New To Collecting Pokémon Cards? Here's Everything You Need To Know About The Hobby

ETBs, tins, booster boxes, what is actually worth buying? :O

Cover image via Erick Mclean/Pexels & Martin Alejandro Balderrama (Facebook Marketplace)

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Looking to get into Pokémon cards? Whether you're new to the hobby or used to play as a kid, here's all you need to know to get started:

1. First, spend some time learning about the difference between vintage and modern Pokémon cards

Image via Troll and Toad

If you grew up playing Pokémon cards, chances are, you're familiar with some of the vintage sets like Base Set and Skyridge. Some of these vintage cards go back all the way to 1998, and are usually more expensive and hard to come by.

On the other hand, there are also a lot of modern cards that are relatively affordable. Newer sets like Shining Fates and Celebrations were released in the past few years, and can be found fairly easily.

Image via Pokellector

To get an idea of what you actually like, you can start by looking through Pokellector, a database with Pokémon cards from all available sets to date.

Besides that, Facebook Groups like Pokémon TCG Malaysia are also a helpful resource.

2. Next, understand the types of Pokémon card products available

When it comes to buying Pokémon cards, you can either buy singles or sealed products. However, if you've been away from the hobby for a while, all the types of new products might be a little overwhelming.

Here's a simple breakdown:

Image via SAYS

Single Booster Packs: RM16 - RM20
Each pack will contain around 11 cards, including a guaranteed rare card. Some special sets are slightly different, like Celebrations, which guarantees 4 rare holofoil cards.

Blister Packs: RM25 - RM60
Blister packs usually contain promo cards and a coin, along with one or three booster packs. It's good for those who just want to open a few packs without spending too much.

Tins and Collection Boxes: RM50 - RM250
Depending on the set release, you can choose from different kinds of tins, mini tins, collection boxes, and even premium collection boxes. Most of these will contain higher value promo cards, along with a variation of booster packs inside.

Image via SAYS

Pre-release Boxes: RM110 - RM300
Known as Build and Battle Boxes or Stadium, these come with pre-release foil promo cards, a variety of Pokémon and trainer cards, as well as booster packs. The idea is to allow players to construct their own 40-card deck to get a feel for an upcoming set.

Elite Trainer Boxes (ETBs): RM200 - RM300
ETBs usually come with 8 to 10 booster packs, along with some additional items like dices, damage counters, and energy cards. It's one of the most popular items, and a good entry point for newbies.

Booster Boxes: RM500 - RM550
Unlike blister packs and collection boxes, booster boxes only come with booster packs, nothing else. Each box contains 36 packs, and is a great option for those who purely want to open up packs. It also gives you the most bang for your buck.

*This is not a complete list of Pokémon card products. There are also theme decks, collector's chests, trainer kits, and other types of special products. Estimated prices are based on when a product first releases, and does not take into account changes in market value over time.

3. Now that you know more about Pokémon cards, it's time to decide what kind of collector you want to be

We spoke to Malaysia's top ranked Pokémon TCG player, Colin Tang, to get some tips on how to go about collecting. And his first advice was to understand what you're interested in collecting.

No stranger to the hobby, Colin has been playing and collecting Pokémon cards all the way since Base Set. After joining the competitive scene in 2017, he was even ranked No.2 in Oceania, having won events like the Australian Regional Championships.

"Some players collect Full Art trainer cards, hyper rare cards, or certain Pokémon they like. Secondly, you need to know the pricing of these cards. Do your research before buying and selling, or risk making an overpriced purchase or selling below market value.

"Personally, I love collecting promo cards (with a black star sign on the lower right). I also collect sealed products, although resisting temptation to open them may be the hardest thing ever," shared Colin.

Besides that, some collectors enjoy collecting full sets, which means they'll hunt for every single Pokémon card within a set, including all the secret rares (special cards that go beyond the set number). For investor-type collectors, they often opt for sealed products, graded cards, and high-value single cards.

There's no correct way to collect, as long as you enjoy what you're doing. But as you get into the groove of collecting, start setting some goals — it becomes more fulfilling when you work towards something.

4. Lastly, get to know local hobby shops, Facebook groups, and online marketplaces. Then, it's buy, trade, sell, and repeat! :P

If you want to buy sealed Pokémon card products, your best bet is to look for a local hobby or collectible store. In Selangor, there are a couple of popular spots, like Toysbar, Cards & Hobbies, and Gaia Card Game Sanctuary. They're not always the easiest to locate, so it's good to go with someone who's already familiar with the place.

Some hobby stores like Toysbar and Impulse Gaming also sell Pokémon cards online on Shopee, where you can usually get the latest releases at decent prices.

Image via SAYS

Besides that, a lot of trading, buying, and selling happen in Facebook groups like Pokemon @ Toysbar大马POKEMON TCG 小组, and Castelia City PokeMart.

Make sure you read all the rules, and take time to understand how things work in these groups. It might take you a while to get used to terms like 'Claim Sale', 'Bid Sale', and 'TNTx4', but it gets really fun once you get the hang of it.

Lastly, you can also buy and sell Pokémon cards on online marketplaces like Carousell. However, make sure you only buy from legit sellers, as there are lots of scammers out there.

We also got a chance to interview local Pokémon YouTuber Eddy Fazly, who had great tips for new and returning collectors

An architect by day, a freelance artist and Pokémon YouTuber by night, Eddy does it all.

Similar to Colin, Eddy grew up playing Pokémon TCG in the 2000s and even joined local leagues, but had to quit when he went to boarding school. He got back into the hobby in 2019, and now uses his freelance work and YouTube career to support this hobby.

"You should always set a target in collecting, so you'll have a better direction when buying cards and not overspend on things you don't really want or like.

"Don't follow FOMO, 'cos it will make you spend more than you should, unless it's products that are really rare or scarce. Also, try not to buy and collect based on monetary value, but because of sentimental value — this way, you'll love the cards so much more," he shared.

Eddy also advises collectors to study the sets and products before buying, so you'll know what promo cards and packs you'll get. Check out Eddy's YouTube channel for informative Pokémon card content.

And there you go, you're ready to start collecting Pokémon cards! :D

Image via GIPHY

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to have fun collecting Pokémon cards. Sometimes, you might beat yourself up over a missed opportunity, a bad purchase, or someone else's amazing collection.

But hey, it's all about you and your journey, so take time and enjoy every step of the way!

Looking to start collecting? One of the most important things you need to know is how to tell between fake and real Pokémon cards:

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