Pokemon's 25th anniversary has had some huge releases. In the games we had New Pokemon Snap and Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, and it's been a big year for the Pokemon TCG, too. Chock full of great expansions like Evolving Skies, Fusion Strike, and Celebrations, 2021 is an easy contender as being one of the best years the game's ever had.
With so many releases and so many cards, which you may be curious as to which ones in mass print were the most valuable. To work that out, we're using TCGPlayer's market pricing for cards from Shining Fates (including its Shiny Vault), Battle Styles, Chilling Reign, Evolving Skies, Fusion Strike, Celebrations (and the Classic Collection), the McDonald's 25th Anniversary promos, and the First Partner Pack cards.
This is a list of cards that you might realistically actually own, so we're also ignoring any limited-print one-off cards, such as those given to Post Malone and Katy Perry for their contributions to the franchise this year.
Chilling Reign: Snorlax (Golden Secret Rare) – $91.28
Kicking off the list is one of Chilling Reign's golden secret rares, Snorlax. Snorlax is an incredibly popular Pokemon, but that doesn't quite explain how this card is so sought-after. This is the only golden secret rare not just on this list, but in the top 25 most valuable cards released in 2021. The next golden secret rare is the shiny Mew from Celebrations, at almost half the price and in 26th place.
Evolving Skies: Rayquaza V (Alternate Full Art) – $93.34
Evolving Skies was a fantastic expansion, and this card in particular highlights why it was so special. A gigantic Rayquaza flying through the sky, and featuring a reference to the rather obscure OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire character Zinnia, Rayquaza VMAX highlighted the dragon theme of the expansion particularly well. This isn't the last we'll see of Rayquaza on this list, but it is a definite highlight of Pokemon's card art this year.
Evolving Skies: Sylveon VMAX (Alternate Secret Art) – $94.53
Continuing the Evolving Skies dominance of this list, Sylveon VMAX is one of three eeveelution VMAXes found in the top 10 of 2021. A lot of the secret art from this year shows Pokemon just chilling out in serene locations, and the Marshow sliding down Sylveon VMAX's scarf is one of the highlights of that trend.
Fusion Strike: Gengar VMAX (Alternate Secret Art) – $103.23
Fusion Strike is the most recent expansion, and Gengar VMAX was the most valuable card from it when it launched in November. Though its value has dropped by almost $80 since then, it's still the first card on this list to be worth over $100. Sowsow's art is fantastic, giving it a chalky, scratchy feeling not seen on many other cards.
Chilling Reign: Blaziken VMAX (Alternate Secret Art) – $106.58
Shigenori Negishi's art for Blaziken VMAX is divisive, but its bold colours and thick lines certainly make it the most eye-catching card of the year. Blaziken is up there with Charizard as being one of the most popular start Pokemon, so it makes sense it's doing so well in Chilling Reign. Its value has held out pretty well since Chilling Reign's launch too, having only lost about $30 since June.
Fusion Strike: Mew VMAX (Alternate Secret Art) – $115.23
Mew VMAX from Fusion Strike's art is fantastic. The way it's throwing around black cabs somewhere in Galar and just having the time of its life while it does so is so, so good. It's also managed to hold its price well; other versions of Mew from Fusion Strike have plummeted off to around 20th place, but this one's managed to rise to be the third most valuable card in Fusion Strike alongside being the fifth most valuable of any expansion released this year.
Fusion Strike: Espeon VMAX (Alternate Secret Art) – $122.27
The last Fusion Strike card on the list is Espeon VMAX, which has risen above Gengar VMAX to become the new most valuable card in the expansion. It's easy to see why, though, as a sleepy, gigantic Espeon resting on a Tudor-style roof is one of the cutest bits of art released for the game in quite a while.
Shining Fates (Shiny Vault): Charizard VMAX – $127.87
Remember Shining Fates? The collector's focused release snuck out at the very start of 2021, and featured dozens of Pokemon in their shiny alternative colours. Particularly valuable cards were found in the 'Shiny Vault', which were foil, shiny versions of popular Pokemon, and leading the way in that was this shiny Charizard VMAX.
This year's been pretty light on Charizard, which is a sure-fire way for an expansion to sell. If you were wondering where the year's other big Charizard card is, the Celebrations Classic Collection Charizard, which is a reprint of the massively valuable Base Set, is currently sat in 13th place, at $84.62.
Evolving Skies: Rayquaza VMAX (Alternate Secret Art) – $165.25
Rayquaza's back, and this time it's his VMAX form. Even though the art for this one is a bit less impressive than the V art with Zinnia on it, it's still got a ridiculously large Rayquaza flying through the mountains in a rain of VMAX energy.
Rayquaza VMAX has the dubious distinction of being the card with the biggest decreased value over the year. It debuted in August at around $390.22, plummeting by over $200 to today's price. $165.25 for a piece of card is nothing to sniff at, though, and its price has stabilised since its biggest drop in August.
Evolving Skies: Umbreon VMAX (Alternate Secret Art) – $173.87
Umbreon is the most popular of all of the Eeveelutions, so it's no surprise to see it take the top spot as the most valuable card released in 2021. This art by Keiichiro Ito is stunning, with a VMAX'd Umbreon reaching for the moon on a beautiful, sea-green night. Eeveelutions have completely barreled through this year thanks to being a prominent part of Evolving Skies, so it's fitting to see one rise to the top of this list.
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