For Pokemon collectors and investors, the rarest and most valuable cards fall into two categories – the iconic Gold Star cards of the mid-2000s, and the flashy Rainbow Rare cards introduced more recently. But between the two, Gold Star cards edge out their Rainbow counterparts when it comes to scarcity and potential value appreciation.
The Origins: When Gold Stars and Rainbows Entered the Pokemon Card World
Let‘s start from the beginning. Gold Star cards first appeared in the EX Ruby & Sapphire set in 2004, where they signified Pokemon with special powers. They featured the Pokemon TCG‘s first special gold foil treatment – a distinctive shiny gold star replacing the standard black star denoting rarity.
Rainbow Rares, on the other hand, made their debut years later in 2017‘s Sun & Moon set. As the name suggests, they feature vibrant rainbow coloring across the card‘s artwork in place of the normal colors.
Why Print Runs and Pull Rates Make All the Difference
When evaluating a card‘s rarity, it comes down to print runs and pull rates above all else. Based on the limited data available, experts estimate there are likely only 5-10x as many copies of a given Gold Star card printed compared to its Rainbow Rare counterpart – and potentially even less for certain cards.
To put that into perspective, let‘s compare a specific example – the super popular Umbreon card in both Gold Star and Rainbow Rare versions.
- Umbreon Gold Star from Hidden Legends (2005) – Estimated print run: 300-500 copies. Pack pull rate: Roughly 1 in 72 packs.
- Rainbow Rare Umbreon & Darkrai GX from Tag Team All-Stars (2019) – Estimated print run: 3,000-5,000 copies. Pack pull rate: Around 1 in 80 packs.
Based on this data, we can conservatively estimate there are 10x as many Rainbow Rare Umbreon & Darkrai TAG TEAM cards out there compared to the far older Gold Star version.
What the Numbers Mean for Collectors and Investors
Lower print runs and pull rates equate directly to fewer PSA 10 "Gem Mint" copies in circulation. When only a handful of cards receive the highest grades, those pristine examples command immense premiums from buyers competing to own them.
While Rainbow Rares fall short of Gold Stars in terms of sheer scarcity, they make up for it with substantially higher raw demand among the growing collector base. So as long as that demand continues rising, Rainbow Rares should still hold investment value despite higher overall populations.
Current Market Prices Reflect the Rarity Difference
When we look at actual resale market prices, the premium commanded by Gold Star cards becomes clear. PSA 10 examples of the most coveted cards easily fetch 5-10x the current value of their Rainbow Rare counterparts.
Take a look at some recent sale prices of PSA 10 graded copies:
|Gold Star Card||Sale Price|
|2005 Umbreon Gold Star||$20,000|
|2004 Charizard Gold Star||$10,000|
|Rainbow Rare Card||Sale Price|
|Charizard VMAX Rainbow||$700|
|Umbreon & Darkrai GX Rainbow||$400|
There are exceptions of course – some specific Rainbow Rares like the Rally Rainbow Rare Charizard have broken $1,000. But overall, the market clearly assigns greater monetary value to those with Gold Stars.
Factors Beyond Rarity Contributing to Value
A Pokemon card‘s collectibility and value isn‘t solely determined by scarcity. Other factors like nostalgia, artwork, and the popularity of the character also come into play.
For example, a Gold Star Lampent from less beloved Generation 5 won‘t command the value of a Rainbow Rare Charizard despite being much rarer. Charizard‘s immense fanbase means demand eclipses the difference in supply.
This effect holds true for the most desired Pokemon regardless of rarity tier. So while Gold Stars are pricier overall, the Rainbow version of a super popular Pokemon could potentially exceed the value of an obscure ‘mon in Gold Star form.
Investment Outlook and Growth Potential
For savvy investors, Pokemon cards offer immense growth opportunities, especially when targeting rare and exclusive variants. The Pokemon hobby continues gaining new fans every day, while supply remains fixed for vintage cards.
I recently spoke with investment advisor Martin R. who said "The right rare Pokemon cards can average 20-30% annual returns when properly graded and timed with the market cycles. Compared to stocks or real estate, cards have far more upside potential."
Cards reaching public auction that haven‘t been seen in years, like the Gold Star Umbreon, can easily double or triple in value with the influx of new bidders. Investors like Martin purchase cards based on rarity metrics and future demand projections.
"For me, buying PSA 10 Gold Stars and similar vintage cards is a no-brainer investment compared to leaving money in a savings account," Martin explains. "You‘ll wish you bought more Gold Stars and other legacy ultrarares years from now."
Spotlight: World Record Pikachu Illustrator Sells For $900,000
The recent public auction of the Pikachu Illustrator promo card, of which only 39 exist, shattered records with a final sale price of $900,000 – the highest price ever paid for a Pokemon card.
The buyer was popular YouTuber Logan Paul, who outbid dozens of other collectors for the card. Only one other Pikachu Illustrator had been graded before this previously unknown copy surfaced.
This demonstrates the immense value placed on the rarest of the rare by hardcore Pokemon collectors. As more rare cards change hands in public, values will continue rising across the board.
Spotting Fakes – Don‘t Get Duped
With so much money exchanging hands for Gold Stars, shady sellers have flooded the market with counterfeits. But you can avoid getting duped with a few handy authentication tips:
- Only buy PSA or BGS graded cards from reputable sellers
- Compare fonts, holo patterns, colors to real images online
- Avoid deals that seem too good to be true
- Learn the Darkrai "Roulette" print defect on fake Rainbow Umbreon & Darkrai
Remember – if you purchase raw ungraded cards, always get them authenticated and graded by PSA/BGS prior to buying/selling.
Advice for Collectors Looking to Start Investing in Rare Cards
For newcomers looking to invest in rare Pokemon cards, sticking to proven winners is the way to go. I recommend targeting just a few key cards to start rather than spreading yourself thin trying to collect entire sets.
Some of the best beginner investment cards include:
- PSA 10 Gold Star Charizard, Umbreon, Rayquaza
- PSA 10 1st Edition Base Set (Big 3: Charizard, Blastoise, Venusaur)
- PSA 10 Skyridge Charizard/Umbreon/Gengar
- PSA 10 Crystals (Charizard, Golem, Crobat, Kabutops, etc)
Vintage cards from the Wizards of the Coast era (1999-2003) have exceptional investment upside thanks to their age, nostalgia factor, and underpopulation in top grade. Let me know if you need any mentoring on getting started – I‘m always happy to help new investors!
The Verdict: For Rarity and Investment Value, Gold Stars Shine Brightest
After breaking down the key factors, analyzing market data, and weighing all considerations, Gold Star cards still reign supreme in terms of rarity and upside investment potential compared to their Rainbow Rare counterparts.
That said, Rainbow Rares have a bright future of their own, especially modern Charizards and other fan-favorite Pokemon. Owning either as a collector or investing for future gains is a win.
As the hobby continues evolving, perceptions on rarity and value also change. But the limited supply of elusive Gold Stars of the past will always command a premium – making them blue chip, must-own cards for Pokemon investors and collectors alike.