still not the highest ranked one on this list. How does its price compare to the one’s we have already looked at? Find out now:
- Multiple PSA 7 copies sold for between $2,000 and $2,500 in December 2020
- Near mint copy sold for $1,800 in November 2020
- PSA 7 sold for $3,000 in November 2020
- Cheapest copy available is a PSA 6 for $1,457
- Near mint copy available on TCGplayer for $2,400
This card was one of the first cards I ever graded, and I cannot even tell you how excited I was when it got a PSA 10. This is another card that means a lot to me.
Anyways, this card was released in Skyridge in 2003, making it nearly 20 years old at this point. I’m discussing the holo version of this card, but reverse holo variations for each crystal exist as well. The holos are more expensive, but for this one, even the reverse holo has a heavy asking price.
Many people believe that these were very difficult to pull, but that is not entirely true, especially when you factor in the reverse holos. Overall, the pull rate for these is one in every 12 to 18 packs. On average, you will end up with three crystals per box. However, when doing research on this topic, I saw people sharing their personal experiences with box openings. Multiple people reported getting between two and five crystals per box, with a couple people reportedly getting seven! I bet that was quite the box opening if true.
Anyways, with, the fact that Skyridge boxes are over $50,000 makes total sense when you consider those pull rates and age.
Despite many crystals really getting up there in price, spoiler alert, this one is the only one to crack the top ten currently. Let’s look at the numbers that got it here:
- Lightly played copy sold for $2,250 in December 2020
- Lightly played copy sold for $3,500 in December 2020
- PSA 8 copy sold for $5,500 in November 2020
- Cheapest currently available are multiple lightly played copies for $3,500 each
Blaine’s Charizard is a unique inclusion on this list because outside of the 1st Edition Base Set holos, this is the only holo card on this list. Everything else is some sort of ultra rare, which makes its inclusion that much more impressive.
Blaine’s Charizard came out of the Gym Challenge set back in 2000, which was the first set to feature a bunch of Gym Leader Pokemon. We had seen Team Rocket include Dark Pokemon earlier on, but this was still cool to see. Gym Challenge and Gym Heroes, despite having no ultra rares, remain popular to this day. For those sets, pulling a more sought after holo rare is the goal.
One fun fact about Blaine’s Charizard is that the Unlimited versions have an error version, as well as the corrected version. Some of them were mistakenly printed with a Fighting symbol in the text of the first attack. The corrected version has this mistake fixed, and the Fighting symbol is a Fire symbol as it was intended to be. The corrected version is rarer, as most of the cards have the error. All 1st Edition copies have the error, so there is no variation amongst them.
Let’s look at the sales history of one of the more surprising inclusions on this list:
- PSA 8 sold for $1,000 in January 2021
- Many near mint and lightly played copies sold for $800 to $1,200 in December 2020
- Near mint copy available on TCGplayer for $1,400
- Cheapest currently available on eBay is a PSA 7 for $1,200
Way up on the list, we had the most predominant member of the original big three, and now we have his lackeys trailing in behind him. I say this because of how popular Charizard was from the start, along with the chaos Charizard cards are causing now. The reality, though, is that Blastoise is very popular, and the favorite of many collectors out there. Blastoise is the first regular holo card on this list that is not a Charizard, so that should speak for itself.
How does this turtle stand up to its lizard brethren? Time to find out:
- PSA 6 sold for $1,403.95 in January 2021
- PSA 7 sold for almost $3,000 in January 2021
- PSA 7 sold for $3,000 in November 2020
- Multiple near mint copies sold for between $2,500 and $3,000 in November 2020
- No PSA 7 or ungraded near mint copies currently available
- Cheapest currently on eBay is a PSA 6 for $1,400
To wrap up this list, we have the final member of the original big three, Venusaur. It seems fitting that the entirety of the 1st Edition big three made this list, as they are a very solid representation of the hobby. Each of these three Pokemon, Charizard, Blastoise, and Venusaur, evolved from the original starter Pokemon. From the beginning, they were always thought of as three of the most recognizable Pokemon, especially in nostalgia terms, and that maintains true to this day.
Time to look at some sales of the most sought after Venusaur in the game:
- Lightly played copy available on TCGplayer for $1,700
- PSA 7 sold for $2,250 in January 2021
- Cheapest available on eBay currently is a CGC 6.5 for $1,355
- Cheapest PSA 6 on eBay currently is $1,600
I’d just like to mention that while the top 10 list is still pricy, a lot of these cards can be obtained for a lot cheaper if you are willing to go after a copy that is in worse condition. This is pretty much always the case with Pokemon cards, so if you see something you really like, don’t feel the need to go out and spend a premium if any copy would fill the gap in your heart.
I just wanted to finish off the article with a short list of cards that could be in the top 10 if this snapshot was taken on a different day, or maybe in someone’s personal top 10 because they value the featured Pokemon or artwork presented highly. I won’t have the details of these cards like I did for the one’s above, but maybe you will find something to keep an eye on or see a card you felt was left out:
- Other 1st Edition Shadowless Base Set holos
- Torchic Star, Treecko Star, Mudkip Star, Latias Star and Latios Star
- Charizard and Crystal Celebi
- Base Set Charizard
- Rocket’s Mewtwo-ex
- Gengar Skyridge holo
- Umbreon Skyridge holo
I’m sure there are others that deserve to be in this conversation as well. Sorry if I missed one of your favorites!
Compiling the current studs of the Pokemon collecting world was a fun task, especially with the parameters I used for this article. It was a refreshing feeling getting to review reasonably obtainable, ungraded cards. I feel like most of the hype in the game right now focuses on expensive items, mainly trophy cards or very high-end graded cards. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s nice to look at some less expensive cards for a change!
Please feel free to leave a comment below if there’s any topic you’d like me to consider, and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions about this article or any of my other ones.