Logan Paul has single-handedly made my life incredibly confusing and weird. His sudden interest in Pokemon card collecting and outrageous evaluations on vintage stock kickstarted a Pokemon card gold rush amongst content creators and short-term investors that sent prices to the moon. This, along with the increase in activity of retail scalpers thanks to the hype, has led to a dismal landscape for collectors throughout most of last year and all of 2021 so far. Simply put, Pokemon cards have become unavailable to the people that actually want them because all of the deep-pocketed get-rich-quick types are buying and selling them to each other. As a ravenous Pokemon card collector suddenly unable to get my fix, I’ve had to turn to other types of collecting, and things have gotten real weird, real quick.
To be fair to me, I wasn’t necessarily trying to jump headfirst into another hobby when the Pokemon card supply dried up, but I work at a gaming site and fandoms tend to find me. The first collectible I fell into last year was Funko’s Marvel: Battleworld: Mystery of the Thanostones, a game that, unsurprisingly, has a lot in common with Pokemon Cards.
Battleworld is a board game that features collectible mini-figures, about 1 ½ inches tall, that are all alternate universe versions of popular Marvel heroes. When you buy a “Battle Ball,” you’ll get one mini-figure, some random game board pieces, and a second mini-figure hidden inside a cardboard Thanostone. You use the mini-figures as your player pieces in the board game, and during the game you’ll have opportunities to “rescue” characters trapped in the Thanostones. That’s your cue to bust open the shell and reveal your secret character. Battleworld figures are fun to collect because they’re weird versions of characters you wouldn’t expect, like Captain Americat, Spider-Ham, and Throg (that’s Thor, but a frog). There’s also a handful of translucent chase figures to find, making them even more irresistibly collectible.
I’m not going to lie, I went hard on Battleworld. The first series includes about 30 characters to collect and I imagine I’ve opened at least 100 Battle Balls trying to find them all. I justified it because I wasn’t buying any Pokemon cards, another hobby that can get expensive quickly, so I busted a ton of balls. I ended up with hundreds of duplicates, but I eventually found the entire set, which ended up being a big problem for me.
The magic of Pokemon cards is that you can never catch ‘em all. We’re all trying to collect every card of course, but you wouldn’t want to actually have them. Like the Joker, Pokemon card collectors are just dogs chasing cars, we wouldn’t know what to do if we actually caught it.
After Battleworld, I foolishly started collecting these 6” Destiny figurines from Bigshot Toyworks. They’re gorgeous figures, but once again I managed to collect all 13 of them in a matter of months and the hole in heart that I stuff full of toys immediately opened back up. I needed something else to start collecting, and it needed to be a collection I could never actually complete. The answer was obvious: Transformers.
If you haven’t looked into Transformers since you were seven, first of all, congratulations on being a normal adult, and second of all, Hasbro has learned a lot about making awesome toys over the years. The Netflix series War for Cybertron started a new series of Transformers toys that ties into and expands upon the characters and world from the series. The most exciting line, Kingdom, reintroduces the Beast Wars figures from the late ‘90s. If you don’t recall, Beast Wars was a computer animated TV series that changed the Transformers from vehicles to animals. The Autobots were reimagined as the Maximals with the Gorilla robot Optimus Primal as their leader. The characters are set to return in the final arc of War for Cybertron later this year, but Hasbro has been releasing brand new Beast Wars models since January.
Transformers are a lot of fun to collect because, like Pokemon cards, new ones are always coming out, and rare ones can be difficult to get a hold of. It took me two full months just to track down Megatron, the Mack Daddy of the Kingdom collection (for now) and there’s already five newly-announced figures I’m itching to collect. Hasbro also releases variant color schemes, non-transformable R.E.D. models that have cleaner designs, and premium “Generation Selects” figures that cost hundreds and come in limited supply. Suffice to say, you can take Transformers collecting pretty far.
There are some major downsides to consider, however. Unlike Pokemon cards that fit nicely into binders and boxes, Transformers take up a ton of space. There’s no good method for packing them away, and the best way to display them is in dynamic poses and fighting positions that take up even more shelf space. They also go on sale months before release and often sell out. There are figures up for pre-order on Hasbro’s website that won’t even be available until January of next year. It can be hard to pull the trigger on a $200 toy you won’t see for eight more months, especially if you’re used to the immediate gratification of Pokemon cards.
There have been a handful of other collectible ventures that I’m, frankly, too embarrassed to get into, but what I’ve discovered for all of this effort is that there’s really no replacement for Pokemon cards. Sure, I could get into Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh, but it would only feel like even more of a substitute for Pokemon cards. The Pokemon Company announced last month that it will be increasing the production of upcoming sets to meet the high demand, so I’m hopeful that Pokemon cards will soon become widely available again. Otherwise, I’m going to need to invest in a full-blown storage unit for all my robots in disguise.
Next: Is This A Pokemon Card Bubble?
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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.
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