A Holographic History Of The Pokémon TCG: Stars Abound

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. On this first installment of A Holographic History of the Pokémon TCG, let's take a look back at the first-ever holographic pattern used by Wizards of the Coast in their English-language release of the first Pokémon TCG sets: the classic stars.

Base Set Charizard. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Base Set Charizard. Credit: Pokémon TCG

One of the most instantly recognizable holographic patterns is this old-school star pattern used in the first three English-language Pokémon TCG sets: Base Set, Jungle, and Fossil. The pattern featured the Pokémon set over a generally simple background that was rendered in a foil that, when tilted around in the light, saw stars pop from the surface. It gave the cards intense depth, with stars appearing closer to the surface with sharp clarity, while other stars seemed blurred and far away. This gave the impression that the Pokémon was popping out from the surface, which made for cards that were, simply put, very cool. This pattern elevated cards like the iconic Charizard (pictured above), Blastoise, and Venusaur, which were simply Pokémon posing over a colorful background, into something that felt special.

Back in the days of Base, Jungle, and Fossil, there were no such things as Ultra Rare cards. No ex, no EX, no GX, no V, no VMAX, no Full Art — nothing. A holographic card was the most exciting thing you could pull, which made the cards very, very special.

Interestingly, this was not the pattern used in the Japanese version of these sets. Japan was already using the galaxy foil pattern, which featured a similar style but with brighter circles, swirls, and what looks like stardust. This pattern, which we'll talk about next time, ended up entering the English-language TCG in Team Rocket. However, Fossil wasn't exactly the last we'd see of the original star pattern. XY: Evolutions, which reimagined Base Set for Pokémon's 20th anniversary, included a tweaked version of the star pattern which featured a very, very slightly different shape for the stars.

Some of the most iconic Pokémon TCG cards were done in this style. Even though it only lasted for three sets, the starry holographic cards remain some of the most iconic trading cards in existence.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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