CGC Trading Cards Certifies Rare Team Rocket Test Prints

Posted on 10/18/2021

The pair of cards was likely printed to test new UV coatings and Spectratech holofoil.

CGC® Trading Cards has authenticated and graded a pair of rare test prints from the Team Rocket set. Initially released in English on April 24, 2000, this set was the fifth one printed by Wizards of the Coast (WotC) for Pokémon and features the “Cosmos” holofoil pattern. This specific holofoil was first used in English on Base Set II, which was released exactly two months earlier.

These two test prints are extremely interesting in that they have the fronts of holofoil cards on both sides! While one side has the typical Cosmos holofoil pattern used on the set, the other side features a plainer foil. Additionally, the cards are miscut to a smaller size than normal and show four cards on each side. Because the cards are test prints, the miscut is not noted on the label.

Dark Raichu//Dark Dragonite graded by CGC
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Dark Golbat//Dark Dugtrio graded by CGC
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While researching these unique cards, we were lucky enough to receive photos from a CGC Authorized Dealer who happens to own an uncut sheet. As evident in the photos below, the sheet features multiple examples of each holographic card from the Rocket set and the bottom edge of the sheet shows that these were printed in March of 2000. Additionally, a handwritten note on the edge of the sheet explains that the sheet is UV Coated and has Spectratech holofoil. These cards were likely printed to test these new features.

Front of the uncut sheet
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Bottom of the sheet with the print date of March 2000
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A handwritten note, likely from a WotC employee, explains that the sheet is UV-coated and utilizes Spectratech holofoil.
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CGC Trading Cards Analysis

This special UV coating can be seen with the naked eye in the glossiness of the cards themselves, but it also reveals itself in images utilizing UV lighting.

Normal Dark Raichu (left) and UV-coated Test Print (right)
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As shown in the photos above, whereas only the edges and art box react to UV on a regular card, the entire surface of the UV-coated card reflects the UV light because of the special coating. The cards looked more similar under other lighting conditions such as Spot Fluorescence and Infrared.

The two cards under Spot Fluorescence
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The two cards under Infrared
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While there are some minor differences attributable to the UV coating, overall, both cards react the same to both of these lighting sources. Taking a closer look at the actual printing, both cards look essentially the same as well.

A close-up of Raichu’s eye on the normal card (left) and the test print (right)
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The photos above show that the same plate positioning was used for the printing of the normal Dark Raichu as well as the test print. This proves that the test print cards were printed in the normal card printing facility.

Uncertain History

The origins of these cards are a bit murky and unsubstantiated. One story is that these were decorations at the Super Trainer Showdown held in New Jersey in November of 2000. Another claims that they were used as tree ornaments at a WotC holiday party later that same year.

Unfortunately, CGC Trading Cards was not able to independently verify either of these stories, although at least one judge from the era says that he remembers these cards from the Super Trainer Showdown. However, without real proof (such as photographs), we are unable to confirm either of these narratives. It is possible that neither, one or even both of the anecdotes are true.

Nevertheless, even without knowing the complete backstory of these cards, it was very clear to the CGC Trading Cards grading team that the cards were products of WotC and are genuine Pokémon card test prints.

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