A Holographic History Of The Pokémon TCG: Rainbow Rare Pokémon

Over the years, the Pokémon TCG has featured many different patterns used on their holographic cards. Some patterns lasted for years, while others had short stays, making them markers for their short time in the franchise. In this next installment of A Holographic History of the Pokémon TCG, let's take a look at a style of card that debuted in the Sun & Moon era and continues to be a major feature of sets today in the Sword & Shield era: the Rainbow Rare.

Rainbow Rare Charizard GX. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Rainbow Rare Charizard GX. Credit: Pokémon TCG

Rainbow Rare cards (sometimes called Hyper Rares) arrived in the Pokémon TCG in the Sun & Moon base set. They took the line art used in Pokémon-GX cards and removed the colors, replacing them with a dazzling rainbow pattern. These cards, which are heavily textured, are classified as Secret Rares and appear in a set's numbering after the Full Art Trainers.

These cards are often very difficult to pull, with one or two appearing at most in a booster box of Sun & Moon-era sets, though some boxes included none. These weren't the only Secret Rares during that era, as Golden Trainer cards featured throughout the whole block and early sets included Golden Energy cards.

When the Sword & Shield base set kicked off a new block, the Rainbow Rare Pokémon card got a facelift. The color palette remained the same but, with GX cards retired, it ended up being VMAX cards that got the Rainbow Rare treatment.

Rainbow Rare Pikachu VMAX. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Rainbow Rare Pikachu VMAX. Credit: Pokémon TCG

Rainbow Rare VMAX use the line art not from the Pokémon's Full Art card but from its standard VMAX in the normal numbered section of the set. These are still textured, but the texture is finer and lighter than that of the Rainbow Rare GX. Not the spiraling, lined pattern of the Charizard GX versus the fine, grainy detail of the Pikachu VMAX.

During this era, the number of Secret Rares in sets has ballooned and now includes Rainbow Rare VMAX, Alternate Art VMAX, Rainbow Rare Trainers (we'll get to those in another installment), Gold Trainer Items, Gold Energies, and Gold Shiny Pokémon.

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Theo DwyerAbout Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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