When it comes to the Pokémon Trading Card Game, there are many ways to rate the cards. However, even if you don’t know anything about how to play the game itself, the monetary value of the cards and their aesthetic appeal — or lack thereof — are two criteria that most people can grasp. Therefore, we’re delivering to you our picks for the worst Pokémon cards ever, in terms of either their ugliness or lack of resale value on the collector’s market.
A version of a Voltorb card that was only available through a vending machine in Japan has become infamous for all the wrong reasons, specifically for the character looking like Meatwad, the animated ball of meat that is a member of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The Pokémon that normally looks like a Poké Ball’s evil twin more so resembles a ketchup-and-mayo stain than a perfectly shaped sphere, with its nebulous border and uneven eyes giving us longing for a more symmetrical rendition.
Dot Esports writer Ryan Galloway, who made his own excellent list of terrible Pokémon cards that includes those that are useless in terms of their abilities in-game, put it best when he declared: “Maybe it’s for good reason that this art never made its way to any English set.”
Nintendo Power Pikachu E3 Promo Card
The Pikachu promo card that came free inside the mass-produced Nintendo Power magazine in 1999 can be considered a case of mistaken identity when it comes to greatly resembling a more valuable card on the market. The main difference is that the Nintendo Power version of the Pikachu card, featuring the character’s Gen I design, has yellow cheeks. Whereas much more valuable versions of the Pikachu card with red cheeks were distributed that same year, months earlier at E3. Other than that, the Pikachu card from Nintendo Power does represent a full reprint of the E3 card, including a gold E3 logo that can be seen on the lower-right corner of the artwork. However, the Pikachu card that came from Nintendo’s flagship magazine is worth little today, as Screen Rant pointed out:
“Despite the TCG collectible featuring the popular Pikachu, the promo card can be picked up for $2 on sites like eBay in 2022.”
By comparison, the red cheek version of the Pikachu card, given out at the actual E3 convention in 1999, has a net worth of or above $800 for a used condition card on Ebay.
Misdreavus (WoTC Promo)
Misdreavus is a Ghost-type Pokémon whose typical presentation resembling a bowling ball covered in a bedsheet is quite cute. However, something went seriously wrong with a Wizards of the Coast promo version of the Misdreavus card from 1999. Rather than the usual ball-shape, the psychic creature has a skewed egg-like shape and sports a weird expression that does not do its usual puppy-dog-like eyes justice. Not only that, but the card is not very valuable on the collector’s market with it being available for less than $2 on TCGPlayer.com.
“This Misdreavus looks like it sells propane and propane accessories,” one Reddit user remarked in a discussion about ugly Pokémon card art.
“The way that the chin seems to extend so far from her face just compliments how funny this art is,” remarked TrainerSam on the blog site Amino.
Skuntank (Pokémon Rumble)
Skuntank isn’t necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing Pokémon ever, however, the rendition from the Pokémon Rumble set is particularly baffling. The cards, which tie into a Nintendo Wii video game of the same name, were notoriously full of unappealing artwork (see: Gyarados), but Skuntank’s indiscernible mass of polygonal purple and white takes the cake.
One Reddit user’s disgust sums up our own feelings on the card, “Oh my god WHY.”
Brock’s Onix (Gym Heroes)
Another card that boasts the double dishonor of looking goofy and having a low monetary value is Brock’s Onix from the Gym Heroes expansion. It was one blogger’s opinion that rather than a snake-like creature made out of rocks, Onix instead looks like a giant watermelon and we can’t say we disagree.
“The best part of this card is the look of determination on both Onix and Brock’s face while Onix uses such a bizarre move,” the Amino user TrainerSam remarked.
Sadly, this won’t be the last time that this list will feature Onix or one of Brock’s other Pokémon.
Pokémon The Movie 2000: The Power Of One Ancient Mew Promo (International Edition)
When Pokémon The Movie 2000 came out, it was a big deal to kids who were fans of the franchise’s video games, card game, and popular anime TV show. So, it’s only natural moviegoers would want to commemorate the occasion by picking up one of the holographic Pokémon cards, The Power Of One Ancient Mew Promo, when they were given away as part of the pre-order for movie tickets of Pokémon the Movie 2000.
Although it looks nice, the card is unfortunately not worth nearly as much as its Japanese-exclusive counterpart, but the international version still gets mistaken as such by fans to this day. As ScreenRant pointed out:
“The worldwide release of Ancient Mew was over-produced and was printed with cheaper material. Despite its historical importance to the TCG, Ancient Mew is practically worthless compared to other cards that have gone on to become very valuable.”
Brock’s Crobat (Theater Limited VS Pack – Japan)
Crobat sports an unusually buck-toothed grimace in the Brock’s Crobat card that was exclusive to Japan as part of the Theater Limited VS Pack, a promo release that tied in to the Pokémon TV show. The card was never officially released in the U.S., but it has nevertheless gained a reputation on the internet for its horrendous appearance.
“The look in his eyes mixed with those gigantic teeth just seem so off,” one blog writer remarked.
One Reddit user said, as part of a greater discussion about ugly Pokémon cards, “WOW! How can you make a pkmn as cool as Crobat look sooooo bad???”
Another Japanese-only vending machine release, a rendition of Onix cowering from some rain in a cave and surrounded by Zubats has struck a chord with fans as being a strangely scared-looking version of the character.
“I mean, this is a Pokémon that I imagine is feared by many in the Pokémon world, and he looks absolutely terrified by a couple of rain drops,” one blog writer put it.
The illustration by the prolific Tomokazu Komiya does portray Onix’s aversion to water, one fan pointed out on Reddit.
“It’s raining and he has a 4× weakness to water.”
Fake Pokémon cards
Few things in life compare to the utter helplessness one feels after being scammed. You buy a thing, being told that it’s the genuine article, only to find out later that it is a counterfeit. That’s exactly what has happened to casual players and hardcore collectors alike when it comes to Pokémon cards.
One of the biggest hauls of a counterfeit operation in recent memory was when 7.6 tons of fake Pokémon cards were seized last fall at Pudong Airport in Shanghai, in a shipment originally bound for the Netherlands, according to Yicai Global, a China state-affiliated media outlet. This all occurred during the pandemic, following the Pokémon card game’s surge in popularity, with The Pokémon Company selling a staggering 3.7 billion cards during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, according to Nintendo Life.
The only semblance of pleasure fake cards seem to provide is the schadenfreude we experience when someone detestable gets scammed. Case in point, YouTuber Logan Paul said he lost $3.5 million on fake Pokémon cards, as IGN reported. Maybe that’s how the cosmic karma scales balance for a social media personality who would later announce he is turning the world’s most expensive Pokémon card — the Pikachu Illustrator, which he owns — into a blockchain-backed digital collectible known as an NFT, as We Got This Covered previously reported.
Pokémon cards that are too perfect
Perhaps the only loss that seems like a crueler twist of fate than being the victim of a counterfeit Pokémon card purchase is missing out on a fortune because you own a plain ol’ version of a card, rather than its more coveted version that contains a rare and valuable manufacturing error, such as a misspelling, miscut, or even a blank card, as The Gamer listed out.
For instance, if you own a plain old Blastoise card, it could run you anywhere between $5 or into the thousands, depending on the specific type and condition, according to Sellpoke.com. However, a Blastoise with a Magic the Gathering backing to it is considered much more valuable and could be worth north of a quarter of a million dollars.
Such a card, which was one of the first Pokémon cards ever printed as a prototypical run by manufacturer Wizards of the Coast, was sold at Heritage Auctions last year for a tidy sum of $324,000.
Only a few of the Magic the Gathering Pokémon cards — which were printed in 1998 — have been officially certified as genuine, according to The Gamer, and they are all Blastoise.