While it has been full steam ahead for the monthly releases of the Pokémon TCG: Mythical Pokémon Collection boxes, Pokémon hasn’t let up on its periodic promotional product releases. Just recently, the ‘Ash-Greninja-EX’ Box arrived in retail stores which follows the more standard promotional box formula we’ve seen in recent years. Despite this adherence to the usual formula, the ‘Ash-Greninja-EX’ box manages to be pleasantly surprising in an unexpected way.
This promotional box contains:
- 1x Ash-Greninja-EX Pokémon Card
- 1x Jumbo Ash-Greninja-EX Pokémon Card
- 1x Redeemable Ash-Greninja-EX Box Code for the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online
- 2x BREAKpoint Booster Packs (The most recent set at the time of release)
- 1x BREAKthrough Booster Pack
- 1x Ancient Origins Booster Pack
This collection of cards and products follows the same formula as the Aurorus-EX Box or the Tyrantrum-EX Box, including the promo card, a jumbo sized version, a code card for the online game, two packs of the most recent Pokémon set and one pack from the two sets prior. The product packaging itself is a box shape consistent with other promo boxes, featuring a colour scheme which matches the distinctive blue and red colour scheme of the Pokémon being featured.
Up until now, I have only commented on how this product is consistent with other releases. The promo card included, ‘Ash-Greninja EX’, is a depiction of the Greninja used by Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon anime, with the ‘Ash-Greninja’ name referencing the form his Greninja takes (which resembles Ash’s blue clothes and red hat). Whilst it is not unusual for the anime to take creative licence with the designs and personalities of the Pokémon it predicts, it is very unusual for a Pokémon Trading Card to depict a Pokémon design or reference which is unique to the anime.
Pokémon Card art designs typically follow a theme from set to set, however if these designs reference their base material, they will reference the video games before anything else. References to the anime are almost non-existent. On the spot, the only cards I can remember which reference the anime are the Ancient Mew promotional card given to people who watched the Pokémon movie ‘The Power of One’ and a Japan-exclusive ‘Pikachu M LV.X’ DPt-P Promotional card which featured Ash Ketchum’s face as the accompanying trainer. There may be more, but the fact that I can only think of two speaks to this very unique quality of the Ash-Greninja-EX card in this product, making it very collectible.
Moving on to the product’s construction, the packaging is made from cardboard, with two specifically shaped pieces of plastic holding the product inside in place. Opening the box from the side to slide out the plastic is easy enough and pulling the plastic pieces apart to unpack the product is simple. My only consistent gripe with the product packaging for these boxes is the way in which the promo card is held in place by two small ridges of plastic which when combined with the shape of the plastic around the card, leaves you with little choice but to try to very carefully push the plastic from the other side to pop the card out. If done without sufficient care, it can be very easy to leave a ridge shaped mark on the edge of your promo card, immediately devaluing it.
Closeup of the Ash-Geninja-EX card
The Ash-Greninja-EX card itself has a smooth surface which is consistent with other EX cards which exist today both from promotional boxes and set booster packs. This consistency with other ‘Normal-Art Pokémon EX’ cards is unlike promotional ‘Full-Art Pokémon EX’ cards which also featuring a smooth surface, putting them at odds with Full-Art cards pulled from Booster packs which are typically textured with ridges across the surface. The card is striking art-wise, prominently showing the blue, red and black discolouration of the Pokémon’s features and the dynamic pose, which combine to make this a great addition to the existing Greninja cards in the Pokémon TCG.
Looking at the Ash-Greninja-EX card from a competitive standpoint, it is disappointingly weak. Whilst the card features a decent 170 HP total and a low retreat cost at one, its attacks are under powered in the current competitive landscape, both featuring drawbacks which drive it further into unplayable territory. The last straw for this card’s competitive playability comes in the form of its grass type weakness which is easily exploited by one of the current format’s top performing decks ‘Vesipquen/Vileplume’. Despite these flaws, it could still exist as a niche tech card in decks which use multiple energy types (Namely Aromatisse centric decks). Considering the design ‘flavour-wise’, the card’s first attack ‘Dancing Shuriken’, which places damage on one of your opponent’s benched Pokémon, fits with the design flavour seen in other Greninja named cards which have similar effects that place damage counters on benched Pokémon.
Despite my minor grievances with the packaging and the attacks printed on the card, the story behind the Ash-Greninja-EX card and its roots in the anime makes this a worthy investment for any collector of the Pokémon TCG. A promo box exclusive card with a unique story is a rarity amongst similar products which do not usually do more than provide a way for players to obtain Pokémon-EX cards.