You don't need to sail to remote desert islands in an effort to find valuable booty — just head to your local superstore. While shopping for a Darkness Ablaze release at a Target in central New Jersey, Pokémon fan Gio Martin (aka "Pokémon Puller") lifted up a display shelf and discovered a 20-year-old booster pack of trading cards from the franchise's very first generation of Pocket Monsters. Depicting a Raichu — the evolved form of Pikachu — on its packaging, the cards hail from Base Set 2 (aka the fourth expansion series), which, according to Bulbapedia, was first released in February of 2000.
"I had heard a rumor from a previous Target trip that people were finding vintage packs underneath the shelves, but nothing as old as the Base Set 2 pack," Martin tells SYFY WIRE. "Earlier that week, I was at a store in northern New Jersey when a kid who was also searching for cards found a Diamond & Pearl Blister and a Dragons Exhalted Blister using the same 'under the shelf method.' After seeing how successful the kid was, I went searching that same day and found a Black & White — Legendary Treasures Blister Pack."
That, of course, was only a taste of the Base Set 2 bounty that what was to come later that same week. Immediately after unearthing the early 2000s artifact, Martin documented his incredible find in a short Instagram video, where he proves its authenticity. In it, he pulls up a bottom Target shelf to reveal a collection of accumulated filth and a grimy rectangle where the cards had presumably sat for two decades next to a Speedo tag and other miscellaneous debris.
"In my Instagram video, you can see I literally peeled this pack off of the ground out of a potential two-decade-old pile of floor wax and what seemed to be animal feces," Martin adds. He later explains that the employee in charge of stocking Pokémon products at the store allowed him to walk away with the prize for a cool $4.99. "I was HAPPY to pay [it]."
Be warned: the following video will give any person who grew up in the late '90s/early 2000s a rush of nostalgia that goes well beyond the recommended daily dose.
After being stuck to the ground for so long, Martin's newly discovered pack "slightly ripped open" at one of the top corners. Whether he'll open it to see the contents within remains up in the air for now.
"Even if I clean it, it can no longer be considered near mint or better," he says. "I actually do a lot of Pokémon card openings on my Instagram live account and I've thought about opening it up for my followers and the rest of the world to see. I've also thought about cleaning it and weighing it to know whether or not it'd be worth opening it to potentially get a holo. I would hate to open it and ruin it further if there was nothing good inside, but the nostalgia of opening packs this old is enough to make me want to try and see. I'll definitely be making an announcement on my Instagram account within the next couple of weeks as to what will happen with this pack for sure."
If you're looking to get your hands on an original Base Set 2 pack (or several), you won't have to bankrupt yourself, but it won't be a cheap investment, either.
The Raichu-themed one, for example, is currently going for $51 on eBay. Beyond that, prices vary for the other three packs in the expansion series: One bearing a Mewtwo is up for $31; another showing a Gyarados is going for $54; and a third displaying a Pidgeotto will cost you $86. On other sites, price points are as high as $130 - $150. Should you decide to go all out, a factory-sealed retailer box of Base Set 2 packs can set you back as much as $8,000 on eBay.
And that's not even getting into individual cards, like the rare and holographic Venusaur, Blastoise, and Charizard prints that were elusive Holy Grails, but must-haves for any aspiring collector at the time.