It has been a while since Pokémon, almost a drug-like vice of my youth, has really been in the news. Probably not since the release of Pokémon Go, the game app that made use of an interface with the real world to collect the strange creatures at the game’s center. (And let us not forget Hillary Clinton’s infamous election exhortation for voters to “Pokémon Go to the polls.”) But apparently, it is back.
So what has gotten the Pokémon theme song playing in the Fox News studios for the first time in probably two decades? This time, it’s the trading cards, which came a few years after the original Gameboy games first became popular. The cards are enjoying a somewhat random upsurge in popularity that has led to confrontations in some stores, including a brawl in the parking lot of a Target store, leading Target to temporarily halt their sale (along with that of various sports trading cards):
Target has decided that it’s had enough: the company has officially confirmed to Bleeding Cool that it will halt the sales of Pokémon cards throughout the US, starting Friday, May 14th. The retailer cities [sic] “an abundance of caution” for the safety of both guests and store employees and notes that it will still be selling the cards on its site.
Currently, Pokémon cards (and other trading cards) are having a moment: people have swamped card grading companies, hoping to get a rating that makes their cards more valuable, and The Pokémon Company has been rushing to print enough cards to meet the demand. It seems that all the big numbers around the truly rare original cards have caused a lot of excitement around new cards as well. But Target isn’t feeling the hype.
It’s hard to blame the retailer, as the situation around the trading cards seems wildly out of control. People have reportedly been opening cereal boxes in stores to steal the included Pokémon cards out of them. And someone in Japan even climbed down a rope to steal almost $9,000 worth of the cardboard cards designed for kids.
I don’t think this necessarily means that the Pokémon cards I have long hoarded are now suddenly more valuable . . . but maybe it does. If only I had more. Where’s Missingno when you need him?