Stagecoach's Collection Pokémon Binder (English + Japanese Vintage Promos + Flip Coins + League Stuff)

:meowth: :peekofchu:

This thread is a work in progress, but the thread will be easier to edit when the banners are in place on the draft. Currently Posts #1 and #2 are done (at least in their 1.0 form). I will continue to make additions and formatting improvements.

Special thank you to my longtime friend and esteemed collaborator Llyrwenne for making the banners for me.

Introduction

I am and have always been a binder collector. I think the experience of flipping through nine pocket pages is the idyllic expression of the hobby and it is the only structure I have ever considered for my personal collection. No slab is too sacred to crack. No card is too rare to sleeve. My cards go in nine-pocket pages as God intended.

I find the binder experience very authentic and rewardingly interactive. The images I have produced for this thread are the sort of medium quality documentation you’d expect from someone who has never shared pictures of their collection before. Complete with my fingerprints and glare from the overhead light, the photos I’ve taken accurately represent the authentic and interactive experience I think keeping a binder really provides.

Some day when this collection is complete I will do a better job documenting it, but for now I am satisfied with simply capturing the cards as they are.

Formerly a set collector, a constant in my collection has always been promotional cards. I connect with these cards over their individuality - every card has a little story that makes it unique. The experience of collecting promos is one of research and discovery where there is always something new to learn. I also take great pleasure in sorting and categorizing them, which is an imperfect pursuit. I will use this thread to support continued documentation of my collection as it nears completion.

The quick and dirty Photobucket can be found here. When the collection is complete someday I will make proper scans and make a beautiful album, but I do not want to wait that long to share.

If you are interested in the binders I use, I have a separate thread about them here.

English cards are not nearly as difficult to categorize as Japanese cards. Their releases often lend themselves to obvious categories, but occasionally there are some breaks in the pattern where I get more subjective. Before I begin, I think it makes sense to define the two terms.

Vocabulary

Card Families - These refer to cards who share an obvious origin, trait, or identifier that engenders an innate grouping. While Black Star Promos are numbered rigidly, these cards exist outside numbered conventions. Cards like W-Stamp Promos, Prerelease Stamp Cards, and tournament participation prizes are all obvious card families that I take advantage of here.

Ordergami - A portmanteau of order and origami, ordergami is a term I use to describe the purposeful arrangement and aesthetic of a binder page. This is an abstract concept, and it is not always consistent when I do and do not prioritize it, but sometimes I make organizational decisions for the sake of ordergami.

Vintage English promos, my oldest curiosity, is a comparatively short list with finite entries. Wizards of the Coast did not produce nearly as many promotional cards as were manufactured in Japan, but there are also cards released in English beyond the Black Star Promos from some unexpected places.

Wizards of the Coast Black Star Promos







Ancient Mew

Ancient Mew is a bit of an exception in my collection, and the first exception in what constitutes an “English” Promo. There is only one Ancient Mew card released globally, the first one this page, followed by three Japanese Ancient Mews, one of which is a copyright error. The final two cards are actually modern releases - a 2019 Japanese release and a 2020 South Korean release.

I like Ancient Mew. It is such a special card, so I collect all the releases. The cards and the main inserts (English, English International, modern Korean) produce a nice complete page - but we’ll see how that changes if this card is ever released again!

W-Stamp Promos

This is one of my favorite categories. I really like the cards chosen to represent the sets and I think the W-Stamp is a classy and understated addition. I don’t like that they’re in a different place on every card, but I’m sure that was done for visibility.

I have found that even people aware of these cards are sometimes surprised to realize each release corresponds with a specific set - each of the Gen 1 expansions. Dark Arbok was an international release for Lunar New Year, which is why Rocket got two!

image
image

EDIT: I recently added the Italian Pikachu. Even though it’s not an English card and I don’t usually collect European languages, it just seemed wrong to omit from this collection. :slight_smile:

Prerelease Cards

My favorite one of these is the Cosmos Aerodactyl, released in Europe. Cosmos Fossil was otherwise not released in English. What could have been!

Holographic Energy Cards

Cool cards issued to tournament participants. Holo energy cards aren’t really the stunner they once were, but back in the day seeing holographic energy cards was incredible. These are actually the first full-card holo variants, even though we don’t really think of them that way.

Unnumbered Miscellaneous

E3 Pikachu 1, PokeTour Pikachu, and E3 Pikachu 2 are joined by Gold Border Meowth as oddball one-offs. I really like Gold Border Meowth in particular. In this era Japanese cards had gold borders and and English cards had canary yellow, so the Gold Border Meowth is a fun sort of “what if”.

Japanese-English Releases

This is my own term to that refers to Japanese releases printed in English, which there were actually quite a few of. In some instances the differences are so minor that most people would not notice, but for others the difference is much more pronounced. Featured on this page is the Kanzenban Mewtwo #3, one of my signature cards. An exception to the language is also the GOTTA Magazine French release of Pikachu #4. While the card is obviously not in English, it made sense to go here. That’s Ordergami, baby.

Media Factory e-Reader Demos

These controversial cards were not produced by Wizards of the Coast, but rather Media Factory (the Pokémon TCG’s Japanese designer). They were made to promote the e-Reader and intended to be used at in-store kiosks. The top two are from E3 2002 and feature Japanese card backs. The subsequent rows, which are also paired with their accompanying Game & Watch card, were intended to be used in-stores at demo kiosks. Their punched holes served this purpose. One of the sets is glossy and one of them is not. It actually is not clear to me if they ever saw their intended use.

Other variants of these cards appear in the “Sample Set” of cards printed for a closed event and the For Position Only prints - neither of which I own. But the narrative around these cards is still cool to me.

Southern Islands

Contrary to their Japanese “Rainbow Islands” counterparts, I think it makes sense to refer to this English set as promos. The tradition of special sets, or mini sets, was never really established by Wizards and the only category it makes sense to put this release into is English promos. But believe me I still lose sleep over whether or not these cards should be categorized as such, but we’ll save that drama for the Japanese section.


Pikachu World Collection (Sydney 2000 Olympics)

This is not my favorite set, but it’s a neat page of Pikachus and one of them is in English. Distributed as a set of 9, I always thought this release had a lot in common with the Japanese Neo Premium Files.

Best & Winner WotC Promos

The end of an era immortalized in cardboard - two groups of cards that were never finished. Released at the very tail end of the WotC license, these stamped tournament cards always remind me of a house abandoned in a hurry. Everything is just as they left it, gaps and all.


I always wondered if we’d ever see the missing cards from each group surface anywhere, but to my knowledge they never have.

Errors and Variants

I typically do not collect errors, but there’s a handful of exceptions I make for this collection. The first is the 1st Edition Stamped Ivy Pikachu, which I personally believe was a canceled release that was included in boosters accidentally. The next is a No-HP Persian, a curious card I’ve always wondered about. The release of this promo was actually delayed due to this error, so I don’t think they ever got distributed in magazines like they were supposed to. Why are there so many of them in the wild then, I wonder?

Next are the 3 birds with the incorrect artist attribution. I keep the corrected versions in line with the other Black Star Promos.

And the last 2 are silver stamp promos that I am not sure what to do with. Some lazy ordergami for you - at least the page is an interesting shape.

Inserts & Filler Cards

While not cards, I like to also keep all the filler and insert cards that these promos were distributed with. I think some of them are pretty fun, but I only have the “fronts” shown here. I should have taken pictures of the reverse-face since it’s so important to what makes these cool, but oh well. There’s some non-promo inserts as well that I thought were good inclusions for the benefit of the record.


I typically don’t collect sealed product, but I do collect the individually sealed cards. These are in the back of my binder but they present nicely and it makes me happy to have them here.

Sealed Promos







For as many as there are here, there’s actually only a handful of cards distributed this way. Most of the inclusions in this section are packaging variants of the same cards. The black square is just for ordergami purposes as to put all the Legendary Birds on their own page. Maybe some day I’ll find another variant to fill that gap and not disrupt the flow!

As we transition to the Japanese section of this thread, these two concepts become much more important. Japanese promos are numerous, varied, and eclectic. They are rarely numbered and they can be esoteric and complicated to categorize in any sensible way. I’ve shared my reasoning on my attempts to categorize these cards before and most of these ideas are used in this section.

Do not be fooled by some of the neater categories - it takes a lot of work to and thought to achieve flattering ordergami in some of these sections. While the previous English section was reasonable self-explanatory in how I made the categories, this next section is a lot more personal.

I recommend referring to my Progress Report spreadsheet to see the cards I dedicate to each category. It will make identifying them much easier, if you’re interested! The categories aren’t in order, on this document, but the cards in each category are.

There’s exceptions to everything in the world of Japanese promos, but it is generally true that Old Back cards are unnumbered while New Back cards (featured later) introduced numbering systems to make it easier to track them. But I think Unnumbered Japanese Vintage is my favorite, and the most fun, class of Pokémon card. Everything in here is so varied, so colorful, so different from one another. I hope you enjoy the tour!

CoroCoro Promos

This is probably the most well-known category of Japanese promos, comprised of cards distributed through CoroCoro magazine, Many Japanese promo collectors start here, which I also recommend!




Featured inconspicuously in this section is the corrected Kinebuchi Pikachu, which eluded me for many years. I genuinely believed I would never acquire this card, so it’s very special to me. True to form however, it is slotted in its place in timeline of its comrades on Page 2, Slot 8.

CD Promos

Something that sets Japanese promos apart from their English releases is that many of them feature special set symbols and markings, which I defer to as a de facto identifier when assembling card families. One such category are CD Promos, which all bear the stamp of Pikachu Records. This is one of my favorite families and I love all of these cards.

Game Boy Promos

Another category with a set symbol to bind them together. These cards all feature cards associated with the release of Pokémon: The Trading Card Game 1+2 for the Game Boy Color. We only got one card - a holo variant of Meowth - but Japan got eight across the two game releases. An insert for the Lugia and Mewtwo is featured for some good Ordergami - each card is featured on each side.

Vending Supplements/Expansion Sheets

I consider these cards part of the Vending series of cards. From what I gather, many Japanese collectors to do. This category includes three peel-mounted cards from the World Hobby Fair and the famous and beloved Masaki/Communication Event promos.

While Vending itself is not a promo set, many Japanese promos were printed with set symbols to associate them with the sets. This is why I group these cards together.

Natta Wake/How I Became a Pokémon Card

These cards are wonderful and all illustrated by my favorite artist, Kagemaru Himeno. 5 of these 6 cards feature a unifying set logo, but Birthday Pikachu does not. This makes me insane and we aren’t going to talk about it! Focus on the ordergami! :slight_smile:

Lucky Stadiums

These cards were distributed at Pokémon Centers across Japan, with each being associated with a specific location. The 8 cards distributed almost make up a full page and there are two theories of which card could be used to finish the page: the boring set card that these are all variants of, or the fabled Tropical Mega Battle Bilingual Lucky Stadium card. I opt to use a blank piece of paper. Ordergami.

Neo Premium Files 1+2+3

These are really fun card sets, I like them a lot. Each was distributed in a folder to promote the first three Neo expansion sets. In the US we got some of these cards printed into our main sets, but not all of them.



Notably, Premium File #2 features the only Charizard of the Neo Era. How weird is that? It was never printed in English.

Miscellaneous Unnumbered Cards

And this is where the magic is - all the cards with no logical or identifiably groupings. This is my favorite category of cards!







I am missing two major cards from this set still: Fan Club Eevee and Shining Magikarp. These are expensive and are longterm goals, although Eevee is certainly closer. Shining Magikarp may be the last card I ever buy for this collection given its cost.

A note about card backs…


We are on the cusp of the change from Old Back to New Back cards, but the break is not quite as clean as it seems. The transition was handled at an event where two cards of the same name were printed: Touch Generation Change. One featured the Old Back and was in the style of classic unnumbered promo releases. One featured the New Back and was numbered as part of the “P Series.” As a result, these cards are separated in the collection despite being released together to represent the turning of the tide. For the remainder of this section, each set features the new revised Japanese back.

Even two of the cards on the previous page, Pryce’s Lapras and Ponyta, snuck in as Unnumbered New Back promos. But the age of unnumbered cards has ended. Welcome to the age of set numbers!

“P Series” Promos

Our first set of numbered Japanese promos, the P Series, features a lot of affordable and interesting cards and one card most people will never get to have. Why they made Tropical Wind a numbered promo in this set is unknown. Leading theories is that they did it to hurt me. Tropical Wind’s space is occupied by a black filler card. This is the saddest one in my collection.






I am still missing a few cards from this set, namely the Triple Get promos. They are expensive so they are coming in slow.

“T Series” Promos

The set that got me to breach into New Back/Generation III even though I am a Gen I+II collector, this set featured releases three at a time that all showcased artwork by the same artist, an idea we have not seen very often in the long history of the card game. There’s also an emphasis on middle evolutions, which I thought was a rare touch. This is one of my favorite promo sets conceptually.



McDonald’s “e-Minimum” Cards

It took me a long time to figure out what this set name was supposed to mean, but basically the cards were released in such a way as to engender the minimum amount of cards required to successfully play a round of the card game. Despite this weird concept and weird name, I think this is a super underrated set with a lot of excellent cards.



There’s even some built-in Ordergami, with each row being focused on one type.

“PLAY Series” Promos

This set is incredible, but difficult to collect. Every card in this set is a gorgeous ex era holo featuring an appealing selection of Pokémon in some of their iciest, cold-steelist art. I love this set, but there’s definitely some cards in it I may never get. The Gold Star Eevelutions need no introduction here, if you know you know. I currently own none. But despite the challenges in assembling the set to its fullest, it is too beautiful of a collection to ignore.



Collection continues below…

53 Likes

Vintage Flip Coins

Flip coins were an accidental interest of mine. I have many memories of these coins knocking around drawers, boxes, and sometimes even inserted into binder pages during the Pokémon heyday. So few people played the actual game, they served no purpose to collectors, and they were barely a step above the damage counters — or even the box decks came in — but something about them speaks to me.

Undervalued, under appreciated, under-documented, vintage flip coins are one of my personal interests that I’ve taken quite far.

Like most of my collection, these coins cut off around 2003 — just as Generation II concluded.

Stagecoach’s List of Confirmed Coins

Thread Seeking Additional Info on Unverified Chansey




Storing them has always been a little awkward. They don’t stay still and I’ve given up in trying to keep them up-right. I love the album I keep them in though, which I think is really classy.

I believe at this point that this is a complete collection of Generation I+II flip coins, unless some surprise undocumented mystery surfaces. That is currently the case with this unknown Gold Chansey — this mystery persists! I have a few other tokens in the back of the book just for posterity, but they’re not an official component of this album.

Feb. 2024 Update: A new coin has been found!

Materials from the Pokémon League

Generation 1










Generation 2








The Pokémon League stuff is a forgotten history. So much material was printed and distributed, but it was all consumable or disposable. Very little of it is left, and not a lot of what is left is documented. I’m really grateful for archivists like @HumanForScale, who runs Pokumon.com, because these kinds of preservation efforts will someday result in the only evidence this stuff ever existed.

I keep an eye out for League stuff, including copies of their missives and communications. This stuff has no real market value, but it’s Pokémon history and I take a lot of satisfaction in collecting it.

In the thread linked above, there’s some fun facts about how some WotC cards were distributed — like how they ran out of Birthday Pikachus. I love those little stories, and they overlap a lot with my promo collection!

“Game Boy” Meowth Black Star Promo #10

This is my favorite card, or “Signature Card” - if you will. I like this card for a bunch of reasons.

  • It was (and is) really uncommon for a non-holo Japanese Promo to get printed with holofoil in when released internationally. This is one of the only ones in the original WotC Black Star Promos to receive this treatment.
  • This was the only card released in English with the “GB” symbol, making the card a unique release in the west. While Japanese promos often had different set symbols, or no set symbols at all, the WotC Promos all had the distinct Black Star Promo emblem as their set symbol. Usually the alternate set symbols from Japanese releases were not preserved anywhere on the western release of the card, but for some reason it was included here in the card art. It broke pattern to include it at all and this was a strange place to put it.
  • This card coming as a pack-in with a Game Boy game made the card expensive if you were an 8 year old. You had to convince your parents to buy you a Game Boy game to get it and this meant you were definitely only getting one copy. You can always get more booster packs, but no guardian is going to buy their kid multiple Game Boy games to get duplicates of the card inside.
  • Meowth was only depicted in its more feline posture for a short period of time before the anime-style of the Pokémon really took over. Meowth was the only true “regular cat” and its posture and mannerisms in this brief period remains my favorite depiction of the creature.
  • The Pokémon takes up a large percentage of the card art, something that was not common in this era. Usually you did not get a big close-up of a Pokémon like this.
  • Prior to the Neo sets that gave some Pokémon like Magnemite and Houndour a moment in the sun, a holographic card for a Pokémon that was not fully evolved was really novel.

I can keep listing reasons I love this card but I’ll stop there. It’s just a very personal card for me that I’ve always really loved.

About 2 years ago, I decided to try to get this card in “perfect condition”. At the time, only Beckett offered higher-than-10 grades. I set my attention on a Black Label Meowth and definitely did not get one. At the time of this writing one does still not exist. It is unlikely a Black Label for this card will ever exist.

When CGC started grading cards, someone with a lot more means than me was sending cards to them in huge quantities and got back a Pristine 10 with three 10 subgrades. It was arguably the highest grade the card had yet received, so I bought it from the collector. CGC has since abandoned these grades and I had the card reholdered to match its new grading scale and label.

This copy of the card is not a “perfect” print. It’s close, maybe as close as is possible to obtain, but it was the first Meowth to receive a premium grade above the standard 10 scale. I don’t know if there will ever be a perfect grade of a perfect candidate or verifiably flawless example of this card, but I have this one in the meantime.

This card represents “the hunt” to me - the endless quest in Pokémon to find special things just for you. It’s the crown jewel of my collection.

TAKING A BREAK HERE!

Summary


18 Likes

Reserved for future use.

1 Like

Reserved for future use.

1 Like

Reserved for future use.

1 Like

THE DAY IS HERE

4 Likes

Wow, this thread allready looks impressive.

Dis Gon B Gud GIFs | Tenor

6 Likes

The day we’ve all been waiting for

2 Likes

S-tier banners! Can’t wait to see your collection!

2 Likes

Wow these look awesome! Very excited to see your collection!

1 Like

Congrats on your placeholder banner collection. Cant wait to see the cards.

3 Likes

Not even a single card in sight and already this much hype and adoration? Boy are you popular, mon ami. The slows on the closing thoughts banner is a nice touch, they do evoke a sense of finality, don’t they?

Well, I am pleased to finally see this, and I’ll keep tabs on this to see when you make the additions. It is a mighty fine template from which you can decorate in lovely card decor.

1 Like

Cheers!

2 Likes

IMG_4322

WIP :open_mouth:

1 Like

Finally.

1 Like

I’m about a third of the way done with the thread but have to revisit it tomorrow. Thank you everyone for your encouragement!

I especially need to thank my longtime collaborator @Llyrwenne, who has always lent me her talent and made graphics for me. Considering the most attention the thread got was when it was just banners I must attribute its success to her work.

Also I’d like to thank @pfm who was very generous with his time today and helped me format the thread when I was struggling on my phone. He rehosted and reformatted all of my images for me and gave me some input on how to structure the topic longterm.

There’s nothing I’ve ever achieved that wasn’t thanks in some way to the unseen support of my peers and Iike to draw attention to that when possible, even for something as mundane as this. It took me a long time to actually make this topic!

9 Likes

Awesome thread! I never even knew there was a 3rd Neo File. Have you considered putting a copy of the Bill’s PC pass card in this empty slot?

3 Likes

This is a good suggestion, and I might!

StageGOAT

3 Likes

Great collection thread so far, and the banners are beautifully designed! I’m not super well versed with promos (either Japanese or English), so I learned a few things here and there too :slightly_smiling_face:

Looking forward to the seeing more!

1 Like