A Pokémon that has been absent from the Pokémon TCG for over two decades is finally returning, after illusionist Uri Geller (who claimed the Pokémon was based on his likeness) seemingly got a new perspective on life. Geller first sued Nintendo in 2000 after seeing an image of the Kadabra cards in Japan, which has the name “Yungerer” or “Yungeller”(a clear reference says Geller to his own name), demanding $60 million in damages. While the suit was dismissed in 2003 in America, Geller continued to pursue it in other regions.
Nintendo remained tight-lipped about the matter, though fans noted that Kadabra began to be used more sparingly outside of the games and, in the case of the cards, eventually not at all. The Pokémon was removed from the trading card game in 2002 but will return in this year’s Pokémon Card 151, which features the very first game’s roster (including Kadabra).
This news was broken by the website PokéBeach (opens in new tab), which also received a message post-publication from Geller.
“I am pleased Pokémon fans are excited to see Kadabra return to the card game,” said Geller. “Look, I want to thank the Pokémon fans who reached out to me over the last [few] years. Including the ones from PokéBeach, who kept contacting me non-stop. So basically, it was you and my granddaughters that got me to change my mind.
“Now we can all see Kadabra reunited with the original Pokémon in the card game this summer. I love you all. And I admit, totally open and honest. I was a fool. It was a devastating mistake for me to sue Pokémon. [Kadabra] was basically a tribute to Uri Geller. But it’s back now. Forgive me. I love you all. Much love and energy.”
Pokemon Card 151June 16. will feature the first Kadabra, who hasn’t appeared on cards since 2002 due to a legal dispute between Pokémon and Geller, who sued them due to the likeness yungeller and Uri GELLER. I released Pokémon from the ban. Forgive me.#Pokemon pic.twitter.com/QwLviQJbS4January 25, 2023
While Geller does have a history of being litigious, he may also have had a bit of a point here. Kadabra was definitely inspired by Geller, who is a world-famous illusionist and was constantly on screens in decades past. The rest of the Alakazam Pokémon are based on other magicians: Abra is Edgar Cayce; Alakazam is Harry Houdini.
Geller apparently wrote to Nintendo in late 2020 to tell them he’d changed his mind about things, and in December 2020 the president of The Pokémon company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, wrote a letter of thanks (and to give credit where it is definitely due, this seems sparked by a PokéBeach campaign that began on its forums in 2018).
In August 2022, Geller had basically announced this was coming. “The reason I changed my mind—first of all, I did a stupid thing for suing them,” said Geller. “I was just angry that my name appeared on a Pokémon card out of the blue without ever being asked. The most important thing is in these 20 years I became a grandfather. I saw my granddaughters and I thought ‘Come on, you gotta release the Pokemon card back into circulation again.’ Hence my letter. And what a nice letter [Ishihara] sent back. I’m really happy about it.”
This is a very Friday story, in which a notoriously litigious corporation is finally no longer under the threat of litigation, and can do a nice thing, but arguably they also deserved it, so… I’m throwing my hands up. I guess at least Nintendo knows Houdini isn’t gonna sue.