As a casual Pokémon fan returning to the TCG after a several decade hiatus, I
found myself asking recently: “What even is a “shiny” Pokémon?” I soon learned
that these alternate-coloration species of Pokémon have actually existed in
video games since Generation 2, and were denoted by a brief sparkly star
animation whenever they appeared. If you don’t remember encountering any of
these Pokémon in the mainline video games, that would be quite understandable.
"Shinies" boast astronomically low rates of appearance, in most cases ranging in
the neighborhood of 1 in 4,000 to 1 in 8,000 encounters. Yes, you read that
Assuming you don’t want to waste your life “shiny-hunting” for hours on end
in the video game (which is very much a thing, just check YouTube), perhaps
you’d rather try your luck encountering a shiny Pokémon in a booster pack!
Shinies in TCG have taken on a variety of different styles from the vintage-
era Aquapolis set, to modern specialty sets like Shining Legends and Hidden
Fates. As long as you’re hunting in one of these sets, your encounter rates are
bound to be much higher.
When Hidden Fates debuted in November 2019, the set was extremely well
received by fans, who were awed by the 80 Holo and Full Art shiny Pokémon
cards that comprised the set’s “Shiny Vault.” It was the most comprehensive
offering of shiny Pokémon the TCG had ever seen, and it is still widely regarded
as the greatest modern TCG set to date. Unfortunately, once the Pandemic-
fueled TCG craze reached full steam in the late spring of 2020, a combination of
scalpers and returning TCG enthusiasts managed to polish off every last box and
tin from store shelves, and to this day (in most areas) those same sealed
products can only be found online for 2-3x MSRP, minimum.
All this matters because the de facto monopoly that Hidden Fates held on the
market for shiny Pokémon has now come to an abrupt end with the arrival of the
new Japanese specialty set, Shiny Star V (english set name and release date
TBD). I fully expect that the confirmed reprint of Hidden Fates Elite Trainer Boxes
(slated for January), and the English release of Shiny Star V (as soon as
February) could deal a substantial blow to the price of Hidden Fates sealed
product and singles, at least in the short term.
Similar to the shiny Charizard GX in Hidden Fates, Shiny Star V’s rollout is
dominated by the ultimate chase card - shiny Charizard VMAX, featuring artwork
that was first introduced this year in Darkness Ablaze and returned again in
Champion’s Path as a Hyper (Rainbow) Rare variant. Shiny Star V’s contribution
will create an impressive VMAX trilogy that will be highly prized by ‘Zard
It’s clear that The Pokémon Company International (TPCI) understands just how
real the Charizard hype is, and in particular the obsession with shiny Charizard.
After issuing the same Charizard VMAX under Full Art/Ultra Rare, Rainbow, and
Shiny variants within the span of less than a year, where are we headed next? I’d
wager we’re likely to see some kind of Gold treatment on this same artwork at
some point in the future, and that would yield a full play set of four Charizard
VMAX’s that have each towered over their respective sets as the premier chase
card. I’m not sure what it says about TPCI, or the community at-large, that mere
color modifications to the same artwork can set us ablaze with desire and lead us
to spend hundreds or thousands on packs in the hopes of pulling these chase
cards. What’s clear is that TPCI understands their fanbase extremely well, and
as long as Charizard fever reigns supreme, we can expect their future offerings
to continue to meet the longings of those fans, perhaps even at the expense of
innovation and meaningful attention to other Pokémon.
In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy Shiny Star V, the set list is massive and
the cards are quite stunning, featuring new shinies from Kanto to Galar, and
three new additions to the Amazing Rare category. As to the long term fate of
Hidden Fates? Perhaps it will be all the more favored by collectors down the line
as the original Shiny Vault set, which was embraced by the community in
resounding fashion and shaped the trajectory of future TCG sets. If Shiny Star V
is any indicator of things to come, rest assured that TPCI has noted the Pokemon
world’s enthusiasm for shiny variants and will be more than happy to feed that
craving for many sets to come.
Keep watching MinMaxGames for updates about future US set releases
and pre-orders as soon as that info is available. Be warned that the Team Rocket
scalpers in your neighborhood will be out in full force for this set! Unless TPCI
steps up their distribution game in a major way (and there’s no indication they
will), your odds of finding these products in the wild (on big box store shelves)
are about the same as scooping a shiny in the video game. Good luck.
This article was contributed by Michael Harris. Michael is an educator and lifelong Pokémon enthusiast based in Fairfax, Virginia.