After a few revealing leaks, Pokémon TCG Japan's high-class set VSTAR Universe has finally been released. VSTAR Universe, which is available in Japan and locations that sell Japanese products, is the basis for the early 2023 English-language special set closing out the Sword & Shield era, Crown Zenith. Like previous special sets VMAX Climax and Shiny Star V, VSTAR Universe is primarily a reprint set with a large Secret Rare section of chase cards. Among these chase cards are what we initially thought were Alternate Art VSTARs, but which we can now reveal as a new card rarity entirely. Pokémon TCG Japan has revealed new Art Rares and Special Art Rares which riff on Character Rares and Alternate (or Special) Arts. Art Rares are Full Art cards without texture that paint a beautiful unique scene using Pokémon. They are essentially Character Rares without Trainers present. Then, Special Art Rares take the same concept and add the V or VSTAR mechanic. This set also includes Special Art Trainer Supporters and, for the first time ever, Gold Alternate Art VSTARs. It is expected that this will be the final set with Pokémon-V and VSTARs, as 2023 will see the launch of the Scarlet & Violet era which returns to the Pokémon ex mechanic. Today, let's take a look at a Special Art Rare from the set.
This Lucario VSTAR Special Art Rare features an in-your-face Lucario about to show you why it's an elite fighting time. The art credit goes to hncl, who I can reveal is actually the popular artist and streamer hungryclicker who is known for beautiful and stylistically diverse illustrations. While this is hncl's first Pokémon card, their work was previously featured in official Pokémon Masters EX art.
While this card is in the main VSTAR Universe set for Japanese collectors, English-language collectors will have an easier time finding it. The Lucario VSTAR Special Art Rare will be included as the SWSH Black Star Promo in the Crown Zenith Elite Trainer Box rather than the numbered set.
Japanese sets often give us early ideas of what the English-language sets may include, so be sure to keep an eye on our coverage. You can stay tuned for previews of VSTAR Universe cards as well as updates on everything Pokémon TCG right here at Bleeding Cool.