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Pokémon TCG 1st Edition Base Set Booster Box Up For Bid
Posted on by Theo Dwyer
1st Edition 1999 Pokemon unopened card set sells for $56,000
A box of unopened, original Pokemon cards from 1999 have sold for $56,000 at auction. This was a first edition box that included holographic foil cards, the biggest prize in the package. The first edition base set had a limited print, which contributes to its worth nearly two decades later. Though notable, this isn’t the first Pokemon item to sell at auction for a significant amount.
The 1999 Pokemon 1st Limited-Edition Printing booster box, which was sold by Huggins & Scott Auctions, sold to its latest buyer on Friday. This isn’t the first time a box of valuable Pokemon cards have traded hands — the same edition sold for $54,000 last year. The auction company provides details and images of the product on its product page.
According to Huggins & Scott Auctions, this particular Pokemon box set was sold by an individual who has owned it since its release many years ago. As the images show, the box has a small dent in one corner, but the auction house notes that the plastic wrap on it doesn’t conform to the corner, helping verify its unopened nature.
Within lies a total of 36 card packs, each containing 11 cards. Within each pack are five common cards, three uncommon, a pair of energy cards, and a single rare or foil card. Crunching the production numbers, Huggins & Scott says the odds of getting a foil card are almost 1:3 packs. There’s “396 chances for Gem 10 holos and other high-grade treasures,” according to the auction listing.
Base Unlimited, Jungle 1st Edition, Fossil 1st Edition
Why are Pokémon card prices rising?
About two weeks ago, 34-year-old Oregon resident Kalvin Foley wanted to buy a rare Pokémon card on eBay. It was a rainbow Vmax card featuring Charizard, one of the most popular Pokémon. He was attempting to win it at the end of an auction, one of the most adrenaline-inducing parts of bidding. The card, which started off at $100, began to steadily increase. It jumped to $250. Then $300. Then $375.
“I’m just watching it throughout the day,” Foley recounted. When the 1-minute countdown began, he entered in his max bid of $425. “And as soon as I did that, I think everybody else did, because it went from $375 all the way up to, like $550,” he said.
Now, he thought, he’d never be able to get the card. Foley said that only a year ago, it might have been worth around $250-$300 — roughly half the price.
Why cards are rising in value right now
Pokémon card sales and prices have skyrocketed this year, with some cards selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
On Thursday, a sealed box of Pokémon booster packs sold for a record $360,000 through Heritage Auctions, while a similar set sold for $198,000 only two months ago. According to eBay, there were 60% more Pokemon card sales on its platform in September compared to January of this year.
YouTube stars, celebrities and investors have dropped big bucks on cards, which has contributed to the frenzy and helped push up their value. That, in turn, has encouraged others to snap up cards in hopes that they’ll be able to turn a profit.
There’s an entire genre of buyers unboxing card sets on YouTube and Twitch, where DJ and producer Steve Aoki recently hosted a live charity event devoted to opening up packs.
“Publicity is always something that can drum up momentum and price,” said Eugene Smith, a 24-year-old card collector and investor from Tampa, Florida, who also happens to work in finance.
Controversial YouTuber Logan Paul has spent almost $300,000 (although he claims he’s reached his breaking point and is done buying them), while the rapper Logic dropped $226,000 on a rare 1st edition Charizard.
“When I was a kid I absolutely loved Pokémon but couldn’t afford the cards,” Logic said in an Instagram post.
Collectors and investors cited several other factors that may be pushing up sales and prices — people are picking up a hobby amid pandemic boredom, the release of the COVID-19 stimulus checks has given them the extra cash to buy cards, and childhood fans have disposable incomes now.
“People my age are finally in their late-20s, mid-30s, and they can afford the stuff they liked when they were kids,” said Jesus Garcia, an assistant comics & comic art operations supervisor at Heritage Auctions.
Caitlin Sidhu, a 26-year-old collector who lives in Uruma City, Japan, said what she enjoys the most about building her collection is that she’s able to obtain all the cards she wanted as a kid.
“[I’m] kind of like fulfilling my childhood,” Sidhu said. “A younger me would be amazed at the cards I currently have.” Right now she owns upwards of 5,000 cards, including 120 sealed booster packs and two boxes.
She’s also noticed an increase in prices. Before the pandemic, Sidhu bought a reverse holo Legendary Collection Pikachu for $25. Now she says it goes for about $100, give or take.
The recent spike in prices and sales has encouraged people, like Eugene Smith, to look through their own collections to see if they have any items worth selling.
He’s also been actively buying cards over the past couple of months.
“I’ve been acquiring cards. Nothing insane. But I’ve spent maybe a few thousand on them,” he said. “I was just looking to maybe acquire cards not only to make maybe a little bit of money short term, but also as an alternative investment for my savings.”
Jackson Donahue, a 25-year-old resident from Simsbury, Connecticut, said he’s been selling cards for about two months now, primarily through Facebook Marketplace.
It started when he and his girlfriend were walking through the card aisle at Target and decided to buy a $4 pack on a whim. After opening it and finding a holographic card, he googled it and found it was worth $50.
He’s been hooked ever since. In total, Donahue estimates he’s sold about $1,600 worth of cards.
Card shops, not just individual sellers, are also benefiting from the rising interest in Pokémon cards.
House of Cards & Collectibles, based in San Antonio, Texas, has seen an increase in business throughout the pandemic, with an uptick in business after people started receiving their stimulus checks.
Paul G. Cavazos, who owns the store with his wife Rachel, said up to 80% of their overall business comes from Pokémon-related merchandise.
“More and more people that are between the ages of, say, 18 to 60 or older, are buying Pokémon cards for investment purposes,” he said.
About a year ago, he said he was selling packs of 1st edition Team Rocket cards for up to $75. This month, he’s seen those packs sell upwards of about $300 to $400 each.
While the pandemic has led to explosive card prices and sales, Cavazos said he noticed sales started to rise after the launch of Pokémon Go in 2016. According to Heritage Auctions, eBay’s daily Pokémon card sales doubled after the game was released.
How value is determined
The surge in Pokémon card prices doesn’t necessarily mean every card is worth a lot of money or will be.
“I think prices will rise for some cards, but obviously not all cards, which is what some people don’t get,” Caitlin Sidhu explained. “If cards are still in print, they won’t rise in price. Once the card is out of print it may go up in price, but it’s not guaranteed.”
Jason A., a collector from East Tennessee who declined to give his last name, compared it to the stock market: “You can take a bet on a card’s value. Is it going to increase? Is it going to flop? Or is it just gonna stay steady?”
“There are plenty of cards out there that when they first got released are still the same price that they were back then,” he said.
A card’s scarcity, condition and the actual Pokémon on it all play a role in its value. First edition holographic cards released as part of Pokémon’s first print in 1999 command high prices — especially Charizard.
Why is he always so coveted? In that first set, he was objectively the most powerful, with both the highest HP (a Pokémon’s health gauge, if you will) and the strongest attack. But maybe the reason for his appeal is more obvious than that.
“I mean, he’s a dragon. Kids love dragons,” Garcia said. “In the cartoon show, he was kind of rebellious, did whatever he wanted.”
Kalvin Foley, after losing his eBay bid, said he was able to finally obtain his Rainbow Vmax Charizard in a private sale.
Foley had been a fan of him when he was a child, and when he began to collect cards again in 2018, he admired the ways the franchise had reinvented him.
Despite Charizard’s popularity, Garcia said the holy grail of Pokémon cards is actually the Pikachu Illustrator card, which is one of the rarest. One of the cards sold for $233,000 this July, making it the most expensive sale of a single card on record.
Only 39 were initially released through a Japanese comic contest in 1998. (An eBay user is attempting to sell one for $2 million right now.)
Like analysts evaluating stocks, some professional grading companies will assign a value to a card for a fee. The two big ones out there are PSA and Beckett, which each have a scale that ranges from 1 to 10 assessing a card’s condition.
Say you have a 1st edition Charizard that was released back in 1999. In October, the trading card investment company CardHops said a PSA 9 grading put its worth at $50,000–$70,000. But a PSA 10 meant it was worth $140,000–$200,000 plus. (As we saw with Logic.)
“It’s a big jump between one single grade,” Garcia said. “Why? Because everybody wants the perfect card.”
One of the great ironies in the world of collectibles is that errors (not to be mistaken with flaws) can also help an item become that much more valuable — whether it’s a novel, a postage stamp or merchandise from a popular franchise.
A Dragonite card with an inverted stamp, for example, was at one point listed on the site TrollandToad for nearly $1,500. Without this marking, you can buy the card for under 10 bucks.
After all, when value is tied to scarcity, a misprint helps differentiate you from the sea of other mass-produced goods.
Is the card market a bubble ready to pop?
Everyone Marketplace spoke with gave us mostly the same assessment: prices for some cards will probably decrease eventually, but they’re not going to tank so badly that the entire market will crash.
The degree of the decline — and when — will depend on the type of card, according to Eugene Smith. The vintage cards released back in the ‘90s are no longer being printed and are basically part of history now, meaning many of them will likely continue to have value.
But because grading companies like PSA are still going through a backlog of cards, Smith thinks there will be an increase in supply.
“Then post-holidays, there’s going to be far less consumer spending happening. It’s pretty much a perfect scenario for a decrease — a correction,” Smith said of the Pokémon vintage card market.
Garcia agrees that prices will eventually level off, although he doesn’t think they’ll dip that drastically.
“Pokémon is one of those things that’s never gone out of style,” he said.
Since Pokémon first launched on the GameBoy in 1996, the franchise has spawned the trading card game, a wildly popular anime series that continues to run new episodes, dozens of console games and Pokémon Go, which was The Summer Event of 2016 and helped add $7.5 billion in market value to Nintendo within 48 hours.
Many collectors, like Caitlin Sidhu, Kalvin Foley and Jason A., became Pokémon fans when they were kids, proving its longevity.
Jason A. said this will probably be a lifelong hobby of his. “The only way I would stop collecting cards is if it were physically impossible for me to actually find them anymore,” he said.
Some of them are also introducing the series and the games to their children, creating a whole new generation of fans. Foley said he has a 2-year-old son who likes looking at his Pokémon merchandise and watching the anime with him.
Applying the words “phenomenon” and “craze” to the franchise wouldn’t be accurate because they imply something that is ephemeral. Pokémon — which celebrates its 25th birthday in February of next year — is now an established moneymaker.
We may not be able to predict the market with certainty, but the franchise’s future success is probably a safe bet.
Alongside the limited supply and extremely high demand, there are plenty of reasons why Pokémon cards make for excellent investments.
1. The best cards are worth more than you’d think
In 2018, a man named Gary made digital headlines after appearing on Pawn Stars with a series of Pokémon cards, which he claimed were worth half a million dollars.
While this claim initially astounded both the audience and the show’s experts, it’s perfectly true that rare first edition cards can hold immense value. The cards brought in to Pawn Starsby Gary were just a small fraction of his assets, too — Gary’s entire collection was later revealed to be worth approximately $5 million.
Earlier this month, the YouTuber Logan Paul bought a first edition PSA-graded 10 Charizard card from Pawn Stars’ Gary for a whopping $150,000. And that’s not even close to the highest price ever fetched by a Pokémon card — this honor went to The Pikachu Illustrator card, which sold for $233,000.
Though the average price of Pokémon cards is much lower, there are many rare, highly collectible cards with values upwards of $200,000. A 1999 Holographic Shadow-less First Edition Charizard, for instance, is currently worth between $150,000 to $200,000.
Even more common cards can be worth several thousand dollars, depending on their condition. For example, Charizard Holo cards from the 1999 base set have been known to fetch over $5,000 to $10,000 despite the fact that there are over 10,000 of them in circulation.
2. True collectibles are guaranteed to increase in value
Pokémon cards are collectibles, and many sets went out of print years ago. The inherently limited supply of each card type means that as time goes on and cards become more difficult to obtain, the value will steadily increase.
Because of this, the investment model with Pokémon cards is exceedingly simple: After purchasing a rare card, the longer you hold on to it, the more profit you’ll make when you decide to sell. There’s virtually no chance of a card that’s out of print decreasing in value over time.
3. There’s a global market for Pokémon cards
Because the global appeal and popularity of the franchise, trade in Pokémon cards is alive and well in just about every corner of the world including in person, conferences and auction houses.
This means that if you invest in collectible Pokémon cards and decide it’s time to sell, it won’t be difficult to find a buyer. Despite appearances, Pokémon card trade is far from a niche interest. The market is liquid.
4. It’s easy to find out the price of a specific card
There are plenty of resources online for checking the specifications of every Pokémon card ever printed, including the approximate value of each.
Websites such as pokemonprice.com even offer graphs visualizing the history of online transactions pertaining to specific cards. Because Pokémon card value is essentially public knowledge, each of your investments will be a fully informed decision.
5. There are plenty of collectors out there willing to pay for rare cards
The market for Pokémon cards is not only wide-reaching, but also home to thousands of dedicated collectors intent on completing their sets and obtaining every single card out there.
Because of this, you won’t need to put any effort into making the sale when you decide it’s time to get a return on your investment. For rare, genuinely valuable cards, all it takes is an online listing — the offers pour in by themselves.
6. You can get to know the market quickly
Investing in Pokémon cards doesn’t involve a lot of in-depth research or specialist knowledge. Unlike stock market, real estate or bonds investments, Pokémon card trading is straight-forward and relatively simple.
All of the information you need to start investing in Pokémon cards is freely available online, so it only takes a small amount of research to understand what to look out for.
7. There’s an increasing demand for unopened limited edition box sets
It’s not just individual rare cards that are likely to fetch a good return. Box sets are also increasingly difficult to find, which means their value is steadily going up.
Buying cards in bulk and unboxing them during a livestream has become a popular format for several YouTubers. Earlier this month, YouTuber Logan Paul bought a first edition Pokémon card box set for $200,000 to open during a charity stream. The box set didn’t disappoint — Paul found a first edition Charizard card inside the set, which was worth approximately $40,000 at the time.
If you’re not interested in building a collection and going after specific, valuable cards, investing in box sets is a simple way to make a profit on Pokémon cards without the need to understand the market on a deeper level. Provided the box set is valuable and genuine, you can hold on to it for awhile and sell it on for a profit without ever opening it.
8. Detailed information on each card is easily available
There are several sites offering convenient search engines for Pokémon trading cards. Those interested only in investing — rather than playing — will find a wealth of information there, including how many copies of each card are in circulation, which set it belongs to, when it was printed and much more.
This makes it easy to estimate the value of a Pokémon card investment opportunity, as well as being a useful resource for organizing your collection.
9. Pokémon cards are easy to store
Valuable Pokémon cards do need to be stored properly to prevent fraying and accidental damage, but it takes minimum effort and cost to keep your collection safe.
Purpose-designed storage solutions for Pokémon cards are easily available, in the form of individual pockets or binders. It’s therefore exceedingly simple to keep your cards safe and organized.
10. You don’t need to know the franchise
Serious investors are sometimes put off by the seemingly childish nature of Pokémon cards, and the idea that they would need to delve into the franchise in order to make informed decisions and allocate their assets well.
In fact, neither of these assumptions hold true. Although the franchise was aimed primarily at teenagers, there are plenty of adult enthusiasts and a community of serious collectors, as well as professional Pokémon card players taking part in worldwide tournaments. In any case, investing in valuable Pokémon cards is no different than collecting stamps — if anything, the former makes more sense, because Pokémon cards were intended to be collected and traded.
Knowledge of the franchise certainly helps if you want your Pokémon card investments to turn into a hobby. However, it’s by no means necessary — especially because there are plenty of resources online to identify and assess every card.
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Oliver Isaacs is a serial entrepreneur, tech investor and tech influencer with more than one million followers in total. Isaacs and his team have worked with and advised some of the world’s leading blockchain companies, top social media influencers and tech investors.
YouTuber Logan Paul Pulls Multiple Rare Cards in 1st Edition Pokemon Box Opening
By Sean Mackey
YouTuber Logan Paul opened a 1st Edition Base Set Booster Box of Pokemon cards yesterday to help celebrate Pokemon's 25th anniversary.
Controversial YouTuber and sometimes boxer Logan Paul has gotten into Pokemoncards lately. Paul bought several sealed booster boxes of 1st Edition Base Set cards for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past few months, and to celebrate Pokemon’s 25th anniversary he opened one of the base set boxes. His pulls were impressive, to say the least.
Pokemon cards are having a boost in popularity as of late, due in-part to Paul’s promotion of the hobby to his nearly 23 million subscribers on YouTube and general hype around the franchise's 25th anniversary. This has led to sets selling out and being resold online at huge prices, and has caused problems for fast-food giant McDonald’s, which currently is giving out special Pokemon cards with Happy Meals.
RELATED: Pokemon Trading Card Game Booster Box Sells for Nearly Half A Million at Auction
Logan Paul live streamed his opening of the booster box and its 36 packs of 1st Edition Base Set Pokemon TCG cards, which were auctioned off online for an average of $39,206 each. Paul had some amazing pulls, including two first-edition holofoil Charizards, which are some of the rarest and most valuable Pokemon cards in existence. One holofoil 1st Edition Charizard recently sold for over $100,000.
Paul already secured a 1st Edition Charizard for himself last October for $150,000 from Pawn Stars’ Gary. The YouTuber also pulled the other two starters as holofoil cards in their final forms, Venusaur and Blastoise, in addition to Mewtwo, Raichu, and several Chansey. While none are worth as much as Charizard individually, when totaled together the cards he pulled equal over $2,000,000 in value. Paul shared a tweet this morning where he showed off the most valuable cards he pulled.
Recently on his Impaulsive podcast, Paul spoke about his upcoming match with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, saying that the event likely won’t happen until they can safely fill an 80,000-seat stadium. He did add that the game will be broadcast on HBO and Showtime, and that Mayweather’s pre-retirement manager will be returning to help organize.
In other Pokemonnews, for its 25th anniversary two new Pokemon games set in the Sinnoh region were announced. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes of the 2007 classics set for release in late 2021, though they will be the first mainline games to not be developed by series creator Game Freak. Instead, Game Freak is developing Pokemon Legends: Arceus, a more unique take on the franchise, with a more action RPG focus, set in the distant past of the Pokemon world. It is due to come out in early 2022.
MORE: Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a Huge Step Forward to One Big Fan Desire
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About The Author
Sean Mackey (222 Articles Published)
Sean grew up playing Jurassic Park and Road Rash on his dad’s Sega Genesis before saving up for a GameBoy Advance to play Pokemon Ruby. Not long after, he began reading everything he could about video games on dial-up internet. At age 11, he wrote and recorded his own video review of Pokemon Battle Revolution. Now, Sean obsesses over details that will keep Game Rant’s readers informed and looks for games with a focus on great stories and rich worlds like Mass Effect, Red Dead, and Metroid. Find him on Twitter @SMACK64 talking about the latest Apex Legends lore or the best pizza in NYC.
PACKS OPENED LIVE - Box Opening 2/9/2020 @5pm EST">
The Ultimate Gen 1 Pokemon Opening!
How live-streamed $375k deal for Pokémon cards ended in disaster
It had been billed as a record-breaking deal that would make serious investors covet 20-year-old trading cards featuring pictures of cartoon monsters.
Instead, a $375,000 (£287,000) cash transaction ended in disaster on Tuesday, when the buyer opened a sealed box that was supposed to be full of rare first-edition Pokémon cards live on YouTube – and found that the contents had been faked.
Confused? So was Chris Camillo, a “social arbitrage investor” and one of the hosts of a YouTube channel called “Dumb Money”. He said he had decided on the deal after watching the market for the Pokémon trading card game rocket in the last year and concluding that the appetite for nostalgic collectibles was not a bubble, but a serious new opportunity for long-term profit.
His confidence was helped in part by eye-watering purchases by celebrities such as the internet personality Logan Paul and rapper Logic, who paid $226,000 (£173,000) for a single card, a pristine 1999 “Charizard”, earlier this month.
The three sellers were led by Jake Greenbaum, a “blockchain entrepreneur” who uses the Twitter handle JBTheCryptoKing and was billed as Logan Paul’s “personal Pokémon consultant”. The group had themselves bought the box, which was meant to contain 36 unopened “booster” packs and a total of 396 cards, from an unnamed third party and flown to Dallas, Texas, to complete the deal.
They had asked to be paid in cash, Camillo said, and so a silver briefcase full of $100 bills sat on the table in front of the group during a live YouTube broadcast. The idea was to check on the contents, hand over the money, and sell the cards next year to benefit charity.
But a mood of anticipation as the box was opened quickly turned to bewilderment: at some point, the hoped-for rarities had been removed and replaced with filler sets that were commonplace, damaged, or otherwise worthless.
“Ooh, the colour’s different on that one and that one,” someone said. “That one’s not a first edition pack,” said someone else. “Yeah look, they’re open.”
“That’s an issue,” said Greenbaum, before getting on the phone with the original seller to seek a refund. “Yeah, no, that’s a major fucking issue.”
When the Guardian reached Camillo shortly after the broadcast ended, he said he was still “in shock”. But he noted that he still had his money. “We took extreme precautions,” he said. “I feel worse for the seller. This is going to shake up the Pokémon collector world.”
The episode seemed to be a farce – or, to some cynical observers, a stunt. But collectible experts say it is also evidence of risks attached to the vertiginous rise in the value of Pokémon cards – particularly when the most expensive items in the market, the first edition boxes, are usually sold without being unsealed, which means their contents cannot be authenticated.
The adorable monster trading cards, a fondly remembered childhood craze for millennials in the UK and around the world, form one arm of the formidable 25-year-old Pokémon empire’s reach alongside video games, memorabilia and cartoons.
While the value of the cards has been appreciating for years, they have reached a new high in 2020, said Sasha Tamaddon, the 22-year-old founder of the US-based collectible investment advisor Cardhops.
“The celebrities jumpstarted it a little bit, but you could see it happening already, especially when the pandemic hit,” he added. “All these people were going to their basements and looking at their cards and buying and selling because they didn’t really have anything else to do.”
As evidence of the speed of the rise, Tamaddon pointed to the card bought by Logic for $220,000 – which was worth about $80,000 the month before. He said he had been offered a similar first edition box to the one Camillo thought he was buying for $375,000 for $220,000 just a week previously.
Although risky, the boxes are seen as potentially lucrative valuable investments because they are so scarce, with estimates of 40-70 left in circulation. Successful buyers like Paul sometimes open them up in the hope of finding rare cards inside which they can sell off individually for a profit – making them rarer still.
Figures provided by eBay show that the sale of collectable cards on its platform has risen 123% between July and October 2020 against the same period in the previous year. Barney Ludkins, owner of the UK-based Ludkins Collectibles – which helps collectors certify the quality of their cards – said that boxes which now sell for six figures were worth about £6,000 just five years ago.
“Nothing is unexpected in this industry,” he said. “But since lockdown the hype and boom has just been crazy. The growth is exponential.”
Roy Raftery, manager of Sneak Attack Games in east London, views the change as a mixed blessing, and said that the balance between collectors and investors had shifted drastically in the last six months.
“I would have said 80-20 in favour of collectors earlier this year,” he said. “But now the only calls I’m getting are from people who don’t know anything about Pokémon but they say, this is a better investment than property, ‘give me five of your best Charizards’. It’s pricing people out.”
Meanwhile, he now spends much of his time dealing with people who have found common cards “in a box under their bed and think they’re worth a fortune”.
“They watch a couple of YouTube videos and they think their Venusaur is worth three grand,” he sighed. “And prices [for certification of cards] are rocketing because every guy wants to grade their Bulbasaur.”
In that climate, it is perhaps unsurprising that the showmanlike nature of the Dumb Money livestream lead many viewers to suspect that the whole deal was a stunt, with some pointing out that the $375,000 cash was never actually shown on camera. “Biggest scam of 2020!” said one. “The hype train has derailed!” said another.
Both parties emphatically dismiss those suspicions. “Absolutely not,” Camillo said. “I guess in the YouTube world anything is possible, but I have footage of me going to the bank, taking the money out, there absolutely was $375,000 cash in that case.” He later sent the Guardian a picture and video of the money before posting them on Twitter.
Greenbaum, for his part, pointed out that there was little obvious upside for his business in such a scam. “The amount of clout and respect I’m going to take a hit for selling a box that turns out to be fake, it’s going to be massive,” he said. He promised that he and his partners would secure a new box and get it to Camillo within days. “I don’t want exposure like this, it’s the last thing I want,” he said. “This is my reputation.”
This article was amended on 28 October 2020 to correct the spelling of Bulbasaur.