Editor’s Note: Each of the APRs featured below was obtained during 2020.
As we celebrate the 25th year of Pokémon, TCG collectors worldwide have witnessed the growth of the franchise. No one could have predicted its cultural impact and the phenomenon we are seeing today. The influence of the franchise has led to the Pokémon card market breaking through with record secondary market prices as the hobby continues to grow. Let’s take a look at the all-time Top 5 auction prices realized (APR) for PSA-certified Pokémon cards. In descending order, here they are:
No. 5 – 1999 Pokémon Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer Card PSA 10 ($90,000)
The card was designed by Hideki Kazam displaying the outline of Mewtwo on the left filled in with a holographic shine. On the right is a Pokéball with the words “Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game” surrounding it and “Super Secret Battle” printed below. The card reads “The Pokémon Card Game Official Tournament’s champion is recognized here, and this honor is praised. By presenting this card, you may gain preferential entry into the Secret Super Battle.” According to Heritage Auctions there were seven regional tournaments in which the winners received this card along with the location to compete in a secret tournament. Hence the name: “Super Secret Battle.” There are only seven examples graded through PSA with six of the cards in PSA Gem-Mint 10 condition. Only a select few players ever earned this card which helped it reach its $90,000 APR.
No. 4 – 2000 Neo Genesis 1st Edition Lugia #9 PSA 10 ($129,000)
The cover Pokémon of Pokémon Silver takes its legendary place as a top APR card. Illustrated by Hironobu Yoshida, Lugia is nicely displayed against a silver holographic background. It is strengthened behind 90 HP with a powerful 90 damage attack, Elemental Blast, to match. The attack requires energy of three different types to represent its role as the master of the three legendary birds, Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. As a legendary Pokémon and the primary focus of the second Pokémon movie, it is very easy to see why Lugia’s TCG rookie card is so popular.
No. 3 – 1998 Family Event Trophy Card Kangaskhan #115 PSA 10 ($150,100)
This card was obtained at a tournament in Japan where a parent and child team had to earn a certain number of wins. Kangaskhan is the ideal Pokémon for this event as it is otherwise known as the parent Pokémon. The unique artwork was illustrated by none other than Ken Sugimori. Kangaskhan is featured holding its child in its pouch ready for battle with a holographic background. It has a respectable 80 HP and can hit you very quickly and hard with its Dizzy Punch and Mega Punch attacks. It also displays the Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game logo which is usually reserved for the rarest of cards. The iconic Kangaskhan Parent & Child Tournament Trophy represents the longevity of Pokémon. Obtaining the card required participation from the parent and child which is frequently seen today as parents share their own experiences as youngsters in Pokémon play with their own children. This card is very scarce and is among the “holy grail” cards in Pokémon with 46 graded by PSA and only 11 earning PSA Gem Mint 10 status.
No. 2 – 1998 Illustrator Pikachu Holo Promo Card PSA 9 ($233,244)
This extremely rare Japanese card always earns a place on this list whenever top APR Pokémon are being discussed. According to Zenplus, there were only 39 examples produced. They were awarded as prizes in the 1998 “Pokémon Card Game Illustration Contest” sponsored by Corocoro Comic. The artwork for the card was illustrated by Atsuko Nishida. She is credited as one of the creators of Pikachu. It has the layout of a “Trainer” card with the word “Illustrator” used instead. The main image has Pikachu holding a paintbrush and a drawing of Charmander over a holographic background. According to Bulbapedia, the card text is translated to “We certify that your illustration is an excellent entry in the Pokémon Card Game Illust Contest. Therefore, we state that you are an Officially Authorized Pokémon Card Illustrator and admire your skill.” If a PSA 9 has already reached six figures, who knows what amount a PSA 10 would capture today?
No. 1 – 1999 Base Set 1st Edition Charizard #4 PSA 10 ($350,100)
It’s no surprise to see Base Set 1st Edition Charizard at the top of the list. If Pikachu is the face of the franchise, Charizard definitely takes the spot as the face of Pokémon cards. It is so iconic, it now finds a place next to elite sports cards. From Day 1 of the Pokémon TCG, everyone wanted this card and that remains true today. The fantastic artwork of the powerful Charizard on a blazing holographic flame background was illustrated by legendary artist Misuhiro Arita. At the time it had the highest hp at 120 and a destructive 100 damage form its Fire Spin attack. The significance of this card has caught the eyes of celebrities and investors alike. Charizard’s rookie TCG card now stands amongst some of the greatest cards in the hobby.
The Pokémon TCG is still very young with various rarities out there. The stability of the franchise contributes to a very bright future for collectors. Although Charizard is always at the top of every set, the diversity of this Top 5 APR lineup shows there are many cards out there that deserve attention. No matter if you started today or back in the ‘90s, there is something for you. Who knows where Pokémon will find itself down the road? We may just see our first million dollar card sooner than we think.