How to Catch 'Em All: Toys 'R' Us Promos
As a child I did not particularly enjoy shopping with my parents. The whole process was not unlike transporting an inmate between prison complexes. My parents would march me out of the house and into the car where we would depart for the destination of my sentence. Would it be solitary confinement in the hardware store? Perhaps hard labor at Jewel Osco? Or, worst of all, the furniture store: the Siberian wasteland of childhood where time itself crawls to a stop as your parents spend one eternity after another looking at discount sofas. But not all shopping excursions were sentences. There were a few stores that shone as bright oases in the desert of chores. These were the toy stores. Places of wonderment and reward where a kid’s imagination was limited only by his parent’s wallet. Looking through the aisles, you felt like anything was possible.
There are a few toy stores that stand out in my memory as being particularly special: KB Toys, Zany Brainy, and of course, the holy mecca of childhood shopping: Toys ‘R’ Us. As a child, no store was more revered or beloved than Toys ‘R’ Us. It was such a memorable part of childhood that it is no surprise that even adults are saddened by the news that, after 70 years, the company is shutting its doors for good.
Toys ‘R’ Us was not just a place for toys, but also a place for cards, and over the years there have been a number of exclusive promotional releases for the Pokemon TCG that could only be obtained in the lair of Geoffrey the Giraffe. So, to celebrate the legacy of Toys ‘R’ Us, let’s take a look at a few of the Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive Pokemon TCG releases in North America.
20th Anniversary Promos
Perhaps the most well known of the Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive promos, these cards were released in 2016 to celebrate Pokemon’s 20th anniversary. The first two cards, Pikachu and Magikarp, were released on February 27, 2016, while additional cards were released each month thereafter. The set consists of a total of 8 holographic cards from the Generations expansion. Each of these cards can be identified by a “Toys ‘R’ Us” stamp in the bottom right corner of the card’s artwork. Some of these cards (Tangela, Ponyta, Slowpoke, and Geodude) were only available in Canadian Toys ‘R’ Us stores, while the remaining cards were available in both the US and Canada.
20th Anniversary Promos from Toys ‘R’ Us. Note that the Pikachu in the bottom right is from the European “GAME” release and bears a different stamp
Black & White Mystery Promos
Released in April of 2011 during the Black and White era of the TCG, this lesser known TCG product was tied to a special video game distribution that was also available exclusively at Toys ‘R’ Us. In the video game promotion, players would receive a Pokemon egg containing either Pansage, Pidove or Axew. Similarly, the Mystery Packs contained two boosters from the Black and White expansion and one mystery black star promo of either Pansage (BW 14), Pidove (BW 15) or Axew (BW 16). The cards were released with little fanfare at the time and today, these promos can sell for around $20 a piece on the secondary market.
Crystal Trainer Set
Even more obscure than the Black & White Mystery promos, this little known product was released in September 2006. The Crystal Trainer Set contained one of three theme decks from ex Crystal Guardians and two original ex era booster packs. Most notably, the product contained a holographic version of Blastoise from POP Series 3, which was otherwise only obtainable as a non-holographic card.
Blastoise from POP series 3
Set Release Promos
Beginning with the Evolutions expansion, Toys ‘R’ Us has released special “Toys ‘R’ Us” stamped promotional cards to coincide with the release of new Pokemon TCG expansions. The cards released to date include the following:
Charmander – Evolutions
Electabuzz – Evolutions
Cosmog – Sun and Moon
Alolan Vulpix – Guardians Rising
Stufful – Burning Shadows
Jangmo-o – Crimson Invasion
Piplup – Ultra Prism
What are your memories of Toys ‘R’ Us? Share them 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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