‘People are treating this as a purely financial investment’ – what influenced increased interest in Pokemon cards?

Some might say that £173,000 is too much to spend on a bit of cardboard, and they’re probably right. 

But that’s what rapper Logic decided to spend on a rare first edition Charizard Pokémon card. 

The card was rated the highest score of 10 for ‘gem mint’ by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), the largest trading card grading company, which increased its value considerably. 

Logic is just the latest in a spate of high profile people getting involved in Pokémon, boosting up the prices of in-demand cards. 

YouTuber Logan Paul, who told his 22 million subscribers that he is quitting Pokémon after securing his own PSA 10 Charizard for $150,000 (£112,727), seems to have changed the prices of Pokémon cards forever.

Roy Raftery, a trading card expert from east London said: “We’re having people phone us up who know nothing about the game, they’re very honest they’re like “I’m just investing in card games, do you have four or five of your best Charizards in stock, what are they, can I have them?’

“All because they saw some influencer on YouTube do it, that’s the main driver at the moment, all the Logan Paul stuff.”

Tim Willoughby, owner of Hackney games bar Rule Zero, agrees that many people are now getting into it just for the money. 

“There are definitely people that are treating this as a purely financial investment, in the same way that someone in the past might have bought a rare baseball card or a first edition Superman comic.

“Not everyone can afford a classic Ferrari to feel like they’ve got something special that’s going to be worth lots of money, buying a bunch of Pokémon cards might be a better investment and it’s more affordable for people.”

But they both admit that it’s not just influencers; lockdown and nostalgia played a role too.

Tim said: “If you look at the people who played Pokémon as kids, now they’re grown up and potentially have a lot of money behind them, and nostalgia is a really big thing.

“And having things to do that are not Netflix and the same set of shows you’ve been watching while stuck at home for ages is great.”

Roy said: “In the first lockdown people just had more time on their hands to rummage through their lofts to rekindle with some of their old stuff and maybe start collecting again.

“And collectors just had more disposable income, it doesn’t matter if you played golf, or knitting, or collected Pokémon cards, you just have more money for your hobby and that’s why prices initially went up.”

But it is not just sales of Pokémon cards that have seen an increase. Card enthusiast Daniel Quinn streams himself opening packs of cards, and has also seen an increase in his views.

He said: “I don’t like saying I jumped on the bandwagon, because I’ve been collecting for almost 20 years, but I did definitely take advantage of the uptick in people wanting to watch pack openings.”

Unlike many of the new collectors he isn’t going after the high profile graded cards. 

He said: “I absolutely hate graded cards, I think the grading system is the worst thing for a collector!

“Grading bumps up the price so we can’t find this Mew card we’re after for less than $3,000, and it came out of a $70 box.

“When I look at cards I don’t think ‘I’m so glad this centering is good and there’s no whitening on the back’. I just think I’m so glad I’ve got that art work.”

ALL IN ORDER: A small selection of the binders Daniel Quinn uses to store his cards

For Daniel it isn’t about the price of the cards, or treating it as an investment. 

He said: “I’m not sitting on my card collection thinking I’m gonna sell this one day, I think I’d be happy keeping it forever. 

“I’m in the boat of ‘Why are all these people here, they’re hiking up the price, go away so I can buy my Meowth cards in peace!’”

Roy thinks prices could go higher still.

“Next year’s the 25th anniversary so it’s gonna be on your milk, on your Metro, on the news, it’s gonna be absolutely everywhere,” he said.

“With such good products, the nostalgia hype and the 25th anniversary, I just think Pokémon will be at an all time high for the next year and a half.”

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