I'm a Pokemaniac! Follow me if you love Pokemon cards, link cables, and random encounters. No Rockets allowed!

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Pokeballoonza's News

Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 22nd, 2021

This post is a follow up to Yellow Cheeks & Red Cheeks


This page has the 2nd Pokemon in the original sets with a variant piece of artwork: Raichu has a base set card as well as a fossil card. I like the fossil artwork better, but I had the base card much longer than the fossil version, so that one will always have a special place in my heart.

When I was collecting the cards as a kid, I wasn't very interested in the set types (base, base 2, etc)- I just wanted all 151. So my collection contains whatever I was able to get my hands on, placed in Pokedex order. I clump all of my jungle, base, base 2, legendary, and fossil cards together, since they all have the same artwork. The symbols never mattered to me too much as long as I had each character.

Sharing these old cards has gotten me really interested in collecting again, so my card collection has started to expand with newer variant art cards from new sets of the original 151. Maybe I'll show those once I finish working through the original 151.

More to come soon!


Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 17th, 2021

This post is a follow up to I'll show you mine if you show me yours


Here is the next page in my binder. I mentioned in an earlier post that I always kept my cards organized by Pokedex number, and that is true, but it doesn’t go straight from 1-151.

While I was never picky about the set (Base, Base 2, Jungle, or Fossil), I did want to have all 151 of the originals and their variant arts. So on this page you’ll notice there are 3 Pikachus: the original base set art, the shadowless red cheeks version (just for fun- it's the exact same as the base set art), and the jungle art.

From the original sets, there were 7 cards that were printed with variant card art:

  1. Pikachu: Base & Jungle
  2. Raichu: Base & Fossil
  3. Electrode: Base & Jungle
  4. Gastly: Base & Fossil
  5. Haunter: Base & Fossil
  6. Magmar: Base & Fossil
  7. Zapdos: Base & Fossil

I’m not sure why those cards were given 2 versions when others weren’t. Why bother printing variations on 7 random cards? Pikachu makes sense since he’s the Pokemon mascot, and Zapdos seems reasonable since it’s a legendary, but if that's the case why not do variants on Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, and Mewtwo? Why Electrode and Gastly?

I don’t have any answers to that, but I collected the different artworks for each anyway.

Turn the page

Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 13th, 2021

Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 11th, 2021

Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 9th, 2021

This post is a follow up to What's inside?

Here’s the next set of cards in my collection:


I don’t have any fun or interesting stories about the cards on this page, aside from noting that my Pidgeot is another like Venusaur and Blastoise- my original one was stolen and I had to purchase this one individually years later. I’m pretty sure my original one was holographic. Oh, well...

Since I don’t have anything to say specifically about these cards, I’ll just talk about Pokemon cards in general.

First of all, what makes a card rare or valuable? You can find more in-depth analysis on this topic elsewhere, but when I was growing up the consensus between me and my friends was that a card was rare or valuable if it met any of the following criteria:


Holographic cards were top tier for me and my friends. A holographic card was always preferable to a non-holographic card in our eyes. These were also the most obviously valuable cards to anyone looking at them because they were shiny.

1st Edition

True gems! These were among the first set of printed cards. Out of my whole collection, I only have 3 or 4 that are marked as 1st edition. My wife has about 10 or so in her binder.

2 quick notes on 1st editions:

  1. I believe a 1st edition card with a gray stamp is even more valuable than the regular black stamp 1st edition
  2. There is one card in the set that is more valuable as a NON 1st edition: Machamp. For whatever reason, EVERYONE has a holographic 1st edition Machamp. I don’t know if it was a printing error or what, but non 1st edition Machamps are actually more rare than the 1st edition versions that everyone seems to have.


The mythical shadowless cards! I only have 1 of these in my collection, and I didn't actually learn about them until after the Pokemon craze had died down. Most cards have a drop shadow around the border of the image surrounding the artwork, but shadowless cards do not. I don’t know the reason behind that, but I know that makes them rare. I think the colors on shadowless cards are often faded and washed out as well, so it’s entirely possible I had these as a kid and threw them out because I’d assumed they were damaged from sitting out in the sun too long.


I don’t think I have any misprints, mostly because I would have thrown them out as a kid. When you’re 10 years old and you see a misspelling on a card, you pretty much always favor the card that is printed correctly. At that time, misprinted cards weren't seen as unique collector's items (to us dumb kids, anyway): they were low quality garbage. Now I know that those cards would be a bit more valuable and also fun to have in a collection!

Some other random tidbits:

Red cheeks Pikachu

Most of the standard fat Pikachu cards were printed with yellow cheeks. At some point, Wizards of the Coast began printing Pikachus with red cheeks, but for some reason they only did a brief print run of that before going back to the yellow cheeks. That makes red cheek Pikachu cards much rarer! You’ll notice my Pikachu has yellow cheeks as normal.

Card sets

Most of my cards are from the Base Set. You can tell because they don’t have any special markings. But if you look in the lower right corner just beneath the Pokemon artwork, you’ll see that some cards have symbols: one looks like a Vileplume head (Jungle), some have a skeleton hand (Fossil), some have a "2" with a Pokeball (Base Set 2), some have a badge or award icon (Legendary), and some have an R (Rocket) or a Black Star (Promos). There are other sets, but I’m not familiar with them.

That wraps up today’s post. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not a “serious” collector, but I kept all 151 cards from when I was a kid. Most of my “knowledge” on the subject is from the perspective of a grown up thinking back to what he heard when he was 10 years old. If anything I’ve written here is factually incorrect, please leave a comment and help me correct it!

Do you have any fun facts to share about card sets, shadowless or rare cards, or misprints? Leave a comment and share a photo of your own Pokemon cards!

Click here to see the next page

Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 8th, 2021

This post is a follow-up to My 20 year old Pokemon card collection

Let’s crack into the old binder and see what’s inside!

First up: the starter Pokemon!


Ever since Pokemon came out, I've always organized my cards by number. I’ve seen cards organized in all sorts of ways though, and all ways of organizing are equally valid. Some of my friends organized their cards by color or type, others put their favorites up front, some put the best and strongest cards in the front while the weaker ones were shoved in the back, and some organized them in alphabetical order. Totally a matter of preference. Numerical order was always my way of organizing them.

Some fun notes about this page: Charizard is the only final evolution I’ve managed to hold onto since I was a kid. The funny thing is, I never pulled a Charizard out of a pack myself. My mom pulled a Charizard and a Venusaur out of two packs she bought on the same day and gave them to me and my brother for getting As on our report cards. I got Charizard, my brother got Venusaur.

In elementary school (back before trading Pokemon cards was banned in school due to "some kid in New York getting stabbed with a pencil over a Pikachu card"), I traded a bunch of rare cards to a girl named Crystal (Krystal? Kristi? I can’t remember) for a Blastoise. Her Blastoise card was bent down the middle, like it’d been folded in half and shoved in someone’s back pocket, but I didn’t care- I needed to complete the set! Bent Blastoise was better than no Blastoise.

I can’t remember how I got Venusaur, but it doesn’t matter. Both the Venusaur and bent Blastoise cards were stolen at some point during high school. By that time, Pokemon cards were no longer popular and weren't being sold at most stores anymore, so I didn’t get my hands on them again until years later. The two cards I have now were purchased from TCGplayer a while back.

But not all hope is lost! While the normal Blastoise was stolen, I managed to hold onto a precious gem… a mint condition, 1st edition Dark Blastoise (non-holographic). He’s tucked away in the back of my binder along with all the other promos and random cards, so we’ll get to him at the end.

Turn the page for more Pokemon cards


Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 8th, 2021


Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 7th, 2021

Tell me what Gen 1 Pokemon you want to see fight and I will draw their battle for you


Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 7th, 2021

The final starter Pokémon!

Over the next couple of days I’m going to share photos of my Pokémon card collection, along with some stories about any interesting cards I have.

With a few exceptions, almost all of these cards are over 20 years old. Well, technically they’re all over 20 years old, but I mean most of them have been with me that whole time. I collected all 151 between elementary school and junior high school at the height of the Pokémon craze, but somewhere between the end of junior high and the start of college, about 10 or so cards were stolen. 

I replaced those cards later, but they feel like cheater cards to me now. What I mean is- I didn’t collect them as a kid, pulling them out of packs or trading them with friends. I went online years later when I had a “real” job and bought them specifically to finish off the collection. I’ll point those cards out as we go along.

Something important I’d like to note is this: I am not a “value” collector. Never have been. Pokémon came out when I was about 6 years old and I jumped on the hype train immediately. My prime collecting age was around 8-12 years old. I collected the cards because 1) I loved the show, 2) I loved the games, and 3) everyone else on the planet was collecting and trading them!

What I mean to say is, these are 20 year old cards that were played with, traded, moved between binders and old shoeboxes, and shown to anyone who would look at them. We didn’t use “sleeves” or “card protectors” when we were little. If the card wasn’t slotted in an old binder page borrowed from the back of your dad’s baseball card collection, it was just sitting out in the open like the first time you pulled it out of a pack.

Heck, if you had a stack of Pokémon cards sitting around, or you were bringing your deck of cards over to Bobby's house to have a Pokémon battle, there was like a 95% chance the cards were held together by a dirty rubber band.

That will probably give most “serious” collectors heart palpitations, but hey- that’s just how it was.

While most of my cards are still in decent condition, you won’t see anything that will fetch more than a few bucks. You gotta remember, these are the cards of a kid from 2 decades ago, and they look like it.

I never even heard of “grading” cards until just a few weeks ago, and I’m not particularly interested in that anyway. I never saw my Pokémon cards as investments. I have boring index funds for that. These cards are a fun reminder of my childhood. I like to pull out my binder and look through the cool artwork from time to time. 

It’s also fun to see the looks of amazement when I show the cards to my friends. Most of them got rid of their collections over a decade ago, either because they moved, lost them, or just decided to get rid of them. I’m sure more than a few of them had the heart-wrenching experience of learning that a parent threw them in the garbage at some point as well. My own parents laugh and joke about how much money they spent on them, but they think it’s cool I’ve hung onto them for so long.

So here’s the first image: my binder.


This binder is new. I threw out my disgusting old binder years ago- it was a fat green binder covered in 20-year old dirt and grime. I wrote “JACK'S POKEMON CARDS” on the front cover in big blue permanent marker and stuck a few Pokémon stickers on it. I moved the cards over to a temporary red binder for a few years, but that was nothing special. Just a plain red binder.

This year I finally decided to get a real binder for my cards, and here it is! It has Charizard, the rarest and most prized card of my childhood, on the front cover. Tomorrow I’ll crack it open and show you what’s inside!

One final note: this single binder is all that remains of my collection. "Back in the day," I had multiple binders and literal shoeboxes filled with cards. Like most of my friends, I got rid of almost all of them over the years. I kept 1 of each Pokémon and saved them so that I would have a complete set, but once upon a time I had like a thousand of these things.

Makes me wonder what goodies were hidden in the lost collection? I’d bet some of the most rare ones were in there. Since I wanted the cleanest looking cards, I’m betting there were a bunch of 1st editions, maybe a handful of shadowless cards, and probably a decent number of misprints. All cards that a 12 year old kid would look at and say, “This one looks bad. I like the other one better, it looks nicer.”

Oh, well.

Click here to see what's inside!


Posted by Pokeballoonza - October 6th, 2021

The rarest of all Pokemon cards... a holographic Charizard!