An argument often heard in the more serious collecting circles is that collecting modern Pokemon is a poor long term investment because the Pokemon company has ramped up production so much in the past two years that even the hardest chase cards to hit are still available in abundance in pack fresh condition flooding the market and tanking the value. I myself am a diehard vintage collector and seek out low pop and niche items that never saw much circulation. The hunt is what makes it fun and ultimately gives me the satisfaction of finally being able to add a piece to my collection. So when I look at the population reports and see gem mint grades in the thousands, it's hard for me to want 1 of 4,000 10’s that are bouncing around the marketplace, especially when I would need to pay a premium to obtain it. However, I think it is time to admit that this poo pooing of high end modern cards is misguided, and while these cards may not be something every collectors would chase, the community as a whole doesn’t feel the same way.
Beginning with the Trainer galleries and evolving into the introduction of alternate arts, Pokemon cards are elevated visually in a way they have never been before. Cards have become landscapes, portraits, and action scenes with vivid detail and texturing that takes over the entire surface of the card. From an objective standpoint, some of these designs are truly breathtaking works of art, and when that artistry is combined with a popular Pokemon that everyone wants, we see the value of those cards stay high despite months and months of people ripping and hitting new copies of the card. Simply put, the demand is so great that the high supply doesn't seem to matter, because within the Pokemon community there are enough people willing to pay.
The most obvious example is the Moonbreon (Umbreon Vmax Alt Art) from Evolving Skies. While prices have dropped slightly from when the set first released, the raw card still has never really dipped under $400, and many copies still sell much closer to $500. To be fair, this is not an easy card to hit, and the numerous copies of the card are only available because so many packs are being opened. That doesn’t change the fact that the current PSA 10 population currently sits at over 4,300, and yet that card will still fetch around a thousand dollars at auction, and even more if it is the Japanese version from Eevee Heroes due to the even lower pull rate. The Alternate art Giratina and Lugia from Lost Origin and Silver Tempest have also held strong at over $200 for a raw copy, some over $300 depending on centering. These cards are many people’s first introduction to modern Pokemon as the next, and hopefully larger, generation enters the collecting community. Just as millennials are willing to drop bank on chase cards from our childhood, I think it is important to think about these cards in relation to the next generation of collectors who couldn’t afford to buy them when they were first released.
Looking down the road, how do cards like the Umbreon then affect future prices for Evolving Skies as a sealed product? We have already seen Eevee Heroes significantly climb in price, and even the newly released Vstar Universe set has maintained a strong price point on the secondary market due to its wealth of beautifully designed chase cards. With Crown Zenith releasing on the day I write this, I am interested to see how the chase cards fair as the set list contains many of the most prized cards from Vstar Universe (arguably the best set to come out of Japan since Eevee Heroes). I think we can all expect inflated prices immediately after the release of a new set, but as we have seen over the past year, the popularity in the community can keep a card’s value despite what many would consider to be an overabundance of supply. The new design work has been a massive success, and Pokemon may have just illustrated their way out of an overprinting problem for collectors by simply making the cards more desirable to a larger group of people. Vintage will always be there for the old heads who want to chase it, but as we start the next chapter with Scarlet and Violet, I think it’s high time some of us put the respect on the modern TCG cards that they deserve.