In the world of trading cards, “first edition” is quite a valuable title for any card to claim. For those familiar with Pokémon cards, the presence of a first edition stamp can mean the difference between four and six figure values.
Within first edition runs themselves, collectors often establish a “chase card” as the most coveted and desirable card in any given set. In the world of Yu-Gi-Oh, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon has become the premier “chase” card, similar to Charizard’s significance in Pokémon, or Black Lotus in Magic the Gathering.
However, unlike the other two predominant TCG’s, Yu-Gi-Oh collectors have come to covet two first edition Blue-Eyes White Dragons. To understand the tale of these competing cards, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the origins of the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise. Yu-Gi-Oh! was originally created in 1996 by Kazuki Takahashi. The series was featured as a popular title in Shonen Jump, Japan’s best-selling manga magazine.
By the early 2000s, Yu-Gi-Oh would reach a global audience with the release of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters animated series. The show would act as the Western world’s introduction to the franchise, sparking the obsession.
Shortly after the show was released in English, Upper Deck would launch the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG for North American markets in early March of 2002, laying the foundation for which Blue-Eyes White Dragon would be crowned king: LOB vs. SDK.
The Legend of Blue-Eyes was released on March 8, 2002 as the first set released by the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. The set included 126 cards in total that could be pulled at through individual booster packs. Each booster pack contained 9 cards, randomly placed based on rarity.
The Blue-Eyes White Dragon card is classified as “ultra rare.” The odds of pulling any ultra rare card in the LOB set was 1 / 12. This meant that attaining a 1st Edition LOB Blue-Eyes White Dragon required players and collectors to purchase packs at random in hopes of pulling the card.
Thus, the main appeals of the LOB card are twofold: (1) it is technically the first Blue-Eyes White Dragon released, and (2) finding the card was not guaranteed. Upper Deck would later discontinue the original LOB set, making the original Blue-Eyes card even more rare and coveted amongst collectors and players alike.
Starter Deck Kaiba (SDK) was released shortly thereafter on March 29, 2002 alongside Starter Deck Yugi (SDY) as the first two “starter decks” released by the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. The cards in each starter deck were modeled after key characters in the animated series, and the purpose of the deck was to help beginners learn the game by purchasing a fully usable deck, as opposed to building a deck slowly by pulling cards at random.
Each starter deck contained 50 cards, and included a guaranteed “ultra rare” card. The SDK deck contained a guaranteed Blue-Eyes White Dragon and the SDY deck included a guaranteed Dark Magician.
One of the main appeals of the SDK Blue-Eyes White Dragon is the artwork. This is the design that most Yu-Gi-Oh fans are familiar with, as it was the same artwork used in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters animated series that predated the trading card game.
In the end, there is no definitive answer if one card is better than the other. Both cards play a key role in Yu-Gi-Oh’s DNA. While the windows for 1st edition runs in each set cannot be confirmed, finding either 1st Edition Blue-Eyes White Dragon card in 2021 is difficult. Considering both cards were created with the intent of being used by players, finding either in high-graded condition is particularly scarce.