gotta catch ’em all

pokemon cards
Pokemon cards. I thought that this was something from a long time ago, from the time of my nephews. When the odd card came into my son’s possession (thanks, McDonald’s Happy Meals), I thought it would be just another ‘thing’ that gets looked at, popped into the toybox, forgotten. Pokemon’s it seemed were a complicated mess and that was that. Wrong! It happened quickly. A few cards, then a few more, then the floodgates opened. All the kids were into them, all the kids were playing them. My son’s after-school daycare, it transpired, had organized a Pokemon club, and the kids loved it. Suddently the conversations were peppered with ‘Froakies’ and ‘Charizards’ and ‘Megas’ and ‘Mega-EXes’ and ‘this does fifty damage’ and all sorts of other nonsensical terms that were way over my head. And my son LOVES it. I’m not entirely sure he knows how to play the game itself, but thanks to spending his own pocket money and getting a whole bunch for Christmas and birthdays, he has a pretty big collection. This collection often covers our entire living room floor. He was delighted to receive a ring binder to organize them all, but for some reason they seem to have multiplied like rabbits. Water types, fire types, and they all have utterly bonkers names. It’s the first thing he is into that I’m not really part of at all, I have no knowledge or understanding of them, it is a different world. “How is it different from your Panini football stickers?” my wife asked. Completely different! Different also from my Marvel comics, my Legos, my craft beers and my massive collection of pens. Some parents become experts. My son spoke over Christmas with my older sister, who unlike her nonplussed little brother was enthusiastically going on about “Jigglypuff” and all her other favourites. Recently we went to a birthday party of one of his friend’s which was a Pokemon card-swapping party. Other parents talked about how this Pokemon craze had actually been helping the kids to learn how to trade fairly and other useful positive social skills. Additionally, my son’s reading skills just exploded as he tried to understand all the cards, as did his love of big-number maths. He even occasionally creates his own cards: we would build Lego monsters, give them Pokemon style names (such as “Dragaflow”) and he would draw the whole card, so it’s exciting his creativity as well, which was a surprise. Not that this craze was just some cynical marketing scheme to create big-spending pint-sized hungry robo-consumers, “Gotta catch ’em all”. This is a popular sport, and sets of Pokemon cards ain’t cheap (they also have a very different returns policy at Target than other goods). So I had to draw them. This is another page of the Stillman and Birn ‘Alpha’ book where I draw his toys and stuff, and I completed it over a couple of evenings. I still don’t know my Lucario from my Makahita, but my son absolutely loves them, and that’s all that matters.

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3 thoughts on “gotta catch ’em all

  1. becca lynn weeks says:

    This thing called Pokemon comes in waves, my two kids rode the original wave, doing it the same way. Incredible how much of it there was to be had and how much of their money went into cards, toys, gaming systems to play the video games, tshirts, etc… They are still into it although no longer collecting it at age 23 and 20! I remember sitting in the darkened movie theatre thinking I was a great mom for taking them to the original Pokeman movie release, until I realized that the word “Pikacho” was going to be 85% of the spoken dialogue for the roughly hour and a half cartoon movie. Wow! That was crazy! About 3 years ago I gifted their original ring binder collections of cards to a couple of friends 4th grade boys who thought they’d received an amazing gift. Told them I hope they enjoyed them as much as my kids did. For years I had been giving 3 cards away in a sandwich Baggie as prizes in my school for positive behavior, and I was moving and needed to downsize their collections quickly. All of it left behind for college, and after discovering the pristinely kept cards weren’t worth much anymore, just like the value of played and won video games upon trade in, both kids blessed me with permission before I did it. These characters and stories make children and adults happy and now that I’m back in the art classroom, we draw them and try to invent new Pokeman in middle school too. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the time catching them and sharing them with others. Good collectors know it’s about more than monetary value!

    • pete scully says:

      Cheers for your Pokemon story! I have a lot of this to look forward to. I’m not sure I could sit through a Pokemon movie. I am learning that as a parent you have to ride the wave with them a bit!

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