We can now confirm Kadabra will be returning to the Pokemon TCG in June’s Pokemon Card 151. The sell sheet teases the set will feature the original 151 Pokemon, as most fans speculated. It also specifically names Alakazam ex, which would obviously evolve from Kadabra. (The sell sheet can’t be shared publicly.)
Last August, Uri Geller revealed in an interview with PokeBeach that his agent has been in contact with The Pokemon Company in Japan. Geller said he “[had] a feeling” Kadabra may be getting a new card “soon, perhaps as early as December.” However, he said he wasn’t sure of the timing and couldn’t reveal anything.
Two days ago we asked Geller in private if he had any news about Kadabra. He cryptically linked to our article about Pokemon Card 151 without further comment.
Update: After we published this article, Geller sent a voice message to PokeBeach:
“Hi my dear friends. I am pleased Pokemon fans are excited to see Kadabra return to the card game. Look, I want to thank the Pokemon fans who reached out to me over the last [few] years. Including the ones from PokeBeach, who kept contacting me nonstop. So basically, it was you and my granddaughters that got me to change my mind. Now we can all see Kadabra reunited with the original Pokemon in the card game this summer. I love you all. And I admit, totally open and honest. I was a fool. It was a devastating mistake for me to sue Pokemon. [Kadabra] was basically a tribute to Uri Geller. But it’s back now. Forgive me. I love you all. Much love and energy.”
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. He sent a letter to Pokemon relinquishing control of Kadabra. In December 2020, Pokemon president Tsunekazu Ishihara sent a letter back to Geller expressing his appreciation.
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 “solution” wasn’t going to be elegant for the long term, though.
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 most of them, as it was the most obvious way to present it without its pre-evolutions.
Now that we’re in the new Scarlet & Violet era where Pokemon ex evolve from their normal pre-evolutions, there’s no better time to feature an Alakazam ex that evolves from Kadabra. It also makes sense for Pokemon to make a Pokemon Card 151 set to (secretly) celebrate the occasion of Kadabra’s return.
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 without permission. 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 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.
In 2018 and 2019, 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. In August 2022, Geller 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.”
And now here we are!