Hypothesis: The pop report is becoming irrelevant

This hypothesis doesn’t necessarily reflect my opinion, but with the latest events, I want to put it forward for discussion. Let’s see what arguments one could bring forward to support the theory, and what arguments are against it.
The hypothesis goes as follows: As collecting Pokemon cards becomes more and more mainstream, more people with big pockets but not necessarily with much knowledge of the Pokemon card game enter the hobby. As a result, prices are not as much determined by rarity and pop numbers anymore, but much more by popularity. “Older minter rarer” will lose significance, while “popular, more popular, most popular” will gain significance. As a result, base set will go even more nuts because everyone knows it and goes for it first (=popularity), but also modern shiny Charizard variants will blow the majority of vintage cards out of the water despite PSA 10 numbers in the thousands.


At least for the short-term, I agree 100%. Depends how in-depth these new pockets want to get.


Speaking as a completionist I doubt the pop report will stay irrelevant.

Alot of these guys picking up cards today will eventually graduate to catching them all, which is the tag line and North star of this hobby. When that day comes and it will with time, you’re gonna see the grand daddy of price appreciation happen for the selected low pop cards.

I remember when z&g was posting updated prices and it was 95% off for certain low pop cards (i.e. I paid 20x his estimate privately). We just don’t see it cause it typically happens privately.


I think the main aspect of pokemon pop reports that we should see is that the population of cards is ALOT lower than people make them out to be. People talk about base set zard 9s being almost at 5k and how crazy that is, but basketball will have rookie cards reach that amount in the same year or year after they are released and the demand still isn’t met. I think the pop numbers are so minuscule at the moment relative to the demand, even for the higher pop cards like zard CD promo.


I also agree…in the short term. However, once they have all the modern chase cards which will be easy due to population, I expect they will want the rarer, older cards and we will be right back to where we are.

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There’s obviously been an influx of new buyers going for Base set, regardless of collectors viewing it as an accessible mass-produced set for the past twenty years.

However I don’t think this has to discredit an axiom like “Older minter rarer better”. People are still going for base set (old) in high grades (mint) over Legendary Collection Charizard holo base reprint. And low pop set cards continue to demand a premium (clearest examples are cards like Base Chansey 1st Ed, Gold Star Torchic, Neo era 10s)

What has changed is the perception of rarity as relative instead of tied to the pop report.

Let’s take a hypothetical Charizard that was released in 1999.

In 2010, there were 1,000 collectors who were willing to buy this card at a $500 price point when the total PSA pop was 100.

In 2015, there were 5,000 collectors who were willing to buy this card at a $500 price point when the total PSA pop was 500.

In 2020, there were 20,000 collectors who were willing to buy this card at a $500 price point when the total PSA pop was 2,000.

In every year, there are still 10x as many people with a $500 price floor as there were available copies. It may not be “rare” in print numbers, but it remains “rare” as a % of collectors who want to and can obtain.

Meanwhile, you have some cards that are objectively rare due to distribution (eg, the PSA 9 Art Academy Chespin that sold for a bit over $1k this week), but the relative rarity of % of collectors who want to and can obtain is quite low. Most people who wanted the card have purchased it and unfortunately it remains unpopular.

I agree that rarity alone is not enough. But if a modern Charizard has 100,000 collectors willing to pay $500 when the pop report is 10,000, the card can feel rare regardless of pop, because still only 10% of those who want can obtain.

If Pokemon popularity wanes and the number of collectors willing to pay dips, the perception of Base Unlimited will shift back to saturated rather than rare.


The psa 10 pop report is the only one you can really rely on most of the time. No one re grades a 10! unless you dont believe it deserves a 10, then you crack it.


This is a good point. Even if there’s 1,000 cards in the pop report and half of them were regraded, so there’s really on 500 in PSA cases, the 1,000 figure still gives you a max number. It’s at least known that there are not more than 1,000 graded. It gives you some degree of reference.


Older, minter, rarer, better won’t lose its significance because at its core it address a core supply factor. However, popularity has and will continue to affect price because it’s addressing the demand aspect. The more people want a certain card, the more the price will rise assuming the supply doesn’t change significantly. Even if it does, it’d have to rise to the point where it’s accessible for everyone who wants one. That’s not likely to happen with a card like PSA 10 Charizard GX SV49 or a high grade Base Set Charizard.

For a frame of reference, there are ~23000 graded base Luka Doncic Prizm cards (aka his most desirable, most accessible/basic rookie card). There are ~20000 graded Charizards total (1st, Shadowless, Unlimited). 20000 might seem like a lot until you realize there are potentially hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people who want that card. Take into account that there are some serious buyers out there with deep pockets and these numbers start to dwindle.

Absolute rarity will always lead to a degree of exclusivity and that has its own price. Popularity is just another driver of price as it affects relative rarity. Both are important, both have an impact on price in the hobby.

Credit to @austonmatthews because I think that’s where I heard the Doncic/Charizard comparison.


I think “rarity” is less about the pop report and more about supply/demand, especially in the future as the market is dominated more by main-stream exposure than in-depth collectors.

Do the ol’ “Older Rarer Minter = Better” holds true just with a different twist.

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Agreed. A lot of cards which we thought were less valuable due to their high pop like the cd promos have exploded in price. Once the new collectors become more sophisticated that might change


Except the guy that broke 10’s to crossover to BGS 9.5’s


@ripguyfawkes When I read the thread title I thought you was going to say what I’ve been thinking but you didn’t list a big point I’ve thought of ages ago. I do agree popularity plays a huge role in price. Whether it’s the Pokemon’s popularity or the sets popularity or era etc.

But the main point I’ve been thinking is the pop report doesn’t matter. What does matter is availability! A card could be pop 1,000 but if there is 0-1 or even 2 on the market its more like a Pop 1 or whatever number is currently available.

Sure I used a big number but the exact number in the pop report doesn’t matter too much. Availability is what matters most in my opinion. Also how desirable a card is plays a huge role!


I definitely agree with this. A few cards that I am missing from a collection I’m currently working on, seem to be nearly impossible to find. While they aren’t popular or necessarily rare cards, its just the sheer fact that there is none available!

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@tenaciousm17 That’s precisely what I’m getting at. Some cards are so desired or had a low print run. Or a unpopular era or set. Many factors come into play. So the pop report becomes less and less relevant. Not to mention the regrades messing up the exact numbers. You also can’t call PSA and ask who owns the other 58 in the pop report etc lol. :joy:

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This is a good point to keep in mind. I’m sure 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s are broken either for a higher grade or to see how they crossover to other grading companies. Nor does it account for when cards get mislabelled. At best pop reports will be an estimate, not a complete indication of actual numbers.

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Exactly the pop report has been irrelevant for a long time for pretty much anything but 10s. I wish PSA had a system where under each grade they had a verified active and unverified active count. You could scan a cert say every 5 years to have that pop stay in the active category. May provide collectors a little more information regarding pops.

I think the pop report can be extremely misleading. Prices are determined by availability and demand at a given moment. Pop is somewhat coorelated to both of these things. Low pop means the availability is likely low. A popular card is more likely to get graded and have a higher pop.
So while population is coorelated to both supply/demand it can be totally useless in predicting the prices of cards. This is why I and many others use ebay sold listings and the number of other copies currently available when I’m looking to price something instead of looking to the pop report. The pop report has some use, for instance, determining the relative difficulty of grading a card. But outside explaining the price premiums of difficult-to-grade cards (which is actually more about the ratio of grades rather than the absolute number of each grade) I think it often obfuscates and misleads more than anything.
So to summarize, I don’t think the pop report is becoming irrelevant. I think it was never really relevant in the first place. Maybe with more people participating in the market, it will exaggerate what appears to be contradictions between pop and price but I’d argue these contradictions have always existed.


I’m not disagreeing with you, but I think it’s already happening right now (and always has been for all I know). There are cards that have a total release (not PSA population) of 100 copies that sell for way less than say a Base starter or Pika.

There can be no high price for a rare item that has zero demand, but there are in fact high prices for abundant items with high demand. For example I don’t believe that any Design Contest Zoroark (100 copies) will ever outperform an unlimited PSA 10 Zard.
Which is why I always think demand outweighs supply in the grand scheme of things.

However, within an already popular set, say Jungle, the low supply of PSA 10 Vaporeons is the driving factor for its premium. For set completionists, rarity creates demand. The Vaporeon surely wouldn’t be quite as expensive if it wasn’t part of this iconic set.

Then again, demand and popularity can change over time. Who knows if the new generation of collectors in 20 years will still be after the Hidden Fates Shiny Zard or if they will have figured out by then that it is an ugly monstrosity that shouldn’t be even looked at.

I think its too soon to say. If Mr. Paul finds out about a Unikarp or Tkhan(which he may already have), it may trigger an obsession in his hunt for rarity. Imagine a 5 million view video of Unikarp, Tkhan and 1999 Tropical Wind. That would be groundbreaking. Earth shattering. Mind blowing to for viewers to learn cards can be that rare. And better yet, copies have surfaced for sale over the years.

Pokémon Red and Blue sold 31 million copies worldwide. There are 44 graded copies of Trophy Khan. That is 1 per 704,545. That degree of rarity has strong appeal to those who want to stand out from others.

Pokémon has enough depth to satisfy folks who want rarity and those who want the iconic cards from 1999. I think that is the greatest thing about Pokémon cards.