GX Ultra Shiny Japanese Pokemon Set Review

January 14, 2019

As we look ahead to an exciting year of Pokemon TCG releases in 2019, I wanted to take some time to look back at a recently released record breaking set that hasn’t gotten the coverage it deserves among Western collectors: the Japanese exclusive GX Ultra Shiny booster expansion.

GX Ultra Shiny Booster Box

Released in Japan on November 2, 2018, GX Ultra Shiny is another premium booster expansion in the same vein as The Best of XY and GX Battle Boost, containing reprints of some of the best cards of the previous expansions with a focus on shiny Pokemon and Pokemon GX. Like its predecessors, GX Ultra Shiny includes reverse foil cards (which, while standard in the West, are not usually featured in Japanese booster sets) as well as new artwork for a number previously released premium cards.

GX Ultra Shiny is massive, weighing in at a whopping 250 total cards in the standard set, and 375 cards in the master set. This is the largest set ever released in any language, dwarfing even Lost Thunder, the current English record holder for largest expansion. Completing this set promises to be extremely difficult. How difficult? To answer this question, I ordered and opened 15 booster boxes of the expansion and chronicled my pulls. Before getting into the data, let’s go over the basics.

15 Booster Boxes of GX Ultra Shiny. My thanks to Delibird for this lovely holiday bounty

First, each booster box of the expansion contains only 10 booster packs. Each booster pack, in turn, contains 10 total cards and sells for a higher than normal suggested retail price of 500 yen to account for the “premium” nature of the product. The typical booster pack contains 2 foil cards, 1 standard Pokemon GX, and 1 reverse holo card, along with 6 additional non-foil cards. Like GX Battle Boost and Best of XY before it, most of the cards in this expansion do not contain a rarity symbol, only premium cards show a rarity designation. These include:

Standard Pokemon GX – RR

Prism Stars (which replace one of the two foil cards in their packs) - PR

Shiny Pokemon (which replace the reverse holo) – S

Shiny Pokemon GX (which replace the Standard Pokemon GX) – SSR

Super Rare cards (which replace the reverse holo) – SR

Ultra Rare cards (which also replace the reverse holo) – UR

It is therefore possible, albeit extremely unlikely, to open a single pack containing a PR, SSR and UR card. This did not happen to me, but I did come close with a pack containing both the SSR Mewtwo and the Ultra Rare Solgaleo GX, so a “god pack” containing SSR Shiny Charizard GX, UR Tapu Lele GX and a prism star is technically possible.

Turning to the data from my own pulls, in 15 booster boxes, I opened a total of 150 booster packs with the following pulls:

Reverse Holos – 120 – 8 per booster box in all 15 boxes.

Foils – 276 – 18.4 per booster box.

Standard Pokemon GX – 162 – 9 per booster box in all 15 boxes.

Prism Stars – 24 – 1.6 per booster box.

Shiny Pokemon – 21 – 1.4 per booster box.

Shiny Pokemon GX – 15 – 1 per booster box in all 15 boxes.

Super Rare – 7 - 0.467 per booster box.

Ultra Rare – 2 – 0.133 per booster box.

While the pull rates for certain rarity designations were extremely consistent (e.g., every single box contained 8 Reverse Holos, 9 Standard GXs, and 1 Shiny GX), others had some variance (Shiny Pokemon, Ultra Rares, Super Rares and Prism Stars). That being said, even among the inconsistent rarities, there were some patterns. Every booster box contained either 2 Shiny Pokemon or 1 Shiny Pokemon and either a Super Rare or Ultra Rare, leading me to believe that Super Rares and Ultra Rares take the place of a Shiny rarity card in their booster boxes. As a result, if you are considering buying your own booster box of this expansion, don’t expect to receive 2 Shiny Pokemon, you might only receive 1 and either a Super Rare or Ultra Rare card in place of the second.

With these totals in mind, how close did I get to completing the set? The answer is, unfortunately, not very close. In addition to being the largest set ever released, GX Ultra Shiny has the highest number of premium cards by an enormous margin. There are a total of 10 Super Rares, 45 Shiny cards, 38 Shiny GX cards, 7 Ultra Rare cards, 6 Prism Star, and 19 Standard GX's. After 15 booster boxes, I am still missing the following: 4 Super Rares, 29 Shiny cards, 25 Shiny GX, 5 Ultra Rares, 1 Prism Star and fortunately 0 Standard GX's.

Let that sink in for a moment, even after 15 booster boxes, I am still missing 25 25 Shiny GX, meaning I would need to buy, at the very least, 25 MORE booster boxes to complete just the Shiny GX's, assuming I received NO duplicates. This is the ultimate progression of Rarity Inflation and it frankly doesn’t make sense to buy more than 1 or 2 booster boxes of this set, even if you are a die-hard collector. Stick to buying singles of the cards you really want as the odds of you collecting the complete set via booster packs is extremely small and will require a small fortune.

That being said, this is still an amazing set. The artwork on the new Shiny Pokemon cards is absolutely gorgeous, and the unique foil patterns on the Ultra Rare cards, as well as the Shiny Pokemon GX is remarkable.

It is definitely worth looking into this set, but completing it presents a serious financial burden that will be difficult to handle for all but the most die-hard and wealthy collectors.

What are your thoughts on GX Ultra Shiny? Let me know in the comments below.

Thecardpletionist has been collecting Pokemon TCG cards since the game’s English release in 1999. You can read more from the author at http://thecardpletionist.blogspot.com/ and follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/thecardpletionist/