Prepare For National Pokémon Day on February 27

Josh reading "Ash's Quest", one of the many books in our collection.
Josh reading “Ash’s Quest”, one of the many books in our collection.

I don’t know when Pokémon ™ entered our world, but according to an in-depth conversation with Josh, it was approximately two years ago. The complicated names of dinosaurs were replaced with just-as-complex names of Pokémon. In honor of National Pokémon Day on Monday, Feb. 27, we hope you find a few takeaways from our experiences from Alola to Galar (if you know, you know – if not, you will know soon)!

Points of Entry

Depending on your kiddo, the point of entry into the world of Ash Ketchum and his trainer friends may vary. For us, it was a perfect storm of the entire universe converging. Almost at the same time Josh received his first pack of cards, he also discovered the show(s) on Netflix, found Carl from Psycho Turtle on YouTube, and learned it was even a game.

Our essential Pokemon starter kit includes binders, cards and the handbook.
Our essential Pokemon starter kit includes binders, cards and the handbook.

Pokémon Starter Kit

Based on our years of experience, which pales in comparison to some, here are the items we think will help start your journey:

  • The Cards: You can start small with a pack of four from most dollar stores, or you can go big and order a booster box. Booster boxes contain 36 packs of 10 cards each. If your Pokémon fan is looking for variety, the individual packs are great, but if they’re hoping to complete a set, the booster box is the way to go. Warning: We are still only 70% complete in one series.
  • Binders: There are binders of every size imaginable. They are clutch to keeping the collections together. Personally, the ones with zippers are my favorites.
  • The Handbook: The most recent edition lists 875 Pokémon. It gives you all the information needed to become a Pokémon pro. The most vital piece of information for me was the pronunciation guide. 
a white basket full of Pokemon books, cards, and toys
We try to keep the chaos contained and so far everything but the big binders, battle decks and stuffed animals fit in this basket.

How It Evolved

Things escalate pretty quickly for us when it comes to new interests. We went from collecting a few cards to learning the game very quickly. We turned to YouTube for most of our tutorials. If you prefer in-person learning, local card shops may offer play-and-learn nights. 

Our biggest tip for playing the game: Get two battle decks that complement each other. You can typically find them sold together at your retailer of choice. Or, head to a local card shop. They’ll know. 

It’s Not Just Cards & Games

OK, it’s mostly games, but Pokemon Go! will get you and your Pokémon Trainer-in-Training out exploring. Last year, The Nature Institute in Godfrey hosted Pokémon Go! hikes. We have found some of the “strongest” Pokémon in our backyard. The app also proved clutch on vacation this past summer. Josh was not impressed with the Quad at Mizzou, so we opened up the app, hunted for Pokémon, and disaster was mostly averted. 

a variety of homemade Pokemon figures
At some point Josh and I started creating our own Pokemon. From drawings and clay to pompoms and plastic, we covered all the mediums.

Pokémon DIY

One surprising twist for me during this Pokémon inundation was the level of creativity it sparked. Josh went from learning everything he could about as many Pokémon as possible and then began creating them himself … with some help.

  • Drawing: He received a great learn-to-draw Pokémon book for his birthday. He has used it as inspiration to create piles and piles of his own cards. One Sunday, he dictated his version of a Pokémon Ultimate Rumble book and drew all of the pictures. I took those pages and turned them into a hardbound book from Shutterfly.
  • Clay: The next medium we attempted to recreate Pokémon with was modeling clay. We examined the pictures in the encyclopedia and did our best interpretations. Here is a much better video to watch. 
  • Pompoms: This turned out to be more of a me project than a Josh project. The Pompom Pokémon book has good directions, and we made progress with each attempt, so hope is not lost.
  • Plastic: Josh has been collecting miniature plastic Pokémon since last Easter (thank you Funky Planet Toys). The reason we started with clay and moved to pompoms was that he kept asking to make his own out of plastic. I will be honest, I couldn’t even think of how to make this happen, and then came upon a list of the top 50 Christmas gifts, and on it was the 3Doodler Start+ Pen Set. We haven’t given this a trial yet, but I’m optimistic it will look better than our clay attempts. Stay tuned!

I’ll be honest, I was not super-pumped when this phase started. I was too old when the first Pokémon wave hit, and the second, but this third wave hit at the right time. We have enjoyed reading the books, playing the games, and going out on hunts. So, I encourage you to dive right in with your kiddo this National Pokémon Day!

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Marlena Renner
Marlena is mom to 6-year-old Joshua and has been married to her husband, Andy, for 10 years. They reside in Alton, Illinois where he is the head athletic trainer for Alton High School. Her parents both grew up in Kirkwood, and even though she spent most of her childhood in Montgomery City, MO, she had a feeling she would end up in St. Louis someday. She worked in minor league baseball after college, eventually landing for a season with the River City Rascals. She worked for the St. Louis Blues, Stifel Theatre, and Enterprise Center for 13 years before the pandemic stopped so many things. Today she is the email specialist for Caleres, which means shoes … all the shoes.