There’s a new English Charizard card in town. Is this one actually worth buying?
The Hidden Fates English Pokémon mini set was released on Friday 23rd August 2019, and the shiny Charizard-GX found within the booster packs will be the prime target for collectors. But is it worth stocking up on this card?
Set and Card Information
Hidden Fates is a mini set and consists of cards found from its Japanese counterpart High-Class GX Ultra Shiny, as well as cards found from Sky Legend, Family Pokémon Card Game Set, and Trainer Battle Decks.
Despite the English expansion featuring cards from multiple Japanese subsets, Hidden Fates includes 150+ total cards, as opposed to 250 in its Japanese equivalent.
The English set splits into two: Hidden Fates, and a subset called Shiny Vault (SV). Both the core set and subset are found within the same booster packs, the first of which can be found in the Mew & Mewtwo Pin Collection boxes released on August 23rd.
However, booster boxes of this expansion cannot be purchased because they are non-existent. This principle is similar to Shining Legends and Dragon Majesty, where the packs are exclusively found in tin, collection box and similar related special products.
The SV49 shiny Charizard-GX is one of the most sought after cards within this release, simply because the ultra-rare is one of the most popular Pokémon for collectors. The design of this card used the same artwork as the super-popular Burning Shadows (2017) hyper rare Charizard-GX. Additionally, the last time we saw Charizard in its shiny black state, was as a secret rare from 2013's BW Plasma Storm
Charizard-GX Pull Ratio
Since the announcement of this set, I've wondered what the potential pull ratio of the shiny Charizard-GX would be. Distributors and card stores will always receive Pokémon products before their official launch date. This allows store owners to accept pre-orders and open a substantial amount of packs to list card singles on their website for the release date.
With the likes of Deriums Pokémon opening over 1000 booster packs, and others that include Shaun Kauffman of Squeaks Game World opening 300+ packs, we now have an estimated figure of the pull ratios from Hidden Fates.
1:10 Packs - Shiny GX (x35 different cards total)
1:100 Packs - Gold Stadiums (x5)
1:100 Packs - Gold GX (x4)
1:4.5 Packs - Shiny Pokémon (Non-GX, x45)
1:7 Packs - Regular GX (Includes FA/Hyper Bird Trio, x11)
1:30 Packs - FA Trainer (x8)
The above pull ratios mean, on average you'll get around 43 ultra rares per 100 packs, or one ultra rare per two packs (rounded).
To figure out how many booster packs you'd need to open to find a shiny Charizard-GX, we first have to assume that each shiny GX card is equally as rare as the other. Therefore if a shiny GX is found in one of every 10 packs, but there are 35 Shiny GX's, the likelihood of pulling a shiny Charizard-GX is a one in 350 chance.
Disclaimer: due to the way the product is released and the high variance, these numbers are only rough estimates.
The above figures are based around a reasonable pool of around 1600 booster packs, but there are other factors to take into account.
1) Cases of Product are Mutually Exclusive
No matter what set you purchase, each case of the product will have different pull rates. This means in a case where there is 6x the amount of product you may be lucky enough to find a highly desired card in each box. While if you were to purchase another six, you may be unlucky and not find any. This is theoretical, of course.
To take this down to a smaller scale, let's consider the original 1999 Pokémon TCG Base Set. A Base Set booster box should contain 12 holofoils. With 36 packs, it means the ratio of pulling a holofoil is 1:3, or one in every three packs. This means you could potentially open up to 24 packs and not pull any holo at all.
Now imagine the variations of these odds and apply it to the specific card you are searching for, in this case, the SV49 shiny Charizard-GX. Assuming the rarity of each shiny GX cards is equal, and the distribution is unequal; it could mean you might open a 1000+ of packs without ever finding the Charizard-GX.
At this time Deriums pulled four shiny Charizard-GX cards from 1000 packs, while Shaun didn't find any within 300, yet another store pulled one across 288 packs. The current ratio found within our pool of 1588 booster packs is - 1:318 or one in 318 packs.
For collectors, the condition of the item and the card centring matters. Production quality has increased within the last few years of the hobby, and Shaun has confirmed that the shiny GX cards are coming out of the packs in gem mint condition. But of course, this is not always guaranteed.
Additionally, centring matters. This is where the border length of the card must be equal around the circumference of the card. Or at least a 55/45 ratio to qualify for a PSA GEM MT 10. Therefore, while you may be lucky enough to find your desired card, it still may not get the gem mint grade.
3) Rarity, Scarcity and recent Comparison
2017 was the first time we saw this Charizard-GX character design, both as a full art (in the Charizard-GX Premium Collection Box) and a rainbow hyper rare (HR) from Burning Shadows booster packs. If we were to assume the same factors detailed above, and take the Burning Shadows unique pull ratios into account, a hyper rare GX card can be found in one of every two booster boxes, or one in 72 packs.
There are 12 Hyper Rares in Burning Shadows, which means the Charizard-GX would have a ratio of 1:864, or one in every 24 booster boxes. Therefore in comparison, the HR Charizard-GX is almost 3x harder to pull than the Shiny Vault Charizard-GX found in Hidden Fates.
Reshiram & Charizard-GX
One thing to consider here other than pull rates is the playability of such a card. Right out of the gate from launch of Unbroken Bonds earlier in 2019, the hyper rare Reshiram & Charizard-GX (ReshiZard) card was selling for the $100-140 mark, proving to be consistent at release with the Burning Shadows HR Charizard-GX released two years ago.
However, ReshiZard is possibly the best and most playable Charizard card in the history of the TCG. This meant a short period after launch; both collectors and competitors were on the hunt for these cards. All three versions of ReshiZard quickly became reasonably scarce, which consequently drove up the price.
The latest shiny Charizard-GX though is unplayable in standard format tournaments, meaning it'll only be the Charizard fans and avid set collectors who are looking to purchase the card straight away.
However, due to the shiny Charizard-GX being so new and hyped, we've already seen the first-ever sale three days before the set launch on August 23rd. The card was listed for $350 (USD) but the best offer was made and accepted. While there's no confirmation of the final sale price, it's pretty safe to assume that it didn't sell for less than $200.
Additionally, the price is likely to be inflated at least until 20th September when the Elite Trainer Box is released and more casual collectors open Hidden Fates packs on mass, due to the value of getting 10 booster packs alongside the hyped stained glass Articuno, Zapdos & Moltres-GX promo card.
Another factor to consider is the price to obtain such a card based on the one in 350 to ratio. On average the Hidden Fates booster packs cost around $1-2 more than those purchased in a booster box. This is due to the nature of their release as they can only be found within Pin Collections, Poke Ball Collection Boxes, Tins and Elite Trainer Boxes. The price point on these products to pack ratio is higher compared to a booster box, even if you factor in the sale of the Promo's, Pins and other merchandise found within them. Therefore the potential cost of this card could cost between $350-700 extra than those found within a box with the same ratio.
The set will be incredibly popular, with the focus being on the shiny Charizard-GX – let's face it, it's a cool looking Charizard. I personally prefer this to the HR equivalent found in Burning Shadows, and it's the first time we've seen Charizard in this colour since 2013's BW Plasma Storm.
While the hype is real, we know like any rare Charizard release, we see prices spike before release and prices drop off shortly after. In this instance, though, it may take a while for the prices to drop until 20th September (Elite Trainer Box) and early October when the larger products, containing more packs, are released.
Additionally, the new Shiny GX is almost 3x as easy to pull out of a pack when compared to the last unplayable UR equivalent was released. Meaning there could potentially be 3x more of these on the market unless if it's a super short print run. But we won't know that for quite some time. For now at least, we do know that once ALL the Hidden Fates products are released, the price points to obtain the Shiny Charizard GX will be fairly similar to what it cost to obtain the Rainbow Ultra Rare in Burning Shadows.
As a collector and an investor, I'll be holding fire on purchasing these until the market stabilises; which I predict will be around mid-October. The shiny Charizard-GX is 100% a card to keep an eye on.
Keep in mind though; it's still fun to open packs! May the odds ever be in your favour.
- By Barney Ludkins