Pokémon TCG fan group PokéBeach Guaranteed pretty good find. It’s an internal video from The Pokémon Company that shows, in unprecedented detail, exactly how a Western Pokémon card is made, from initial design to inspection and printing. And if you love factory shots of mass-produced items, you’re in for a treat.
This internal video appears to have been created for employees at both The Pokémon Company International and Millennium Print Group — the card maker The Pokémon Company announced its intent to buy earlier this year. My guess is it was filmed around 2017, with the films featured throughout are Sun MoonSuper prism and forbidden light. In the film, the company details the process of creating a new set of Pokémon cards, from the text list of names and moves that the Japanese card makers send them, to the physical packs on them. everyone’s hand.
There is something extraordinary about seeing blank cards on a computer screen, with their attributes entered, right on the card. It seems like something that can only be done by a wizard living in a volcano, rather than a team that diligently pre-checks each card for errors on their screens. But it only gets more dramatic as the video goes on.
Those textured cards (always the easiest gift for fakes) are so complicated to create! Every ripple and line appears to be meticulously computer-generated, matching the orientation and pattern to specific parts of each Pokémon’s body, and then as they spread to the rest of the card.
There’s just so much detail in here, and such insight into how a set gets translated and constructed for the English-speaking markets. There are countless versions of the Ultra Prism logo design scrolled through, seen from its original sketched phase to the final packaging. You can see how many people are involved in every single step, different voices chiming in on messages asking for tiny tweaks, or how a particular design can receive OKs from most, but still get rejected by one department. Above you can see a possible list of rejected names before “Ultra Prism” was decided upon, although it does look heavily staged for the shot. Still, we can all lament we never saw Ultra Galactic.
Then comes the printing, and oh boy it’s so satisfying to watch. Not just the impossibly huge sheets of the rarest cards being fed into giant chopping machines, but the intricacy with which they are checked at ever stage. They even have a special little metal stick for measuring the borders on the cards. (Surely something anyone who’s lost out on a grade 10 due to “centering” can only become enraged at.)
It even goes into details about the TCGO code cards, and how those QR codes are checked. But sadly doesn’t get into why the hell they reveal whether a pack will contain a good pull or not.
Sadly, the one thing it doesn’t give away is how the selection of cards that enters a booster pack is done. It does show the giant machines that do the job, but there’s no explanation of how it all works.
There are a ton of fun numbers, too. TCPi’s production facilities in Durham, NC, produce 26.62 million cards per day, on a 120-foot-long printing press that cost $8.5 million. Meanwhile, 2.5 million packages are produced a day to put them in. And a good job too, given there are 10 per pack.
Oh, and we must not forget the full-on Raiders of the Lost Ark vibes of the warehouse where the packed cards are stored. Every single one of those larger boxes contains (by my observation) 72 packs of six booster boxes. The camera pans to reveal this is just half the warehouse. By guesstimating, I’m seeing around 2,000 of those larger boxes. At around $140 a booster box, we’re looking at $120 million of Pokémon cards. Yikes. Who else has an idea for a heist movie?
What a fantastic insight, and let’s hope Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have the sense to realize it’s one well-worth being left online to promote their product.