Anniversary events are always an exciting time to be a Pokémon trainer. Since the release of Pocket Monsters: Red and Pocket Monsters: Green for the Nintendo Game Boy on February 27, 1996 in Japan, Pokémon has grown to be the highest grossing media franchise in the world with over 30 main series video game titles, numerous spin off games, an ongoing anime series, and a collectible trading card game (TCG). With their silver anniversary around the corner, there are numerous celebration events and collaborations planned, including a commemorative exclusive TCG release with McDonald’s.
The McDonald’s TCG release features 25 Pokémon: the 24 starters across the eight generations and Pikachu. Each card has a 25th anniversary logo and can be found in normal and foil, often referred to as “holo”, varieties for a total of 50 unique cards that can be collected. The cards are now available at McDonald’s across the United States. Each Happy Meal will contain a pack of four random cards, one of which will be holo. Whether cards can be purchased separately from a Happy Meal seems to vary from location to location.
The Pokémon TCG has enjoyed a spike in popularity in recent months, with even celebrities like Logan Paul, Logic, and The Try Guys jumping into the craze. Increasing demand, however, has come with decreased availability, with stores frequently selling out of cards soon after they arrive, leading The Pokémon Company to ramp up production to mitigate shortages.
Unfortunately, the McDonald’s anniversary cards have been met with the same ravenous demands. Restaurants have been running out of cards as quickly as they can stock them, leading the company to release an official statement and encourage restaurants to limit the number of Happy Meals that can be purchased by customers, though no specific guidelines were stated. Unsurprisingly, a secondary market on websites such as eBay has sprung up, with full sets of regular, non-holo cards going for upwards of $100 and holo Pikachu cards going for even more alone at the time of this writing. Concerns of food waste due to people only wanting the cards and claims that adults have taken over an event meant for children have been voiced as well. The backlash has even caused some popular Pokémon content creators to offer apologies and delete videos related to the event.
The Pokémon Company has a lot of exciting promotions and events surrounding the upcoming 25th anniversary. Sadly, a mixture of excited nostalgia from adults who grew up with Pokémon and opportunism from those looking to turn a profit has led to a difficult start to the TCG event with McDonald’s. In this case, if you want to catch ‘em all you are going to need patience or a deep pocket book. There is no official word yet on when the limited time event will end.