Interview with Alex Fong, from Toysbar



Whenever there is Pokémon, there will also be the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG)! During the Pokémon Sun & Moon Launch Event, the attendees and fans were given the chance the try and play Pokémon TCG at the Tutorial Booth by Toysbar. With that, we took this opportunity to have interview with Toysbar themselves!

Interviewer: For our viewers who may not know you and what is Toysbar, care to give us a short introduction of yourself and what is Toysbar?

Alex: Toysbar is basically a shop that specialises in Trading Card Games (TCG). We have been running TCG for 17 years, since 1999. Initially, we started off with Pokémon as our first ever TCG way back in 1999. So you can say that Toysbar was around during the first Pokémon’s craze, and we are still around.

I: Ever since the first generation?

A: Yep, until now. Unbroken (*laughs*)


I: I see that there are all kinds of Trading Card Games played in Toysbar, but is there a reason why Magic the Gathering is not one of it?

A: Actually, a lot of people asked why we don’t sell Magic. Because back then (note: this may sounds offensive to some), the crowds for Pokémon and Magic somehow don’t mix with one another, like oil and water. This was back then, where one was seen more Japanese-based: otaku and anime.

I: So was it like, if you play Magic, you don’t play Pokémon, and vice versa.

A: Yes, back then. Those were the players’ mentality. Unlike Pokémon, Magic is more Western-based, and somehow they just don’t mix.


I: Since we’re at a Pokémon Launch party, let’s talk about Pokémon. So, what do you think is the best part about Pokémon Trading Card Game?

A: When it comes to Pokémon TCG, it has the element of ‘continuity’; something that you can relate to or recognise even after a long period of playing it. Like Pikachu, it has been around for a long time.

Sometimes when people see others play TCG, they just know about it and be like “Oh it’s Pikachu!” Somehow they just don’t age, so I think it’s quite good. Just like Ash! He never aged ever since then (*laughs*)


Fans getting to know more about Pokémon TCG~ 😀

I: Many people out there may have had Pokémon Cards at some point of their life but they never played with it. Why do you think that’s the case?

A: I think it’s mainly because they have no idea how to play it. There is no one to guide and no one to teach them how to play. Though they can search for it online on YouTube, sometimes they just don’t have anyone to play with and no place for it. So that is where shops like us (Toysbar) play a part.

I: So I assume that some of them are just collectors?

A: Yes, some are just collectors. While some are like ‘I have no idea what to do with these cards’. That is also why we did the tutorial to teach players.

I notice a lot of the players nowadays have no idea how to play Pokémon TCG. It’s different from back then. Those days, they will say their first ever card games is Pokémon, but nowadays a lot of them don’t know how to play.


I: I’m unfamiliar with the TCG scene of Pokémon. Can you tell me how is it doing now? Is it growing steadily?

A: Yes. Actually, it is making a comeback starting this year, since 2016 happens to be the 20th anniversary of Pokémon. It started from there, then later it was Pokémon GO. The hype and interests were there again, and everyone is curious “Eh~, Pokémon has a card game? Okay, I will give it a try.”

Image taken from Poké

I: Pokémon TCG has been around for a long time, how would you try and convince older players to try Pokémon TCG again?

A: Basically we have to entice them to try and play it. That is how the tutorial works. Once you learnt to play, we will give you free promo cards. Then again, sometimes it is just their mentality of “Oh, freebies!”, so they will learn from that.

So once they learnt on how to play, they will find out that it is quite easy. Pokémon TCG is easy to play, but not that easy to master (*laughs*)


I: What would you say is the biggest difference between Pokémon TCG and the other TCGs?

A: It comes back to the earlier question, one thing good about Pokémon is there is always that one character that you can always relate to after years and years of playing. It is quite common among players where they will ask “What is your favourite Pokémon?”, which is something does not occur to other TCG.

I: So whenever players play Pokémon TCG, they will always favour those of their favourites.

A: Exactly! Whereas for other games, after a while, you just don’t easily recall the characters’ names and all.


I: What are your plans to try and get more players into playing TCG?

A: Similar to previous question, through tutorials. Basically, that is just how we get them to start. Sometimes people are quite shy to ask a stranger to teach them on how to play (*laughs*)


Image taken from Toysbar’s Facebook page

I: Some people say Trading Card Games usually have a huge power creep as time goes on and therefore they avoid TCG in the long run. Do you agree with this statement?

A: Actually this applies to almost all TCG. Somehow, all the newest sets will always be stronger than older ones, but of course they won’t make such things instantly.


I: If you could only choose one Trading Card Game to play forever, what would it be and why? 

A: I would definitely pick Pokémon, simply because it is my first ever TCG.


I: Finally, is there anything you want to say to our readers before we end this?

A: GO FOR IT AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY! A lot of people are actually shy and reluctant to try playing TCG. I noticed this since few months ago, which was when we started our first ever tutorial.

During that time, we asked some guys whether they wanted to try Pokémon, most of them just shy away. But when Pokémon GO started, people were like “Whoa Pokémon?! Sure, I can try!” It all relates back to mentality, where some people perceive Pokémon as childish.

So yeah, don’t be afraid to try. Ever since Pokémon GO started, you see a lot of adults also started playing. Even at our booth just now (@Pokemon Sun & Moon Launch Party), there were a few kids bringing their parents, and it’s really nice so see that!


The man himself, Alex Fong of Toysbar

Find out more about Toysbar!


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