Every developed nation has its share of unusual and sometime wild consumer crazes. Here we have experienced wave upon wave of them, including such items as the hula hoop, the slinky and the pet rock. Despite generation after generation of independent thinkers and rebels, we still have those periods when we all behave more like a flock of sheep than loners. Occasionally these unusual items become crazes in more than one country, and the fascination with rare Japanese Pokemon cards is a great example.
These cards are just one cog of a huge creative marketing machine showing what genius can do to expand the popularity of a single fad into a mega empire. This enormous enterprise stems from the creative idea of a single Japanese man who, as a kid, enjoyed capturing bugs. His dream was to create some form of entertainment to pass the joy he experienced on to others.
The tool he used was the wildly popular electronic game known as game boy. When he saw it for the first time and noticed the cable attached to it, he imagined insects crawling along the cable and determined to make it into a game. Unfortunately as excited as he was about to gain he was unsuccessful in convincing Nintendo that it was a worthwhile project. Fortunately a friend of his had greater success in the company eventually decided to fund the development of his dream, and Pokemon was born.
But the game had its fans, and it spread by word of mouth, which simply and inexplicably took off. As its popularity exploded, the spin offs were everything a marketing company could dream of and hope would happen. One of the creatures in the game was named Pikachu, it was manufactured out of plastic and became ubiquitous; almost everyone had one, although it had little or no functionality.
With the addition of a cartoon series that explained the characters, the Pokemon craze went worldwide. While here in America many do not even know where the name came from, the fascination with the creatures still became a widespread commercial success. Japanese Pokemon characters are known all over the world.
The Pokemon products which are now sold all over the world were predicted by the creators of the game. The addition of trading cards was pure marketing genius, and now rare Japanese Pokemon cards are a lucrative business in and of itself. Some rare Japanese Pokemon cards sell for thousands of dollars while others are collected by millions of people worldwide.