Way back in the 1990s, on February 27th, 1996, Pokémon was first released in Japan. Though the west didn’t start seeing its massive influence until well-over 2 years later, this does mean that Pokémon is turning 25 in 2021. And trust me, something big is clearly coming.
While the hype train here in the west tends to rollercoaster for the past nearly 23 years, Japan has kept a keen eye on the franchise. This is easily seen, between official prefecture mascots, painted manhole covers, and general Pokémon merchandise all over the place. When Pokémon had its 20th anniversary, several reveals, events, and celebrations were had. We saw the release of Pokémon Sun and Moon, known for putting its best Kanto / Gen 1 foot forward. Pokémon GO was released, which is still beloved by both seasoned and casual trainers alike to this day. We saw 11 Mythical Pokémon get the spotlight, across each month, starting in February. Two special trading card game sets released. Even football fans were treated to a Pokémon 20th anniversary commercial during their own 50th anniversary. 2016 was the year of Pokémon’s actual resurgence. And 20 years was a solid, rounded number to commemorate it all.
But, what does 25 years mean for Pokémon? In relationships, certain years are themed around certain types of elements and presents. Twenty-five years is known internationally as the “silver anniversary”. You could almost call it a generation 2 theme, with silver (and gold) being the actual motif. If 20 years was a celebration, a silver anniversary has the potential to be a phenomenon. I have some realistic thoughts about what we’re likely to see from Pokémon in 2021, as well as some absolutely bonkers ideas that are so far-out that I should be embarrassed I even thought of them.
This is going to be a quick mini series of articles. I plan on touching important parts of Pokémon’s history, contextualizing what is realistic and what isn’t. So, let’s start off with some merch.
Toys and merch: The realistic prediction
Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit by talking about Pokémon toys first. We’re likely to see showings from Wicked Cool Toys, Re-Ment, and all of the usual suspects. I expect to see a lot of silver-colored items. Some of these have already been clearly leaked and/or shown off, such as the silver chrome Pikachu Funko Pop, complete with 25th anniversary logo on the box.
While not generally distributed outside of Japan, Re-Ment could see new sets in 2021 based around the 25th anniversary. We’re absolutely going to see silver versions of Pokémon as plush from Wicked Cool Toys, as well as Japanese brands taking a whack at it as well for the Japanese Pokémon Center.
The Japanese Lego-like block toy, Nanoblock, has a full line of Pokémon already that keeps new items coming all the time. They did a special line based on Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow that had black-and-white “monotone” versions of the starters to commemorate the 20th Anniversary. The toys used the box art from the four original games in Japan. It’s totally plausible to see it happen again five years later. Let’s see them bring the Gen 2 starters and have Gold, Silver, and Crystal’s original box art.
Let’s dig deeper and think about some of the more recent collaborations that The Pokémon Company has had. With the “Pokémon Shirts” from Original Stitch and prior collabs with UNIQLO, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine special clothing for the 25th anniversary being made. With Swarovski making some newer Pokémon jewelry and merchandise lately, it’s not unheard of that they’d do silver and Swarovski crystals for the silver anniversary as well.
Toys and merch: The wow-that’s-unlikely prediction
Now that we talked about merchandise that will absolutely be feasible, let’s talk about what I hope we see, even though there may be no real evidence for it. I want to see some of the early merch make a comeback in some way. When it was at the height of the phenomenon around 1999 and 2000, you couldn’t go into any store without seeing Pikachu’s chubby face. With Pokémon Sword and Shield bringing us Gigantamax Pikachu as a reference to the old chonk, I want to see the roly-poly version of our mascot make a hardcore comeback. Sure, he slimmed down over the past 25 years. But, it’s time for him to emerge in a big way.
With my predictions and hopes, let’s bring Burger King back into the mix. Or, if all else fails, do it at McDonald’s. Back in the day, Burger King made its mark on Pokémon history with a ton of Pokémon toys during the early run. But, it also is where fans could find the infamous 23k gold-plated Pokémon cards. Back then, we only had 151 Pokémon to worry about (plus Togepi), while they’ve added a handful more since. Based on the promos that have been randomly stuck into Vivid Voltage booster packs across the world, McDonald’s is likely to take up the mantle instead, with a line of toys that come with cards. They’ve been the go-to for years now. But, let’s reference the long history with some new gold cards as well. Do it, you cowards.
Alright, so it’s always fun to talk about what may come and speculate about the future. Follow along over the next week and I’ll be talking about what I hope to see come to the Pokémon games over the next year. Then, I plan to finish off with a discussion on the Trading Card Game and anything else I may have missed!
What are your predictions? We’d love to read them in the comments below or on social media! Don’t forget to enter PokéJungle’s January giveaway as well.