A Holographic History Of The Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield Era Bars

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 back at the pattern that defines the current Sword & Shield era: the vertical holographic bars.

Chilling Reign Cresselia. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Chilling Reign Cresselia. Credit: Pokémon TCG

The Sword & Shield era introduced the Galar region and its Pokémon to the TCG, but that's not it. This is now the fourth era in a row to introduce a new holofoil style to run through a full branded block. It began with the horizontal lines of Black & White, continued with the pattern-less foil of XY, moved to the wavey holo style of Sun & Moon, and now… here we are. This style of holo can be pulled in all booster packs since Sword & Shield base. While most promos, as usual, retain the classic galaxy foil style, the pre-release promos in Build & Battle Boxes also have the vertical holographic bars.

The style is simple but visually interesting. The art style of the cards has begun to lean into this style recently, with holos in Battle Styles and Chilling Reign looking markedly better than holos from the first four sets of the era. This style reminds me of the Black & White lines, which were horizontal but had a similar style with prominent lines. What's different here, though, is that the holo bars are thicker and travel across the card when you move it in the light. The cards end up looking almost like a neon storefront in Vegas: oddly beautiful.

Chilling Reign Beedrill. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Chilling Reign Beedrill. Credit: Pokémon TCG

While the galaxy foil style will always be the most iconic holographic pattern in the Pokémon TCG, I'd put this right next to the Black & White holos as tied for the second-best style. It may even rise out of that tie if the quality of the holos keeps getting better as the last few sets demonstrated.

Now, that covers the main holofoil styles of every Pokémon TCG era… but we're not done. There are variants and rarer styles specific to certain products, so this deep dive into the history of holofoil in the Pokémon TCG will continue!

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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