Crazed By Pokemon

Some of those old baseball cards turned out to be worth a lot of money. But you had to wait years for them to appreciate in value.

That's not the case with a new generation of cards. They promise a quick payoff, and as CBS News' Cynthia Bowers reports, some parents don't appreciate that at all.
With the skill of a seasoned poker player, 8-year-old Zack Cooper knows his Pokemon strategy.

Pokemon, which means pocket monster in Japanese, is a Japanese card game that has turned grade-school kids into fanatics.

But more and more parents are also becoming crazed from the Pokemon phenomenon, not only by the cards' cost, up to $15 a pack, but by how they are sold.

The problem is that relatively rare foil cards are being inserted into sealed packages at random so kids don't know what they're buying until they've already paid.

"It's gambling, pure and simple. It's gambling," says Alan Hock, an attorney.

Hock has filed a class action against the card makers on behalf of a group of parents in New York and San Diego.

"They're giving their kids a $10 dollar bill to go buy a scratch-off lottery ticket," says Hock. "They have no idea if they're going to get a card worth $5 or $50 or some cards are even worth more."

Card makers say the charges are baseless. But for most kids, the goal is to collect those rare cards, now auctioned online.

And the craze probably won't crescendo anytime soon because there's already a hit TV show and a movie is due out next month.

Louise Banon's son Jeremy points out one card depicting the character Beedrill is worth $30 to $40.

Even though Louise Banon acknowledges that "at the moment it's an obsession," she sees some good in Pokemania.

"They enjoy it," she says. "And also, there's a certain amount of skill involved, I guess, in memorizing all the characters and understanding how to play all the games."

With 150 characters currently on the market, that enthusiasm is music to the ears of the card makers, whose real challenge is to convince kids they've "Gotta Get 'Em All," as the slogan goes, thus keeping Pokemania alive.

For more information on the Pokemon phenomenon, see "Pokemon Primer For Parents" and "Beware The Bogus Pokemon."

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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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