Collecting Pokemon: The Hidden Gems - Build-a-Bear Promos
It’s time for another installment of Hidden Gems, the series that examines cheap, but relatively underappreciated niche collections in the Pokemon TCG. For today’s installment, we’re building our card collections by building stuffed animals at the Build-a-Bear workshop.
For those unaware, the Build-a-Bear Workshop is a U.S. based toy retailer that primarily sells stuffed animals. The chain is unique in that it focuses on customization, granting patrons creative control to design and fully customize their own furry friends for purchase. This focus is a natural fit with the deep customization at the core of the Pokemon franchise, and in December 2015, a partnership between the Pokemon Company and Build-a-Bear was formed when the companies announced the launch of “Build-a-Bear presents Pokemon”, an initiative that allowed Build-a-Bear patrons to design their own Pokemon stuffed animals and purchase related costumes and accessories. At first, only Pikachu was available for purchase, but over the last few years, the offerings have expanded to include a total of eight different Pokemon plushies, including Eevee, Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Vulpix, Meowth, and Jigglypuff.
My wife’s Charmander and Jigglypuff Build-a-Bear plushies. Charmander is sporting a fashionable Pokemon Hoodie while Jigglypuff seems to be wearing a refreshing riff on Ruby Rhod’s outfit from the Fifth Element
While that’s all well and good, this is an article series that examines Pokemon cards, not Pokemon plushies, so it is critical to note that when one purchases a particular Pokemon stuffed animal from Build-a-Bear, the stuffed animal is packaged with a special “Build-a-Bear Workshop” stamped Pokemon TCG promo card matching the purchased toy. In other words, if you create your own Pikachu plushie, you will receive a copy of the Pikachu promo card and not any of the other 7 Build-a-Bear promos. As for the cards themselves, they are reprints from a variety of expansions:
Pikachu – Roaring Skies
Charmander – Legendary Treasures
Eevee – Ancient Origins
Squirtle – Plasma Blast
Bulbasaur – Dark Explorers
Vulpix – Primal Clash
Meowth – Roaring Skies
Jigglypuff – Crimson Invasion
The eight Build-a-Bear Workshop promos
Nearly all of these promos, with the exception of Jigglypuff (the most recent Build-a-Bear release), are from sets that are now very old. The most interesting of which is Bulbasaur, a reprint from Dark Explorers. The Build-a-Bear Bulbasaur hit store shelves in November 2017, but the card packaged with the figure was first released way back in May 2012! The five and a half year gap seems surprising, but there is actually a fair reason for the discrepancy. Before October 2017’s Shining Legends expansion, Dark Explorers was the last time Bulbasaur was printed in the TCG. If I had to speculate, my guess is that Build-a-Bear had already started production of the figure and the card long before the official October release of Shining Legends, and the cost of updating the card after already starting production was too high. But again, that’s purely speculation on my part.
Given that this is a Hidden Gems article, we need to discuss cost. The stuffed animals typically cost around $50-60 to create and purchase and there is no other official way to obtain the cards other than by purchasing a Pokemon Build-a-Bear plushie. So, if you wanted to acquire the complete set from the source, you would need to pay around $400 for all 8 stuffed animals and cards. That is obviously very steep for a low-cost collection niche, but if you are less interested in the toys and more interested in the cards, they can be purchased on the secondary market for a fraction of that price, typically less than $20 a piece on eBay.
What are your thoughts on the Build-a-Bear promo cards? Have you purchased any for your collection? What are the Hidden Gems in your collection? 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/
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