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Pokémon 1999-2000 Base Set - Opinion

Introduction

The 1999-2000 Base Set is the eighth and final print run of the original Pokémon TCG Base Set. Regarding their appearance, they look very similar to the more well-known Unlimited print run.

From a visual perspective, this print run has minor colour differences and higher production quality. Most cards appear to have a lighter shade of colour when compared to the Unlimited print. Additionally, the copyright date differs to that of any other Base Set variation, because of the 1999-2000 date range found on the bottom of the card. For an in-depth guide to this set, be sure to check out our video below.

The Pokémon 1999-2000 - ULTIMATE GUIDE

Items to Watch

Cards

It’s a given that the iconic Mitsuhiro Arita illustrated Charizard card will always be the premium card in this set, with Blastoise and Venusaur in close second and third place.

It should be noted that the holofoils in this set are very difficult to obtain; while packs and booster boxes are still available for the 1999-2000 print run, Unlimited holos can also be found inside the same packs. This means that the typical 1:3 holo pull ratio doesn’t apply to the 1999-2000 Base Set. Adding to that, with the packs being close to two decades old, it also requires an extra stroke of luck to find your desired card(s) in mint, PSA 10 condition.

Now we’ve got the big three Pokémon holos out of the way, what’s fourth in line?

Machamp – WAIT WHAT?!

As Base Set collectors, we’ve been somewhat conditioned to believe the Machamp is the most common holofoil of them all. While valid for the Unlimited print run, it's a misconception for the Shadowless variant (that’s for another article), and the 1999-2000 variant. Because the card only features in the 2-Player Starter Set, similar to booster packs, the 1999-2000 print run Machamp does not have a 100% pull rate from those decks.

Ninetales, Mewtwo, Gyarados and Hitmonchan holo cards, on the other hand, can be found within the Base Set Theme Decks. These decks, unlike the 2-Player Starter Set, do have a 100% rate. The cards are also found in packs, which makes them the most common holofoils.

Based on my own experience with this set, I want to throw a couple of extras in the mix. The 16 rare cards, six Pokemon and ten trainers are ones I like to keep an eye on. While they do not suffer the fate of the holo ratio, these are cards that have a lot of potential.

Needless to say the starter (also known as First Partner Pokémon) Pokémon: Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Pikachu are good cards to purchase and their evolution. Simply because these have always fetched a solid return when graded a PSA 10, even when an ungraded copy would sell for just a dollar per card, a few years ago.

The last card I watch is Vulpix. It was the 1999-2000 Base Set where the Vulpix had its HP error finally corrected. It went through seven entire print runs with this error, making the Vulpix in this set incredibly unique. While it’s still a “common” card within this set, it’s one to pick up or at the very least keep an eye on.

Booster Boxes

The 1999-2000 booster boxes are items worth considering. However, for me, the USA box is the most difficult to quantify. The USA box can be overlooked due to the similarities to the ubiquitous Unlimited boxes. The only difference can be found on the bottom of the box, where the 1999-2000 print mark has a single country code, instead of many.

Even experienced Pokémon sealed collectors have been known to overlook this. Granted they may notice a difference, but due to the lack of information surrounding this box, they may not know what they have until they've opened it. Therefore, I envisage a few collectors are sitting on these boxes, not knowing what they have. This is only a theory, of course.

The box I’ve seen most of is the UK variant. It’s easy to distinguish these boxes, from their Unlimited counterparts because the outer packaging displays the 1999-2000 copyright date and the bottom of the box states “Made in the U.K”.

The loose packs were so readily available at one point that the 1999-2000 Base Set was inaccurately dubbed as the “UK Print”. Which signals to me, that although these boxes are still incredibly rare, they are potentially the easiest to find out of the three.

This brings me to the box we’ve seen the least amount of; the Australian version. It has the same characteristics as the UK box, except of course it states “Made in Australia” on the bottom. It’s hard to gauge how many boxes were made, but in my experience, the variant has been harder to locate.

Variables that continue to hinder this set

Overlooked as something special

Shadowless and 1st Edition is easily distinguishable from the other print runs, which means they are sold as something unique. The 1999-2000 Base Set, however, other than a lighter shade of colour and a newer copyright date can be overlooked by many collectors.

The Unlimited print runs were mass-printed to meet demand, due to the similarities between the two, collectors have yet to favour this set over another variation.

Incorrect Terminology

Everyone agrees on the term 1st Edition because it’s printed on boxes and cards. Shadowless, on the other hand, is not. However, it’s a consensus by collectors that have been agreed pretty much since the inception of its release.

Because the 1999-2000 Base Set has only been documented in more recent years, it’s meant no one has made a real effort to push this set with its own unique “brand”.

UK Print

We’ve already discussed these packs dominated the European market heavily for a while, where many collectors assumed they were solely made in the UK. However, despite the more recent discovery of packs and boxes being printed in the USA, Australia, as well as the UK, many – primarily those in the UK, still use the inaccurate term of “UK Print”.

The Battle of "4th Print."

The “4th Print” term is probably the term that bugs me the most. Simply because those experienced in the hobby knows that the Base Set went through eight print runs. But the print is actually the fourth variation of the Base Set. A variant is when cards are the exact same set but feature different characteristics. These are 1st Edition, Shadowless, Unlimited and 1999-2000 Base Set.

So even though there are eight different print runs of Base Set, casual collectors still refer to them as 4th print, despite being the fourth unique variation of the Base Set.

Base 2000 and 1999-2000 Base Set

Veterans have pushed the name “Base 2000” which certainly rolls off the tongue than the elongated 1999-2000 Base Set. But issues arise with both of terms. Firstly for those just getting into the hobby, this may cause confusion as Base Set 2 (different set) was released in 2000 and also features the same copyright date.

Additionally, while generating awareness for this variation, I was pushing the name “1999-2000”, but this also leads to confusion among many new collectors entering the hobby. While the community learned to always look at the copyright dates, questions were appearing asking if their Team Rocket “1999-2000” had any particular significance.

While I applaud those asking questions and willing to learn, there remain many issues with the correct branding for this set. I personally think this could be a significant contributing factor to why this set hasn’t taken off as well as it should.

Booster packs are still readily available.

An argument I hear as to why this set hasn’t taken off is because the packs are readily available. However, I would argue that other variants are equally available on the open market with similar volume, but it’s the price that separates them all.

Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA)

PSA is by far the biggest hindrance to the success of this set. After repeated talks with them from myself and with other collectors, they still fail to recognise this set and label them as something unique.

For years I have tried to convince them to reconsider their stance, and I even had the very first “correct label” on a booster pack graded by them. I made sure the Polish sticker was still on the reverse so it wouldn’t be labelled as Unlimited which did in fact work. But upon sending cards in from that point and adding notes to the form. They still labelled them as Unlimited.

The lack of graded data means high-end collectors are dubious of how many were printed. Some think it’s more than Shadowless, while others think it’s much less. We will never truly know how many exist, but if PSA did grade them, it would still grant us more accuracy with the population report.

Once we were to understand the actual amount of GEM MNT (PSA10) quantities, it’ll allow collectors and investors to take the set seriously and be less of a gamble. Hopefully, that day will come, but until then the set remains purely speculative.

The Future

I think this set is severely overlooked as something special. I’ve personally been advocating for this set for around six years, I bought in early, but sold most of my position after two years of the set stagnating.

Right now, the set is at a standstill, with the Charizard holo moving almost parallel to the Unlimited variant. As a grade PSA 10, the Charizard is of a similar price point to an Unlimited version, while suprisingly the Blastoise and Venusaur sell for almost triple when compared to the Unlimited option. Take from that what you will.

If the community can achieve the correct branding for the 1999-2000 Base Set, that’ll be a good starting point. It’s easy for those in the industry to coin a particular variant, but with a lack of publicity, it makes educating to the casual collector incredibly tricky. Once real awareness from us collectors has been achieved, that will be the starting point to its success.

Of course, that’s all good and well, but it’s challenging to generate hype and further awareness if there aren’t many high-end collectors interested in the set. How can we get people excited about Base Set 1999-2000? The answer... you guessed it – PSA!

The moment PSA choose to recognise Base Set 1999-2000, it will be a game-changer. From there, everything should fall in to place. Until then, hold tight Base Set fans!

Happy collecting.

Barney Ludkins