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Pokemon generations I to III US box print/variant guide, with contents and population survey


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Hi folks! I'm fairly new here, but I did post a few weeks back asking some questions about variations in Pokemon first generation releases. I've been doing a ton of research since then, and now I'm sh

As I had mentioned before, my Red, Blue and Yellow were pre-order pick ups on their respective launch days, and here's a list of the inserts for each: Pokémon Red – U/DMG-APAE-USA, DMG-USA-7, Pok

No one's messaged me asking to buy MY Pokémon collection yet... What, my Taiwanese Perkermern not good enough for ya?! Where's MY hundred thousand dollars?!! Bunch of ingrates... 😤  

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1 minute ago, AdamW said:

Er, probably! I've bought quite a lot 🤣the one listed as a first print which was actually a third?

That's the one! Your message about the different prints blew my mind! I had no idea 🙂 then I came across this thread and was about to be like "I heard there might be a 6th print" and I saw the username and was like "HOLD UP" lol 

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Updated with Crystal survey data. I thought the Crystal prints were split about 50/50 but turns out it's actually around 66/33, double-ended print more common. As a result of that I changed my thinking on the print order and am tentatively putting the double-ended print #1 now - it would be quite an outlier for the first print to be substantially rarer than the second, that's not how it goes for any other game. The first print is the most common for every game except FR/LG where it runs just slightly behind the Player's Choice print (and Nintendo wanting to save money on pack-in wireless adapters probably has a lot to do with that).

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So I have a confession to make - I've been holding out on y'all 😄 I just updated the first post with...FireRed and LeafGreen sixth prints. Yup...sixth prints. (If anyone bothered to add up the percentages they would've known something was off, because I didn't massage those numbers :>)

These are the Player's Choice print, but instead of the usual "ONLY FOR" in a blue triangle at top-left front (over the Game Boy Advance logo, meaning "Only for GBA"), they have "PLAYS ON DS*" in a blue circle imposed on a triangle there. The asterisk is matched in a small note under the 'compatible systems' blob on back top-right: it says "* Game Boy Advance game plays on Nintendo DS in single player mode."

Now if there is any such thing as an actually-rare main series Pokemon game variant...these are it. They are by far the rarest prints of any of the games that I've found so far. I've seen exactly two copies of each sold since November, and I bought one of each. It's so uncommon I initially thought it must just be a sticker on the #5 print, and there were actually some copies of #5 sold with a similar sticker on the outside of the shrinkwrap, but then Nintendo went ahead and did an actual box print...but barely any of them.

I included pictures from the LeafGreen listing I just bought, just to prove this is a real thing. I only wanted to use pictures of my own copies in a very consistently-taken format, and I'll replace those pics when my copies arrive.

I'm slightly paranoid there may be Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald equivalents, but if there are, I haven't seen one yet. It's still possible, though - in fact if these only exist at 1% of the population, even if the Emerald one exists it's only a 50/50 shot I'd have seen one by now, statistically speaking.

But then, maybe they only did it for FR and LG because Nintendo/TPC just loved printing FR and LG! I have similar questions about why the hell the fourth prints even exist. They went to all the trouble of revising the box art for it, then printed like five copies, threw it away and did it all again for the Player's Choice print. Why? It's so bizarre.

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Posted (edited)

So here is something kinda cool. HA has recently put up a listing of a no-ESRB Yellow where they claim this:

"You read that right, this copy does not have an ESRB logo. Of all of the sealed copies of Pokemon Yellow we've offered so far, this is the variant that seems to come to us the least often and appears to be in the shortest supply. The ESRB was formed several years prior to this game's release, so this variant has been a bit of a headscratcher for some. At this point, the theory that has the most traction is that this copy was included as a blister pack-in that came with a guide book, console, or both."

I don't agree with that theory. But I figured, hey, instead of just having theories, let's find some evidence! So, I did. I found this album of photos from Toys R Us stores in 1999 and 2000. And in the 15th photo, taken in a store in Paramus, NJ on June 29th 2000, you can see the no-ESRB print of Yellow for sale, on its own, not packaged with anything else (very top left of the pictured display stand). So, there goes HA's theory. 😄

(Of course I don't agree with their idea that no-ESRB is the least common print either. HA's numbers are clearly skewed by mainly selling sealed copies. They see a disproportionate number of black-ESRB copies.)

edit: another fun thing about this album is that the 9th photo, taken in the same store on the same day, shows a black-ESRB copy of Yellow for sale on a different stand. (On the bottom shelf, ESRB logo is just visible).

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1 minute ago, AdamW said:

So here is something kinda cool. HA has recently put up a listing of a no-ESRB Yellow where they claim this:

"You read that right, this copy does not have an ESRB logo. Of all of the sealed copies of Pokemon Yellow we've offered so far, this is the variant that seems to come to us the least often and appears to be in the shortest supply. The ESRB was formed several years prior to this game's release, so this variant has been a bit of a headscratcher for some. At this point, the theory that has the most traction is that this copy was included as a blister pack-in that came with a guide book, console, or both."

I don't agree with that theory. But I figured, hey, instead of just having theories, let's find some evidence! So, I did. I found this album of photos from Toys R Us stores in 1999 and 2000. And in the 15th photo, taken in a store in Paramus, NJ on June 29th 2000, you can see the no-ESRB print of Yellow for sale, on its own, not packaged with anything else (very top left of the pictured display stand). So, there goes HA's theory. 😄

(Of course I don't agree with their idea that no-ESRB is the least common print either. HA's numbers are clearly skewed by mainly selling sealed copies. They see a disproportionate number of black-ESRB copies.)

If you think for a second that your photo proof will sway anyone from HA's written opinion, you've got another thing comin'.

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So I just spent a fun day cataloging the serial numbers on player's guide offers, and believe it or not, I'm glad I did!

FireRed, LeafGreen and Emerald have serial numbers on their player's guide offers. These have some kinda interesting properties. Most have two numbers, one on the MY NINTENDO side and one on the 'mons' side. The one on the MY NINTENDO side appears to simply count up from 0; the very first one ever printed (that presumably went in the very first box ever printed) has number 000000001 and they go up from there.

The other one I could not figure out any kind of rhyme or reason to...until I did this. Now I have them all cataloged and I look at them alongside the other one and the box ID, there seems to be an interesting pattern to them. The second serial number seems to basically...reset, every so often. There are repeating 'cutoff points' - if you just take every case where both serial numbers are visible, and subtract the second number from the first in each case, you get a relatively small set of repeating numbers (for each game). I think what these represent is print runs of the player's guide offer; whenever they reset the presses, they dropped that counter back to 0.

The offers in FireRed and LeafGreen first print boxes don't have a second serial. All others do seem to. I tweaked my population survey script to also calculate the reset points (by doing that subtraction calculation) and associate them with box prints, and also print the lowest serial1 for a given box print if it's below the lowest known split, and it comes out like this for FR and LG (for Emerald it'd mainly be useful for correlating with the manual prints to see how many of each manual are out there, but I didn't do that yet):

Prevalence survey for Pokémon: FireRed Version (230 listings surveyed)

Print #1: 69/230 (30.0%)
Print #2: 17/230 (7.39%), splits: 1000138
Print #3: 13/230 (5.65%), splits: 1325200
Print #4: 24/230 (10.43%), low: 1637417, splits: 1938665
Print #5: 105/230 (45.65%), splits: 1986794, 2031818, 2151818, 2390714, 2713562
Print #6: 2/230 (0.87%), splits: 3122090

Prevalence survey for Pokémon: LeafGreen Version (244 listings surveyed)

Print #1: 97/244 (39.75%)
Print #2: 23/244 (9.43%), splits: 1000138
Print #3: 5/244 (2.05%)
Print #4: 18/244 (7.38%)
Print #5: 98/244 (40.16%), splits: 1740569, 1830569, 2429753, 2497753
Print #6: 3/244 (1.23%)

It's interesting that the first split is exactly the same, at just north of a million copies. I suspect this means they printed a million each of the first prints. I also suspect the next cutoff point for FireRed - 1325200 - correlates to the switch from print #2 to print #3, so there were about 325,062 #2 boxes. I know we don't have all the splits for #4, as I have #4s cataloged with serial 1 under 1938665, but serial 2 wasn't visible on any of those 😞 I'm mailing some sellers to see if I can get more info there. At least we can see that #4 probably started by #1637417, so it looks like there's a maximum of 312,217 copies of #3, and probably a minimum of 349,377 copies of #4.

It seems plausible that for FireRed print #5 (that's the common Player's Choice print) went from the 1986794 split to the 3122090 split - #6 is so rare there's probably only one split for it - so there are probably 1,135,296 or so of those out there.

LeafGreen data is annoyingly thin, I'll just have to wait for more info to show up. But it looks like by the back end of the cycle at least, they'd stopped printing identical amounts of both games; seems like FireRed was selling more, as the PC print of LG starts rather earlier than the PC print of FR.

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Yeah, the absolutely lowest serial number I saw for FireRed was 000058443, for LeafGreen it was 000040771 and for Emerald it was 000010207 . Those were all listings from twobrothersgames or one of their doppelganger accounts, interestingly (though this is partly just because that seller is very good about actually showing the damn numbers, lots of sellers don't). They've all sold, though. 😄

Of course you don't know for sure a given offer sheet came in a given box, really. I'm mostly just trusting that they did because most people don't have multiple copies of the game lying around, and very few of them get sold separately. twobrothersgames did mix up the contents of some of their boxes, though, I'm fairly sure (and I corrected the survey for that).

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So a poster called weeabruh over at efour pointed out something interesting I hadn't noticed - there's something interesting about the inserts in double-ended boxes.

There seem to be two slightly different styles of insert used on the double-ended Pokemon prints (Red and Blue #1, Yellow #2 and #3). Both inserts are actually formed from two pieces of cardboard with two 90 degree folds glued in at opposite ends of the box, each folded into this sort of shape (when viewed from above):

_______________
              |
              |____________

They are offset horizontally from each other, so the 'dividers' aren't at the same horizontal position. This design forms a pocket at one end of the box, and the divider at the other end acts as the 'base' of the pocket - the cartridge is intended to go into the pocket and sit on top of the divider at the other end.

The difference is that on one style of box, the top insert is just a simple flat piece of cardboard folded as above; on the other style it's longer and has a more complicated design that includes a sort of tab/flap that's intended to form an openable/closable top to the pocket. You pull the tab/flap out, put the cartridge in the pocket (it sits deeper inside the box than on the simple style), then push the tab/flap in again till it hits the top of the cartridge; when you do so, the loose top of the flap sits about even with the top of the box so it can be closed.

What we're finding is that the more complex flap style insert seems to be older and the simpler flat one is newer. We are pretty sure "Red text" Blue boxes (#1a) are early, and all of those that I can see the insert style for seem to have the flap style. We know double-ended Yellow boxes with black ESRB logo must be later (because of the black ESRB logo), and those all seem to have the simple flat style insert.

What weeabruh pointed out is that some Red #1 and Blue #1b boxes seem to have one style, and some seem to have the other. I already had a theory that there were some extra late copies of those boxes, because they quite often show up with -1 revision manuals (that have a black ESRB logo) and black ESRB logo carts. So this morning I've been correlating manual revisions and insert styles, and indeed, they seem to track very nicely, which seems to be a very nice corroboration of the theory. So far, every listing of a Red double-ended box with the -1 manual revision where the insert style is visible seems to have the simpler, flat, believed-newer insert style; every listing of a Red double-ended box with the original manual revision where the insert style is visible seems to have the more complex, tab/flap, believed-older insert style. (Sometimes the actual tab/flap gets torn off, but you can still tell the difference once you know what to look for; there's a sort of angle to one of the folds on the tab/flap style that isn't there on the flat style, and the tab/flap style top insert is longer and sits deeper in the box).

Note that the two insert pieces sometimes got glued into the boxes the wrong way around, so what I call the 'top' end so far as the insert is concerned - the end where the cartridge goes - winds up at the bottom of the box so far as the art is concerned.  So you have to be a bit careful when looking at pictures; the 'bottom' insert piece looks very similar on both styles, it's shorter on the tab/flap style but this isn't always easy to see in pictures. But if the picture shows what looks like the flat style with the cartridge sitting fully in it, then it should be the flat style, because you can't actually fit the cartridge in from the reverse end on either style, the 'bottom' insert piece is too short so the cart sticks out of the box.

Here are pictures of the two styles. Here's the tab/flap style, from a Blue "red text" box (#1a):

flap.jpg.1adf1daafe3b291b7308245f32ea4739.jpg

That's with the flap 'closed' over the cartridge. Here's the flat style, from a Yellow double-ended black-ESRB box (#3):

noflap.jpg.cd19dd681a1b57995aff38c18761d4af.jpg

The cartridge sits in the 'pocket' at the top left, you can just see the 'divider' of the middle insert forming the bottom of the pocket if you look carefully. The bottom end looks similar to that on both styles, though with the divider more to one side of the box.

So this makes me really pretty confident that there were indeed two runs of the Red and Blue 'first print' boxes, with the second run happening in fall 1999 at around the same time the Yellow #2 (no-ESRB, double-ended) boxes were being printed, most likely. All part of this big fall-1999 production rush I've been hypothesizing for a while. And now we can even tell which run a box is from without relying on the contents, just by checking the insert style. I don't know of any way to tell which run a sealed Red #1 or Blue #1b ("Blue text") is from, though.

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@AdamW great to see the finer details of the variations of the Pokemon games. Thanks for sharing!

I do have Pokemon games in my collection but I never really cared for what print run they came with. A lot of collectors I would imagine prefer a mint condition game than a first-print, beat-up, smelly-hairy condition one. 

And FWIW, I think this would likely be the case for the bidders on HA. That is, they’d prefer to see A+/A++ and 9.4-9.8 ratings than the details of “how many words were missing or misprinted?” or “mid-production”. 

Can you clarify with your data, what period have they been collected for?

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@GPXwell, different people like different things. There are certainly folks who care about variants and folks who don't. The world's big enough for everyone. 😄 For the HA market, I think what they really want is both. The things that sell for super high prices on HA are identifiably early, plausibly "rare" prints in good conditions. Like that $600k SMB.

There are interesting cases you can look at on HA to see exactly how this plays, actually. E.g. in the recent big auction, they sold a 9.4/A++ #1 (Sandshrew) and a 9.6/A++ #3 (black ESRB/Rattata). Same auction, same day, same buyers. Result? Sandshrew sold for $72k, black-ESRB for $25.2k. So they clearly do care about precedence.

You can also look at "Left Bros." as a good comparison. In January they sold three sealed SMB 3s: a "Right Bros." 9.0/A, a "Right Bros." 9.6/A++, and a "Left Bros." 9.0/B. Result? Left Bros. got $40,800, the two Right Bros. got $8265 and $28,800. Again, looks like precedence matters. 😄

My database covers eBay listings from November to the present, and all HA sales available on their site.

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I think over the long term most Pokemon first prints won't be worth big premiums because they're just, well, common. They produced millions of all of them. Nintendo's policy was to do huge initial pre-release print runs of the games. The sole exception is "Red text" Blue, because it was a mistake fixed in the middle of one of those huge initial pre-release print runs. It's not "rare" by, you know, Anne Willan Presents The Food Of France standards - I did some back-of-an-envelope math yesterday and I figure there were probably about 400,000-500,000 of them produced. But it's significantly less common than any other externally-identifiable "first production" (Yellow #1 990729 may possibly be in the running if we take date codes into account, I haven't done the back-of-an-envelope math on that yet, but you can't see the date codes on a sealed copy; there seem to be at least a million copies of every other "first production" box).

That's why I am really curious to see what happens with sales and prices of that specific variant as the market matures.

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Posted (edited)

Today's bonus note: Pokemon X and Y have (at least) two box prints (the same pattern exists for US and Canadian variants).

The earlier variant has an ESRB 'E' logo where the word "EVERYONE" at the top is white-on-black, and the big 'E' on the front logo has arms of perfectly equal widths (the middle one is not slightly shorter). The back ESRB logo has thick black bars at top and bottom and doesn't have "Online Interactions Not Rated By The ESRB" on it. A small line of text at the middle bottom of the back reads "Plays on Nintendo 3DS systems sold for the Americas only."

The later variant has a newer version of the ESRB logos. On the front one, "EVERYONE" is black-on-white, and the big 'E's middle arm is slightly shorter than the top and bottom arms. On the back one, there are no thick black bars (only the letters "ESRB" under the 'E' are white-on-black), and it has "Online Interactions Not Rated By The ESRB". The small line of text now reads "Plays on Nintendo 3DS family of systems sold for the Americas only".

There's a code at bottom right just above the UPC box which appears to be a print code of sorts. They go as follows:

X #1 US: 80773A
X #2 US: 101525A

Y #1 US: 80781A
Y #2 US: 101527A

X #1 CAN: 80774A
X #2 CAN: 80774B

Y #1 CAN: 80782A
Y #2 CAN: 80782B

It's odd that they changed the number for the US prints, but the letter suffix for the Canadian ones. Dunno how those codes work.

edit: looks like there are three! Seems to be a middle print which was reversible and had a Garchomp unlock code: https://www.instagram.com/p/CO-z_FXFEMZ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The back code on that one is 82195A, putting it between the other two mentioned above.

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Updated OP with current prevalence, more detail on production count estimates for FR and LG from the player's guide offers, manual dates for FR and LG, and my own photos for LG #6. Note several Blue "Red text" copies hit the market recently and population for that variant is up to 12% in the survey now.

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Wow how did I miss this thread. I'm very jealous of your organization. My Zelda variant data is a mess. I wish I kept better track of population reports and inserts.

I scanned through the thread (mostly because I don't know much about Pokemon variants), but through my Zelda variant research I picked up a couple of things that should be relevant. Although I've not spent as much time into researching Gameboy variants as I have say NES variants, so there are still plenty of holes in my knowledge. Let me know if you have other general Gameboy variant questions that I missed.

On 2/1/2021 at 12:17 AM, AdamW said:

I believe all y-fold boxes were printed in Japan, and all double-ended boxes in the US. There is a strong correlation between y-fold boxes having manuals and packins printed in Japan, and double-ended boxes having manuals and packins printed in the US. Many printed materials state their print location on them somewhere, so you can track this, and I have. I also believe from this that the U/ prefix indicates "printed in the US", and all double-ended boxes have U/ prefixes on their print codes.

On 2/1/2021 at 8:29 PM, AdamW said:

aha, that is interesting. So only the double-ended boxes have those glued-in inserts, AFAIK, y-fold boxes always seem to come with a removable one. Which people frequently lose or break or replace and don't tell you about it, so it gets tricky. And of course, for a sealed copy you can't tell what insert it has.

The inserts in my Blue true-first (error text) and second (corrected text) do seem to be different indeed. I'm not much of an expert on the styles of those glued-in inserts, so I can't really say which one is what type - is there a reference somewhere? Thanks!

On 2/11/2021 at 4:55 PM, AdamW said:

An interesting tidbit on U/ and non-U/: the more research I do the more U/ manuals and flyers seem to correspond with double-ended boxes. I've got a tentative theory that Nintendo basically had two box production lines, one in Japan that made y-fold boxes and one in the US that made double-ended boxes, and usually the inserts would be produced alongside the boxes.

Yep, I've also noticed this in the Zeldas. The y-fold were porinted in Japan and the double-ended in the US with a U/ serial. I've also seen some gamecube system boxes with a C/ prefix that where printed in China. And of course there were ALttP boxes (and other SNES boxes) that were made in Mexico with a M/ prefix.

On 4/24/2021 at 1:19 PM, AdamW said:

So a poster called weeabruh over at efour pointed out something interesting I hadn't noticed - there's something interesting about the inserts in double-ended boxes.

There seem to be two slightly different styles of insert used on the double-ended Pokemon prints (Red and Blue #1, Yellow #2 and #3). Both inserts are actually formed from two pieces of cardboard with two 90 degree folds glued in at opposite ends of the box, each folded into this sort of shape (when viewed from above):


_______________
              |
              |____________

They are offset horizontally from each other, so the 'dividers' aren't at the same horizontal position. This design forms a pocket at one end of the box, and the divider at the other end acts as the 'base' of the pocket - the cartridge is intended to go into the pocket and sit on top of the divider at the other end.

The difference is that on one style of box, the top insert is just a simple flat piece of cardboard folded as above; on the other style it's longer and has a more complicated design that includes a sort of tab/flap that's intended to form an openable/closable top to the pocket. You pull the tab/flap out, put the cartridge in the pocket (it sits deeper inside the box than on the simple style), then push the tab/flap in again till it hits the top of the cartridge; when you do so, the loose top of the flap sits about even with the top of the box so it can be closed.

...

Oh cool! I meant to look into this but never got around to it.

On 2/1/2021 at 12:17 AM, AdamW said:

The very earliest game of any kind I could find with black-ESRB materials was Jet Force Gemini, released 1999-10-11, and we know Yellow #1 (with the white ESRB logo) was printed as late as 1999-09-14. Given this, it's hard to believe the U/-1 manuals with black ESRB logo could date much earlier than September 1999. So if there really were copies of #1 sold with the later manuals, I believe they must date no earlier than that. I think it's plausible/likely that these copies also had black ESRB carts (the -1 revision); listings with the -1 manuals do tend to also have the -1 carts.

I don't know why Nintendo apparently updated the cart and manual but didn't update the box print with the new logo; perhaps the boxes weren't actually newly printed, but were extras that had been printed in 1998 and were just taken out of storage to be used?

On 2/13/2021 at 1:05 PM, AdamW said:

I did some research on the ESRB logo change (I know, my life is just full of excitement, right?) Broadly speaking, it did indeed happen right around the time Pokemon Yellow was released, which does allow for all the prints to have come very close together, potentially. The earliest black ESRB logo I have found is Jet Force Gemini for N64; multiple sources give the release date as 1999-10-11, and multiple listings of it with no indication of being reprints have black logo on both box and cart. Rayman 2 for Nintendo 64 is another interesting case. It came out 1999-10-29. The box and manual have the white ESRB logo, but the cart label has the black ESRB logo. I've seen four CIB copies in this state and every single cart I've seen has a black logo label, so this seems to be correct and not some kind of fake situation.

There's definitely a lot of overlap. Ultima IX for PC came out 1999-11-24 with a white ESRB logo. The Home World GOTY edition for PC is listed with a release date of 2000 and has the white logo. An interesting late console case is Gran Turismo 2 for PS1, which came out 1999-12-11 (again, per multiple sources) with white logo on both the inlay and the disc (per zillions of listings).

So the transition started at least as early as early October 1999, going by release dates (of course, artwork would be finalized some time ahead of release, and publishers might I guess be more or less amenable to changing the ESRB logo at the last minute, accounting for a lot of the fuzz) and wasn't entirely complete until at least December and possibly early 2000.

I also have done my own ESRB logo research (your not alone in your exciting life) in the post linked below. I too came to the conclusion that the black ESRB logo (black = solid, white = spray paint) was changed to in October 1999. It's probably not relevant to you, but the transition from the K-A rating to the E rating happened in August 1998.

On 2/13/2021 at 3:22 PM, AdamW said:

4. There's a tiny code at bottom right of the last inside page of the manual (the notes page) that's probably a print run identifier of some kind. On my -2 it's 010411 (interestingly the code on the box tabs is 010409; probably not a coincidence that they're so close). On my original it's 990729 (the code on the tabs of the box that manual came with matches exactly, 990729. I have a *different* white ESRB box that came without a manual whose box tab code is 990817...)

It looks like you figured out these are YYMMDD date codes. Sorry I didn't see this sooner otherwise I could have helped there.

On 2/1/2021 at 11:33 AM, AdamW said:

I'm pretty new to games, as I said, but it seems to me there's kind of a "two worlds" thing between hobbyists and high-roller speculators. Most hobbyists don't really seem to care that much about variants and are not super anal about condition: they want a copy of the game, that's all. Some people do, and I guess I'm one of them (my day job is software QE, so I'm kinda obsessive about this kind of detail :>). But the high rollers really care *a lot* about it - they want the earliest identifiable copy, and they want it sealed, and they want it in *impeccable* condition.

At the same time high rollers only care about variants when it's convenient. Especially when the true first version cannot be identified without opening the seal. And most don't care enough to get their information right. I'm not super plugged into that world, but the few things I have seen often contain errors about variants. So, I think the people who really care about variants on this fine grained detail or crazy hobbyists like us.

On 4/28/2021 at 11:10 AM, AdamW said:

There's a code at bottom right just above the UPC box which appears to be a print code of sorts. They go as follows:

X #1 US: 80773A
X #2 US: 101525A

Y #1 US: 80781A
Y #2 US: 101527A

X #1 CAN: 80774A
X #2 CAN: 80774B

Y #1 CAN: 80782A
Y #2 CAN: 80782B

It's odd that they changed the number for the US prints, but the letter suffix for the Canadian ones. Dunno how those codes work.

Here's a quote of me explaining these codes. I mention it for disc based games, but it also applies to DS, 3DS, and Switch.

On 10/21/2019 at 11:29 PM, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

There are three identifying features on the box and one on the disc. First is the made in label (usually USA or Japan). Then to the left of the product code on the box is another code where the letter at the end denotes version. Right of the UPC is another 5 number barcode with the format 00A0B where A is the country of manufacture (0 = Japan, 1 = US) and B is the box revision starting from zero (correlates with the letter after the product code). Finally, on the back of the disc near the center hole is a version code.

To add on. These codes increase with release date. If you click through to the post I quoted that from, you'll see a list with a bunch of these codes for the Zelda games (although it's a bit out of date, I wish I had more time to update all that info). There will be a different code depending on where the game is made and sometimes it'll also get a different code for the Player's Choice / Nintendo Selects update instead of increasing the version letter. 

So, returning to Pokemon X/Y US, it looks like they just decided to change the box code for a more minor variant for some reason instead of incrementing the version letter. No clue why they did that.

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Cool, thanks for all the info / confirmations! I may not have mentioned it in the thread but I've seen two other location codes - H/ for Hong Kong, and on exactly one thing (the infamous "POKEMON STADIUM MARCH 2000" ad), J/ for Japan. For that ad, the version with no location prefix is printed in the US. I would love to know how they decided which location got the non-prefixed code, because I can't come up with a theory that makes sense beyond "almost but apparently not quite always Japan". 😄

I did find another list around the ESRB white-black transition somewhere, and now I can't remember where, agh. It was interesting though because I'm pretty sure it had an earlier black-ESRB game than Jet Force Gemini, which was the earliest I found.

On the 'flap vs. no flap' double-ended box insert thing, it would actually be really interesting to compare notes across games, because we might be able to figure out approximately when they switched from flap to no-flap. This would be super interesting in trying to date the multiple runs of the Pokemon Red/Blue Sandshrew boxes that I believed happened.

Since we noticed this last week I've been paying more attention to it in listings, and I've now seen a few with the earlier (white-ESRB) cart and manual, but the no-flap insert, and the -7 consumer safety booklet (earlier copies have -6). So there may have been more than two runs of the Sandshrew boxes at distinctly different times: initial run with flap inserts, white-ESRB cart/manual, and -6 consumer safety; intermediate run with no-flap insert, white-ESRB cart/manual, and -7 consumer safety; and final run with no-flap insert, black-ESRB cart/manual, and -7 consumer safety. Perhaps. When I get a few hours I'm going to go back over all my old logged listings and check the insert style where it's visible, then run the correlations between insert style and contents after I have them all logged.

I've mentioned this a few times, but the tool I wrote to help me track listings is at https://pagure.io/gvt . It's very much hacked up on the fly to suit my situation, it's a janky command-line tool wrapped around an sqlite database schema. I don't know exactly how you'd run it on Windows, though someone could probably help (it's just a Python app that uses a couple of common libraries), I run Linux. If you're interested in trying to use it I can try and help with its foibles 😄 It helps me to generate the population reports and check correlations between different boxes and contents.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

At the same time high rollers only care about variants when it's convenient. Especially when the true first version cannot be identified without opening the seal. And most don't care enough to get their information right. I'm not super plugged into that world, but the few things I have seen often contain errors about variants. So, I think the people who really care about variants on this fine grained detail or crazy hobbyists like us.

What I think might ultimately be the case here is, high rollers care, but they want the information on a plate - they're not interested in doing the research, or even reading through a thread like this - and they seem to believe whatever Heritage Auctions tells them. And yeah, they don't like it if the answer is "we can tell what the first print is, but only by opening the box" (and neither does HA, so they aren't going to talk about it very loudly).

Which is the case, pretty significantly, for Pokemon Yellow. Blue "Red text" and Yellow 990729 are probably the least common definitely identifiable "first productions" of Pokemon GB/GBC/GBA games (might be similar case for Gold/Silver, I have not researched the date codes for those games in detail yet), but you can't tell Yellow 990729 from the outside. I think this info is not sufficiently widely known yet for The Market to know what to make of it, though. I expect it'll take a while for people to wise up.

Edited by AdamW
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