Pokemon Availability in the U.K.


 I know you get asked questions in Mew’s News so I thought you might know the answer to this one. Why is it that the UK are always lagging behind in the WOTC release schedule? It may seem unbelievable to US residents, but here in the UK, where Pokemon is just as popular as everywhere else, WOTC has only released Base Set and Jungle! Fossil is not due until the end of June, and there is no news on Team Rocket. This seems ridiculous as everyone here reads Pojo’s and lots of people keep up to date on the internet with the latest cards.

I simply cannot see what the economic justification for this is with WOTC; they have the manufacturing and distribution capability to produce enough cards for simultaneous worldwide release; they’re not some back street operation after all...and if for some reason they only have enough Fossil or Rocket cards for the US, then how are they dealing with the drain on US stocks that comes from the thousands of booster packs of cards that are imported into the UK every day on the grey market without WOTC’s approval?

Of course it could be a little like film releases, where Hollywood says that the US get their films released first. Everyone else has to wait, ostensibly so the studios can get their marketing and merchandising in place, one country or continent at a time, as if they haven’t the resources to handle a worldwide campaign. Unfortunately for WOTC, Pokemon is a worldwide phenomenon, not a film whose release can be delayed. We now live in a smaller world, where imports can be arranged over the internet, distributors and wholesalers have contacts in every country, and every fan and collector knows what’s up in the world of Pokemon.

It makes me laugh when I see the ad from WOTC in the back of the UK issue of Pojo’s; we’re into June and their ad is showing their ‘latest’ set, Jungle! Do they really believe that children in the UK are still trying to complete Jungle sets? Of course they aren’t! They’re all onto imported Fossil and Team Rocket cards which they have to pay over the odds for because it is the children who are covering the grey importers’ costs. And to be honest, who can blame the kids for wanting the latest cards that they hear about everywhere and see in magazines? If WOTC think they are protecting their product by not releasing in the UK until months after US releases, they are just kidding themselves. I am a grown-up and a collector of all sorts of things, and I can honestly say I have never seen such a huge grey market in operation in this country before. No-one is buying the official WOTC releases. Everyone is buying imported Team Rocket cards, and they are everywhere: every town has a shop selling them on the side. Even Fossils are old news, and how does this bode for WOTC when they do get round to favouring the UK with a proper release? They will get a rude awakening and find that their market has collapsed. After retailers order their first box and find that they aren’t selling, do you think UK Fossil cards will be flying out of the distributors’ warehouses? 

At the end of the day, for me this unbalanced situation results in a few inconveniences. I might have to go to one particular shop to get the latest cards, rather than the shop down the road. I have to pay up to double the usual price  - instead of £2.50 ($4) for a pack of Jungles, I have to pay around £5.00 ($8) for a pack of Rockets. This is OK for me, I am adult, I have a job, I can afford to travel around to get what I need, I can afford to pay these prices. For the kids I see every day (I am a school teacher) it’s a different story. They are spending all their pocket money just to buy one Rocket booster pack. How do you think they feel if they can’t afford the imports that everyone else has and can only afford the ‘official’ Base or Jungle cards? Who wants to do swaps with them? Who wants to look at what they’ve got? Answer: no-one - Jungle and Base Set are old hat.

WOTC need to do some hard thinking. They don’t seem to have a handle on the UK situation at all. I hope this is a wake-up call for them! Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know it’s a bit long but I’d be interested in your opinions on this and maybe some coverage on Pojo’s website. Thanks,

Nick Read