I have a problem with Pokémon being a multi-generational phenomenon: Its continued success makes me feel old. There are Pokémon fans telling me that they've loved the franchise since babyhood. This is unacceptable.
I find comfort wherever I can. For example, my status as one of the Pokémon fandom's Ancient Ones let me watch the first wave of Pokémon merchandise crash onto North American shores, and that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I brought a talking Pikachu toy into school back in 1998, and nobody knew who Pikachu was. That'll never happen again. One of my friends wanted to know why I owned a yellow rat toy that exclaimed "Kick a Jew."
But early North American Pokémon merchandise wasn't just about pee-colored plastic rodents that shouted potentially offensive slogans. Some of the stuff up for grabs was a little weird, a little different – and even attractive in a tacky way. Earlier, the r/gaming subreddit looked back on one such offering: The gold-plated Pokémon trading cards that went on sale at Burger King in 1999.
"Does anyone remember these 1999 23 karat Pokémon cards from BK?" asked redditor 3-toe. They posted a pic of their own collection: Six gold-plated Pokémon cards nestled in casings molded to look like PokéBalls. The Pokemon embossed on the cards include Togepi, Pikachu, Charizard, Mewtwo, Jigglypuff, and Poliwhirl.
The post was quickly deluged with memories. One redditor, "Shnarbi," wrote, "The year is 1999...[I think to myself] 'these are going to be worth something one day!' 18 years later...'ah, nope' not worth shit!"
"chuckymcgee" responded, "A general rule about a collectible is that if you think 'these are going to be worth something one day!' it's probably not going to be worth shit."
True. A collectable's value is almost always dependent on its rarity. The gold-plated Burger King cards are an interesting novelty, but they were made available just as Poké-Mania was taking hold for the first time. Lots of people bought them, and lots of people still have them. Hence why one of the cards will only net you about ten bucks on eBay, even if it's still boxed and in good condition.
There is Pokémon merchandise that will put your kids through college (for a semester, maybe), but you're highly unlikely to find any of it at the bottom of your closet. The most valuable Pokémon collectable is probably the Japanese "Pokémon Illustrator" card, which was published as a prize for a CoroCoro Comic contest. The card isn't gold-plated, and it doesn't come mounted in a plastic PokéBall. It's just exceedingly rare: 39 copies were distributed, and only a few are accounted for.
If you happen to own a Pokémon Illustrator card – and if it's in mint condition – you should be able to sell it for at least $50,000 USD. Your Burger King cards won't fetch anything close to fifty grand, but hey, you should get enough for a couple of Whoppers.
Featured Midboss of the Week
The news about the SNES Classic Edition and all the classic RPG goodness stuffed within it got me thinking back to one of the most vicious mid-bosses in RPG history: Atma Weapon from Final Fantasy VI / Final Fantasy III SNES.
"Atma" is a mistranslation of "Ultima," but it doesn't matter what you call this unholy fusion of beastly flesh and gears; if you're not fully prepared to go up against him, he'll demolish you.
Atma is the last boss you fight before the world is plunged into ruin, and oh boy, what a send-off. The magic Atma flings at you is unlike anything else at that point in the game. Meteo, Flare, Flare Star, Quake – just one of those spells by itself is enough to wipe out an ill-equipped party.
When I first played Final Fantasy VI, Atma Weapon was a huge sticking point. I was still new to RPGs at the time, so I made the fatal mistake of equipping my party for defense alone instead of defense and elemental boosts. In other words, I favored Gold Armor over Gaia Gear because the former provided a tiny defense boost over the latter, even though Gaia Gear can absorb Atma's Quake spell.
Gaia Gear can also absorb the "Lifeshaver" spell the Misfit enemies use to wear you down before you even reach Atma. Not that my dumb Gold Armor-wearing ass knew that when it mattered most. Man, Final Fantasy VI's Floating Continent is a terrifying place if you don't know what you're doing – and it's just a sample of the horrors the World of Ruin offers shortly thereafter.
Thankfully, with age comes wisdom. I can practically breakdance across the Floating Continent now. Who can resist moving their bod to that epic music?