Fair Warning: this post is about 2.8 years old, so some of the information might be a bit dated. On the other hand, this post was last modified about 2.8 years ago, so maybe it's up-to-date after all. In any case, please keep all this in mind while reading. Thanks for understanding!
A Quick Diversion:  

The Actual News:

This one’s a quicky but goodie. It has more moves than Ex-lax! And it’s an oldie but moldy. …no wait, scratch that last one (I’m gonna get something to eat!).

Anyways, today I actually want to share a piece of honest-to-goodness Pokémon TCG rumor news: has the new Pokémon Celebrations set just been leaked??

As a reminder, the Pokémon Celebrations set is a special set due to be released in October. It’s said to have 45 new cards based on classic card designs—such as “Light Toxtricity” using the classic Neo card design, or “Dark Sylveon V”, both of which bring the classic “Dark/Light” Pokémon type to the modern game. However, on top of the 45 new cards, it’s said that a special subset of 25 cards of “close remakes… of iconic cards from the past” will be added to Celebrations. Apparently the subset’s name will be “Classic Collections”, and will include Base Set Charizard! Of course these “close remake” cards will have the “Pokémon 25” logo on them, as well as modern copyright information and other minor changes.

Well Veks TCG did a video about some leaks of the upcoming Pokémon Celebrations, though most of it was about the “Classic Collections” subset. Take a quick look at their video below:

If you don’t feel like watching, the Veks TCG video covers the following cards:Mystery card from the leak

Meanwhile, these seem to be from the main set itself, all of which using modern “Sword/Shield” blanks:

  • Palkia (with the ability “Absolute Space” and attack “Overdrive Smash”)
  • Lugia (with the attacks “Aeroball” and “Deep Crush”)
  • Yveltal (with the attacks “Cry of Destruction” and “Dark Feather”)
  • Ho-oh (“Sacred Fire” and “Fire Blast”)
  • Xerneas
  • Reshiram (“Scorching Wing” and “Black Flame”)
  • Groundon (“Magma Volcano” and “Massive Pound/Blast”)
  • Kyogre (“Aqua Scorch(?)” and “Surf”)
  • Dialga (“TemporalBackflow” and “Metal Blast”)
  • some mystery Lightning-type Pokémon (pictured right)

Crazy stuff, huh? Let’s assuming for a second that it’s real: some people have been wondering why some of the cards in the leak were included in the set. Donphan PRIME? Rocket’s Zapdos?? I mean, Zapdos is cool and all, but… why? Simple: many of the cards, if they’re not included for being iconic and/or cool (eg Venusaur/Charizard/Blastoise), they’re included for being insane cards on the tournament scene. Donphan PRIME was a top-tier card in its time, as well as Luxray GL Lv-X. That said, I would be surprised if Base Hitmonchan, Base Electabuzz, Jungle Scyther and/or Jungle Wigglytuff weren’t included in “Classic Collections” as they were part of the first seriously powerful Pokémon TCG deck, Haymaker.

Now here comes the real meat-and-potatoes of the post: are these cards real, was this leak legit? The TL;DR answer is: conditionally, yes. The fuller response is:

I gotta admit, I was skeptical. Frankly anyone can take an existing card, slap a Pokémon 25 logo on it (especially seeing as it’s pretty common and easy to find), and call it a “leak”! I built my entire Pokémon career on basically doing something similar. OK well, I wasn’t trying to be malicious, but the thing is: if I could “leak” something, anyone else could. So when I first saw the leaks, I only saw just a few cards, and really crappy, highly compressed pictures to boot (which is an almost GUARANTEED sign that something is fake)… so very little of it was all that convincing to me:

However…. there were more and more and more pictures that I didn’t see before… so it got me really thinking: maybe they were legit?? So I did some further digging into this, and I discovered a few key things which led me to believe that these were legit… albeit not without some concerns.

So as part of the whole “Pokémon 25” shindig, the Pokémon TCG has been re-releasing a number of their classic cards in their original card layouts; most of them have just been released as part of the First Partner Pack series. But as part of the process of actually physically updating the original card designs created by Wizards in 1999 to be used on modern computers and printed on new cards in the year 2021, little changes have appeared on the card designs themselves… some of it intentional, but a lot of it was just part of the changes that 20-ish years of desktop publishing software updates have created. Take a look at these Base Set Bulbasaurs for example:

Comparison between the 'First Partner Pack' version of Base Bulbasaur and its original Base Set counterpark.

The one on the left came from the “First Partner Pack” for the Kanto Starters, while the card on the right is a scan of an original Base Set Bulbasaur. I did an indepth analysis of the update on the First Partner Pack page, but long-and-short-of-it is that my SPECHUL EYES noticed two main differences:

  • Wizards’ name is removed from the old cards (too bad, but it makes sense since Wizards didn’t print the ‘Pokémon 25’ versions of the cards)
  • there have been minor typeface changes (kerning, leading, etc) that have simply crept in as part of the use of newer software and updated versions of the fonts.

You can see what I mean; here is the Wizards’ copyright being removed…

Scan showing the text '1999 Wizards' being removed from the rereleased versions.

…while in the animated gifs below here show the minor typeface changes that occurred. The left image has the letters “d”, “l” and “p” aligned, while the right image has the background aligned; in either case you can see the difference in how the text was rendered between 2000 and 2021.

Kerning example #1 Kerning example #2

I should say that this is all just a quaint observation, not some kind of SHOCKING REVELATION that TPCI is trying to pull one over on us or something because they secretly lost the original files and had to rebuild them from scratch. Naw… instead, this is just a fun look behind the scenes of card design. That said, by the looks of it, the extent of the work that TPCI’s card designers did in bringing these classic cards into the modern age was to:

  • open up the original “Base Set – Bulbasaur.indd” file
  • remove “©1999 Wizards”
  • slap the “Pokémon 25” symbol on it
  • repeat X times for the cards to be released

…and that was that. Easy peasy, Koffing Weezing.

Now since we know this, we can use this information to determine if these leaked cards are the real deal or fan-made fakes. And fortunately, we got to see two cards from the leaks which were previously released during the Wizards’ era: Base Blastoise and Promo “Birthday” Pikachu. Here, I’ve put them side-by-side with their original scans and the leaked versions:

The the leakers DID simply take an existing version and slap the “Pokémon 25” logo on them, then it would be a simple matter of looking to see if the Wizards’ text is on the cards AND if there are any visible kerning/etc issues. And what do we see? Well, Blastoise’s copyright text is shadowed out (sneaky!), but Pikachu’s isn’t… and look: there’s no Wizards text! But wait, surely someone could’ve just known that about the cards and simply blotted it out, right? Well if they did do that, then the width of the “©1995, 96, 98 Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK.” text would be the same length. But check this out: in the original Wizards card, you can see that the text up to the word “GAMEFREAK” ends before the end of the underline for “Your Birthday”, but on the “Leaked” Card it seems to end at the line or even past it! Here, lemme just show you what I mean:

Birthday Pikachu Comparison, no guidelines Birthday Pikachu Comparison, with guidelines

Soooo! Does this mean they’re totally real? Well, it certainly means that if they’re fake, the faker is damn good to know to include those same incidental things to help convince anyone who knows to look for those kinds of things! But here’s the thing, that copyright text length deal isn’t the only different. My SPECHUL EYES saw a LOT of those minor differences between both Pikachu and Blastoise cards. It’s really hard to explain how I can tell, so for now you’ll just have to take my word on it, but there’s stuff like the words “this attack” below the attack name “Birthday Surprise”, and how it’s pushed slightly to the right on the updated card… or how the “(before you attack)” text on Blastoise’s Rain Dance Pokémon Power is shift slightly to the left on the updated card. It’s not something I can test very easily, but I can once I get an actual scan.

In any case, the point of all this is… I’m actually NOW convinced that these are legit leaks. The ONLY condition that they might NOT be leaks is the fact that some faker would know to fake in those details in the hopes that someone like me would notice them to then be convinced that they’re real… but I personally think it’s more realistic that someone just happened to snap a picture of a few cards their friend working at TPCI smuggled out, than that someone took the time and energy to create these fakes cards AND new artwork for all these cards, knew to remove “©1999 Wizards”, knew to adjust the typeface kerning, etc, as well as all the material to properly fake them (blanks and whatnot), especially since blanks for many of these cards don’t exactly exist yet.

And there we are! If you fast-forwarded to the end of this article wanting the answer: the answer is 100% fake! … Lol gotcha! Naw, I’m calling this leak as basically legit, albeit with a slight chance that if these were fakes, they were made by someone who REALLY knew what they were doing. That said, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible for them to be fakes, I just think it’s more unlikely that they’re fake . But that’s still where I’ll call them conditionally legit, because there is that off chance that someone could’ve faked them… so let’s say the probabilities are: 85% legit, 15% fake. About as likely as the Gigaleaks as being fake.