Several people have been asking me why I didn’t post about this Charizard from Dragon Majesty with a special “Collector” stamp on the bottom (photo credit: Churlocker). If you look on Facebook groups, everyone is talking about it. It’s even fetching about $900 on eBay right now — some have sold for well over that amount already!
Well the reason I didn’t make a news post about this Charizard is because I didn’t know it existed! And if you ask The Pokemon Company about it, they’ll tell you they didn’t know it existed either!
That’s because this card release is a fake.
Well, the Charizard card itself is real. But fans took 400 of them and put an unofficial “Collector” stamp on them using the same kinds of stamping machines that Pokemon uses to stamp their cards. Therefore these Charizard cards are custom-modified Pokemon cards. They’re not certified, and therefore they’re not “real.”
The cards were released at a fan-run collector’s event organized by some of the Pokemon TCG’s most dedicated collectors. This event ran alongside the Hartford, Connecticut Regionals tournament from May 3rd to May 5th. The event included displays of rare Pokemon cards and merchandise, informational displays that detailed the history of collecting, and classic Pokemon cards for sale.
The Regionals organizers approved the event and the event’s displays even used the official Pokemon Regionals logo — so it was “officially” approved to operate. Large Pokemon tournaments often allow third party vendors to operate on site. But in the end the event was still fan-organized and the cards were not approved or released by The Pokemon Company.
I’m sure the collectors running the event had the best intentions at heart and were just trying to promote their event and their love of the Pokemon TCG. Fans are fans and don’t often think about how their actions might lead to confusion or legal conflicts (I’ve been guilty of this in the past myself).
However, it seems some fans thought the card was real and purchased it online for exorbitant prices since, you know, a Charizard card is always a hot investment. One of the product descriptions on eBay erroneously reads:
You are looking at the super exclusive and extremely rare “COLLECTOR” Stamped charizard from the VIP Section from the Hartford Regionals. There is only about 400 of these in circulation or less.
Now it’s not a crime to buy custom Pokemon merchandise (well actually I think it is technically, at least for selling, but we won’t go into that). Fans often buy cards with custom paint jobs, custom plushes are sold everywhere online, and of course fan art is a part of every fandom on the planet. So if someone wanted to buy the card just because they like it, that’s their prerogative. But if they purchased it thinking it was an official release from Pokemon… sadly, it’s not. Pokemon doesn’t even allow you to use modified cards at official tournaments.
Hopefully eBay will remove the listings. If anything, it’s the job of sellers to know the legitimacy of the items they are selling. Some sellers might be intentionally misleading buyers, though I’m sure most of the listings stem from misunderstanding the circumstances behind the event.
In other news our planet is set to die from global warming pretty soon, so all these pieces of paper probably won’t last much longer anyway. Priorities!!
Update (4:30 PM): “Churlocker,” the organizer of the event, reached out to me shortly after making this post. We spoke on the phone for a half hour and he agreed with the research, information, and conclusions in my post above. The Charizard cards are NOT official.
I have learned some more details that I feel will expand on the points above.
As I expected, Churlocker was just trying to promote his love for Pokemon. For a few years he had been talking with tournament organizers and even officials about running a collector’s event at a Pokemon tournament. Collecting is a huge part of the hobby, but often goes ignored at official events, so there was no resistance to the idea from any party.
Over the past several months, Churlocker went through the correct channels to run this month’s event. However, it seems Pokemon officials and tournament organizers didn’t quite understand the amount of work he was planning. He also didn’t understand he needed to get permission from Pokemon to use the Regionals logo for his displays, and the tournament organizers also didn’t realize he hadn’t gotten permission. The scope of the event he put on, combined with the fact it appeared to be an official event, is what lead to the confusion.
As he described to me his discussions with officials to create a custom card, I quickly realized there was no way Pokemon understood that these cards were to be distributed at their official tournaments. My first comment was “There is no way they would approve that,” and it was then I realized that both parties were probably on different pages through no fault of their own. Churlocker thought distributing custom-stamped cards was okay and that Pokemon understood what he was planning. Pokemon didn’t realize his intentions, nor that he would ultimately create an event that appeared to be official. Although mistakes were definitely made, there was no ill-will.
Sometimes mishaps happen. We have to step back sometimes and realize that at the end of the day, we’re all just Pokemon fans (and officials!) trying to promote the franchise we love. No one died. No one acted with bad intent. Some (wealthier than me) people paid $900 for unofficial Charizard cards, but somehow I think they’re going to justify those purchases until the day they die. But as this post shows, those Charizard cards are unofficial, custom-stamped cards.
I have to compliment Churlocker for wanting to put on a special event for collectors, and I also have to compliment TPCi and the TOs for being open to allowing such an event. Hopefully at the end of the day, all parties can understand we’re all on the same team and move on.*
*By team I mean Team Aqua, of course. We need that rain and cold weather to combat global warming!