Sword and Shield: Going out with a Big Bang!

Sword and Shield: Going out with a Big Bang!

It's Halloween but I'm already thinking about Christmas. Leaks have been surfacing about the end of year high class set ‘VSTAR Universe” since August, but was officially revealed late last week and is set to be released in Japan on December 2nd. This set is going to be a big deal, there is no doubt in my mind. While Vmax Climax certainly has some great hits, VSTAR Universe has taken it to the next level with an absolutely stacked setlist and two new kinds of rarities, Art Rares (AR) and Special Art Rare (SAR).

From the leaks we have seen, “Special Art” certainly is a good way to describe the alternate art vstars that will appear in this set. Pokemon seems to really have come into its own with the alternate art designs and have not missed a beat with this set. The Charizard UPC promos have made a big splash as everyone and their mother scrambles to get their hands on one, and who can blame them? For anyone who has not seen the three Charizard promos yet, I suggest crawling out of the hole you've been sleeping in, walking out of the woods and heading to whatever local coffee shop with let you use the wifi for the price of an artisanal drip coffee so you can google “UPC Charizard promos” and be absolutely amazed. Well, VSTAR Universe will contain at least one of those beauties: the VSTAR Charizard locked in pitched combat with Mewtwo was part of the leaks for the cards that will be featured in the upcoming set. And even more exciting is the fact that Mewtwo will also have an alternate art VSTAR card showing its side of the battle with Charizard, making a beautiful combo battle scene for the owner of both cards. Personally I love when Pokemon links cards together through the artworks as I think it adds to collectibility and feels like you can aim for completing mini sets within the larger whole. Alternate art VSTAR Hisuian Zoroark, Samurott, and even a Leafeon have also been leaked, and even for someone who doesn’t have any fondness for regional variants, the Zoroark alt art is incredible.

The “art rares” seem to be standing in for the “character rares” of sets past, this time only featuring Pokemon with no trainers to be seen. As the full set list has not been released we cannot be sure that character rares won't also appear, but going off of what we know so far it seems likely “art rares” will be the new stand in. The big highlight from this new rarity is the Mew art rare. Fusion Strike (fusion arts in Japanese) gave us two very cool alternate art Mew cards, but the set was brutal on hit rates and people quickly lost patience. I also think the Mew cards didn't catch on because of the art style. Mew is a simple, elegantly designed Pokemon of mystical origins, and the design work for the Fusion strike artworks felt too modern and “loud” both with art style and color scheme. The Art Rare Mew from VSTAR Universe shows the sleeping Mew on a forest floor next to a river, and gives me the same vibe as the “lilypad” mew from days of old. The softer colors, and nature driven portrait truly is beautiful, and I believe serves Mew better for the kind of Pokemon Mew is. 

And lastly what got me very excited was the return of Suicune, the star of the legendary dogs from Gen 2. Suicune will receive an alt art V card and as a lover of the Crystal version, this makes me very excited. Suicune is featured prominently on the very well designed booster pack, but in times past that is no guarantee the card in the set will live up to the hype. In this case, it has and in combination with the VSTAR alternate arts, the stunning Art Rares, and the return of popular regular VSTAR cards like Charizard, Mewtwo, and Arceus, as well as Mew Vmax, makes this set a slam dunk in my eyes. The high class packs ensure a hit every time and from the looks of the setlist so far, those hits can just keep coming. For sealed collectors out there, this is definitely a set to add a few cases of to the collection, because people like me will be ripping everything you don't tuck away to get our hands on some of these new chase cards. Silver Tempest has been accidentally sold already ahead of its release date but my mind is set on a month from now when this set drops in Japan. Get those preorders in, this one is gonna be fun!

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