Pokémon TCG: Shining Legends Complete Expansion Review

Bleeding Cool's journey through the Sun & Moon era of the Pokémon TCG continues. Now that our spotlight series has moved through the first five sets of this block (Sun & Moon base, Guardians Rising, Burning Shadows, Crimson Invasion, and Ultra Prism), now it's time to look at this era's first special set. A special set (sometimes called a holiday set) is an expansion of cards released in branded products rather than a booster box. You can tell when a set is "special" when it doesn't have the era's name as part of its title. Shining Legends was released on October 6th, 2017 and focused on Shiny Pokémon. Notably, it brought back the vintage "Shining" style of card introduced during the Neo era. Today, let's take one final look back at this iconic set in a full expansion review. For those who missed the previous installments of this series, you can look back on the previous entries of this Pokémon TCG retrospect series by clicking the Shining Legends tag below. Now, let's get into the review.

Shining Legends cards. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Shining Legends cards. Credit: Pokémon TCG

The Return of Shining Pokémon

The heart of this special set is, of course, the Shining Pokémon. These cards are both timeless and nostalgic. They're timeless because they depict Pokémon in their Shiny forms, which is something that collectors are always going to be excited for. We've seen Shinies depicted in many ways in the past and present, from Shining cards to Shiny Vaults to Shiny Secret Rare Reverses to the half-type cards of XY to the upcoming Sparkling style of cards. The cards of Shining Legends are also nostalgic, though, because this style was introduced in the vintage Neo era. Unlike other holo cards, only the Pokémon itself is in textured holofoil. The rest of the card is non-holo, making it look like the creature itself is gleaming from the card. All of the set's Shining cards are incredible but the Mew stands out to me as one of the best Pokémon TCG cards ever printed.

The Cards

Outside of the Shining Cards, Shining Legends is a hits gallery. It is a lean set but unlike lesser special expansions like Champion's Path, it keeps openings interesting and dynamic by having a wide variety of hits. The holos are terrific, and they come as a guaranteed hit in every pack. The Shining cards are classic, the GXs are strong, the Full Arts and Rainbows are all fan-favorite species, the one Full Art Trainer is one of the Sun & Moon era's best, and the one Alternate Art Secret Rare (Mewtube!) is a show-stopper of a card. No matter where you look in Shining Legends, you have hit after hit.

Shining Legends cards. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Shining Legends cards. Credit: Pokémon TCG

Overall

I'll keep it simple. There are two types of special sets that work well in my eyes. There's a huge, celebratory set like Hidden Fates and Shining Fates that delivers an avalanche of cards. Then, there's a slim set like Shining Legends that offers a concise, themed collection. The latter is the most difficult kind of set to get right, as it is always in danger of being a repetitive, limited set. To me, Shining Legends avoids that issue and is the perfect model for how this kind of set can work. It simply doesn't get much better than this.

Final Rating: 10/10 All-Time Classic

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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