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Without a doubt, Lee Steinfeld, or Leonhart as the world knows him, is the biggest Pokémon TCG YouTuber in the world. Each of his videos bring in at least 200k views, where fans come to just watch him open packs and packs of old and new trading cards.
Now, after years of revealing booster packs mere mortals like us could only dream about getting our hands on, Lee is opening a pop-up shop, full of original and sealed classic booster packs from when the TCG first started, all selling for the original retail price.
I recently had the chance to speak to Leonhart as part of our 25 Years of Pokémon: Celebrating The Trading Card Game documentary (watch it below), where he gave us the rundown on his massive project.
GB: So for those of us who don't know, who are you and what do you do in the world of the Pokémon TCG?
Leonhart: So my name is Leonhart, or Lee, and I open lots of shiny cardboard. Whether it's the new Pokémon card game, or the original cards that came out in the late '90s, that's where you'll find me on my channel on YouTube, opening up packs for the world.
So, you're planning something ridiculously impressive - you're opening a pop-up Pokémon shop full of original booster packs from our childhoods, for sale at the original prices. Can you tell us about that?
The whole premise around that is, you know, what with the crazy prices for vintage Pokémon cards, I want to do something really crazy; but also continue to give back to the world, and give that same experience that I get opening up a first-edition basic pack or just a Base Set pack. You know, when you pull that holographic card that you really want, or your favourite card. And, you know, I bonded with my dad opening them up way back when, when I would get a Base Set pack at the end of the week, after doing well in school. I want that same feeling [for someone else], of being able to open up the packs with a father and son or daughter, or a mother and child.
So, that's what I want to give by opening up a shop that feels and hopefully maybe even smells like - whatever that smell's like - an original card shop from the late '90s, early 2000s. Where when you walk in, you're transported back to that time with various Pokémon memorabilia, games, and then of course, the Pokémon TCG in their original boxes in their original blister packs hung up on the shelves just like a shop from way back when. Thousands and thousands of packs that I'm personally donating myself to give people that option when they walk in - limited of course to give as many people a chance, you know, like two packs or something like that. But of Base Set, Base Set Two, Gym Challenge, Gym Heroes, and then you can open it on the spot and potentially have it graded on the spot as well. And, you know, it's a big thing, but something that if and when it does happen, I think would be probably the biggest event in history for Pokémon. I'm very optimistic, and hopefully happy to say that.
I have to be very smart because of travel restrictions and everything, but there is still planning going on [right now] for that. It was kind of slow, but it's speeding up now.
That sounds so awesome. But what are your plans for those who are abroad and who can't come and see the shop, because the Pokémon TCG is such a worldwide thing?
Making it fair is a priority for myself. And I've been listening to everyone, the community itself. To make it fair, I'll probably to do some sort of lottery system and [find] ways to, you know, make sure that fake accounts and stuff are accounted for. But basically, I'll try to do something to give everybody a chance to at least get chosen. And then there's potentially going to be [something] to satisfy people that can't travel, [to give them] the chance to [enter] an online giveaway for packs as well.
But honestly, the whole point of this is also to make myself happy. And seeing the joy of people in person in a shop is very nostalgic to myself, and I'm sure the many others that are going to come to it [will also] see the joy on their faces when they walk in, [and will be] transported to 20 years ago. The main reason why I'm doing it is for that, you know, the in-person aspect of it.
Like many reading this now, I can actually remember the smell and sensation of going into a toy shop - Benn's Toy Centre in Burnley for me - as a kid and picking up a booster pack, staring through glass and looking at singles. It's going to be so surreal for those who attend, to feel all those emotions again.
It's gonna be amazing. And people ask me, like, why would I do something like that? It's like I said: am I crazy? Yes, but am I a good crazy? I think so. Because like I said, all the packs, I can sell all the packs, and the prices are gonna keep on going up. But I think I have enough to where I feel almost obligated to now share the wealth. And that's kind of what I want to do.
Recently, Logan Paul spent $2 million on First Edition Base Set Pokémon Cards, which is crazy. Some of those packs have sold at auction for nearly $45,000 and you're going to be selling packs for retail price...
Probably not first-edition Base Set packs, because I don't have that many of those. But what I do have is the original - and I showed this on my videos before, still in the cases from Wizards of the Coast - the original, Base Set unlimited packs, in the blister packs that you're supposed to put on the shelves, and that's what I'm going to have on the shelves. And those alone, I mean, I can tell you how much they're worth today - but like probably a week from now they could be worth more, like $1,200 to $1,400 per pack, and I want to sell these packs to you probably for $3.99 each. Some stores sold them for $4.99. But at that point, does it really matter, that dollar difference?
I guess not!
And I won't be able to make every single person happy, you know, when there's this many people involved with an event this big. But I'm trying to, for what it's worth, [make it accessible for] people that can't travel. Because I know there's people wanting to get in this thing, across the world. So you have to make it organised in some way. Hopefully the way that I ultimately choose is the correct way.
So do you have any big plans for coverage? You're keeping everyone updated, but do you have any other big plans for documenting the event?
I'll be doing the whole documentary series. I'll have a hired [film] crew, from the start all the way to the finish, you know: setting up the store, some pre-planning stages. Eventually we'll release that documentary. But at the same time, I'll be releasing shorts, videos on the channel, or something of the process, because I want to make sure people are as updated as much as [possible].
And I bet there has been a lot of interest already?
I can't tell you how many random celebrities, influencers, news companies... it's been really crazy for just an idea. I just announced it, and I'm trying to keep people updated - but it's like there's a fanfare already for it. And I don't even have [anything] I can show you, other than the product that I've shown in my videos that's going to be in the store, which is awesome. Because that's like the main draw. Yeah, I think it'd be great to get as much coverage for it. That will be pretty crazy. Something that probably will never, never, it's never been done and probably won't ever happen again after this. Just with the prices.
Check out more articles in GAMINGbible's Pokémon Week, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the franchise:
Pokémon Red, Blue and Green: How The Nintendo Game Boy Hits Were Made
Pokémon Ranked: Every Main Game, From Worst To Best
Pokémon Fans Have Made The Franchise What It Is, 25 Years On
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