The Return of Kadabra?

After nearly two decades of extinction from the Pokémon TCG universe, one of the greatest Psychic Pokémon from Generation 1 may be on the brink of a historic and unlikely comeback.

Unbeknownst to English-speaking trainers, it’s widely acknowledged that the Pokémon Company drew upon the identity of the Israeli illusionist and magician, Uri Geller, when creating Kadabra. For one, Kadabra is fond of bending spoons - a signature Geller move. Of greater concern, though, is Kadabra’s Japanese name: Yungerer. You don’t exactly need to be a Japanese scholar to see the striking resemblance.

(Top line: Kadabra/Yungerer; Bottom line: Uri Geller)

In 2000, Geller filed a lawsuit against Nintendo demanding not only substantial compensation for damages but also that Kadabra be discontinued from the Trading Card Game. Why just the TCG? No one really knows, but Kadabra’s last appearance was in the 2003 Skyridge expansion. While Geller’s suit doesn’t appear to have gained much traction in the courts, Nintendo and TPCI appear to have voluntarily pulled Kadabra from the TCG while continuing to use Abra and Alakazam - developing evolution workarounds so we wouldn’t miss his presence. As recently as last month, Vivid Voltage saw Alakazam released as a Basic Pokémon V card, which can be played immediately without thought of the preceding evolution line.

Geller’s apology and statements put out via tweet on Nov. 28 and 29th are encouraging, but only time will tell if TPCI is truly comfortable reintroducing Kadabra to future sets after all these years. Geller has proven himself to be highly litigious in the past, but on the eve of the franchise’s 25th anniversary, this might be the perfect time to grab some limelight and restore peace with a growing collector community that for the most part has grown up, and is perfectly willing to drop top dollar on rare and intriguing merchandise. For my part, I hope that TPCI takes this opportunity to welcome Kadabra back into the TCG with open arms. After a grueling hiatus, Kadabra deserves a competitive card and artwork worthy of the occasion. Making this hope a reality may be an uphill climb, though, as middle evolutions are often overlooked in the TCG with mere uncommon cards.

For many, Kadabra holds a special place in our hearts dating back to his formidable presence in the early video games. The thrill of evolving a useless, impossible-to-catch Abra into a really strong Kadabra felt much more akin to the Magikarp -> Gyarados line, than just any old middle evolution Pokémon. Add to that the inconvenience of evolving to Alakazam only via trade and you see why Kadabra was a principal member of many Kanto teams all the way through Indigo Plateau.

I’m sure most of the product planning has already taken place ahead of next year’s monumental 25th anniversary, but I for one hope Kadabra makes his way onto a mighty Holo or Ultra Rare V card soon. He’d even look mighty sharp as a set mascot emblazoned on Elite Trainer Boxes and pack artwork! How about getting your brand new Kadabra products signed by the villain-turned-hero himself? I have a hunch that Mr. Geller might be just as interested as I am in the glow up of Kadabra!

This article was contributed by Michael Harris. Michael is an educator and lifelong Pokémon enthusiast based in Fairfax, Virginia.