Let’s Talk About the Pokémon Center and Van Gogh

The Pokémon Company recently announced a collaboration between Pokémon and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. This is the sort of collaboration that gets Pokémon fans really excited, with many of us still hunting down anything we can get our hands on from the previous Edvard Munch collection. And sadly, it is also the sort of collaboration that gets scalpers excited too. So let’s talk about it!

The aim of this collab was to celebrate the 170th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s birth, and the 50th anniversary of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Pokémon Company International and the Van Gogh Museum have collaborated to reimagine the artist’s paintings. There is some amazing art inspired by iconic Van Gogh paintings, including Sunflora in The Sunflower, and Pikachu inspired by ‘Self portrait with a grey felt hat’. The Pokémon Center and the Museum promised a highly collectible promo card of Pikachu that wasn’t available for sale, along with a variety of merch, from t-shirts and tote bags, to a plushie and actual canvasses of the art!

The Van Gogh Museum opened their collaboration the day before the collection became available on the Pokémon Center, and sadly the photos and videos on twitter really said it all. It was chaos. The museum was absolutely swamped with people who seemed determined to grab absolutely all the merch they could, and as many promo cards as they could. The promo card had been announced as something you could only get one of, my completing a special quiz, but eBay listings showed that people were clearly able to obtain them in large numbers. As a fan, it was so upsetting to see the carnage. It didn’t seem respectful, and it didn’t feel like it was primarily Pokémon fans. Given the amount of merch for resale almost immediately, it appeared that scalpers and resellers got their hands on a lot of it.

Feeling rather apprehensive, fans then waited for the online Pokémon Center to upload the merch, hoping to be able to grab their holy grail item. Personally I was hoping to be able to get the Pikachu plushie, and the Sunflora Sunflowers art canvas. I waited patiently throughout the day, occasionally refreshing the website to see if it had been launched yet. After waiting all day the listings suddenly appeared, only to all be listed as ‘sold out’ immediately. So how on earth did that happen?! While the odd lucky Pokémon fan did seem to get singular pieces of merch, it seems that the resellers and scalpers ran bots which were able to buy the products from the website coding before it was even live on the website properly. What a disaster!

The launch went so badly wrong, that the Pokémon Company actually apologised via social media to fans.

The Pokémon Center does have some anti-bots measures, in fact, I’ve been banned by them before! Open too many webpages or refresh too quickly, and you’ll see the pop up below appear, and find you can no longer shop. It is fairly easy to accidentally trigger this warning, I was banned because I opened too many different web pages when I was looking at a new plushie range.

With genuine fans reporting that they got blocked, and bots seemingly running rampant, there has to be a better way to deal with collaborations like this that are going to be met with extremely high demand. Currently the Van Gogh Museum is out of stock of all products also, and is hoping to restock at some point in October. Whether or not the Pokémon Center will restock at all is unknown, we can but hope!

In Japan, the Pokémon Center often has lottery based systems, designed to ‘weedle’ out resellers and limit damage caused by scalpers. This is a system the UK and US Pokémon Centers could adopt to try to make it somewhat fairer. While it may be disappointing to lose out via a lottery, not even being able to have a chance at buying the merch you want because bots have already bought it all is even worse! Lottery systems have been used for Pokémon Worlds tickets and other real life events, and as it requires names and addresses, currently it seems like the only way to move forward to prevent situations like this from happening. More limits on what people can buy, and actually enforcing those limits in person, are also necessary.

We fans want to be able to support these collaborations, and not be left to the mercy of scalpers who have now listed all this merch for ridiculous prices for resell. I hope the Pokémon Center can learn from this, and launch future collabs in more successful ways.

Did you manage to get your hands on any of the Van Gogh collab? Or were you also left disappointed? Let us know!

Author & tags

Turtwig obsessive, real life Psyduck, Pokémon GO AR Photographer, found footage horror fan and Pokémon GO Hub AR Queen

Further reading

Popular today

Latest articles

Support us

Buy GO Hub merch

Get your very own GO Hub t-shirt, mug, or tote.