Zapdos is one of the most popular Pokémon of all-time, part of the trio of legendary birds from the original collection of 151. Let’s discuss the best ever Zapdos Pokemon cards.
Zapdos is always a popular choice for collectors aiming for a hit of nostalgia. It’s one of the more powerful Pokémon from initial sets, and was included regularly during the early years.
Here’s a roundup with 10 of the best Zapdos Pokémon cards to collect, including vintage sets and rare options to chase.
The Best Zapdos Cards
As we’re checking out the best Zapdos cards ever, we’ll be looking at PSA graded versions where possible.
10. 2009 Pokemon Platinum Supreme Victors Zapdos #150 (eBay)
The most recent option to make the cut, the 2009 Pokemon Platinum Supreme Victors Zapdos is a holo re-release of a 1999 card that we’ll discuss in detail further down the list.
This version uses the same artwork as the 1999 edition, but adds a holo foil background that helps it to stand out. One of the more affordable options, a PSA 10 version still sold for four figures in January 2021.
9. 2002 Pokemon Legendary Collection Zapdos Reverse Foil #19 (eBay)
The 2002 Pokémon Legendary collection introduced the reverse holographic foil singles, as seen in the image above. (There are also normal variants, but the reverse holo is the one to chase in terms of pure values.) In a design that most collectors will now be familiar with, the entire front is printed in shiny holographic material except for the artwork. Given the electric theme, this Zapdos Pokemon card sparkes.
8. 1999 PM Japanese Promo Zapdos #145 (eBay)
One of the more unique Zapdos cards in terms of the artwork, this 1999 Japanese promo release features a more stylised version of the legendary bird. Produced as part of a special ANA Airlines Zapdos & Moltres set, it was given out to customers who flew with ANA (All Nippon Airways) Airlines in Japan, back in 1999, during a very limited campaign.
(It’s also the original artwork used for the holo card that takes the tenth spot on this list.)
7. 2004 Pokemon EX Zapdos EX Holo #116 (eBay)
A classic Zapdos EX card is next to make the list. Released as part of the 2004 EX FireRed & LeafGreen expansion, the vivid border is one of the first details to catch the eye, alongside an imposing image of the Pokémon bearing down on its prey.
(The “ex” in the name stands for extra, as indicated by a wide range of attacks that have some sort of additional effect on Pokémon-ex.)
6. 2003 Pokemon Aquapolis Zapdos Holo #H32 (eBay)
Pokémon Aquapolis is the second main expansion of the TCG, released way back in 2003.
It was a combination of two Japanese booster expansions: The Town with No Map, and Wind from the Sea.
There are Holofoil and Non Holofoil versions to look out for, as well as a reprinted Japanese P Promotional card with different artwork. PSA 10 copies are an interesting addition to any collection. It’s also a step up in price compared to the cards seen above.
5. 2005 Pokemon Black Star Promos Zapdos EX Holo #033 (eBay)
Former Pokémon card manufacturers Wizards of the Coast (WotC) produced numerous exclusive cards for promotional events over the years. The majority of WotC Black Star Promos can be found for affordable prices.
The 2005 Pokemon Black Star Promos Zapdos EX card was included in the EX Collector’s Window Tins. In Japan, it was included in a Player’s Club Starter Kit for new players who subscribed for a Player’s Club membership in 2004.
4. 2000 Pokemon Gym Challenge Rocket’s Zapdos #15 (eBay)
Rocket’s Zapdos is one of the more popular alternative versions of the legendary bird Pokémon. It was part of the 2000 Nintendo Pokemon Gym Challenge, which is the seventh expansion of the Pokemon Trading Card Game. The set is based on the Kanto Gym leaders, Koga, Sabrina, Blaine, and Giovanni. (Therefore, Rocket’s Zapdos is part of Giovanni’s Team Rocket.)
As an earlier set, there are first edition versions to look out for, adding an extra chase element to proceedings for some collectors. Gem Mint versions of these Zapdos Pokemon cards can fetch a four-figure fee.
3. 1998 PM Japanese Starter Zapdos Holo #145 (eBay)
The 1998 PM Japanese Starter set contains a lovely holo Zapdos card that isn’t anywhere near as well-known as the card that was released worldwide a year later. The exclusive Quick Starter Gift Set is where it was found. While cards from the set are reprints from the Vending Machine cards collection, they’ve proven to be more valuable in the long-term due to increased scarcity.
2. 2004 Pokemon EX Team Rocket Returns Rocket’s Zapdos EX #106 (eBay)
2004 Pokemon EX is where you’ll find one of the most eye-catching cards on this list. The only non-electric Zapdos Pokemon card benefits from a sleek dark background, with a sparkly silver finish along the border.
Rocket’s Zapdos EX is another popular Pokemon card, especially if it has been graded by the likes of PSA or CGC.
1. 1999 Pokemon 1st Edition Zapdos Holo #16 (eBay)
1999 First Edition Shadowless editions are legendary amongst Pokémon card collectors. It helped to kick off the craze around the world, which is still going strong as of 2022.
PSA 10 graded copies are where the true value lies, especially when looking at the rarer 1st Edition versions that are also Shadowless. (The term Shadowless is used to describe cards that are missing shadow details next to the artwork, found on the right side of the card.)
Of course, the Shadowless 1st Edition Zapdos card easily takes the top spot on our list.
We’ve put together a buyer’s guide if you’re interested in picking up one of the more important Zapdos Pokemon cards.
Having been included in so many sets over the years, you’ll be able to find a number of cheaper Zapdos cards to collect. Only a few of the cards to make the list will set you back by more than $1,000. They’ll also have to be pristine graded copies to do so.
The 1999 1st Edition Shadowless Zapdos would be our personal pick as the best overall option to collect, given the attention paid to the original Pokémon card collection. PSA 10 versions are the main attraction, for obvious reasons.
Zapdos has been included in a variety of Pokémon card sets over the past 25 years, leading to a number of expensive options to chase. As with most Pokémon, it’s never going to match up to the likes of Charizard in terms of pure values and interest, but it’s still one of the better options to collect overall. We’re big fans of vintage Zapdos cards, and most collectors seem to be too.