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Pokémon Fan Says US Customs Destroyed $4,000 Classic Game

An image of an opened copy of Pokémon Yellow, with a Surprised Pikachu Face on top.

An original, sealed copy of Pokemon Yellow, reportedly worth nearly $4,000, was ruined by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after not only the seal was broken, but the case was broken and the front of the box was slashed clean in a wanton display of aggression against collectibles. The owner, who goes by The_Master_Of_Unlocking, told my city he was disappointed to see so much “pointless damage” done to the now-ruined collectible.

The_Master_Of_Unlocking’s friend, Stephen Kick, CEO of Night Dive Studio, tweeted a photo showing the devastated Pokemon Yellow to copy on January 19.

“Friend of mine received this sealed and sorted original copy of Pokemon YellowKick said. “U.S. Customs: Broke the acrylic case, ripped and discarded the seal, [and] cut off the front of the box. Maybe they weren’t fans of Wata Games?”

Wata Games is an independent company that reviews and certifies games for collectors. Chances are you’ll come across Wata Games if you’re looking for high-quality, new copies of old games. The company was responsible for reviewing and certifying the copy of The_Master_Of_Unlocking, giving it an A+ rating and a score of 9.2. According to the Wata Games website, the game is in “exceptional conditionand worth $3,800. Or it was until US Customs came through and decimated the certification.

“So…either they hated the battery in the cartridge…or they thought it had drugs in it or something,” one tweeter said. suggested in Kick’s entries. “Can U.S. Customs Just Destroy Things Without Recourse?” early another tweeter, with many others demanding consequences in return for the agency.

Information on why customs would go this far is murky, however, according to the Domestic and International Auto Transport Service Easy to transportis the purpose of a government agency inspection to “prevent [the] export or import of contraband, counterfeit, misdeclared, prohibited, embargoed, or other goods” that do not comply with U.S. Customs regulations. Aside from the possibility that a package may contain some illegal substance, it appears that US Customs is not required to disclose a reason why an inspection was called in the first place.

my city contacted US Customs and Wata Games for comment.

In an email to my cityThe_Master_Of_Unlocking said he bought the copy of Pokemon Yellow from an independent retailer in Canada who has previously reviewed the game. The two interacted on Jan. 17 and agreed on the $3,800 price tag, with the package shipping that same day and arriving on Jan. 19. The package even went through US Customs at Kentucky’s Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, but The_Master_Of_Unlocking discovered an item that was very different from what the original seller shared in photos. He was shocked.

“I opened the undamaged shipping box and found that the Wata Games case was broken and the Pokemon Yellow cardboard box loose inside,” said The_Master_Of_Unlocking. “At first I thought it was just the Wata Games acrylic case that was broken, and I wasn’t really worried. Then I noticed that the factory seal was no longer at stake and, more importantly, the front of the Pokemon Yellow box was completely cut off! I couldn’t believe it at first, but I immediately took pictures to record the damage. I immediately notified the seller after taking photos of the damage, and to say he was shocked is an understatement. We then started going through the dispute process with PayPal, which is currently underway.

The_Master_Of_Unlocking has no idea why US Customs handled this copy of Pokemon Yellow. He said the agency’s actions seemed “particularly egregious” when there are safer methods, such as cutting the top seal, to inspect the case and cartridge. He noted that he “has had valuable items shipped from several other countries in the past,” but that he’s never had a problem like this with U.S. Customs before.

“It was really disappointing and disheartening to see the pointless damage to the game,” said The_Master_Of_Unlocking. “Pokemon Yellow was the first pokemon game I owned as a kid, and like so many of that generation, I was completely enthralled by the handheld RPG. Sadly, I had given up a new copy of the game years earlier and was trying to get my hands on a nearly new copy for display on my desk. Unfortunately I don’t have as much time to play video games as I used to, but I wanted to give the game a prominent place so I could look at it and be reminded of simpler times while I work.”

While there are plenty of them Pokemon Yellow sold online, there aren’t many that are in “excellent condition” and nearly new like The_Master_Of_Unlocking’s was. There is one on eBay that’s close, but with an A+ rating and a score of 9.4, it’s currently going for $10,500.

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