Tomorrow, official tournament stores will begin selling Build & Battle Boxes of the latest Pokémon TCG expansion, Sword & Shield – Chilling Reign. Chilling Reign will release fully on June 18th, but the Pokémon TCG was kind enough to send me some products to open early for our readers. Our opening series continues with the Chilling Reign Elite Trainer Box!
The Elite Trainer Box has been a staple of the Pokémon TCG's releases for years. For Chilling Reign, there are two versions of the box featuring the different Formes of Calyrex: Ice Rider and Shadow Rider. While I opened up just the Shadow Rider box, I can confirm that the only difference in the boxes is the artwork on the box itself, the sleeves, the card dividers, the guide, and the dice. The actual content — the booster packs — are the same for both boxes. I do recommend getting one of each for completionists, though, as the only way to get the sleeves and the dividers is by getting the box. This is a standard expansion rather than a special set, which means there is no promo card and eight packs rather than ten, which leaves this at the affordable retail price of $39.99.
I had previously opened a Pokémon TCG: Chilling Reign booster box for my first taste of the set. Booster boxes are the closest thing you can get for guaranteed pulls, while Elite Trainer Boxes are more of a walk in the wild. I went in hoping for at least a V, and was happy to pull both a V and a VMAX. My personal favorite I got from the opening was Liepard V. I love when the Pokémon TCG gives unexpected and underappreciated Pokémon love, so seeing Liepard show up with an Ultra Rare card is perfection.
The quality of the Elite Trainer Boxes themselves is unassailable. The boxes are sturdy and, when unpacked, are terrific for card storage. The one problem I have with these products has been consistent since the Pokémon TCG released Shining Fates earlier this year. A major change was made to the sleeves, which went from glossy to matte for the first time. This is likely a change to help with shuffling but it is unfortunate for collectors, as the matte dramatically obscures the art. When cards are in these sleeves, it appears there is a foggy film over them. This especially mutes holographic cards.
While Elite Trainer Boxes remain some of the absolute best products that the Pokémon TCG puts out regardless, the sleeves should definitely revert back to the old style. The Japanese Pokémon center uses a light gloss that makes their cards even more shuffleable than the matte, which the Pokémon Company International should consider if they do decide to redesign these. That said, the artwork on the sleeves remains fun, and represents the set mascot Calyrex nicely.
All in all, collectors should be excited for the release of this next set of Pokémon TCG ETBs. My method is to get one of each and then keep aiming for booster boxes.