Vending redirects here. If you were looking for an object from the Pokémon games, see Vending Machine. If you were looking for the real world machines that sell merchandise, see Pokémon vending machines.
Series 1: March 23rd, 1998 Series 2: June 17th, 1998 Series 3: November 24th, 1998
The Vending Machine (Japanese: 拡張シートExpansion Sheet) cards are a series of special collections for the Pokémon Trading Card Game released in Japan.
Unlike regular expansions, where a player would receive a number of cards from a booster pack, these cards were only obtainable on randomized sheets from a Vending Machine from which the cards were peeled. It is due to this that the fan name Vending Machine Series was coined by collectors, and should not be considered the proper name for the set.
Series 1 (Blue) and 2 (Red) feature eighteen sheets with three cards per-sheet along with cardboard damage counters and coins. Series 3 (Green) features eighteen sheets with three cards plus one special card which had a non-standard back, most of which are gag-cards or special cards featuring extra game rules or theme deck ideas.
The reverse of the sheet in each series features Pokémon from 6 different locations in the Kanto region. The Pokémon cards on the sheets are representative of the location indicated. Series 1 and 2 sheets include gameplay tips and advertisements for other expansions. Series 3 sheets detail the "Evolution by Mail Campaign" (see below). Each sheet is also numbered in the bottom right corner and each always contain the same cards. For example, Series 1 sheet 12 will always have Chansey, Nidoran♀, and Nidoran♂. Collecting all numbered sheets 1-18 will yield the entire set with some single duplicates of the common cards.
The cards are printed on glossy card stock, unlike the regular matte card stock. Glossy card stock became quite popular through the time of 1998 until about 2001 for promos from magazines such as CoroCoro.
A special preview expansion sheet was available at the 7th Next Generation World Hobby Fair held in December 1997, featuring Pikachu, Mewtwo, and Mew. Officially Unnumbered Promotional cards, they are often regarded as additions to the Vending Machine collection and dubbed "Series 00".
With the release of Series 3 the "Evolution by Mail Campaign" was launched, inspired by trade evolution in the Pokémon games. In order to acquire the fully evolved versions of Kadabra, Machoke, Graveler, Haunter, and Omanyte, people had to send one of these cards along with the Pass Card Bill's PC to MediaFactory before April 1999. In return they received the evolved version of the card they sent, each of them a holographic promotional card. These cards are often sought after by collectors due to the method in which the cards were originally distributed. Similarly to the WHF preview sheet, they are also often regarded as unofficial additions to the Vending Machine collection.
The winning entries in the CoroCoro Pokémon Illustration Contest, which ran from late 1997 to early 1998, had their illustrations printed on cards across the three series. A total of four finalists had their artwork featured on cards, with all finalists receiving the much sought-after Pokémon Illustrator card.
In a similar manner, Wizards of the Coast also ran an illustration contest in 2002. The winning entry was featured on the English version of Snorlax, the Japanese version of which was one of the winning CoroCoro Pokémon Illustration Contest entries.
Due to the likely monetary restrictions of distributing the cards in a similar manner, many of these cards were not released outside of Japan. Of those that were, all of them were printed as Wizards Black Star Promos and distributed via the Pokémon League throughout the 2001-2002 season.