How does nostalgia factor into your collecting experience?

One point of discussion that I’ve seen a good amount of times in the modern vs vintage discourse is the idea that today’s modern will be tomorrow’s vintage (in many, many years’ time), and that those collectors that grew up in the era of Sword and Shield will yearn for the chase card of their time, Moonbreon, as much as some of us covet the chase cards of our time–Base Set Charizard, for example. And when the purchasing power of the younger generation that grew up with Sword and Shield increases, this will buoy the prices of today’s modern sets despite the large supply.

Thinking about this just led to me to a central question: what role does nostalgia actually play in the collecting experience? Do you currently chase after those cards that you couldn’t reach when you were a child (or when you were last collecting)? Are you chasing the general feelings of the time and can you relive those same feelings opening any packs (i.e. not the exact ones you grew up with)? Or does nostalgia and the sets you grew up with not factor that much into what you collect now?

Obviously the effect of nostalgia can feature more prominently in certain periods of your collecting experience and not others. For example, maybe nostalgia had initially brought you back to collecting but doesn’t factor as much in your preferences today. And we should probably acknowledge that it’s likely that the collective experience of those on this forum are biased one way, as I think many of the users here generally favor vintage over modern. But I’m just overall curious about people’s experiences.

For me personally, I don’t believe nostalgia really affects much of my current collection goals or TCG interests. I grew up with Base Set to maybe around Team Rocket (my memory of my childhood is pretty fuzzy, but I remember being exposed to Japanese, but not English, Neo Genesis cards), but I don’t hold these sets in any particular favored regard. I was first re-exposed to the Pokemon TCG again way down the road when I stumbled upon PTCGO around the release of Crimson Invasion; and when I learned about some of the eras of cards I missed, E-series and the EX era were where my preferences lay. I don’t really have any current plans to build any collection goals around Base Set/Jungle/Fossil.


Nostalgia influences the Pokemon species that I am most interested in, but that’s about it.

I care a lot about the memories that I create with cards. If I scroll through my binders or graded collection, I can tell you the person who I traded with, where I bought it, or what was going on in my life when I bought it.

So in other words, the time and memories that I attach to specific cards is very important to me. I consider this a bit different than nostalgia because the memories could be made in present day or the past, but I have the same reaction.

Hope that makes sense… it’s a bit hard to explain for me!


Checking my negative bank balance: “Yeh, umm…nostalgia.” :eyes:


Definitely a big factor. Without that nostalgia of seeing and having these cards as a kid, I’m not sure I’d have got back into collecting as an adult.

I collected the first two generations and that’s still what I collect, however I now prefer the Japanese versions so a slight deviation from my childhood collection.

I love seeing the modern cards, the new sets and even seeing people on here who collect cards from other eras like diamond and pearl or original ex.


I dipped back into the hobby after university only to complete the missing holos from Base/Jungle/Fossil, so it definitely played a part. This was around 2012-3 which even then I couldn’t justify completing my Neo sets because they were more expensive than the former 3.

Then I didn’t return until mid-2021. I vaguely kept up with the card releases over the years, so even though the card art - stained glass birds trio - that pushed me back in was the first I got, I still wanted to get some cards that I’d remembered including the secret gold EX from XY, the Pikachu/Kanto trio XY promos, Sapporo’s Pikachu, kawayoo cards etc.

Those weren’t nostalgic, but I went after art that I’d appreciated over the years.

Now I still don’t buy any cards from WOTC or aim to complete those unfinished sets. The price of them compared to the art and condition is just not justifiable. If anything, I hope that some of the better ones get reprints in the future instead and make do with those.

That’s why I believe that the actual art on the card will definitely play a part in demand into the future not just because cards are rarer or older or were part of your childhood.

Plus, since Sugimori cut and paste art was used up until Gen 7, there is a window to experience what it’s like for those cards without nostalgia in the modern era - and it isn’t good. Some of the worst cards printed. So why would those without any nostalgia for WOTC see those WOTC cards any different?


@Dyl I think that makes sense! I wouldn’t necessarily call that nostalgia either, as you’re associating a card with something grounded in the present of when that card was acquired. I would say collecting or obtaining a card to evoke past feelings or memories would be an action more driven by nostalgia.

@LM23 I realized nostalgia as a term covers a wide range of feelings and associations–it doesn’t necessarily need to be attached to specific cards or sets, but can be associated with certain generations of Pokemon too (similar to what Dyl had also mentioned). I definitely favor Pokemon from Generations I and II too, and I guess this could be due to nostalgia (even if I’m not associating any species with any specific memory).

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I’m starting to feel nostalgia for rainbow rare charizard gx lol.


Other than Bulbasaur being my favourite starter ever, me being a total Gen One’r; not much at all.


I think your experience is an interesting one, as it was something that I was somewhat alluding to with the modern vs vintage context of the question (I don’t want to turn this into a modern vs vintage thread—we have plenty of those). You grew up with WotC and the original sets, but they don’t inspire much interest anymore—but they still may have somewhat played a role in your return to collecting. So would nostalgia for modern collectors pull them back into collecting Sword and Shield sets after a period of disinterest, or would they retain an interest in the TCG but look to collect something that catches their eye that isn’t related to sets that they grew up with? Obviously we can’t know, and it’s hard to imagine how the Pokemon TCG will evolve from here, but it’s an interesting question.

As you pointed out with the evolution of the art, it’s definitely a different situation today compared to early WotC though. The art these days is arguably better than it’s ever been, so I could see the modern sets of today retaining a nostalgic allure in the future for those that are more interested in the art or in finishing their alternate art sets and whatnot.

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Nostalgia is why I started collecting in the first place. It made me curious. That curiosity led to passion, and that passion let to dedication.

I had only intended to collect Base - Gym Challenge in 1st Edition in addition to English promos. I worked very hard at that goal for a decade. When I achieved it, I felt like I set out to complete my childhood collection. I was very satisfied and retired from buying any new Pokémon cards for about a year.

Then Rusty at TCA had a bunch of complete mint non-holos sets for the four Neo sets, and he would give me a really good deal on them, so I meditated on the state of my collection and what I wanted it to be. At that moment, it was complete with respect to all the cards I wanted as a kid. Collecting Neo would be picking up where I left off, which was an interesting thought. After a couple of days I bought the sets from Rusty. Neo cards were cheap, anyway. It was 2019.

Neo started slow because I felt like I had plenty of time and it was not the same passion project my original collection had been. It was more an exercise. I enjoyed learning about new cards, and I had some nostalgia for these sets, but mostly this journey was just to have something low-stakes to assemble that felt like a natural continuation of everything I’d already done. When 2020 blew in and the market whipped up into a frenzy, suddenly my passive low stakes exercise demanded haste and focus to collect.

This was a tough period for me as a collector because I never wanted to be in that position again where I was rapidly getting priced out of finishing my goals. I had reopened a complete collection by continuing with these cards and now I did not want to leave it unfinished. I did everything I could to complete these sets and was 2 cards from finishing Neo Destiny and then I would be all done.

As I performed my daily search for the two cards I needed, I discovered I felt relieved with each day they were not to be found. I assumed this was purely budgetary — it meant I could wait to purchase it without any FOMO. But then when one of the cards did roll around, for sale and in my budget, I felt no spark. Here I was 2 cards from the finish line and I didn’t want to finish it.

With some introspection and meditation on these feelings I realized I had outgrown my nostalgia. I’d been collecting Pokémon cards far longer as an adult than I ever did as a kid. I had already resolved my childhood wants. But my nostalgia wasn’t fueling me anymore — it was weighing me down.

When I thought about the cards I wanted to collect now, the ones I was passionate about and did not just feel some personal duty to complete, they were not cards I cared about as a kid. They were cards I learned about during my adult years, cards that piqued my interest and made me curious. I wanted to follow that curiosity, but I could not with the tens of thousands of dollars I had tied up in my current cards. I agonized over this for months. I talked to my wife about it. I felt if I wanted to pivot to being a different kind of collector, I could only responsibly do so by reinvesting the money from the collection I outgrew.

So I sold those cards. It was unthinkable, but it was the right thing to do. And while it killed me to see those cards go, I was born anew and refreshed as the curious, passionate, and dedicated collector I am now.

Nostalgia is still while I’m here. But it’s not what motivates me anymore.


Nostalgia is what brought me back. The art and friends is what made me stay.


nostalgia is what got me back in. on my 30th birthday, i wanted to open a pack of cards and was hooked.

however, surprisingly, as time went on, i cared less and less about the cards i knew as a kid and became more interested in the cards i didn’t know about. now, my favorite cards are the ones yet to be revealed. even species. while mew is my favorite mon, i’m more excited to see a new mon get a special card than one i grew up with.


Well said!


This hobby is my Time Machine back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s. It’s an escape for me and nostalgia is a huge factor. I’ve always been a collector in general so the nostalgia + collecting goals makes this a great hobby for me.

While nostalgia is a huge factor in the enjoyment of the hobby, I actually don’t collect much from when I was a kid. One of the first things I did when I got back in was collect a PSA 9 1st ed Team Rocket set since that was my favorite when I was growing up. But aside from that, I really haven’t collected much in the way of base jungle or fossil. It’s really more about capturing the feeling of what it was like back then rather than collecting those specific cards.


Nice write up!

While I don’t actively purchase old cards ( unless its a steal or going towards the totodile collection ) I do enjoy looking at my original collection. I started collecting around 2009 (i was 9) when my parents got a collection off a family friend as a birthday gift for me which contained everything back to base. I was lucky in the sense that I never sold my collection because I know I would of extremally regretted now and with that feeling, I know there is no amount in the world I would take to let it go.

This is one product that I have in the collection that is very nostalgic to me. This is one of the very first products I remember opening and hanging the poster on my wall.

I just found the marbles in my parents attic this weekend, actually something that I completely forgot about.

The first Pokémon game I ever played with my original DS. I remember waiting in front of Gamestop for them to open with my dad, eating some McDonalds breakfast to pick it up and then spending days and days playing it, over and over again.

And then I have my original binders with cards all the way back to base set. Other than these main items, modern stuff unless its Totodile related, I don’t have any nostalgic feeling for and that’s ok. I enjoy looking at the old stuff I have and mentioned and that is enough, Opening modern stuff is still fun but doesn’t hit the same.


I’m with what @Dyl said earlier above. It matters quite a bit. I’m not collecting because it’s an investment. I have very fond memories of trading and pulling cards back in the day, and I can look at my collection and tell you where and how I got particular cards.

For example: I’m looking to buy the final items for my WOTC black star promo collection. I only need lucky stadium and pokemon center. Those are steeped in nostalgia for me, which is the main reason I want them (other than to complete my WOTC black star collection). I was actually in the exact location of the pokemon center WOTC black star promo - that was an actual place; it was not a fictional illustration. That’s where I got the deoxys promo for firered and leafgreen via the wifi thingy for the gameboy SP.

That card connects me with that memory. Completionism is nice, but the memories are nicer.


Sugimori’s art got a lot less distinctive (I’ll even say worse) when he abandoned the watercolour style after second gen.


nostalgia is very important to my collection goals. I’ve found that its important to appreciate modern as well, else you remain stuck in the past. Both sides are good tho


Thanks for sharing your story! It was certainly an interesting path and exemplifies how nostalgia can, at times, facilitate or adulterate one’s collection journey. And I can only imagine how agonizing your literal “out with the old, in with the new” decision was, especially having worked on it for a decade. I feel like most people would not have the willpower to liquidate the nostalgic pieces of their collection unless in dire straits.


The first time I told my wife I wanted to discuss it, she tried to talk me out of it. We had just bought a house and she thought I was having a personal crisis and feeling guilty about having so much money tied up in a hobby. I told her it wasn’t that, and it wasn’t that I wanted to give it up, it’s that I wanted to go in a different direction and that was what I couldn’t afford to do unless I sold what I had and started new.

I had always said I would never sell. These were my prized possession. For years and years and years I said I would never, ever sell them. And then I sold them. Everyone I knew tried to dissuade me, thinking I was having an emotional episode and I’d regret it. I appreciate that people did that — not only because it shows how much they respected my passion for the cards but because it gave me a lot of opportunity to justify the decision. By the time I was ready to make the call, I was certain it was the right choice.

Now I collect totally different cards. I don’t really miss my old cards like I thought I would. Those cards were a binder full of memories, and cards or no cards I still have those memories.