Since the moment it was announced, I’ve been counting down the days to the arrival of Europe’s first Pokemon Center [ed: sadly it really is spelt that way, even in the UK. Rude]. Despite being a pop-up and requiring you to venture into the depths of a Westfield Shopping Centre [CORRECT SPELLING], anyone who has been a Pokemon fan at one point or another can tell you that this is a BIG. DEAL.
Like camp outside the store from 5am opening day level of BIG. DEAL.
So when we were invited along to pop-in to the pop-up for a first look at what they had in store for the Galar Region, we immediately channelled our inner Ash and loaded our rucksacks with the necessary supplies to become a Pokemon Center Master, heading out on a Hammersmith & City Line adventure for a gander.
Here’s what you can expect.
1. Plushies for days
Until we can genetically engineer Pokemon, the nearest thing we have to owning them is buying their plush version. Thankfully like its international counterparts, Pokemon Center London knows what the people want and so have brought the fluffies with them.
Throughout the store there are pockets full of your favourite monsters in a range of shapes and sizes (and prices). If you’re an Eevee fan then you’ll be impressed at the unbeli-eevee-ble range of eeveelutions that have made their way to these shores.
But if you’re coming in with a specific ‘mon in mind, then prepare to be disappointed. Given that there’s now over 800 of them, it’s hardly a surprise that they couldn’t have one of everything in here but this range is far from the level of comprehensive you’d see in a Japanese store. In some ways that’s a massive relief to the wallet, but at the same time my hopes of ever getting my hands on a Growlithe plush have once again been dashed.
2. Pikachu looking dapper
The team have really gone all out with ensuring the London-City Pikachu is constantly in your eyeline in the store. Despite it being a massive stereotype that realistically is more 20th Century London than current London (would need less hat, significantly more beard, and Apple technology) you can’t help but utterly fall in love with a the bowler-hatted fellow.
If it weren’t for the fact he’d not fit in with my current assortment of Tattchus, I’d probably be booking myself in to have him permanently inked onto my skin right now.
If you like the design then great news everyone: all the Pokemon Center London exclusive merchandise has him on!
He also features pretty heavily in every photo-opportunity spot in the downstairs area, so if you’re going to go for a ‘I’m at Pokemon Center London’ shot for your Insta they’ve got you covered.
If you don’t like that dapper-looking businessed up Pikachu, you’re going to have to learn to if you want anything store-specific.
Or realistically if you want any Pikachus, because aside from this one and Detective Pikachu, there are no others available.
3. A sneaky peek at Galar
The store has been touted as being set over two-floors that immediately makes you think that it is massive and absolutely jam-packed with Pokemon pieces to buy. This is not actually the case. The upstairs of the Pokemon Center is actually a dedicated gaming area to give you a taste of the upcoming Sword and Shield games which vaguely draw inspiration from the UK.
They’ve got a number of Nintendo Switch and Switch Lites set up for people to have 15 minutes of cracking puzzles, battling other trainers, and seeing some of the new Pokemon in action. For those who have no interest in buying a new console/game, it’s not going to be enough to make you change your mind because well, let’s be honest, it’s not particularly innovative.
For those who have been toying with the idea to get a Switch for it (like me), it’s probably going to be enough to push you over the edge.
4. A host of not-fluffy merch
Okay, so I realistically came to the store to buy more Pokemon plushies of my favourites to add to my collection (#ForeverWithoutAGrowlithe) but there’s a lot more in the store which will help you kit out your wardrobe and home with a little but more flare(on).
The Pokemon London City range can see you walking away with blankets, stickers, pin-badges, stationery, and a nifty little water bottle for your desk at work. The highlight of the range comes from some of the Pokemon Center London t-shirts that they have on sale, with a pocket peekaboo from a Pikachu which’ll delight young and old.
Elsewhere in the Galar Region range you can get yourself a hoody to rep your new favourite starter (Scorbuunny obviously) and backpack to pop all these new purchases in.
If you fancy going back to where it all started then you can pick one up some of the latest games from their extensive console corner, or pick up some booster packs for the Trading Card Game.
5. A very suitably London item
Have I created a subsection just to point out that they have a Pokemon Center London themed umbrella? Yes I have. You genuinely can’t get anything more quintessentially Britain in October than this and I love it.
The Pokemon Center London is open from the 18th October to the 15th November. You can find out more about it here.