No, I cannot compete with the people who have somehow collected every piece of Pokemon merchandise on the planet. I often struggle to remember what Dark types are strong against. And honestly? I left the game sometime after Ruby and Sapphire, never to truly come back to it until Pokemon X and Y.

But what I had back in the late 90's, outside of an extremely enabling mother, was probably the weirdest and widest set of Pokemon merchandise ever compiled.

The Pokemon Company understandably tested the waters in the North American market before they became who you know today. The early results were things such as the KFC plush dolls (Zubat and Seal?), Gameboy carrying "purses" with a reservation of Pokemon Red or Blue at Target, and awkward stickers and folders that had not yet settled on Pikachu as the mascot for the franchise.

What is easily forgotten (and hard to believe) is that there once existed a time in which Pokemon had not yet been plastered on every physical surface under the sun.

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An example: during a family vacation, I once was manically approached by a parent asking me where in the world I had gotten my Pokemon t-shirt. As an 11 year old, I had amassed a collection of the very first run of Pokemon t-shirts that ever existed. Imagine that: a time before Pokemon t-shirts.

Many of you will likely share some of these items, as they were a huge part of many of our childhoods and were mass produced. Many of these, on their own, are not necessarily worth that much. But I wonder if anyone else so meticulously collected these things as I had. To find out, I will guide you through this picture-book-scroll-down.

Let me show you my Pokemans, please.

Let's start with the basics, the items that started it all for many of us: the games.

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Nothing too crazy up here, but pretty important, nonetheless. However, notice the special edition Pokemon Yellow GBC up there? We'll get to that later.

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An early favorite was the original Hasbro Pokemon toys. The entire first two runs of Pokemon bouncy balls are all here.

In the original store box, of course. Hey, what's that...?

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A Hoothoot ball labeled Totodile? Um, okay.

What's next? Pokemon knockoff Pez Dispensers, complete with in-store packaging and refills? Sure!

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Set of Pokemon office supplies? Why not?

Two cases of Pokemon sugar balls?

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Pokemon party supplies...?

Pokemon Monopoly, Pokemon sticker set, Pokemon light up thingies, Pokemon cereal?

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Child's play. I've got it all.

Let's get to some of the good stuff though, shall we?

In 1999, Nintendo went on 19 city mall tour in which young players could check out the Pikachu Beetle car, play each other in the famous Wizards of the Coast card game, and of course, face off in the video game to earn cool (?) prizes.

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Here I am in 1999, 12 years old and taking on the world on the cover of the day's St.Louis Post-Dispatch.

How wasn't I more popular in school?

Ultimately, this mall tour is most remembered for being the very first way to (legally!) obtain Mew into your Pokemon cartridge, transferred over electronically and coming complete with a certificate of authenticity.

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Lucky for us here in the future, I went through the trouble of maintaining mint-condition materials for this tour, including many of the badges and handouts.

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I also have the stuff from, in my opinion, the much less exciting Pokemon 2000 Stadium Tour.

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You were only allowed one go at getting the badges this time around. Don't worry, I took care of that.

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Hey, remember that iconic Burger King promotion where each Kid's Meal came with a Pokeball that had seemingly an infinite number of potential toys inside?

Well, while you were busy collecting those things, I was busy collecting all the cups, bags, and general promotional items from all of the stores.

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Plus, all the subsequent kids meal collections from then on.

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How about Pokemon Snap? Here's a collection of all the materials from the Blockbuster/Nintendo promotion in which you took your Pokemon Snap game to the store to make prints of all your personal photos. All five cards are still in the same condition as when I bought them.

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Hey, I even have every single EP and LP that Nintendo initially released, including the hit M2M single!

Okay, I could go on for quite awhile longer with random one-off items, running this article to (even more) extreme lengths. But let's just go over a few more items. The first is something that is clearly an artifact of its time, and virtually, wholly worthless. But it is totally incredible to me that it even exists.

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This is an overstuffed folder of EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. of print media that I could ever find - in any way, shape, or form - that featured Pokemon. Here is a sample of some of the items inside of this thing:

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There are a zillion random pieces of paper, and honestly, I could go on forever posting pictures of other pictures. Here is the link to a photo album that is more comprehensive if you want to take a look.

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My favorite thing I found inside of this folder is actually intensely personal, if not totally embarrassing. As made perfect sense in the late 90's and early 2000's, the only way to preserve new content that you could find on the "internet" was to, well...print it out.

Each picture individually.

Which I did...?

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I'll spare you the dozens and dozens of print outs, but needless to say, this folder is nuts.

Finally, what Pokemon collection could be taken seriously without Pokemon cards? Here is a photo of my Pokemon albums on the left, my 10 lbs. binder with doubles on the right, promos on the bottom, and some other stuff. A quick tour:

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The first few dozen promo cards released, which I think you can get for a few dollars apiece on ebay now.

No, I don't have an entire 1st edition base set. But I have most of them. Plus my movie stubs from the various movie events.

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Yes, I was officially certified by Wizards of the Coast to teach the Pokemon card game. No, this is not on my resume.

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My babies.

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There are so many random trinkets I've collected over the years that I didn't even have the energy to fully catalog them all (trust me, I tried.) But as they say, the real joy in catching them all is the journey more so than the destination; Nothing is quite so nostalgic as remembering what you did as a kid.

What do you think? Do you share any of these toys yourself? Is your collection even weirder? Share with everyone in the comments! And check out extended photos of my collection here and here.

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_____________________

Alan is a grad student studying the psychology of creativity in southern California. He got REALLY into Ken Griffey Jr.'s Slugfest on the Gameboy Color, and scored a perfect 162-0 season.

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/pandaman27