CGC Cards Grades Another Illustrator and More Awesome Pokémon Cards

Posted on 3/7/2024

Other highlights include a Tamamushi University Magikarp, a Bilingual Exeggutor and a Lucky Stadium.

CGC Cards™ had many impressive submissions pass through the grading room in the first few months of 2024, including four Pokémon promo cards from tournaments and Japanese-exclusive events. These cards each received grades of CGC 7.5 or better, with two of the four receiving a grade of CGC Gem Mint 10.

University Magikarp

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From April 1998 to March 1999, Shogakukan — the Japanese media company responsible for publishing CoroCoro Comic — ran a campaign in which elementary school children could “enroll” in a fictional university for the chance to win prizes. This competition was known as the Tamamushi (Celadon) University Magikarp Campaign, and the prizes revolved around the University’s mascot: Magikarp.

During the campaign, children who subscribed to CoroCoro Comic received information about the Tamamushi University campaign in their copies of the magazine. These issues of CoroCoro Comic also included exams of varying difficulty, with levels ranging from first to sixth grade. Those who completed and passed the exam would earn prizes. The grand prize for passing the Hyper Professor Exam in December 1998 was the University Magikarp promo card.

This University Magikarp, Pokémon (1998) Japanese Tamamushi University Hyper Test Day Two Prize is graded CGC 7.5. As of March 2024, CGC Cards has certified 18 examples of University Magikarp, according to the CGC Cards Population Report.

Pokémon Illustrator

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In 1997 and 1998, CoroCoro Comic and The Pokémon Company ran two official Pokémon-themed art contests in which Japanese children could send in their Pokémon-related artwork for a chance to win a cash prize and a special promo card. In total, 39 children won the contest and received the special promo card: Pokémon Illustrator. Two additional copies were discovered after the 1998 contest ended, bringing the grand total of these promo cards in circulation to 41.

Since its original release in 1997, Pokémon Illustrator has become the most expensive Pokémon card of all time due to its scarcity. The promo has consistently exceeded expectations when it is offered for sale; a CGC-certified example graded CGC Gem Mint 10 sold for $495,000 in a Heritage Auctions sale in September 2023, and another CGC-certified example graded CGC 9.5, dubbed “The Swirllustrator,” realized $672,000 in a Goldin sale in October 2022.

In total, CGC Cards has certified 13 examples of the Pokémon Illustrator, Pokémon (1998) Japanese CoroCoro Comics Illustration Contest Promo, according to the CGC Cards Population Report. Five of those examples are graded CGC Gem Mint 10, with none graded higher.

Bilingual Exeggutor

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The Tropical Mega Battle tournament hosted in Hawaii in 1999 is considered the first world championship for the Pokémon TCG. During the event, the top American and Japanese Pokémon TCG players were invited to attend the tournament and compete for the chance to win prizes and the title of Pokémon TCG master. Each participant received several promo cards just for participating in the tournament, and other cards were earned by winning matches.

A Bilingual Exeggutor, Pokémon (1999) Japanese Tropical Mega Battle Participation Prize was given out to every participant on day two of the tournament. It is estimated that anywhere between 36 and 50 of these Bilingual Exeggutor cards were distributed to participants this way, which means they are incredibly rare. CGC Cards has certified seven examples of the Bilingual Exeggutor Participation Prize promo, according to the CGC Cards Population Report. Two CGC-certified examples (including this one) are graded CGC 8.5, with one graded higher.

Bilingual Exeggutor is an anomaly among collectors, and those wanting an official participation prize example of the card must be diligent when searching for a copy. Bilingual Exeggutor was later re-released as a magazine promo for those who were unable to attend the Tropical Mega Battle tournament. The magazine promo edition of Bilingual Exeggutor can be identified by its glossy finish, which wasn’t present on the participation prizes.

Lucky Stadium

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Following the 1999 Tropical Mega Battle tournament, Media Factory — the publisher for the Pokémon TCG in Japan — produced a second tournament that was, once again, held in Hawaii during the summer. The 2000 Tropical Mega Battle tournament was expanded to include Pokémon TCG players from Japan, the United States, Canada, Latin America and Asia. In total, 42 players attended the event.

In a similar fashion to the 1999 tournament, the 2000 Tropical Mega Battle awarded participation prizes to players who showed up to the event, regardless of where they placed. The participation prize promo for the 2000 tournament was a Lucky Stadium, Pokémon (2000) Japanese Tropical Mega Battle Unnumbered Promo. Like Exeggutor, Lucky Stadium is bilingual with text in both English and Japanese.

The CGC-certified Lucky Stadium received a grade of CGC Gem Mint 10. It is one of the two highest-graded examples in the CGC Cards Population Report, with none graded higher. CGC Cards has certified a total of 9 Lucky Stadium cards from the 2000 Tropical Mega Battle tournament.

About CGC

Since revolutionizing comic book grading in 2000, CGC has grown to include certification services for a vast variety of pop culture collectibles. These divisions include CGC CardsCGC Video Games and CGC Home Video. CGC Cards provides expert card grading for TCGs, sports cards and non-sports cards. CGC Video Games is dedicated to video game grading for the most popular consoles, including Nintendo, Sega, Atari, PlayStation and more. The newest division of CGC, CGC Home Video, provides expert VHS grading in addition to other types of home media.

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