Late last month, what should’ve been a cutesy, even educational collaboration between Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and Pokémon flared up into an absurd disaster as scalpers hungry to continue turning a profit on rare Pokémon merchandise raced to get their hands on as many behatted Pikachus as humanly possible. Now after a period of silence, the Pokémon Company is at least trying to fight back.
When the Pokémon Company launched a new partnership with the Van Gogh Museum—to promote a Pokémon-themed exhibit at the Dutch gallery tied into the beloved painter’s historical interest in Japanese art and culture—in late September, accompanied by limited-time merchandise and a promotional card for the Pokémon TCG, recent history with the monster-collecting franchise reared its ugly head again. People eager to re-sell Pokémon goods on the aftermarket saw mass crowd surges, online sellouts, and crumbling website infrastructure, and, generally, quite a headache for anyone who just wanted a plush of Pikachu in Van Gogh’s famous grey hat, promotional trading card be damned.
At the time, the Pokémon Company apologised for the rollout, vowing to at least try and get more copies of the sought-after trading card and event merchandise into the hands of fans rather than scalpers. Now, it’s starting to make moves toward that… without really addressing the underlying issues that lead to the mayhem in the first place.
In a new statement on social media, the company confirmed that “soon” anyone spending $US30 on Pokémon trading cards at the U.S. Pokémon Center website (or £30 at the UK store) will receive one of the Van Gogh Museum collaboration promo cards, depicting Pikachu in the style of the artist’s Self-Portrait in Grey Felt Hat, with restrictions on one per-order while the new supply lasts. A similar restriction on access to the card was already put into place after the initial launch of the collaboration at the Van Gogh Museum, seeking to keep supply for attendees as the accompanying exhibition runs through January 2024.
The move should at least help to bring down some of the absurd prices the promotional card is bringing on the aftermarket—the less exclusive it becomes, the less desire from resellers to lock down access. Currently on eBay, the Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat card is averaging between $US50 and the low $US100s, which is still absurd for a single card (or even bundled with sold-out merch from the collaboration), but less absurd after initially spiking at auctions for several hundred dollars in the wake of its launch a few weeks ago. But it doesn’t really address a lot of the initial issues with the Pokémon Company’s approach to its fandom and limited-time collaborations exposed by the release, like issues with broad access in locales without their own dedicated official Pokémon stores, or even how fans and resellers with even basic internet savvy managed to scoop up much of the collection before it officially went on sale.
It also doesn’t address the lingering embarrassment these kinds of events and their merchandise have lead to in the Pokémon community—if people are willing to turn an art museum gift shop into a riot just by the mere presence of the Pokémon franchise, at what point does the idealistic intent of some of these collaborations outweigh the headache of dealing with a lucrative, merch-hungry fandom and the resellers that prey upon it? Those aren’t issues that can really be addressed by simply throwing more Pikachu cards at the market and hoping for the best.
Want more entertainment news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and DC releases, what’s coming to cinemas in Australia this year, and everything streaming this month across all platforms. Check out our dedicated Entertainment tab for more.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.