Normally this would be a "Top 10 Best-Sellers" list. But this was not a normal week.
To celebrate Pokémon's 25th anniversary, last week McDonald's started putting special booster packs in every Happy Meal. Each pack contains four cards from a 25-card set featuring every starter Pokémon, plus Pikachu (or, minus Eevee, depending on how you slice it). Each card also has a foil version.
The cards themselves are cute, but unremarkable. The art style and card frame are standard for Pokémon, and look restrained compared to cards like Eternatus VMAX from the upcoming set Shining Fates.
Besides the nifty "Pikachu 25" icon, they're indistinguishable from the five-cent cards that fill out a normal booster box.
History shows that collectibles you can get from a fast-food restaurant don't make good investments. Remember those limited edition gold-plated Pokémon cards you bought from Burger King in 1999? They're practically worthless now—everyone got one, so the supply has always stayed ahead of demand. Plus, Happy Meals cost $3.29 or less, so there's no way the new McDonald's cards can rise above $1 each (on average) in the short term.
Smart collectors know all this, so last week they stayed away from McDonald's and let younger Pokémon fans have fun cracking packs. That's what happened, right?
Sadly, no. A few "savvy" investors swooped down like Lawrence III from Pokémon: The Movie 2000 and bought Happy Meals in bulk to secure the cards for themselves.
Those cards then flooded into the secondary market. The temporary supply shortage, together with all the press around the buyout, unleashed a massive wave of buying that hasn't stopped since. Each of the 25 McDonald's cards outsold nearly every other Pokémon single on TCGplayer this past week. The only exceptions were Quick Ball (swsh1-179) (competitive staple), Hatterene V (swshp-SWSH055) (targeted buyout), and Zacian V (swsh1-138) (a little of both).
The good news is, massive supply and the affordability of Happy Meals have kept prices low for most of these cards... except the foil versions. Those are now ridiculously expensive. As I write this, Foil Pikachu has a market price of $41.64 and a median listed price of $52.75.
With that context in mind, there's no point in going through each McDonald's card to ask why people would buy it. But there is value in asking why people would buy a given McDonald's card over any other. Since every card in the set is a starter, by comparing the number of copies that were sold, we can suss out the relative popularity of every starting Pokémon in the franchise.
It's hardly scientific, but we've gotta make our fun somehow. Here are the 25 McDonald's Pokémon Anniversary Cards from worst to best-selling.
There's our data. Now let's draw some conclusions!
So that's fun. I may not be a fan of this buyout, but at least we got some good data out of it. And a bunch of children just learned about artificial scarcity! Silver linings all around.