PSA Set Registry
Collecting the 1999 Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition Card Set
Pokémon Expands to the Jungle
by Kevin Glew
Welcome to the jungle - the Pokémon jungle that is.
And while there are no cards devoted to Axl Rose or Slash in the 1999 Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition series, this set certainly offers its share of "fun and games" and is considered one of the essential early Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) sets.
"With Pokémon, the main sets people are going to pursue are the 1999 Base [Complete 1st Edition], Jungle, and Fossil sets because you need Base, Jungle, and Fossil to complete the original Pokédex," explained Scott Pratte, a well-known Pokémon trading card expert.
The original Pokédex refers to the 151 Pokémon characters deemed first generation Pokémon.
"The Base set [1999 Complete 1st Edition] really only covered about a third of the original Pokédex," noted Pratte. "There were a number of species that were not covered in the Base set, so what's exciting about the Jungle set is that it's the first time you'll see a lot of the Pokémon [characters] on a card. These are like their rookie cards."
The 64 cards in the Jungle 1st Edition series boast yellow borders with the Pokémon's name and HP at the top above the artwork. The 1st Edition stamp (Edition 1), the Pokémon's vitals (type, length, weight) ensue, followed by the Trading Card Game information. A sentence describing the Pokémon's special abilities can be found on the lower portion above the copyright data.
"The artwork is excellent," said Tim Hall, who owns the 1999 Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition set in PSA GEM-MT 10 grade. "Compared to the other 1999 sets, the Jungle cards had much more color in the holographic background, so they popped more."
Pratte also favors the artwork.
"The Jungle set has a great vibe," he said. "And that's because the artwork was done by a lot of different artists. They just have a different coloration and a lot of collectors really value that. Also, I think it really delivers on the jungle theme. The set has a very strong identity due to its artwork. When I see a Jungle card, I know right away that it's a Jungle card without looking at the symbol. The cards are very vibrant."
The Jungle cards can be differentiated from other 1999 Pokémon issues by their set symbol, which resembles the Vileplume Pokémon, that's located under the right part of the artwork (on the opposite side of the "Edition 1" stamp).
The card backs flaunt the Pokémon name and branding and have blue borders.
This set offers four different levels of cards that are sequenced in descending order by rarity (see accompanying chart).
The 1999 Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition series was the first offering to feature holographic rare cards (#1 to #16), as well as a second subseries featuring the same Pokémon in non-holographic form (#17 to #32). This became standard for ensuing English sets.
Reports indicate that the Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition cards were originally slated to be released in August 1999, but the release date was bumped up to June 16, 1999, when WOTC learned that Topps was unveiling Pokémon cards earlier that summer. The cards were available in 11-card booster packs that consisted of seven common cards, three uncommon cards, and one rare card. Holographic cards were inserted in approximately one of every three packs.
There were three different pack wrappers for Jungle 1st Edition cards that highlighted different Pokémon - Scyther, Wigglytuff, and Flareon.
"People typically collect these packs today for the historical aspect, and they usually like to get one of each artwork," noted Pratte.
There were 36 packs in each booster box. The 1st Edition packs and booster boxes are clearly marked with the "Edition 1" stamp. But while the Jungle 1st Edition cards are tough to track down today, it should be noted that another "unlimited" version of these cards was produced in much higher quantities and is far less valuable. The "unlimited" cards do not have the small circular black stamp on the left (that says "Edition 1") below the character box on the front.
Information on Bulbapedia, an online Pokémon encyclopedia, indicates that the Jungle 1st Edition cards sold out within two weeks of their release. The quantity of Jungle 1st Edition cards produced has not been revealed, and though these are tough to track down, Pratte says they were distributed more widely than 1999 Base [Complete 1st Edition] cards.
"The packs were more readily available to a larger part of the country," said Pratte. "So I would definitely say that the Jungle set is not as scarce as the 1st Edition Base issue."
Unopened Jungle 1st Edition packs and booster boxes have become increasingly difficult to track down.
"The baseline price for an unopened booster box would be $1,000," said Pratte. "I would say $1,000 is a very, very conservative estimate."
There's no Charizard in this set, but several other popular Pokémon make their cardboard debuts.
"If you had to select a 'Big Three' for the Jungle set, it would probably be Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon because they're Eevee Pokémon," noted Pratte.
Eevee is a popular, little dog-type Pokémon that can evolve into Flareon, Jolteon, or Vapereon.
"Any card that's related to Eevee usually has its own group of collectors, outside of just the general collector [base]," said Pratte. "It's akin to how there are Charizard and Pikachu collectors."
Aside from its connection to Eevee, the Flareon single (#3) also boasts what many consider to be the most dazzling and colorful artwork in the set.
"It's just a really good illustration on that card," said Pratte.
Of the 339 holographic Flareon cards submitted, there have been 70 PSA GEM-MT 10s.
The Jolteon card (#4) is also highly coveted. This is a powerful Pokémon, pictured against a gold holographic background, that's capable of blasting out 10,000-volt lightning bolts. There are 72 PSA 10s and 179 PSA MINT 9s.
Hall and Pratte say the Kangaskhan (#5) is one of the toughest holographic cards to track down in PSA 10.
"The Kangaskhan is a tough one," noted Pratte. "Every set has a card that is unpredictable and ends up being difficult to obtain in high grade. In Jungle, it is Kangaskhan, and I don't know the exact reason. Generally speaking, WOTC cards cards are going to have [border] whitening or silvering [straight] from the pack, which is most likely the issue with the Kangaskhan."
Of the 286 evaluated, there have been just 33 PSA 10s.
If you compare the Electrode holographic card (#2) to its non-holographic counterpart (#18), you'll notice that the artwork is different. The holographic card has the updated artwork, while the non-holographic single boasts the Base [Complete 1st Edition] set artwork.
"The non-holographic version has the wrong artwork and there's no corrected version, so it's only printed this way," said Pratte.
The Pikachu single (#60) is one of the most coveted common cards.
"If you throw a Pikachu in any set, someone is going to pay a little bit more for it," noted Pratte.
There are 179 PSA 10s, so it's not difficult to uncover in high grade.
Bulbapedia indicates that a Pikachu promo card was also inserted into a small number of Jungle 1st Edition booster packs by mistake. This card is known as the Ivy Pikachu Black Star promo as it pictures Pikachu in front of an ivy background rather than its standard jungle background. Reports suggest that one of these cards can be found in approximately every 10 booster boxes.
Aside from the uncorrected error on the Electrode non-holographic card, the most talked-about error in the Jungle 1st Edition series appears on the Butterfree single (#33). On some examples of this card, the "Edition 1" stamp to the bottom right of the artwork looks like it says "Edition d" due to an ink bubble.
"The 'd' Edition has an additional value and it's also more difficult to obtain than the standard non-error version," said Pratte.
There are 63 PSA 10s of the "d" version.
The 1999 Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition cards were designed with rounded corners, so collectors didn't have to worry about damaging the corners. The most common condition flaw is chipping on the back blue borders. Also, the holo material on the 16 holographic cards is also often found scratched or "silvered."
"The Jungle and Fossil cards especially have that issue of 'silvering' right out of the packs," said Pratte.
The veteran hobbyist explains that "silvering" refers to the silver of the holographic layer showing through on the front border.
"It's basically the exact same issue as on the back of the card with chipping, but on the front it is considering 'silvering' because of its color," explained Pratte.
Prices for unopened 1999 Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition booster boxes have risen in recent years, as have the prices for key high-grade singles.
"The rise in value has not been exponential like Base [Complete 1st Edition], but it's definitely increasing," said Pratte. "The average price for a PSA 10, 1st Edition Jungle holographic card is probably going to be $500 or $600. It's definitely on the rise, and that's mainly because there is no [unopened] product available to potentially get a PSA 10 example."
Hall has witnessed a similar trend.
"Though the Base [Complete 1st Edition] set cards have probably seen the greatest growth in demand over the last five years, my best guess based on eBay sales history is that the Jungle cards have gone up about 20 percent a year for the last few years," said Hall.
And Hall and Pratte believe these cards will continue to rise in value in the future.
"The price dynamic for high-grade 1st Edition Pokémon cards is the same across all sets," said Hall. "There's a fixed supply of cards that isn't increasing, while the number of people who grew up with Pokémon cards and want to get ahold of them again for nostalgic reasons is growing. I think Pokémon cards are going to be more sought after in future years and this is going to push prices up even further."
Pratte offers a similar assessment.
"As with any other 1st Edition WOTC product, I think it's just going to increase in value," he said. "I don't see anything that would indicate a decline. It would be highly improbable that any new, unopened product from this series would flood the market."
For more information on the 1999 Pokémon Jungle 1st Edition gaming card set, please visit https://www.psacard.com/cardfacts/non-sports-cards/1999-nintendo-pokemon-jungle/32553.
Please feel free to contact Kevin Glew at [email protected] if you have any additional information or comments. Thank you to Scott Pratte for assisting on this article. Please note that the Population Report figures quoted and Set Registry rankings reported are those as of August 2017.