The rare collectibles industry attracts a slew of wildly enthusiastic obsessives. Some of them don't bat an eye when asked to fork over tens of millions of dollars on an otherwise insignificant object. From game-winning sneakers to record-setting home run baseballs, the memorabilia business is thriving like never before by catering directly to these rabid fan boys. But many of the most sought after pop culture artifacts pale in comparison to The Black Lotus, the Holy Grail of early 90's chase cards. Produced by Rhystic Studies, the documentary of the same name examines the collectibles phenomenon through the prism of this elusive piece of cardboard.
The Black Lotus is the most valuable object in Magic: The Gathering, a trading card game that was first introduced to the world in 1993. The card was a prized find all those years ago. Now, 25 years later as the game has garnered the fandom of millions around the world, it's more treasured than ever before. The reason? Its rarity.
The Black Lotus is part of the reserved list, a collection that ceased to print so their values would not be adversely affected for the original owners. The limited run of just over a thousand cards is commonly changing hands between rabid collectors. One recent eBay auction fetched a hefty price tag of $87,000. With so much at stake, counterfeit works are a concern. Savvy buyers examine these cards like highly trained jewelers, agonizing over every feature to discern their authenticity.
We hear the voices of many players who have managed to acquire the card, and they each testify to a feeling of extreme accomplishment for doing so. The film is expertly assembled by a major fan of the game; therefore, its tone is highly informed and reverential.
Enthusiasts of Magic: The Gathering are certain to relish each morsel of historical detail presented in the film; others who are not as acclimated to this culture may find themselves a little lost. Nevertheless, The Black Lotus is an intriguing portrait of a worldwide community that is willing to forgo reason and practicality in favor of even the most mundane pop culture objects.