Pokemon TCG fansites PokéBeach secured quite a find. It’s an internal video from The Pokémon Company that shows in never-before-seen detail exactly how a Western Pokémon card is made, from their initial design to proofing and printing. And if you like those factory shots of mass-produced items, you’re in for a treat.
This internal video was apparently created for employees of The Pokémon Company International and Millennium Print Group — the card maker The Pokémon Company announced its intention to purchase earlier this year. My guess is that it was filmed around 2017, given the backdrops shown here Sun MoonUltra Prism and Forbidden Light. In the film, the company details the process of how a new set of Pokémon cards is created, from the text-based lists of names and moves sent to them by Japanese card manufacturers, to the physical packs in people’s hands.
Seeing blank cards on a computer screen with their properties written directly onto the card is something special. It feels like something that should only be possible for a wizard who lives in a volcano, rather than a diligent team forensically checking every card for errors on their monitors. But it only gets more impressive as the video goes on.
These textured cards (always the easiest gift for crappy fakes) are so intricately intricate to create! Each squiggle and line appears to be carefully laid out in the computer, with the direction and pattern corresponding to specific parts of each Pokémon’s body and then spreading out into the rest of the card.
There is so much detail and insight into how the kit is translated and constructed for English speaking markets. They exist countless Versions of the Ultra Prism logo design went through, from the initial sketch stage to the final packaging. You can see how many people are involved in each individual step, different voices responding to messages asking for small improvements, or how a particular proposal may receive the OK from the majority but still be rejected by one department. Above you can see a possible list of rejected names before “Ultra Prism” was decided upon, though it looks heavily staged for the shot. Still, we can all lament that we’ve never seen Ultra Galactic.
Then comes the press and oh boy is it so satisfying to watch. Not only the impossibly huge sheets of the rarest cards that are fed into the giant shredders, but also the intricacy with which they are controlled at each stage. They even have a special little metal stick to measure the borders on the cards. (Definitely something that anyone who lost 10th grade to “centering” can only be angry about.)
It even goes into detail about TCGO code cards and how these QR codes are checked. But unfortunately it won’t fit why the hell are they revealing if the deck will contain a good move or not.
Unfortunately, the one thing they won’t reveal is how the cards that go into the booster pack are selected. It shows giant machines doing the job, but there’s no explanation of how it all works.
There are also lots of fun numbers. TCPi’s manufacturing facilities in Durham, North Carolina, will produce 26.62 million cards a day on a 36.58m long press costing $US8.5 million ($12 million). Meanwhile, 2.5 million packages are produced daily to be inserted. And good job too because there are 10 to the pack.
Oh, and let’s not forget full-on Raiders of the Lost Ark the vibration of the warehouse where the wrapped cards are stored. Each one of the larger boxes contains (by my observation) 72 packs of six booster boxes. The camera pans to reveal that it’s only half of the warehouse. I estimate I see about 2000 of the larger boxes. At around US$140 (US$194) per booster box, we’re looking at US$120 (US$167) million Pokemon cards. Yuck. Who else has an idea for a heist movie?
That’s a fantastic sight, and hopefully Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have the sense to realize that it’s worth staying online and promoting their product.