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Ultra Prism Set Review: As an Investor (Part 2 of 3)

With every set, people want to know which cards may make them a little money. With modern sets, even cards that will likely hold their value are particularly worth noting as oversaturation slowly destroys the fibers of the secondary market. Here are my general thoughts for Ultra Prism and a few cards I’ve got my eyes on.

Erratas =/= Cash Cows

Every time we get an errata, there’s an instant rumor that starts that goes something like, “The pre-errata form is an error and will be worth big money someday!” Let’s stop this right here. That is highly unlikely to happen with the Cyrus errata. First, the original print runs on cards these days are massive compared to the print runs of the early days. As such, anything that makes it into an early print run is likely to be all over the place down the road. Cyrus has also been changed shortly after the original print runs. This means there is likely to be a huge number of “corrected” versions also floating around. Additionally, there isn’t much precedence for an errata driving value of pre-errata copies in modern printing. You probably haven’t even heard of the errata on Electrode from Evolutions if you weren’t involved in the competitive scene at the time it was issued, let alone seen ravenous collectors offering large sums for a specific version. This just doesn’t happen.

Ultra Prism Will Be Huge

After a disappointing Crimson Invasion, most stores are looking to Ultra Prism as a catch-up set. They’re ordering huge quantities of sealed product, and singles presellers are busting more product than they have for sets in the past. While the demand is high for this set in particular, I’m anticipating a bearish market for all cards from the set 3-4 weeks following official release. I don’t recommend purchasing any of the cards until that time period, even if it is tempting to spend big to participate in the hype of the new set release. Looking to Rainbow Rare Charizard GX as our last breakout modern success from sets, even its prices didn’t gain significant traction for a couple of months. If anything is going to do well, its best purchase opportunity is going to be when the set is boring, over-opened, and plateauing in price. I also recommend singles purchases over busting sealed product on Ultra Prism for small buyers. Gold cards aren’t going to pay out equal to the cost of the gamble given their seemingly dramatic pull ratios. And you’re not going to win in a game of “Full Art Cynthia or Bust.” The bulk market isn’t going to soften the blow on bad boxes anymore, and buying singles is just a safer avenue.

Singles I’m Watching

With the state of modern singles, I’m looking to play this game as safely as possible. There are going to be higher risk/reward opportunities in extensive meta prediction, but I’m not looking to take that route. I want to take my time and put myself in a place where I can choose my buyers and sell price.

-Cynthia Full Art

All that said, the bet that seems safest to me at this time is Cynthia Full Art. I’m not buying at Prerelease prices, but the card seems like a fair opportunity to get a future staple in the coveted Full Art form. I’m also not anticipating a reprint in the immediate future as there isn’t any precedent for it. Regular art versions can be lucrative as shorter-term bets but risk quick reprints that hurt value. I like Cynthia FA, and I’m looking to pick up 3-4 playsets after prices have stabilized.

-Rainbow Rare Leafeon and Glaceon

As divided as the community is over the rainbow rares, Eeveelutions have long been a consistent safe bet in the collecting world. They have a dedicated fan base and higher liquidity than other collectible Pokemon without the high prices of mid/high-tier Charizards and Pikachus. I also anticipate both cards becoming a second thought with future set releases, meaning multiple opportunities to leverage the cards with winning trades or purchases online when attention is elsewhere.

-Unit Energy

This is my Ultra Prism penny stock. I see there being huge quantities sitting around after the first couple release waves and a limited number of uses for them, as was the case with blend energies from Dragons Exalted. That said, these types of cards have a habit of finding niche interest and stirring up dust down the road. As soon as I see that window, I’m selling them all as a lot to someone else that thinks they can flip a profit. It’s an easy card to overlook in the short run and fail to create a supply of but also not high dollar enough to justify piecing out in small numbers. The best part about these types of cards is that the value they plateau at after the hype (but before they’ve found a use) usually has a floor to it. Special energies act this way. Double Colorless Energy, for example, has a long history of ebbing and flowing in value depending on how recently it has been printed. These small shifts represent an opportunity if you have the patience and are interested in that type of gamble. I am equally interested in the regular and ultra rare versions.

What am I grading?

My list above mostly focuses on trends in analogous cards from different points in time. It also mostly ignores the graded card world. Grading modern cards isn’t for everyone, but I have some fun with it. If you’re just now reading this, you’re probably too late to the “first to market” premium that exists for the first two or three PSA 10 copies of modern ultra rares to hit the market. That said, I think there are a few options for grading that have potential out of Ultra Prism.

-Gold Solgaleo and Gold Lunala

I don’t recommend buying these up in large quantities and shipping them off. There isn’t enough star power with these legendaries to generate the hype and following that assists other cards like it. These are also cards I’m sitting on if I find gem mint copies to grade. Like the gold Zekrom and Reshiram, the value won’t be there for at least two or three years after their release. Unlike the Zekrom and Reshiram, the print numbers are likely to be absurdly high even with the increase in relative rarity. That said, I think there’s a lot of appeal in gold cards and I think there will be an interest in PSA 10 copies down the road. Modern Ultra Rares from print runs after the first have consistently graded well for the past two years. I recommend looking for anything you want to grade after the first release is done.

-Rainbow Rare Leafeon and Glaceon

These aren’t going to be super liquid or high margin, but there is good potential in having a few sets of the Rainbow Rare Eeveelutions on hand. This is particularly true if you can successfully grade a handful of the Espeon and Umbreon from Sun & Moon Base Set to go with them. If they continue to pump these out in future sets, the full set will be attractive as an attainable but challenging goal. The set feels right to me. As such, I’m going with my gut and grading a handful of each in a 10 for sitting on.

The Gaps

I’m particularly aware that this set has a lot of meta implications that I am not intimately familiar with. I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not consider this article exhaustive. There is a lot of potential for people that want to keep a close eye on the meta and speculate that way. That’s not my hobby, however, so the above approaches are more my style. Additionally, everything in this section of the reviews is strictly my opinion and does not constitute formal advice. Only make financial decisions you are comfortable with after researching thoroughly. My hope is ultimately that you’ll get a sense of what someone else is looking for in Ultra Prism and that you’ll heed, most of all, my cautions throughout this piece. 

‘til next time,

Charlie Hurlocker

(NOTE: This article is part two in a three-part series of articles. Read Part 1 and Part 3 (coming tomorrow) for the full effect.)