Is a sealed Pokemon Elite Trainer Box (ETB) a viable long-term investment option?
We’ve all seen Pokemon packs and boxes from years ago selling for obscene prices in recent times. It’s all the more impressive if they have their original price tag attached.
ETBs are far cheaper than booster boxes, and they work as a collector’s item, whether opened or sealed. Some people are already stacking current ETBs to be sold in the future when they’re more valuable.
For example, the PokeInvesting subreddit is packed full of posts by collectors who have shelves stocked with sealed ETBs, but do we think it’s still a viable investment as of 2022?
What is an Elite Trainer Box (ETB)
An Elite Trainer Box (ETB) offers a range of packs and extras, including card sleeves, coins, and energy cards. (We’d avoid using the sleeves as they have damaged our cards in the past.)
They were first released in February 2013, with seven booster packs from the Plasma Storm expansion, as well as 5 basic Energy cards from each of the 8 types, an acrylic Poison marker and Burn marker, 6 blue Plasma Storm themed dice, 1 transparent Plasma Storm themed dice for flipping, and a player’s guide with tips about all the newly released cards in the Plasma Storm expansion.
The setup is similar almost a decade later.
Boxes work out to be a similar price to the same number of individual packs, so it makes sense to pick up an ETB instead.
Most modern sets will have an ETB, available in popular retail stores and online via the Pokémon Center.
What do you get in a Pokemon ETB?
Packs are the main perk, sometimes alongside a foil card and a few branded extras. You’ll see what you get in a Celebrations ETB in the image above. (In this case, the foil card is Greninja.)
Pokemon Center Elite Trainer Box (ETB)
An improvement on the normal retail box, the Pokemon Center ETB generally comes with more packs, and sells for a higher price.
For example, check the size of the 2021 Celebrations PC ETB compared to normal boxes.
The Pokemon Center (PC) version contains 13 Pokémon TCG: Celebrations 4-card booster packs, rather than the 10 packs found with the normal version.
They’re always going to be more popular (and valuable) than the normal ETB.
Why Invest in a Sealed Elite Trainer Box
Sealed is always going to go for a premium, as buyer’s will be hoping to find some of the best cards contained within.
For older sets that aren’t being printed, there’s an ever dwindling supply of sealed products.
They’re also being opened at a steady rate, which further decreases the supply. This is the main reason why prices begin to soar so rapidly for popular sets.
The Best Sealed Elite Trainer Box to Buy
Is it better to pick up current boxes at RRP, or should you look at older options? Your budget is likely to be a constraint, as 2010’s boxes have risen in price rapidly.
Take 2013 Plasma Storm, which is the first ever ETB released. A sealed box recently sold for just over $2,600. That’s a significant amount of profit compared to the original RRP.
Some collectors prefer to chase Charizard’s, while sealed modern boxes are far cheaper.
In fact, you can often pick up lots with multiple sealed boxes at a cut price. The 2021 Celebrations collection was slightly overproduced, but it’s still a great place to start.
Reprinted Pokemon Boxes
Sealed Pokémon Elite Trainer boxes are incredibly popular, and they were selling out almost everywhere in the run-up to Christmas 2021. It got to the point where the Pokémon TCG company acknowledged the issues, releasing a statement in which they address the shortfall in numbers;
“We’re aware that some fans are experiencing difficulties purchasing certain Pokémon Trading Card Game products due to very high demand and global shipping constraints impacting availability. We understand this inconvenience can be disappointing for fans, and we are working to address it where it is within our control.”
“In situations where there is limited availability, we are actively working to print more of the impacted Pokémon TCG products as quickly as possible and at maximum capacity to support this increased demand. Reprinted products are expected to be available at retailers as soon as possible.”
“For new Pokémon TCG expansions launching in the future, we are maximizing production to increase product availability upon release, and we will continue to reprint the products to replenish stock at retailers as soon as possible.”
“We’d like to thank the community for their continued support and patience as we work to deliver more Pokémon TCG products to fans.”
After all, the supply of sealed boxes is higher than it’s ever been. That means it’s likely to take longer for prices to rise.
Are Sealed Elite Trainer Boxes Worth Buying?
Are Elite Trainer Boxes worth buying?
I’ve opened numerous boxes over the last few years, and more often than not, I’d have been better off buying the chase cards as singles.
On the other hand, we did pull a Celebrations Charizard from the PC ETB we bought, so it depends on how lucky you’re feeling. It’s always fun to rip open packs.
They’re most certainly worth buying if you’re planning to leave them sealed, with a view to be sold on in the future.
On the other hand, if everyone is doing it, it’ll take a while for prices to go up significantly. As always, it’s a case of supply versus demand.
Unopened packs and boxes aren’t difficult to shift, although the market is saturated.
Sealed ETB Investing: Final Thoughts
Sealed Pokémon Elite Trainer boxes and products are always going to do well in the long-term.
Some will make more profit than others, but it’s impossible to find older ETBs at a cheaper price.
If the set is still in print, it’ll be easier to find ETBs in store, or online.
Consider how long the ETB has been out for, and what the hits are from the set. If it’s a popular Pokemon, expect prices to rise more rapidly.
The same goes for the exclusive sets and PC versions, which tend to offer more bang for your buck.
It’s not the most exciting investment option within the hobby, but sealed Pokémon Elite Trainer boxes are always likely to make money in the long run.
There aren’t many safer options, and they’re inexpensive if you’re looking at the latest releases.