CGC Cards Certifies Several Cosmos Holo Test Print Pokémon Cards

Posted on 9/15/2023

The Cosmos holofoil pattern wasn't introduced in the international Pokémon TCG until the release of Base Set 2 in 2000.

In 1996, Media Factory — a Japanese media and manufacturing company — secured the rights to produce cards for the Pokémon Trading Card Game in Japan. During the planning process, the company had to decide how to distinguish rare Pokémon cards from the more common and uncommon cards contained in each pack. Like other TCGs, Media Factory decided to decorate their rarest cards with a holofoil background. The most popular — and most expensive — example of a rare holofoil card from the first Pokémon TCG set is the famous Charizard Holo, which was printed using the popular Cosmos holofoil pattern and features iconic artwork by Mitsuhiro Arita.

A Charizard, Japanese Pokémon (1996) Base Set Holo with No Rarity Symbol graded CGC Gem Mint 10, an example of a card using the Cosmos Holofoil pattern.
Click images to enlarge.

Later, in 1998, American publishing company Wizards of the Coast acquired the rights to print the Pokémon Trading Card Game in English. Along with this responsibility came the challenge of localizing the Pokémon cards that had already been produced in Japan. With localization came certain changes, including a new card backing, changes to the cards' layout and, interestingly, a new holofoil pattern. Instead of using the Cosmos holofoil pattern found on Japanese cards, Wizards of the Coast decided to distinguish rare Pokémon cards using the Galaxy Star holofoil pattern.

Left: A Japanese Base Set Charizard with the Cosmos holofoil pattern. Right: An English Base Set Charizard with the Galaxy Star holofoil
Click images to enlarge.

Recently, CGC Cards™ received a submission that included several Test Print cards from the Pokémon TCG. These cards included copies of nearly every holofoil card from Base Set, excluding Machamp, which was not included in regular packs. Each of these Test Print cards features the Cosmos holofoil pattern that went unreleased in the first few English sets. Three of these cards were Charizard Test Print cards, each graded CGC 8 or higher.

Click images to enlarge.

Because these Cosmos Holo cards are test prints, they were likely not cut in a factory, but instead were later cut from an original sheet. As these are very esoteric items, CGC Cards does not differentiate test prints as being either factory cut or not factory cut, as they are assumed to not be factory cut.

It is likely that Wizards of the Coast used the Cosmos holofoil layer on test prints to determine how this type of holofoil layer would work for future releases. This is evidenced by the Cosmos holofoil sheet that sold for a quarter of a million dollars on Heritage Auctions in April of this year. In the margins of the sheet are printer’s annotations that state: “OK for Color & Fit – 11-18-1999,” whereas Base Set released in the United States some 11 months earlier. Therefore, it is likely that these test prints were made in advance of the release of Base Set 2, which featured the Cosmos holofoil pattern on all holo cards.

“Cosmos holo test prints are extremely rare,” said Matt Quinn, Vice President of CGC Cards. “To receive three test print Charizards in a short amount of time is extremely exciting for CGC Cards. We’re thrilled to have been able to certify these rarities.”

In addition to Charizard, most of the other holofoil cards from Base Set were included in the submission, from Alakazam to Zapdos. According to the CGC Cards Population Report, CGC Cards has certified a total of 32 Cosmos Holo Test Print cards as of September 2023.

Click images to enlarge.

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