PSA Set Registry
Collecting the 2002 Pokémon Neo Destiny 1st Edition Set
A "Shining" Example of a Great Pokémon Set
by Kevin Glew
It's a highly coveted set of firsts and lasts.
The 2002 Pokémon Neo Destiny 1st Edition set is the first - and only - offering to highlight Light Pokémon, which counterbalanced the more aggressive Dark Pokémon in game play.
It was also the first issue to boast rare and valuable Shining cards with a design that presented only the Pokémon (and not the background) in foil material in the artwork.
"It's the only set with that type of holo pattern, besides the recently released  Shining Legends set," noted Zack Browning, who has assembled the No. 2 Current Finest, 2002 Pokémon Neo Destiny 1st Edition set on the PSA Set Registry.
This is also the last Pokémon set to showcase the 1st Edition logo and the final of the four Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) Neo sets.
"It's the pinnacle of the Neo sets," said Browning. "From all sets up until Neo Destiny, I would say it's the second-best set after the [1999 1st Edition] Base set. You can't beat the value and the overall perception of the Base set, but when it comes to Neo Destiny, it's the artwork, the attention to detail, and the Shining Pokémon that draw you in ... There are so many factors that say this is an amazing set."
Well-known Pokémon trading card expert Scott Pratte also raves about this issue.
"It's for sure in the top five of Pokémon sets," said Pratte, "and I would say that's being very conservative. I mean for me, it's top three."
So given its lofty status, it's fitting that at 113 cards (105 base cards plus eight Shining cards), it's the largest of the four Neo sets.
Similar to the other releases, this issue leads off with 16 holographic singles. In all, this set is comprised of five different levels of cards (if you include the Shining cards) that are generally grouped together throughout the series (see accompanying chart).
Like the cards in the previous Neo sets, these cards boast yellow borders with the name and HP at the top above the artwork. The 1st Edition stamp (Edition 1) and the Pokémon's vitals (type, length, weight) ensue, followed by the Trading Card Game information. The Weakness, Resistance, and Retreat Cost can be found at the bottom.
Pratte adds that this is the last offering to showcase the original Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) design.
"This was the last of that old style [design], and there are a lot of people that only collect the old-style cards," noted Pratte.
Browning appreciates the artwork on these cards.
"The artwork [on the Neo Destiny cards] is very aggressive," he said. "The Pokémon are in attack mode, and of the first 16 [holo cards], there are really only one or two that aren't in attack mode."
The set symbol, which is showcased to the lower right of the artwork, is a blue sparkle above a white sparkle. Some believe that this was designed to illustrate the clash between the Dark Pokémon (blue) and the Light Pokémon (white) in the series.
Released on February 28, 2002, the Neo Destiny 1st Edition cards were available in 11-card booster packs that consisted of seven common cards, three uncommon cards, and one rare card. Regular holographic cards were inserted in approximately one of every three packs. Browning says collectors can generally expect to pull one to three Shining cards per box.
There are four Neo Destiny 1st Edition pack wrappers each highlighting a different Pokémon, either Togetic, Tyranitar, Noctowl, and Celebi. There are 36 packs in each booster box. The 1st Edition packs and booster boxes are marked with the "Edition 1" stamp.
Another "unlimited" version of the Neo Destiny cards was manufactured in much higher quantities and is 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.
Unopened Neo Destiny 1st Edition booster boxes and packs are in high demand.
"This is the hardest of the Neo sets to find period," said Pratte. "Judging by the second-hand market, I would say that Neo Destiny is the scarcest of all of the Neo sets."
Browning says an unopened booster box of Neo Destiny 1st Edition cards is likely to fetch $4,500 in today's market, while a single booster pack will probably garner between $75 and $100.
Browning and Pratte say most of the 16 holographic cards at the beginning of this set are very desirable. They both cite the Dark Espeon (#4) as one of the most coveted.
Pratte points out that Espeon is an Eeveelution card. Eevee is a popular, little dog-type Pokémon that can evolve into Espeon or Umbreon.
"Any cards that evolve from Eevee are going to be very collectible," said Pratte. "There's a whole subgroup of people that just collect anything Eevee. There are people out there that get every Eeveelution card no matter what it is."
Of the 102 Dark Espeon cards submitted, there have been 23 PSA GEM-MT 10s, one of which sold for $710 on eBay in December 2017.
Browning says the Dark Tyranitar holo (#11) is also in high demand. This card features the dinosaur-like monster in attack mode with its mouth open against a red and black background. There are 30 PSA 10s and one was being offered for $308 on eBay in January 2018.
The Light Arcanine single (#12), which follows the Dark Tyranitar in the set, is also sought after. The artwork on this card is in sharp contrast to the Dark Tyranitar. It pictures Arcanine, a fluffy dog-like Pokémon, against a colorful background that incorporates purple, red, and pink.
Browning points out that the Light Togetic (#15) has the lowest PSA 10 population (19) of the holographic cards and that it will likely command a premium as a result.
But the eight Shining cards in this series are the main reason collectors are willing to shell out big bucks for unopened booster boxes. Some collectors solely pursue the Shining cards and like to amass them, as well as the two from the Neo Revelation 1st Edition series, as a 10-card subset.
"The Shining cards are kind of like their own subset," said Pratte. "Ten cards doesn't sound like that many, but it's pretty challenging to collect them all, especially if you want them in high grade."
Not surprisingly, the Shining Charizard (#107) is the most valuable.
"It's one of the marquee cards," said Pratte. "I would say it's one of the top five Charizard cards out there in the hobby, especially from the Wizards of the Coast era."
Of the 313 evaluated, there have been 138 PSA 10s. One PSA 10 garnered $2,000 on eBay in December 2017.
Browning and Pratte add that the Shining Mewtwo (#109) also generates a premium. Pratte notes that Mewtwo is "one of the most powerful Pokémon in the franchise." It's a bipedal creature that boasts both human and feline features. The image on this single presents a glowing Mewtwo in attack mode.
"In my opinion, that should be a $1,000 card [in PSA 10], if it's not already," added Browning.
Of the 193 submitted, there have been 93 PSA 10s.
Browning and Pratte also cite the Shining Raichu (#111) as another key to this series. This cute rodent-like Pokémon evolves from the very popular Pikachu. There are 95 PSA 10s.
If you look closely, you'll also notice several errors in this offering. For example, on the Dark Exeggutor card (#33), you'll notice that a "c" is mistakenly included in the word "Exeggutor" and that the word "just" is misspelled "hust" in the flavor text at the bottom of the Shining Tyranitar card (#113).
Neo Destiny 1st Edition cards are not easy to uncover in gem-mint condition.
"The No. 1 hurdle with this set, bar none, is going to be the silvering on the right-hand border of the cards," said Browning. "As I was submitting these cards over and over again, these cards were getting PSA [NM-MT] 8s right out of the packs and that's because there was thick silver on the right-hand borders on many of the cards."
Pratte says he also sees scratches on the holographic material and whitening on the back borders.
"On the Neo era cards, you really see a lot more of the holo scratches than any previous WOTC era," noted Pratte.
This is one of the key reasons that high-grade Neo Destiny 1st Edition cards are so highly pursued.
"In general, this set has been going up with the market, but I will say that probably three or four years ago, this was the first set to make the big jump as far as price goes," said Browning.
And he expects prices for high-grade Neo Destiny 1st Edition cards to strengthen over time.
"It will always be looked at as one of the best sets from Wizards of the Coast," said Browning. "It rounds out the Neo era. It's the last set with [the] 1st Edition [stamp]. It's the last set in that original card format. It has Dark Pokémon. It has Light Pokémon. It has consistent sales that are well above other sets, and it's just a beautiful set."
Pratte offers a similar assessment.
"What it is now is what I imagine it will be moving forward," he said. "This is one of the top five sets ever out of all the Pokémon sets, and I think that is going to be even more true as time goes on. I believe it's status is already set in stone."
For more information on 2002 Pokémon Neo Destiny 1st Edition gaming cards, please visit https://www.psacard.com/cardfacts/non-sports-cards/2002-nintendo-pokemon-neo-destiny/32722.
Please feel free to contact Kevin Glew at [email protected] if you have any additional information or comments. Please note that the Population Report figures quoted and Set Registry rankings reported are those as of February 2018.