The Pokémon Company has released many rare Pokemon trading card game promo cards over the years and a handful of them are nearly impossible to get. Since its global debut in 1999, the TCG distributed promotional items to promote the Nintendo tabletop game. While many TCG collectibles such as Burger King’s infamous golden Pokémon cards were never worth anything, there are a handful of promotional Pokémon cards that are now extremely valuable.
The Pokémon TCG originally launched in Japan in 1996, before making its global debut two years later with the release of the iconic starter set. The first expansion featured popular Pokemon from Gen 1 Pokemon Red and Blue RPG. Although the Pokémon TCG would eventually become a cultural phenomenon, Nintendo aggressively promoted the new card game by handing out promotional cards. From pre-release collectibles to trophy cards, there were hundreds of promotional items in the TCG’s early years alone.
While many of TCGThe most valuable cards from were made public in the 1999 base game, some of the game’s hardest-to-find collectibles are promotional cards that were released in Japan years earlier. The infamous Pikachu Illustrator promo card from 1997, for example, now sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars due to its obscurity. Below is a list of the hardest to get Pokemon promo cards that most fans will never be able to get their hands on.
In 1998, Shogakukan magazines held a promotional contest for TCG players. Pokemon fans who were able to complete and pass a handful of mock college tests hosted in the publications were invited to attend a special two-day event Pokemon card event in Osaka, Japan. Players who managed to reach the top spots in the contest were then rewarded with a University Magikarp promo card.
With only a handful of promotional cards given out during the 90s contest, the Japanese collectible has become one of the rarest promotional items to ever be released in the GTC. Magikarp University is so obscure that there are only fourteen worldwide known to be ranked as an immaculate ten in quality.
To interest more players in Nintendo tabletop game, The Pokémon Company has released the rare gold star card variant in the EX Team Rocket Returns TCG expansion in 2004. To capitalize on this, the official Pokémon Players Club gave away a rare Gold Star Umbreon promotional card during the 2005 season. While the card was reprinted on the 25th anniversary TCG Pokémon Celebrations set in 2021, the original promo card has become one of the most sought after Pokémon TCG collectibles of all time.
TCG players had to earn 70,000 points by the end of the fourth season of the Pokémon Players Club. In order to earn points, fans had to attend official events and participate in tournaments. Because it was incredibly difficult for Japanese players to accumulate so many points in such a short time, the Gold Star Umbreon has one of the lowest populations of all. TCG promotional card.
The No. Trainer cards that feature Pokémon mascot Kanto Pikachu holding a trophy are some of the most difficult Pokémon TCG upcoming promotions. Prize cards naturally have a very low population as they are only dealt to first and second place TCG the players at Pokemon World Championships.
Pikachu Trophy promos have become a bit of a holy grail item for many TCG collectors over the years, because the cards simply don’t exist. Those looking to get their hands on the rare promo cards will need to find a world champion willing to give up their hard-earned trophy – which is unlikely to happen.
In May 1998, Pokémon fans were able to participate in a unique Mega Battle tournament held in Japan. The contest had a twist, however, as entrants had to consist of a parent and child duo. Teams that have managed to win a series of Pokémon TCG battles were rewarded with a rare Family Event Trophy promo card that featured the Gen 1 Pokémon Kanto Kangaskhan.
The Kangaskhan Family Event Trophy promotion has become highly sought after, due to its incredibly adorable illustrations of Kangaskhan and his baby who is inside the Pokémon’s pouch. Due to non-traditional tournament rules that required a parent and child to compete together, the TCG the promo was not obtained by so many fans.
One of the hardest Pokemon promos to get is the Ishihara GX because it was only given out to Game Freak employees. In 2017, The Pokémon Company surprised its president Tsunekazu Ishihara with a Pokémon card featuring his face. The rare collector’s item was presented to the executive to celebrate its 60th anniversary. Game Freak employees who attended Ishihara’s birthday party also received the promo card as a fun party favor.
Because it was never meant to be sold, the Pokémon Ishihara GX card is one of the rarest TCG promotions have ever existed. While trophies and prize cards are equally difficult to obtain, the anniversary promo is a personalized card that was never intended to reach the public. It’s unknown how many of these cards were actually printed, but it’s rare to see them offered for sale as a genuine Game Freak employee should be ready to sell the holiday gift.
The absolute toughest Pokémon TCG The all-time promo card to get is Pikachu Illustrator. In 1997, CoroCoro Comics held an official ceremony Pokémon TCG Illustrator Artist Contest where fans could submit artwork to the Japanese magazine. Only twenty-three contestants were chosen as winners and were rewarded with the iconic Pikachu Illustrator promo card. While sixteen more cards were printed for a second contest, only a handful of promotional items were kept safe over the years.
Because so little of the CoroCoro promo actually survived, it became “the” holy grail of Nintendo tabletop gaming. In 2022, a Pokémon TCG The Guinness World Record was even broken after YouTuber Logan Paul paid a staggering $5,275,000 for the only Pikachu Illustrator promo to rank ten worldwide. As the Pokemon trading card game continues to grow in popularity, some of the rare promo cards that were released decades ago have now become near-impossible-to-obtain relics.