In the last couple of years, Pokemon has made it increasingly clear that they are all in on collection boxes. Where we used to get a unique collection product once or twice a year for most of Pokemon’s TCG existence, Pokemon is now spitting out multiple collection boxes for every set. Underneath all of this collection box overload is a lot of hate, and some of it is deserved. I understand being overwhelmed by the collection boxes. And if you’re someone who feels obligated to get every new product, the collection boxes alone are going to put you back the price of an additional booster box every set. But hear me out: I think collection boxes actually benefit collectors in a lot of different ways.
1. Collection boxes are rarer than their booster pack counterparts.
Sure, you can walk into any big box retailer and see a HUGE stack of collection boxes; I talked about this in one of our recent podcasts. But it is precisely because of the amount of space that they require that fewer are carried by each individual outlet. With each box containing unique pins, figures, promo cards, or other one-off items, each box has the potential to find itself containing items that will be relatively scarce in the future. You are not going to see the effects of this potential scarcity in the immediate future, but long-term, I expect some of the collection box promotional cards to be relatively scarce in the secondary market. Earlier collection boxes are already difficult to find in sealed condition. For precedence, we can look to some of the more obscure BW promos that came in blister packs at the beginning of the Black and White era. Namely, I’d point out BW14 (Pansage), BW15 (Pidove), and BW16 (Axew). These cards were in simple blister promos on store shelves but didn’t have the most exciting appeal initially. Over time, they disappeared from shelves and storefronts that had ordered them in large quantities and broken them down. Now, they earn about $25, $40, and $60 respectively. With collection box promos being perceived as cheap now, many are being pushed through bulk channels to the uneducated populace and could find themselves ironically frustrating to locate in mint condition down the road.
2. Easier to access than standard singles
Standard singles are everywhere, but not everyone knows where to get them. Often, educated collectors who are plugged in to online groups and storefronts think of singles as universally easy to acquire. Not everyone is so savvy. In fact, many collectors are not plugged in at all and depend on local shops or big box retailers to make available cards from certain sets. While these collectors are not our primary target audience for these articles, they are a fundamental part of the greater collecting scene. Their experience matters for how we perceive the market as a whole, and collection boxes make an easier entry point for them into the greater collecting world.
3. Designed with collectors in mind
Collection boxes have collector in the name. Where tournaments, events, local leagues, social groups, and more emphasize the game aspect of the Pokemon TCG constantly, collection boxes give the sense that perhaps Pokemon does actually care about people who collect the cards. In this sense, collection boxes are a breath of fresh air for those of us who are only tangentially interested in the competitive scene. As I’ve expressed before, Pokemon tends to do an abysmal job with its English product in terms of considering the interests of collectors. But credit where credit is due: collection boxes are Pokemon’s nod to collectors.
4. Overall fairly priced
One of the major concerns I had when Pokemon first started rolling out collection boxes by the dozen was the price point. Pokemon often takes the approach of seeing how high they can get away with valuing the “extras” in their product instead of using those items to incentivize the purchase of its core booster packs. I firmly believe this is a mistake and misses a lot of opportunities to increase collector interest in products. With the collection boxes, I’ve consistently felt that the price warrants the contents. While there is a small premium over the equivalent number of packs, the contents consistently value out at more than the premium. Other promotional card opportunities continue to flop. (I’m looking at you $5+ dollar blisters with only an alternate foil in the front.)
5. Create opportunities to get more artwork
Pokemon has taken collection boxes as a very real way to introduce new artwork and cards into the English game. I think that’s awesome. This trend really took off with the Generations products only being available through collection boxes and Elite Trainer Boxes. Getting an entire new set out of collection boxes on top of our quarterly releases is an amazing opportunity, and Shining Legends is looking as if it might take the same approach. This November, we know we are also getting Best of XY in English self-contained within a single collection box. Images have yet to surface of what this box will look like, but we can reasonably guess that it is going to be massive. Without the collection box option, Best of XY would surely have become another set in a long lineage of Japanese-only releases.
While collection boxes are not everyone’s cup of tea, I see it as a positive sign that Pokemon is still making room for collectors’ interests in their modern products. Although Pokemon is not doing everything we may wish they were, collection boxes have opened new doors for the English TCG to expand its reach. I was a huge fan of the Mega Powers collection box and have a lot of hope for the Premium Trainer’s XY Collection (Best of XY) coming in November. I’ve skipped most of the collection boxes and don’t anticipate changing that trend any time soon. But I would encourage collectors to give collection boxes a chance instead of automatically sweeping them into the metaphorical antagonistic burn pile.
‘til next time,