How To Spot Fake Base Pokemon Set Booster Boxes
Its a shame we have to even include a section like this, but the reality is there are people out there looking to scam the community and make a quick buck.
If youre serious about investing in sealed vintage Pokemon products, I implore you to educate yourself on how they should look and feel.
Study the colours, the wrapping, key identifiers on the box. Then cross-reference that with item your considering. If anything doesnt add up, err on the side of caution.
Because of the different box variants its hard to provide specifics, but here are my general rules for spotting fake Pokemon booster boxes:
Why Do Base Set Pokemon Cards Cost So Much
There are actually four different English editions of the Pokemon card game Base Set that released in 1998-99:
The base set was also partially reprinted in 2000 as part of Base Set 2.
As one could guess, the 1st Edition and Shadowless cards have the most value as they had lower printing runs. These first releases of Pokemon: The Trading Card Game had slightly different art and brighter colors.
While all Pokemon cards are fetching high prices right now, base sets tend to fetch the most money, running as high as $50,000+ for a sealed booster box. There are a few reasons for this:
Variations Between English And Japanese Editions
- The Japanese variations of the cards did not have a numbering system till the release of Pokémon VS, and the number featured on the cards before that represents the Pokémons Pokédex number.
- The English numbering is based on an alphabetical sorting, with descending rarity, a sorting that would stay the same till the release of Black & White. The Japanese order is based on type, and ascending rarity, and stayed this way until the release of e-Card 2.
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Pokemon Base Set Booster Boxes
Once upon a time, a Pokemon Base Set booster box cost around £144. Now, 1st Edition boxes sell for north of £300k!
Wheres that time machine hey?!
Aside from the cards themselves, sealed Base Set booster boxes are some of the most desired items in the hobby.
Lets explore some of the different variants, estimated values of how you can spot fake copies.
St Edition And Unlimited Edition:
The first print run of a set would have a special Edition 1 logo on the left side of the card, just below the card art. An enlarged example of this logo is shown here. The 1st edition print run would typically be very limited, and once sold out, would no longer be available for sale. In fact, the first print runs of a set were officially called Limited Edition.
To meet super-high demand from the public, an Unlimited edition version would then be printed. Unlimited edition cards dont have the Edition 1 logo on the left side. Typically, a 1st edition card will be worth more than an unlimited edition card. Often this price difference can be quite significant.
Distinct 1st Edition printings were done throughout the 1st and 2nd generation of sets with the exception of reprint sets .
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Base Set: Limited Edition 1st Printing
These cards are the most valuable and rare of the Base Set print runs. This initial print run was printed, distributed, and sold out before Pokémania fully took root in the United States, making them extremely rare today, particularly in Near Mint condition. Collectors who do own these cards will typically have them authenticated and graded by a grading service such as Beckett Grading Services or Professional Sports Authenticator . These cards, graded or ungraded, if authentic, can carry significant value. For example, the above Charizard card could be worth upwards of $5000 or more to a collector in perfect condition.
Find The Year Your Pokemon Card Was Made
Look at the bottom of the card and find the year it was printed. Thats the first key indicator when identifying your card.
For example, the Base Set Pokémon Cards have 4 different print runs while looking almost identical each time. Of those sets, the UK 4th Print Base Set identifies as 1999-2000, which is the key indicator to separate those cards from the rest.
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An Uncut Sheet Of Base Set Holographic First Edition ‘pokmon Tcg’ Cards Has Listed On Goldin
The lot in question is a 1999 uncut sheet of the base set First Edition and shadowless holographic cards. All 16 of the base set holographic Pokémon cards are attached in pristine condition with multiples of each — there are two Charizards, two Blastoises, and three Venusaurs.
On top of the three main holofoils, the winning bidder will also get two Alakazams, three Chanseys, 10 Mewtwos, two Nidokings, 10 Ninetales, three Raichus, 10 Gyarados, 10 Hitmonchan, and 32 Machamps that are all part of the sheet. This rare Pokémon relic was owned by one of the board members of Wizards of the Coast which was the original license holder for Pokémon TCG from 1998 up until Nintendo formed Pokemon USA in 2003. The sheet also has details from the printers like “Okay for color fit 11-30-98 7:25 A.M.” in handwriting and a QC signature.
The current price is $34,000 USD with nine days left on the auction.
How Many Different Print Runs Of Pokemon Base Set Are There
It may surprise you to learn that there were actually 8 different print runs of Base Set!
Before we go into what they were, lets define a print run
In a nutshell, the cards in the set are the same, but theyve changed a characteristic on one or some of the cards. For example, they fixed a design error.
So, here are the eight
Wait, what?! Arent you missing 1st Edition Base Set?!
Interestingly, the cards were stamped with the 1st Edition symbol after the print run fun fact!
Okay, but what the heck are the 1999-2000 Base Set cards?!
Often incorrectly labelled the UK Print , the final print run of Base Set had a new copyright date added to the bottom and the colour is slightly paler than before.
Famously, they also corrected Vulpixs HP error which had somehow slipped through the previous seven print runs! All the way until 1999-2000 Base Set, Vulpixs Hit Points read HP 50 instead of 50 HP! Very subtle of course, but it makes the corrected card a bit more sought after.
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Prices For Pokemon Base Set Pokemon Cards
Pokemon Base Set card list & price guide. Ungraded & graded values for all Pokemon TCG Base SetPokemon Cards., historic prices, and past sales.
Find out how to identify your pokemon card using card numbers, sets, foil, and editions.
A Note On Pricing And Condition:
The examples throughout this text all utilize the Pokémon Charizard, which typically fetches the highest prices of any Pokémon from these early sets. Those looking to sell their collections should not expect Charizard-level pricing for other cards from these sets. While other Pokémon, like Blastoise and Venusaur, carry decent value, none usually approach the level of Charizard.
The pricing examples all note that the estimated retail pricing reflects a card in Near Mint condition. Finding cards from this era in Near Mint condition can be quite difficult. Pokémon cards are essentially pieces of a game, and many became treasured possessions of children who took them to school in their pockets to show off and trade. As a result, cards frequently show significant wear, which significantly affects their value. Unless exclusively stored in binders and played with in card sleeves , there are few Near Mint examples in circulation. In addition, cards that came from a household with heavy cigarette smoke, or that were stored in a damp attic or garage in the intervening years, can have a lowered value, even if the card physically appears otherwise Near Mint.
If you are considering selling your cards to a store, expect a much lower price than the retail price as stores would typically only pay between 30% and 60% of the retail value of an item.
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Base Set Booster Box Variations
1st Edition Base Set Booster Box
- Estimated current value £300k £350k
The boxes are easy to spot as they have a 1st Edition Stamp on them and the text 1ST EDITION LIMITED PRINTING.
Important 1st Edition boxes do not have the Wizards of the Coast logo printed on the cellophane wrapping. Stay well clear if you spot a box being sold with this its fake.
Shadowless Base Set Booster Box
- Estimated current value £50k £100k
Still very valuable and ultra rare, Shadowless booster boxes are harder to identify as there is no shadowless labeling or anything of that nature.
Instead characteristics of the box , and very carefully being able to identify the packs within is the way of identifying whether a box is shadowless or not.
FYI Green winged Charizard boxes dont necessarily mean its shadowless there are other factors too.
This guide goes into great detail on identifying a shadowless Base Set booster box.
Unlimited Base Set Booster Box
- Estimated current value £15k £20k
Although this is the most commonly found Base Set booster box variant, its still no chump change!
As more and more boxes are opened on YouTube etc, Id expect the value to continue to creep up long term as supply dwindles.
Find The Set The Card Belongs To
If there is no logo on the right side, its Base. Every other set has an indicator.
When looking into what set a card belongs to, make sure to see if there is any logo on the right side, just underneath and to the right of the illustration. If there is no symbol, the likelihood is that its a Base set card.
There have been error cards that do not have a symbol, so make sure the year matches with the set.
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Bulbasaur 1st Edition $25880
One of the most popular Pokemon, Bulbasaur delivers long term. Previously third in the pecking order for PSA 9’s, Bulbasaur is currently higher than Squirtle and Charmander. With low populations, be sure to make Bulbasaur a top priority.
PSA Pop: 309 – 814
Current Pokemon Card Value: PSA 10 $1800 PSA 9 $258.80
How Much Are Pokemon Base Set Cards Worth
Before we go further into the many intricacies of Base Set Pokemon Cards, lets discuss values!
If youre one of the many people who rediscovered their old collection this past year, youre probably interested in how much its worth!
A lot has changed in the world of Pokemon since the late 90s, in fact, since then there have been over 120 sets released! And that number keeps climbing every few months.
So how on earth do we determine the value of your Base Set Pokemon cards?!
Well, theres a few factors I want you to consider:
- Condition is everything! The price swings between cards in played condition versus mint can be huge!
- Youre not alone So many people rediscovered their old Pokemon cards recently. Unless you have some real stand out pieces, youre competing with everyone else.
- Determining the value for one card is fairly straightforward for binders full of cards, its not so simple!
I regularly get valuation requests with dozens of pictures, hundreds of cards, in various conditions and from various sets!
As you can imagine, it is not easy slapping a valuation on it!
So, my best advice for people looking to quickly covert it into cash put it on eBay and let the market decide.
Apologies if youre looking for something a bit more detailed, but no collection is the same!
Were not comparing apples with apples here, so take great pictures, show off your best cards and let collectors come to you and bid .
Another approach is to hold long term
That is my best advice.
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Squirtle First Edition $222
Squirtle is the first evolution of Blastoise and carries the 2nd most Pokemon card value of any of the big three pre-evolutions. Although grading has slowed down drastically, prices have dipped in the Pokemon market. That said, Squirtle is one of the essential characters of the show and is a must have for any collector. Be sure to assemble your Squirtle-Squad by acquiring his English Rookie card.
PSA Pop: 822 – 1386
Current Pokemon Card Value: PSA 10 $1225 PSA 9 $222
A Simpler Approach To Base Set Variations
Now, although my guide above is technically correct, it may not be entirely helpful to you especially if youre just getting back into Pokemon and trying to learn the ropes!
So lets break the Base Set cards down into three variations for the sake of this article, and your understanding of the cards
- 1st Edition As you probably know, the rarest and most valuable
- Shadowless Still pretty rare and valuable, just not as much as 1st Edition!
- Unlimited highest volume of cards printed, therefore less rare and valuable than the other two
1st Edition and Unlimited are pretty self-explanatory, but people often get a bit confused regarding Shadowless Pokemon cards
If you want to do a bit of extra reading Ive written a handy guide to Shadowless Pokemon cards here.
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Identify The Card With The Name And Number In The Set
Finally, identify the card by looking up its name and card number on eBay.
The name will be located above the illustration of the card and the number is on the bottom right of the card. After checking all three of these steps, you should easily be able to identify every card, even if you dont know exactly what set it is in.
Charmander 1st Edition $300
Charmander’s value has been all over the place in the last 12 months. After the 2020 summer of record sale after record sale, baby Zard’s value has taken a dip recently, but don’t be surprised if Charmander rebounds due to the power Charizard yields on the market.
PSA Pop: 652 – 661
Current Pokemon Card Value: PSA 10 $979 PSA 9 $300
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What Is A Heavy Booster Pack
Basically, some smart Alec realised a long time ago that packs with a holographic card weigh more!
Generally speaking, the pull rates of a holo are 1:3 packs, therefore you can simply weigh the packs, extract the valuable items and flog the rest.
Not exactly fun or ethical right?!
But, thats the game I guess when a lot of money is at stake.
Its important to know this for two reasons:
Anyway, lets get into the different pack variants
1st Edition Base Set Booster Packs
- Estimated current value £5k £10k
- Easily identifiable by the 1st Edition logo on the foil
Shadowless Base Set Booster Packs
- Estimated current value £1k £3k
- Harder to identify. This helpful article explain the different Shadowless booster pack variants
Black Triangle Error Base Set Booster Packs
- Estimated current value £1k £5k
Unlimited Base Set Booster Packs
- Estimated current value £300 £600
Base Set: Unlimited Edition
Unlimited Edition made a number of aesthetic changes to the face of the cards. The overall card appears to be a lighter and brighter printing than the previous Limited Editions. The drop shadow was added behind the art box to add some depth to the card. In addition, certain text, such as the Pokémons HP value, was set in a bold typeface.
There were reportedly six separate printings of the Unlimited Edition of the Base Set. The first five print runs had a copyright line that read: © 1995, 96, 98 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK. ©1999 Wizards.. These five print runs are completely identical, with no way to differentiate between them. The final print run, which was allegedly only available in the United Kingdom, can be differentiated by a change to the copyright line which reads, ©1995, 96, 98 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK. ©1999-2000 Wizards. Cards from the sixth print run are much rarer due to their limited geographical distribution.
With five to six printings, these cards are by far the most common Base Set cards in existence, and their prices reflect that. Unlimited Edition was printed to meet the insane demand of a public that became obsessed with Pokémon. A Charizard from these printings could fetch about $500 in Near Mint condition from a collector.
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