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The Pokémon Company International x Van Gogh Museum: Scalpers, sellouts, and safety concerns bring promotion to a grinding halt

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Empty shelves at the Van Gogh MuseumThe Pokémon Company International’s collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has been plagued with issues since its debut on September 28th, mostly in regards to the limited edition “Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat” promo card. Originally available in-person at the Van Gogh Museum and free with online orders of Van Gogh-themed Pokémon merchandise through the Pokémon Center online, the card has become a rare find, as scalpers overran the museum and sold out the Pokémon Center’s merch almost immediately. The Van Gogh Museum will continue to offer its Pokémon-themed exhibits and activities until the promotion’s original end date, January 7th of 2024, despite being completely sold out of Pokémon merchandise and no longer offering the promo card. While the Pokémon Center has made some moves to make the card available with online orders again, fans have not been pleased with their communication surrounding this debacle.

Safety concerns at the Van Gogh Museum

Several videos from the collaboration’s opening day show crowds swarming the Pokémon merchandise available for sale in the Van Gogh Museum’s gift shop, and Pokémon merchandise is no longer even listed in the museum’s webstore, where it was limited to only one piece per order. Vulkanized on Reddit noted on September 30th, two days after the official launch, that people outside the museum offered to pay double what they paid for their ticket inside, while others on Reddit noted the completely emptied Pokémon section of the gift shop. On Friday, October 13th, the Van Gogh Museum updated their website to indicate that they would no longer be giving out the “Pikachu with Grey Felt Card,” which was originally offered as a free prize for completing a self-guided tour aimed at children 6 and older. The only other official avenue for receiving the card, the Pokémon Center, does not ship to Netherlands, though the Van Gogh Museum website also indicates that the card will be available at Dutch retailers early next year.

The Van Gogh Museum website says:
The Van Gogh Museum and The Pokémon Company International take the safety and security of visitors and staff very seriously. Recently, a small group of individuals has created an undesirable situation that has led us to take the difficult decision to remove the Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat promo card from the museum. In this way, visitors will be able to experience this special collection of Pokémon paintings and the rest of the museum in a safe and enjoyable manner.

Response from The Pokémon Center

Via @AndyCollectz on XThe official Pokémon X (formerly Twitter) account announced that all the Pokémon x Van Gogh products available at the Pokémon Center online were sold out on September 29th, the same day they were initially posted on the website for sale. “We are actively working on ways to provide more "Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat" promo cards for fans shopping at Pokémon Center in the future,” it said, and on October 17th, announced that the promo card would be available with a purchase of $30 USD of Trading Card Game products. However, already on October 19th, the card shows as unavailable on the website and does not automatically add to orders of qualifying merchandise. Some fans are still encountering problems with their orders of the original merch drop. @AndyCollectz on X posted this email reply from The Pokémon Center Support Team, even though The Pokémon Company International announced the official start of the collaboration to be September 28th. Other customers all over social media report their Van Gogh collaboration orders cancelled for unexplained “errors.”

Scarcity and Reselling

Pokémon, as a brand, is aware of the problem its customers encounter with resellers; The Pokémon Company announced earlier this year that Pokémon TCG: Scarlet & Violet—151 booster packs would be manufactured on a made-to-order basis to discourage scalpers. Even with the chaotic scenes coming out the Van Gogh Museum, most fan vitriol is focused firmly on the Pokémon Center, whose responsibility to prevent scalpers has come into question. Secondhand prices for “Pikachu with Felt Hat” and other merchandise from the Pokémon x Van Gogh collaboration range well into the hundreds on sites like eBay and StockX, giving little opportunity to fans who weren’t able to get the card which was originally meant to be free.

Via @MaccAttacc18 on X
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Bulbanews Writer
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