There’s no denying it; the fallout from 2020 was unanticipated for all, especially for collectors. There was no telling where the card market was headed during a global pandemic. Trading Card Games (TCG) have been on a gradual rise like any other collectible with a loyal fanbase, particularly Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh!. With the way the year progressed, many collectors either jumped in for the first time or came back to the hobby to add to the growing number of collectors. With a strong following already in place, a boom was bound to happen.
Let’s look at three significant card sales that shook the TCG market in 2020.
Magic: The Gathering
What top sale of the year wouldn’t include a Black Lotus card? Magic: The Gathering’s original set will always be sought after with low print runs, but none lower than its Alpha release in 1993. On July 22nd, the sale of a PSA 10 graded Alpha Black Lotus hit a new milestone by selling for $250,000. Hitting the six-figure mark is nothing new for the card, but what made this sale so special is that it included the signature of the late Black Lotus artist, Christopher Rush. The private sale was completed between VintageMagic.com President and CEO Daniel Chang and Spanish Youtuber, Romuald Fons. At the time of the sale, it marked a new record price for all TCGs and stirred up plenty of interest across the board.
Pokémon has the makings to last a long time. It has both a generational and pop culture appeal. Thanks to the foundation it has created as a franchise, the boom that Pokémon saw wasn’t too hard to imagine. This past summer was all about the very limited premium card sales that were reported such as the Illustrator Pikachu that sold for $233,244; the Ishihara GX for $50,000; and the 1999 Pokémon PSA 10 Super Secret Battle ‘No. 1 Trainer’ Holo that fetched $90,000. Although another 1st Edition Base Set Charizard PSA 10 sold for $350,100 on December 12 through eBay, one particular sale stood out from all the rest. The former rapper Logic’s purchase of the Charizard for $220,574 on October 9th was the first time the card had broken six-figures at auction. This sale brought so much attention to the hobby that it created another boom in an already booming market. Box breaks of highly valued sets and continuous record sales have catapulted the segment of the hobby from vintage followers to modern collectors to a current craze that hasn’t been seen since its card debut in 1999.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise is part of the big three in TCG land for a reason, and the multiple sales of the 1st Edition Legend of Blue-Eyes collection sets the tone. Record sales were broken for the 1st Edition Dark Magician PSA 10 at $11,000; 1st Edition Red-Eyes Black Dragon PSA 10 at $10,000; and 1st Edition Exodia the Forbidden One PSA 10 at $6,500. But the card that, of course, summoned an amazing eBay sale of $85,100 is none other than the legendary 1st Edition Blue-Eyes White Dragon PSA 10. On October 27th it broke the five-figure mark for the first time at auction. Yu-Gi-Oh! is the youngest of the top three TCGs, but it has a very strong collector base that should only grow in the years to come.
Avid followers of TCGs are just getting into the premium market when it comes to collecting. And 2020 will certainly be remembered for its eye-popping sales. It gave many of us a reason to look back at what we have and to possibly reassess how we want to build our collections. We have already seen highs that we thought wouldn’t happen for another 10 to 20 years. TCG collecting is still very young, but If sports card collecting is any indicator of where it could be headed, the future looks bright for those of us that held onto our childhood for just a little while longer.