The Best-Selling, Most Expensive Cards In Pokémon TCG Set 151

The Best-Selling, Most Expensive Cards In Pokémon TCG Set 151

Special Pokémon TCG set Pokémon 151 has been in the wild for about a month now, meaning people have had time to get over the initial fervour, and the best cards have risen to the surface. A smaller set to collect, but with an ongoing release schedule for new products, this return to the series’ Kanto roots has proven hugely popular. So, which of your pulls should you be double-sleeving, and how much is too much for that one missing card in your master set?

Sets like 151 always feel more collectible in the short-term, given the far wider availability of product, and the extended release schedule. Like Crown Zenith at the start of this year, and other recent specials like Pokémon GO, Celebrations, and Shining Fates, there’s a greater temptation to try to complete them, one that perhaps isn’t so present for the tri-monthly releases of the much larger main sets.

Paradox Rift comes out November 3, but with 266 cards to collect, pretty grim pull-rates, and a short release window, it’ll be too easy to have moved on to whichever set comes out next in January. For 151, however, it’s sticking around for a bit, and has only 206 cards to pick up, the vast majority of them common, easy-to-pull cards. Of the remaining 44 rarer cards, they’re fetching much higher prices than we’ve seen in any previous Scarlet & Violet set, where the top 10s have struggled to reach over $US15. So let’s look at which are fetching the highest prices, and why.

(All prices are correct at the time of writing, based on the market prices given by TCG Player, but will obviously quickly change.)

Squirtle Illustration Rare #170

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

It’s worth noting first what’s not in the top 10. The gold Mew ex—technically one of the rarest cards in the set—during the SWSH era would have been highly prized. This one is barely scraping over $US10, mere pennies above full-art exes like Arbok and Jynx. And that’s much more than the next most expensive gold card, the Psychic Energy, struggling at around $US7. Gold cards have unquestionably had their day, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them joining Rainbow Rares and being ditched entirely next year.

Also not showing up, to my considerable surprise, is the special illustration rare (SIR) of Giovanni’s Charisma. It’s the sort of card you could be certain would change hands for $US50+ a year ago, but this one is sitting at $US10.50.

A bunch of beautiful cards that would usually occupy top spots at their $US15-ish prices also don’t make an appearance, but this is due to the extreme popularity of the set and the higher prices those Kanto starters are demanding. So the astonishing Dragonair illustration rare (IR) is currently 18th at just under $US15. See also the Pikachu, just shy of $US16. Even the IRs for Ivysaur, Charmeleon and Wortortle don’t make the cut, each just over $US20.

More peculiar, and the final nail in the gold card coffin, is that the regular ultra rare version of the Mew full-art is beating them all at $US22 in 11th position.

Which finally brings us to the ever-adorable Squirtle, and this joyful card by Mitsuhiro Arita. Yup, the Mitsuhiro Arita, who’s been designing Pokémon cards since Base Set in 1997. In fact, he drew that original bubbly-mouthed Squirtle, so it’s so wonderfully fitting to see him return to the character in 2023.

The card is currently changing hands for around $US24.

Bulbasaur Illustration Rare #166

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

No, I don’t understand a universe where Bulbasaur is more popular than Squirtle either. But leafy Bulbasaur is currently better liked than the water type to the tune of around two bucks.

It could be the card art, of course. The more complicated the image, the more popular they seem to be, and Yoriyuki Ikegami went all-out with the vegetation in this gorgeous pond scene. The original Bulbasaur was also by Mitsuhiro Arita, who was on Squirtle evolution duty this set, which allowed relative newcomer Ikegami to deliver yet again, as they have since Crown Zenith’s incredible Gardenia’s Vigor.

The card is yours, or someone else’s, for $US26.

Charmander Illustration Rare #168

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

You may be beginning to detect a pattern here, albeit one that will prove to be disappointingly dismissive of Stage 1 starters. None of Ivysaur, Wartortle or Charmeleon make the cut. But yes, of course, the fire-type proto-Zard outdoes his recently hatched buddies, clocking in at $US30.

The Base Set Charmander was yet another Mitsuhiro Arita card, so this time the job went to Miki Kudo, and what a treat that is. Creating art for cards since Generations, Kudo’s style are these clean, bold, almost paper-crafty designs, but they’ve never been seen in full-art before. And as you’ll see, that’s worked out pretty darned well for this set.

Charizard ex Ultra Rare #183

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Having just released the Charizard-heavy Obsidian Flames, TPCi played things pretty cool with 151. Given this was a celebration of those original Kanto Pokémon, they surely must have been tempted to double-dip, and just plaster the thing in ‘Zards. So kudos to them for keeping calm and limiting it to just the three.

The cheapest of them is the regular Charizard ex, which is between $US6 and $US7, given how easy it’s proving to pull. But then things take a whopping jump up when you get to this pretty bog-standard ultra rare. It’s levelling off at around $US32, having peaked at a very silly $US70 on the set’s launch. (As ever, only the extremely silly buy cards in the first week of sale, while the smart sell them to them.)

No shade to the artists behind these ultra rares, but they’re clearly created to a given design—all just large, bold depictions of the Pokémon against bland backgrounds. You’re paying a hefty Charizard Tax for this one, given the next-most expensive was that 11th place Mew ex at $US22.

Erika’s Invitation Special Illustration Rare #203

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Far and away the most popular card in the Japanese version of 151, the inevitable “waifu” card of the set sits in a modest sixth place over here. The Japanese version will still cost you over $US200 (down from $US500), while you can pick it up in English for a mere $US37 (down from $US57).

Yeah, that’s still a lot of money for a Trainer card with the obscure ability to force your opponent to put a Basic Pokémon on their bench, then switch it into the active spot. But the card is unquestionably stunning, and certainly not the swimsuit model posing that has embarrassed many a collector in recent years.

The amazing artwork is by Cona Nitanda, who has also designed the forthcoming Paradox Rift chase Trainer, Parasol Lady. You can see how their art is created on their excellent YouTube channel.

Alakazam ex Special Illustration Rare #201

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

What a spectacular card from Shinya Komatsu, who has been knocking it out of the park since Brilliant Stars’ wonderful Octillery Trainer Gallery image. Then came Astral Radiance’s hilarious Machamp V alt art, Crown Zenith’s Magnezone factory, Scarlet & Violet Base’s amazing Clauncher IR, and now this meticulously detailed Alakazam. (And it continues—Paradox Rift has the most amazing garbage heap depiction of Garbodor.)

I still think it’s a shame Alakazam was chosen for the ex special, given that 151 marked the triumphant return of Kadabra. (Uri Geller’s still not speaking to me, since I challenged him to astral project into my study to read a number I wrote on a piece of paper.) It’d have been nice to see the uni-spoonular monster getting his dues. Still, this SIR is proving amazingly popular, currently costing $US37.50.

Zapdos ex Special Illustration Rare #202

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

As much as I lament that the regular foil cards of Moltres and Articuno in this set are just considered bulk, selling for literally five cents, I’m delighted that at least some traditions are being kept, and one of the birds is proving a hit card.

For whatever reason, only Zapdos got the ex treatment in 151 (it would have been so great for all three to get matching cards), which means it’s also the only one to receive an SIR. But what a beauty, and in fairness, Moltres and Articuno do make their cameo in the background.

This is the work of Shiburingaru, who began with Brilliant Stars’ amazing Aridos TG card, and then after a series of stand-out regular cards, popped off with Crown Zenith’s black star promo for Articuno, followed by the Charizard VMAX in that Ultra Premium Collection.

The Zapdos is currently priced at a huge $US43.

Right, the last three are very predictable, but can you guess them in the correct order? Here goes…

Venusaur ex Special Illustration Rare #198

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Yup, while Squirtle may have been knocked into third place, for the Stage 2s it’s Venusaur who is chasing behind. It’s my favorite of the three, but then heck, saves me money if I succumb.

As with all three starter trios, the same illustrator has done all three cards in the evolution, and Yoriyuki Ikegami ramps the vegetative goodness to surely the highest possible extreme. There is a Venusaur in there, I promise.

If you want one of your own, you could try opening five hundred billion packs of 151, or just fork out $US46.

Blastoise ex Special Illustration Rare #200

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

There’s something about this card that just exudes confidence. And, you know, when you’re Mitsuhiro Arita, that’s well earned. There’s that wonderful call-back to the original Squirtle, with the bubbles rising in the water, but more than anything else, this is a masterclass in lighting.

It’s not even close between this and the Venusaur, either, Blastoise picking up an extra $US8 at $US54 a go.

Which of course leaves us with the inevitable…

Charizard ex Special Illustration Rare #199

Image: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Yup, outside of the lack of Giovanni, and Erika’s lower placing, this was a fairly predictable run of cards. But none more-so than ol’ mister fire-breath being the best-seller. And how. This one will currently cost you $US115.

Tell you what, though. It’s nice when a ridiculously over-priced Charizard is a card worth a fuss, and that’s certainly the case for Miki Kudo’s piece here.

It’s such an interesting piece, bravely maintaining Kudo’s distinctive style for such an iconic Pokémon, while making the most incredible use of such a tiny space. While the Venusaur goes for cramming in wonderful amounts of tiny detail, and the Blastoise uses deft subtlety to make a large Pokémon stand out dominant, the Charizard SIR instead feels like a landscape. And I just adore the way the tail’s fire has been cut out. It’s so lovely.

Is it over $US100 lovely? I think that’s between you and your paycheck.

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *