by Phoenix Desertsong; Old School Duelist
One of the key cards in Yu-Gi-Oh’s second North American set, Metal Raiders, Thousand Dragon is a secret rare still highly sought after by collectors because of its nostalgic value. It has been reprinted at common several times, including Starter Deck Joey, Dark Beginnings 2, Legendary Collection 4, and the Speed Duel Starter Deck: Duelists of Tomorrow, and once at rare in Millenium Pack 1. Still, as one of Joey’s favorite cards from the early Yu-Gi-Oh anime and one of the more powerful cards in the first couple of sets, Thousand Dragon gets a ton of collector love.
Thousand Dragon is a basic Fusion monster, who lists Time Wizard and Baby Dragon as his fusion materials. He has 2400 ATK and 2000 DEF, solid numbers for a fusion monster from those materials. Having these two monsters and a Polymerization could mean big trouble for opponents in the early days of casual Yu-Gi-Oh play. Of course, someone could answer him with a Dark Magician, Blue-Eyes White Dragon, or Serpent Night Dragon. But, removal was at a premium in those days, with Fissure and Dark Hole the most common answers, and Raigeki tough to come by. He was never a very competitive card, but he was fun and quite rare to pull.
Even unlimited edition copies can still fetch a few dollars if they are graded and authenticated by PSA. The PSA SMR report lists PSA 8 copies for $20 and PSA 9 copies for $30. On eBay, the PSA 9 copies can fetch even $40. If you happen to have one graded a Gem Mint PSA 10, you may expect $100 - although completed listings fall closer to $75. These aren’t bad numbers, but 1st edition is where the long-term value of this card lies. First edition PSA 8 examples have an SMR price of $75, PSA 9 examples around $150, and PSA 10 can command a whopping $450. One sold in September 2019 for over $650.
As of 10/25/2019, here is where the population of these graded cards stands:
Unlimited - 14 PSA 8, 36 PSA 9, 32 PSA 10
First Edition - 12 PSA 8, 33 PSA 9, 62 PSA 10
Interestingly, there are many more 1st edition PSA 10 examples in existence, but it’s easily the more desirable card. If you’re purely a collector, a PSA 9 or PSA 10 unlimited edition example is fine. If you’re looking for ROI, definitely hunt for the 1st edition PSA 10. It’s a nice card to own just to have a piece of Yu-Gi-Oh history in your possession.
by Phoenix Desertsong; Old School Duelist
Long ago, my brother and I were very much into collecting YuGiOh. His favorite cards were the Elemental Heroes, as he was a big fan of the YuGiOh GX anime series. Interestingly enough, the Elemental Heroes have actually aged quite well, as have their counterparts, the Neo-Spacian cards. While Elemental Heroes have gone in and out of the competitive scene (here’s to you Neo-Spacian Aqua Dolphin!) the cards have actually remained quite relevant in YuGiOh Finance!
YuGiOh Prices is perhaps the greatest YuGiOh Finance resource there currently is. They track the Top 100 Most Expensive Cards that are metagame-relevant. As of February 2019, the top card is Ultimate Rare Cyber Dragon, which is probably not a surprise to anyone. Not only is Cyber Dragon a great deck archetype, but it’s an iconic YuGiOh card - which also happens to be from the YuGiOh GX era.
Despite its many reprints, Cyber Dragon has three printings that have appreciated over time, the original Ultimate Rare printing in Cybernetic Revolution, the secret rare Collectible Tin printing, and the Dark Revelation 4 Ultra Rare printing. In just the past year (feb 18 to Feb 19) both the DR4 Ultra Rare and CRV Ultimate Rare have risen in average price by 140 percent!
But, among the Top 100 Meta-Relevant cards are a number of Elemental HERO cards:
Elemental HERO Air Neos
Elemental HERO Bladedge
Elemental HERO Bubbleman
Elemental HERO Neos Knight
Elemental HERO Shining Flare Wingman
Elemental HERO Shining Phoenix Enforcer
Elemental HERO Flame Wingman
Outside of Bubbleman, seeing seven Elemental HERO monsters in the Top 100 Most Expensive Cards is actually pretty surprising, isn’t it? Well, like Magic the Gathering and Pokemon, YuGiOh is a Trading Card Game with a HUGE casual player base. Beyond being iconic to fans of the YuGiOh GX anime, the Elemental HERO cards, especially the Fusion Monsters, are just nice to look at.
(Elemental HERO Thunder Giant was also on this list, but recently fell off. We'll still look a look at him in this article, though, as he's an interesting card.)
So, let’s take a look at the finance implications of each of these Elemental HERO cards and figure out which printings are the best investments for your YuGiOh binder.
Elemental HERO Air Neos - Strike of Neos
Printed only in Strike of Neos, this Elemental HERO fusion has both ultra rare and ultimate rare printings. While ultimate rare cards are typically far more valuable than their ultra rare counterparts, this is not the case with Air Neos. Whereas the Ultra Rare version is up 123% over the past year, the ultimate rare is only up 98% in the same time. Both versions have an average price around $65, with 1st edition copies going for a bit more. Ultimate rare YuGiOh cards are notoriously condition sensitive, so Near-Mint ultimate rare copies of this card will be more valuable in the long run.
From a playability standpoint, Air Neos does have a good ability. He has a base 2500 ATK, but when your Life Points are lower than your opponent’s, Air Neos gains ATK equal to the difference. That’s pretty bonkers! Unfortunately, he returns to the Extra Deck at the end of the turn. It’s still a VERY powerful ability, nonetheless, so it makes sense that players want this card around to play in their casual HERO decks.
Still, Air Neos is difficult to summon since it requires specific monsters to be Fusion Summoned. Fortuantely, a card from Savage Strike called Neos Fusion allows you to get around not only his summoning restrictions, but also having to shuffle him back into the deck that turn! So, if you can get him onto the field, Air Neos is extremely deadly in the right situation.
Elemental Hero Bladedge - Elemental Energy
A casual fan favorite, Elemental HERO Bladedge is a key to one of the original boss Fusion Monsters, Elemental HERO Wildedge. On its own, it's a 2600 ATK monster with the ability to inflict piercing battle damage to monsters in defense position. It's also an EARTH-type Warrior monster, which is useful in certain deck builds. Really, it's the collectible appeal of this card that's putting it into the $20 range.
Elemental Hero Bubbleman - Elemental Hero Collection
Bubbleman is easily the most competitive of the six HEROs we’re looking at here. He’s seen top deck play as recently as October 2018. Not only is he a Level 4 monster, but he’s the only card in your hand, you can Special Summon him from your hand. If you control no cards and have no cards in your hand when he’s summoned, you can draw 2 cards. That ability is actually pretty relevant, not to mention all of the Fusion monsters Bubbleman facilitates Summoning.
Being a competitively relevant card, even common printings of Elemental Hero Bubbleman have appreciated in price between 2018 and 2019. His original rare printing in Cybernetic Revolution is still relevant, as well - up 47% in a year! His ultimate rare printing hasn’t fared nearly as well, though.
What puts Bubbleman on this Top 100 cards list, though, is his secret rare printing from the Elemental Hero Collection. It’s up 80% in the last year and keeps appreciating.With an average price of $27, they’ll dry up fast when players decide they want a full playset (three copies) of this particular card!
Elemental HERO Neos Knight - Extreme Victory
Like Air Neos, Elemental HERO Neos Knight is considerably more valuable in Ultra Rare than in Ultimate Rare! Up 87% year-over-year, Neos Knight has an affordable average price of $13. The ultimate rare averages $11, despite being considerably rarer, and is only up 30% over the past year.
Unlike Air Neos, Neos Knight doesn’t have to return to the Extra Deck at the end of the turn. Here’s what he does:
“This card gains ATK equal to half the ATK of the Warrior-Type Fusion Material Monster used to Fusion Summon this card, other than "Elemental HERO Neos". This card can attack twice during each Battle Phase. If this card attacks or is attacked, your opponent takes no Battle Damage.”
Not only can Neos Knight be an extremely powerful beat-stick, but he can attack TWICE in the same battle phase. The downside is that he inflicts no Battle Damage. But with 2500 original ATK, you’re really just using this guy to clear the path for your other monsters to do the rest of the work. The other downside is you need to fusion summon him, although you don’t require a Elemental Hero Neos (or a Gemini-summoned Neos Alius) to summon him.
Neos Knight has popped up in competitive decks in the past, particularly Qliphorts in mid-2016. But it sees the most play in the online game YuGiOh Duel Links. Still, with Neos Fusion making this guy a lot easier to summon in a pinch, Neos Knight is much more viable than it was before!
Elemental HERO Shining Flare Wingman - Elemental Energy
One of the original big boss Fusion Monsters of the Elemental Heroes deck, Shining Flare Wingman is the Fusion between Elemental HERO Flame Wingman and Elemental HERO Sparkman. He gains 300 ATK for each "Elemental Hero" card in your graveyard. Also, when he desteroys a monster by battle and sends it to the graveyard, you inflict damage equal to that monster's ATK in the graveyard to your opponent. Ouch. No wonder that the Ultimate Rare printing of this card was pushing $60 in March 2019. The Ultra rare original printing is also moving up.
Elemental HERO Shining Phoenix Enforcer - Enemy of Justice
Shining Phoenix Enforcer is an extremely powerful Elemental HERO fusion monster. Just read this:
“Must be Fusion Summoned and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways. This card gains 300 ATK for each "Elemental HERO" card in your Graveyard. This card cannot be destroyed by battle.”
Unlike some of the other Elemental HERO cards we’ve mentioned, Phoenix Enforcer’s ultimate rare printing is actually by far his most valuable, followed by his ultra rare printing in the same set. The ultimate rare is up an insane 983% in the last six months to an average price of $58! The ultra rare is “only” up 188% to an average of $14
While Shining Phoenix Enforcer is difficult to summon in a competitive environment, casual HERO players love this guy because he is easily a finisher for the deck. He’s also an important card in the YuGiOh GX anime. There’s a lot to like about this card.
Elemental HERO Flame Wingman - The Lost Millenium
Jaden Yuki’s signature card from the GX anime, Flame Wingman has been a favorite of YuGiOh collectors since the day he was released in The Lost Millenium. But, his original ultra rare printing has actually bottomed out recently. Collectors seem to be favoring two other printings. Interestingly, it’s not Flame Wingman’s rarest printing - the Elemental Hero Collection secret rare that put it on this list - that’s seeing the most action. Rather, it’s the Legendary Collection 2 Mega Pack Secret Rare (up 58% to $9.50) and the Lost Millenium Ultimate Rare (up nearly 100% to $24). For this card to double in a year, with a lot of that movement in the past month, this should be an important target for any Elemental HERO collector.
Elemental HERO Thunder Giant - Dark Revelation 3
Thunder Giant is actually a pretty good fusion monster. He’s easier to summon and doesn’t leave the field like the Neos fusions. Even though he has to be Fusion Summoned, it’s not required to have “Elemental Hero Sparkman” and “Elemental Hero Clayman.” Thunder Giant has 2400 ATK and is a Level 6 monster. He also has a fairly good ability:
“Once per turn: You can discard 1 card to target 1 face-up monster on the field with original ATK less than the ATK of this card; destroy that target.”
So, this is a pretty sweet card for a HERO player. But, there are a lot of printings of this guy - being a popular card from the YuGiOh GX anime. Which is the best? In the case of Thunder Giant, the Dark Revelation 3 Ultra Rare is the most valuable. It has an average price of about $80 and is up 43% in just the last three months. It’s a great investment for the serious HERO collector.
Like with Pokemon, YuGiOh is a game with a huge casual player base but also a strong collection base. By identifying the printings of each card that are appreciating on a regular basis, you can make smart decisions that will make your YuGiOh card collection a good investment. While YuGiOh Finance hasn’t taken off the way that MTG Finance has, it may get there eventually. So, don’t worry about reprints of your favorite cards, as long as you know the key printings for each popular card.
Any YuGiOh finance questions? Comment below, and we’ll do our best to answer them!
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