Every Pokémon Card Back (And Where It Came From)

Every Pokémon Card Back (And Where It Came From)

Virtually all trading card games have rules stating that the back of each card must be identical. This is so the player cannot distinguish a unique card before drawing it from their deck. But there are actually over 20 different Pokémon card backs! Some are not legal for tournament play, and others are highly collectible. 

Every official Pokémon TCG Card Back

1996

Japanese old-backs

OldBackBack

The very first Pokémon TCG cards to ever be released were in Japan on October 1996, after the success of the video games in February of the same year. The design of the back of the cards features a Pokéball opening with the words ‘Pocket Monsters Card Game’  and a 1996 copyright at the bottom. 

1998

Japanese old-back holofoil

pokemon card back

In 1998, the manufacturer of Pokémon cards known as Media Factory ran a promotional campaign where collectors could send a piece of mail with two Pokémon cards included, and would receive two promotional cards in return, to simulate a trade. 

These are known as the ‘Trade Please!’ promotional cards. One of the promo cards had a unique characteristic to it- a holofoil back. This was the card known as Imakuni Trade Please!

This is one of two Pokémon cards ever made with a holofoil back.

Japanese Vending Series

VendingBack

A promotional set of Pokémon cards was actually available through vending machines exclusively, in Japan in 1998. These are referred to as the vending series promos, and all 7 cards feature a unique back to them.

1999

English Edition

pokemon card back

Perhaps the most recognizable trading card back in the world is the English version of the Pokémon TCG. This design was likely created by Wizards of the Coast, who had a partnership with Nintendo to distribute the cards to North America.

This new card back featured a more dynamic design and also used the abbreviation ‘Pokémon’ instead of Pocket Monsters. This design is the same that is used today. 

Trainer Deck A & Trainer Deck B

DeckABack DeckBBack

In 1999 it was important to teach kids how to play the Pokémon TCG before actually selling the booster packs. The trainer decks were designed to do just that. The decks vary slightly, as one is meant to be used by each player, so they can battle.

Ancient Mew

AncientMewBack

The Ancient Mew cards were given out as part of a promotional campaign with the release of Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back. This is the second and final card to ever be printed with a holofoil back, and the only one to ever be printed with both sides holofoil. 

2002

Japanese new-back

pokemon cardback japanese

In December 2001, the Base Expansion Pack was released in Japan. In North America, this set was renamed Expedition Base Set or just ‘Expedition’ for short.

This is when the back of the card was also redesigned for the Japanese version.

The new back design now read “Pokémon” just like its North American counterpart, and no longer had copyright info along the bottom of the card. The new design was also reworked to be much more colorful and eye-catching, not unlike its English cousin. This is the card design that we still see today.

They also changed the way the Pokéball opened. The button was now attached to the top part of the Pokéball. Curiously, they chose to illustrate the Pokéball opening differently than the English version and the previous Japanese version.

2004

2004 World Championship

2004 world championship

The first-ever World Championship to have its own card back took place from August 20-22, 2004 in Orlando, Florida.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Magma Spirit
  • Rocky Beach
  • Team Rushdown
  • Blaziken Tech

2005

2005 World Championship

2005 World Championship

The 2nd World Championship took place August 19-21, 2005 in San Diego, California.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Queendom
  • Dark Tyranitar Deck
  • Bright Aura
  • King of the West

2006

2006 World Championship

2006 pokemon

The 3rd World Championship took place August 18-20, 2006 in San Anaheim, California.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Mewtrick
  • Suns & Moons
  • B-L-S
  • Eeveelutions

2007

2007 World Championship

2007 World Championship

The 4th World Championship took place August 10-12, 2007 in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Flyvees
  • Legendary Ascent
  • Rambolt
  • Swift Empoleon

2008

2008 World Championship

2008 World Championship

The 5th World Championship took place August 15-17, 2008 in Orlando, Florida.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Intimidation
  • Empotech
  • Psychic Lock
  • Bliss Control

2009

2009 World Championship

2009 World Championship

The 6th World Championship took place August 14-15, 2009 in San Diego, California.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Stallgon
  • Crowned Tiger
  • Queengar
  • Luxdrill

2010

2010 World Championship

2010 World Championship

The 7th World Championship took place August 14-15, 2010 in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • LuxChomp of the Spirit
  • Happy Luck
  • Power Cottonweed
  • Boltevoir

2011

2011 World Championship

2010 World Championship

The 8th World Championship took place August 13-14, 2011 in San Diego, California.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Megazone
  • Reshiplosion
  • The Truth
  • Twinboar

2012

2012 World Championship

2012 World Championship

The 9th World Championship took place August 14-15, 2012 in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Pesadelo Prism
  • Terraki-Mewtwo
  • Eeltwo
  • CMT Deck

2013

2013 World Championship

2013 World Championship

The 10th World Championship took place August 14-15, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • American Gothic
  • Darkrai Deck
  • Anguille Sous Roche
  • Ultimate Team Plasma 

2014

2014 World Championship

2014 World Championship

The 11th World Championship took place August 13-15, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Plasma Power
  • Trevgor
  • Emerald King
  • Crazy Punch

2015

2015 World Championship

2015 World Championship

The 12th World Championship took place August 21-23, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Primal Groudon
  • The Flying Hammer
  • Punches ‘N’ Bites
  • Honortoise

2016

2016 World Championship

2016 World Championship

The 13th World Championship took place August 19-21, 2016 in San Fransisco, California.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Bebe Deck
  • Magical Symphony
  • Black Dragon
  • Ninja Blitz

2017

2017 World Championship

2017 World Championship

The 14th World Championship took place August 18-20, 2017 in Anaheim, California.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Ice Path FTW
  • Infinite Force
  • Golisodor
  • Samurai Sniper

2018

2018 World Championship

2018 World Championship

The 15th World Championship took place August 24-26, 2018 in Nashville, Tennasse.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Victory Map
  • Dragones y Sombras
  • Garbanette
  • Buzzroc

2019

2019 World Championship

2019 World Championship

The 16th World Championship took place August 16-18, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

The four preconstructed decks with this unique back are:

  • Mind Blown
  • Pikarom Judge
  • Perfection
  • Fire Box

2021

English back (Metal) 

MetalCardBack

In 2021 the Celebrations Ultimate Premium Collection was released. This product came with two metal Pokémon cards, a Charizard and Pikachu. The back of these metal cards resemble the English back but have much more vivid coloring and reflective gold letters for the word ‘POKEMON’. 

2022

Non-TCG Card Backs

Cardass Series 1/2

pokemon card back

In 1996 the first Cardass Pokémon cards were released. These are different from the TCG cards, as they are only for collecting. The back of each card has data for the respective Pokémon.

Cardass Series 3/4

pokemon card back

In 1997 the second set of Cardass cards was released. They differ greatly from the previous series, appearing to be updated with a new design. The back of each card has data for the respective Pokémon.

Topsun Blue-back

pokemon card back

The Topsun blue-back is considered the ‘1st edition’ of Topsun cards. It is identical to the green-back cards, but blue. 

Topsun Green-back

pokemon card back

The second series of Topsun cards. This set had all the same cards but now with green-backs. In addition, the second series also added holo prism cards to the mix.

TOPPS

pokemon card back

There are many, many different card backs to TOPPS cards. Most of them have a brief description of the featured Pokémon.

Author: Oliver CopelandOliver has been collecting Pokémon cards for a long time. He had a crush on Misty when he was 10.