In new correspondence with PokeBeach, Uri Geller has revealed his agent has been in contact with The Pokemon Company in Japan. According to Geller, he “has a feeling” Kadabra may be getting a new card “soon, perhaps as early as December.” However, he said he cannot reveal anything and isn’t sure of the timing.
Geller, an illusionist known for bending spoons, sued Pokemon in November 2000 because of Kadabra’s likeness to his persona. He first became aware of Kadabra after discovering it on a Pokemon card in Japan, where the Pokemon is named “Yungerer,” a corruption of “Uri Geller.” Due to Geller’s legal actions, Kadabra has not appeared on any Pokemon cards since 2002. However, Geller changed his mind in late 2020 and relinquished control of Kadabra.
Geller also shared photos with PokeBeach of the “positive” letter he received from Pokemon’s president Tsunekazu Ishihara in December 2020. Geller’s letter to Pokemon and Ishihara’s response are now on display at his museum in Israel, along with a displays of Kadabra and Alakazam cards:
Geller wanted to again reiterate how much he regrets his actions. In voice messages to PokeBeach, he stated:
“The reason I changed my mind — first of all, I did a stupid thing for suing them. I was just angry that my name appeared on a Pokemon card out of the blue without ever being asked. The most important thing is in these 20 years I became a grandfather. I saw my granddaughters and I thought ‘Come on, you gotta release the Pokemon card back into circulation again.’ Hence my letter. And what a nice letter [Ishihara] sent back. I’m really happy about it. Now I run a children’s charity where you can become a citizen of an island I established in Scotland called Lamb Island.”
Originally I was writing this news story to explain why I think we might get a Kadabra card next year. That’s because this week, a new “Radiant Alakazam” card was revealed from Japan’s September set Incandescent Arcana. Upon the reveal, fans wondered why we’re once again getting a Basic Alakazam card that doesn’t evolve from Kadabra. After all, Geller relinquished his control over Kadabra almost two years ago. What gives?
First, let’s discuss the Alakazam’s line history since Geller’s lawsuit. There hasn’t been a Kadabra card since 2002’s Skyridge. Since then, we’ve only received one Abra card and one evolving Alakazam, both in 2007’s Mysterious Treasures. To bypass Kadabra, Abra featured an attack that allowed it to evolve straight into Alakazam. This method wasn’t going to be an elegant solution for the longterm though. Pokemon would have to figure out how else to bring Alakazam to the TCG without Kadabra.
Since Mysterious Treasures, the TCG has completely ignored Abra and Kadabra. It’s accomplished this with various mechanics that allow fully evolved Pokemon to appear as Basic Pokemon. For example, Pokemon-EX and Pokemon V don’t evolve from their normal pre-evolutions. You could say Alakazam has been the “poster child” for these types of mechanics. It’s appeared as every single one of them, as it was the most obvious way to present the Pokemon without its pre-evolutions.
In my opinion, Pokemon wanted to make another Basic Alakazam using the Radiant Pokemon mechanic because Alakazam has always been the poster child for these mechanics. The TCG is shifting to evolving Pokemon ex next year, so the concept of evolution is going to be a huge part of the game going forward. Thus, Pokemon may be saving Abra -> Kadabra -> Alakazam ex for the upcoming Scarlet & Violet series. Throwing the full line into a Sword & Shield set in the final hour seems odd after the TCG spent the last few generations promoting fully evolved Pokemon as Basic Pokemon. After all, the Pokemon TCG team usually holds Alakazam in high regard — it was even featured in its own set in 2016 called Awakening of the Psychic King. They’ll probably want to celebrate the line’s return with a proper bang. We’ll see!
As most Pokemon fans know, Kadabra was embroiled in a legal dispute for 20 years. Uri Geller alleged Nintendo used his likeness to create the character. He sued Nintendo in a California court in November 2000, demanding £60 million in damages and for Pokemon to discontinue using the character. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2003, but Geller continued to file lawsuits in other regions.
The entire Alakazam line references famous magicians. Abra’s Japanese name is “Casey,” a reference to the famous American clairvoyant Edgar Cayce. Kadabra’s Japanese name is “Yungerer,” a corruption of “Uri Geller.” Alakazam’s Japanese name is “Foodin,” a reference to Howard Houdini. Other Pokemon also reference real people, like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.
“I’m very angry about this. I wouldn’t have given permission for an aggressive, and in one case evil character to be based on me. This is not even anything to do with the old question of if I’m a magician or a real psychic. It’s straight theft of my persona.”
The “evil character” he is referencing is the Dark Kadabra card from Team Rocket. Its Japanese name is “Evil Yungerer.”
In 2008, I interviewed Pokemon anime director Masamitsu Hidaka and asked him about the lawsuit. He confirmed the dispute was the reason Kadabra could not appear on Pokemon cards. He also stated Pokemon and Geller had not reached an agreement, implying they had tried to reach a settlement. This was the only public statement ever made by a Pokemon official regarding Kadabra. I also asked various Pokemon officials about Kadabra over the years and received similar answers.
The effect of the lawsuit extends to the rest of the franchise as well. Kadabra hasn’t appeared in the anime since 2005. Starting in Gen IV games, Kadabra is always forced to evolve into Alakazam when traded, even when it’s holding an Everstone.
Starting in 2018, some fans from PokeBeach’s forums began a concentrated effort to contact Geller and convince him to relinquish his control of Kadabra.
“Due to the tremendous volume of emails I am still getting begging me to allow Nintendo to bring back Kadabra, I sent […] a letter to the chairman of Nintendo giving them permission to relaunch the Uri Geller Kadabra/Yungeller worldwide.”
In an interview with PokeBeach in the same month, Geller stated two Nintendo representatives picked up his letter from his friend’s office in Tokyo and left him their business cards. In December 2020, Geller received the above letter from Pokemon president Tsunekazu Ishihara.