Pokémon introduced us to nearly 900 monsters since its debut in 1996, but through 25 years there is one that always comes to mind when thinking about the TCG. If you’re new to Pokémon, I could give you a few hints. It’s an electric mouse that’s yellow with red cheeks, Pokémon number 25, and the mascot of the franchise. Who’s that Pokémon? It’s Pikachu!
Pikachu is as household a name as another popular mouse and can be found anywhere you see Pokémon. Introduced as Ash’s partner in the anime, they did not start off on the right foot as Pikachu, famously being a Pokémon, that would not go into the Pokéball. They may not have gotten along right away, but they’ve ventured along and forged a friendship through many seasons and movies and are now an unbreakable duo. Pikachu was an integral part of Ash’s team even became a vital part to his first ever Pokémon League Championship. In the video games, Pikachu received his own version in the first generation with updated graphics, sounds, and references that resonated with fans of the anime among other spin offs that showed the famed Pokémon’s versatility. Of course, as the face of the franchise, there would not be a short supply of Pikachu in the trading card game.
He might not be the most powerful Pokémon, but you could definitely find Pikachu in various sets and sought-after promotional cards. If you are a bit of a dreamer with some spare change you might want to add the Illustrator Pikachu card to your collection that sold for over $200,000 in PSA Mint 9 condition during the summer of 2020. For most of us though, we can just enjoy the affordability of the many Pikachu cards already out there. But let’s take a closer look at five key cards and their average Auction Prices Realized (APR) in three PSA grades in the current 214-card Pikachu Master Set.
This was the first introduction of Pikachu to the general public in the famously known Base Set illustrated by the Legendary Mitsuhiro Arita. Pikachu is seen in what looks like Viridian Forest and is shown much rounder than how he’s portrayed nowadays. Pikachu really put in some agility training to help Ash get that first championship. Like most basic Pokémon that had evolutions, he had a low 40 HP and attacks like Gnaw and Thunder Jolt that did minimal damage and required little resources. Not only were there many variations in rarity through Base Set’s 1st Edition, Shadowless, and Unlimited, but we had two variations of cheeks to look out for on this card. The rarer “Red-Cheeks” which came in 1st Edition and Shadowless, and the “Yellow-Cheeks” which came in all three. The 1st Edition “Red-Cheeks” Pikachu is the most sought after of the Base Set variations and is an essential piece to the Master Set.
Average APR for PSA 8: $588
Average APR for PSA 9: $1,459
Average APR for PSA 10: $6,828
This card was made available in English through a Wizards of the Coast mail campaign where fans were asked to draw a picture of what their favorite card would be and send it in. In return, the fans received a Birthday Pikachu card through the mail illustrated by Kagemaru Himeno. Pikachu is found sitting with a fuzzy dreamlike background in holo foil, possibly expressing the joy of having a cake and present right in front of the Pokémon. The name of the card has a blank space in which apostrophe S (‘s) Pikachu in written, showing this could be your Pikachu if you decide to write your name in the blank. The best part about this card, besides the amazing art, is its attack: Birthday Surprise. Normally it does 30 damage, but if it was your birthday, tack on an extra 50 damage for a total of 80. Due to the difficulty of verifying birthdays in tournaments, it became a banned card especially when it only needed two electric energy cards to attack. If it’s your birthday or not, this is a must-add Pikachu card.
Average APR for PSA 8: $250
Average APR for PSA 9: $371
Average APR for PSA 10: $1,192
The 2002 Legendary Collection Set could be considered an All-Star collection of Pokémon cards pulling from Base Set, Jungle, Fossil, and Team Rocket. Of course, you cannot have an All-Star Pokémon lineup without the most popular Pokémon of them all, Pikachu. With artwork from his 1999 Jungle Set release, illustrator Ken Sugimori shows Pikachu true to his video game design full-bodied in a pointillistic jungle background. His Spark attack isn’t the only thing that makes this card shine. The card has a firework-like flash design on the reverse holo foil that surrounds the image adding to the All-Star profile of Pikachu. This card will surely be a bright spot in any collection.
Average APR for PSA 8: $98
Average APR for PSA 9: $321
Average APR for PSA 10: $1,750
This is the first and only time we have seen a shiny Pikachu in card form. The color variation has greyish tips on the ears and a darker yellow tone. It comes from a subset known as the Gold Star cards that were all illustrated by Masakazu Fukuda. Pikachu is seen in a very heroic pose with his arms crossed. There is a simple black background with a bright sparking energy surrounding Pikachu. Trademarks of Gold Star cards are the Pokémon being drawn outside of the typical image boarders, as seen with Pikachu’s ear and tail, and the gold star next to his name. He has a low 60 HP with two low damage attacks in Thundershock and Spring Back. The latter attack could be useful, but only if certain conditions are met. This is a must-have Pikachu card with the highest PSA Set Registry weight of 4.00 in the set. Just like catching shiny Pokémon in the video games, this card won’t be easy to come by.
Average APR for PSA 8: $864
Average APR for PSA 9: $1,257
Average APR for PSA 10: $6,975
The Team Up set was released and introduced the new Tag Team mechanic to the card game that would use the combined powers of multiple Pokémon on one card. Here you can see Pikachu with friends in high places, teaming with the legendary Pokémon Zekrom. The card was designed by 5ban Graphics with Pikachu confidently standing next to his partner Zekrom. This is the same artwork as the Full Art card released in the same set but adds a rainbow filter. Pikachu & Zekrom carry a bulkier 240 HP than we were used to when Pikachu would have his own card. This duo carries a Full Blitz attack that damages you for 150 and adds more electric energy cards to load yourself up with more firepower. Combo that attack with their GX move Tag Bolt, and you’re really dishing out punishment with 200 damage and 170 to a benched Pokémon. This card gives you a chance to show what Pikachu is capable of in battle and is beautiful to collect with its rainbow shine. Pikachu & Zekrom won’t let you overlook adding them to your collection.
Average APR for PSA 8: $39
Average APR for PSA 9: $62
Average APR for PSA 10: $293
Most of Pikachu’s cards are common or uncommon making it easier to go after the heavy hitters of the Master Set first and adding the rest along the way. Pikachu is a generational character that has grown up with many of us and captured the attention of new fans. With the love and strength of the Pokémon franchise and as more Pokémon generations arrive on the scene, you know we will see Pikachu at the forefront welcoming fans. Don’t be surprised to see the red cheeked electric mouse gracing more cardboard for years to come.
Want to start your Pikachu Master Set? Follow this link to the PSA Set Registry.