There is only one day left until the Pokémon TCG releases its 25th Anniversary set, Celebrations. This all-holo set comes in booster packs with four cards that are only available through special Celebrations-branded products. The set will not be available through booster packs and booster boxes like a main Sword & Shield-branded expansion. The set itself has 25 cards as well as a subset of reprints which also has 25 cards.
For today’s final countdown piece, let’s take a look back at my initial theories and hopes for this set and compare them to what we now know. In April 2021, I wrote:
Move Forward: Shining Fates differentiated itself from Hidden Fates by focusing largely on newer Pokémon. While a 25th Anniversary set will absolutely have a heavy Kanto presence, I think the TCG would want to show love to all generations of Pokémon while looking to the future. Instead of a 100%, strictly Kanto set, I think it’d make sense to see cards from every era.
Celebrations thankfully does exactly that. The main set has many different focuses, with a great deal of Pikachu cards as well as a few Lillie cards. The variety is strong, and the Classic Collection features cards from Base Set all the way to Sun & Moon – Guardians Rising with almost ever era represented.
Homage: A great way to tip hats to the past without copying it exactly would be to pay tribute to classic moments. Burning Shadows did this during the Sun & Moon era with cards such as the Butterfree card which depicted the moment that Butterfree leaves Ash to go off with its mate, as well as the Charmander card which recreates the rainstorm from which Ash and co. saved his Charmander when they first met it. Perhaps we could see more of those kinds of cards with a larger story behind them in the anniversary set.
We ended up seeing this kind of thing with some of the set’s Pikachu cards. In the main set, there is a Full Art version of Base Set Pikachu which sees Mitsuhiro Arita expand his original Pikachu card art to show the full scene. Also, the Pikachu V-UNION promo associated with the set has artists from the history of the Pokémon TCG all contribute to what amounts to a swarm of Pikas. It’s not exactly like what I described, but it does tip a hat to the past while also creating something new.
Honor the Past: Finally, there is a way to honor the Base Set without another basic reprint. How? Make it a Shiny Vault. Recreate the Base Set or even the first 151 Pokémon with their most iconic cards as a subset in their Shiny forms. Imagine Base Set Charizard as a glimmering, black, Full Art Shiny? That would be the way I could see Base Set art feeling new again, because the current desire to just see the same cards with no artwork changes would feel less like a culmination of 25 years and more like a monument to the past without looking ahead.
Finally, here’s where I was probably most off-base. Celebrations does recreate Base Set cards in a unique way but not just Base Set. The Classic Collection subset pulls 25 cards from various eras of the Pokémon TCG including the Charizard, Blastoise, and Venusaur from Base Set and reprints them mostly as is but with a new holofoil pattern and a beautiful texture added. Essentially, they’re treated as Full Arts due to the texture without being Full Arts.