This Isn't the First Time Stock Investors Went Wild for Pokemon

...and the last one didn't end well.

Pokemon Go Proves to Be Blockbuster for Nintendo

U.S. stocks are at all-time highs and the Pokemon craze is in full hysteria.

The year, of course, is 1999 — though it bears a striking resemblance to the current day.

Shares of Nintendo Co. Ltd. went gangbusters on Monday, rising 24 percent in Japan, amid the surprisingly successful launch of Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game that's allowed millennials to relive a version of their childhood they never could have dreamed of. 

Before there was Pokemon Go — or even a smartphone to play it on — there was the original video game made for Nintendo's Game Boy device, that spawned an entire industry of related productions, including an animated cartoon series based on the game's characters.

A company called 4Kids Entertainment Inc. was responsible for dubbing the Japanese cartoon into English, and also served as a licensing agent for Pokemon-related products. In July of 1999, the stock started to go parabolic, fueled by young millennials' insatiable appetite for all things pocket monsters.

Source: Bloomberg

The 4Kids' surge also dragged other secondary and tertiary plays on the Pokemon craze along for the ride. For instance, news that Grand Toys International struck a deal to sell Pokemon merchandise to Canadian customers, and that another firm, Toymax, was launching a line of Pokemon-related candy and gum sent those stocks up by 121 percent and 46 percent, respectively, by the end of September, as detailed by Dow Jones' Paul La Monica.

No connection to the wildly popular franchise was too tenuous: the company that produced the soundtrack for the TV series and the first Pokemon movie, Paradise Music and Entertainment, saw its shares fly like a Zapdos

With the dot-com bubble in full swing, kids were even selling their Pokemon-related web sites to fund their college education, as the Wall Street Journal's Thomas Weber documented in Oct. 1999.

Shares of 4Kids rose ninefold from the start of July through their Nov. 8 peak. But even as the first film topped the U.S. box office charts, the stock came tumbling down — and Pokemon paraphernalia soon followed. 

In Jan. 2001, the New York Times documented how the prized and powerful Charizard Pokemon card had tanked in value from $375 to $100. However, one 14-year-old observer named Jimmy O'Brien made what has proved to be a prescient call on the franchise.

''Everything old is new again,'' he told the Times. ''Lava lamps went out and came back, so this might, too.''

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