A beginner's guide to Pokemon collecting
So you love Pokemon (I mean, who doesn’t?) and want to start collecting… Going Twice is here to help! Given that Wizards of the Coast started making Pokemon (Pocket Monsters as they were known back in the day) over 20 years ago, there are many, many options when it comes to collecting. You also have sets printed in English, Japanese, Korean, German, and more as well as different print runs, variations (e.g., red logo Jungle), graded cards, ungraded cards, sealed product, and the list goes on and on and on making it a little overwhelming to those new to the hobby.
So, where to start?
First of all, decide what you want to start with (i.e., ungraded cards, graded cards, product) and what era (i.e., vintage vs modern). And to help you out, let’s break those down a bit…
Singles, Slabs, & Sealed, Oh My!
Singles (or ungraded cards) can be found in your local card shop, online, and by ripping packs yourself. Pokellector is a great resource (website and app) for seeing full lists (and pictures) of every Pokemon set made in both English and Japanese. You can even use the app to mark off what cards you’ve collected so far. If you’re looking for a reputable online source to buy cards, check out TCGplayer. You’ll find that raw (ungraded cards) range from literally pennies to hundreds of dollars depending on the value/demand of the individual card. Look for sellers with positive reviews and cards in the condition you’d like. We’ll delve into card condition in another post because there’s a lot to unpack there. If you love the excitement of live pack openings where you get to keep all the cards!!! Check out our rip n ship streams on Whatnot. We find the product and you get to see it opened live and shipped to you asap. Pretty sweet, huh?
Slabs, slabs, everywhere! Yes, there are slabs for sale all over the place but which ones to buy? Or should you grade yourself? Check out our post on grading if that’s a route you’re considering. Not to toot our own horn BUT Going Twice is a highly respected purveyor of slabs both on Whatnot and Proxibid. We grade a boatload of pack fresh cards and make it easy for our customers to get their hands on an amazing variety of cards from different eras, grade levels, and price points. CGC Cards literally just announced their Grading Card Registry as a way to display and catalog your CGC graded cards. It looks pretty sweet and a great way to avoid buying your fourth Neo Gen Sudowoodo slab because you just love the little guy and can't keep track of your previous purchases. Not that I've done that or anything and who are you to judge! A large Sudowoodo collection is nothing to be ashamed of. Anyhoo, moving on... Some collectors are picky about which grading companies they collect and that’s totally cool but you do you. Collect the cards you like at a price that makes it financially irresponsible not to buy (as Travis would say)!
Now sealed product might seem like the most straightforward of the three but it can go sideways fast if you aren’t confident in your supplier. With the dramatic rise in Pokemon popularity (and price) in the past few years, there have unfortunately been some unscrupulous people out there resealing both vintage and modern product. There have been a few high profile fakes or reseals in recent history (see Logan Paul's infamous 1st Edition case of what turned out to be G.I. Joe cards). Buy from people or businesses that you trust and avoid sketchy deals on Craig’s List asking you to send gift cards in exchange for product. Sealed product can be really hard to authenticate without actually opening it which kinda defeats the purpose...
You can never go wrong collecting what you love - it should be fun, not stressful or anxiety ridden. It is always nice to see the things you collect go up in value but at the end of the day, the joy of finding and owning pieces that have meaning to you is the best part.