Known officially as 拡張シート(Expansion Sheet), the vending machine cards were distributed in 1998 from vending machines around Japan. They all use glossy card stock instead of the standard matte card stock. There are 3 sheets: Blue, Red, and Green.
Each expansion sheet series features 18 sheets, each with 3 Pokemon cards on it. The first 2 sheets have peel-off damage counters in the fourth slot, while the 3rd sheet has a bonus joke, extra rule, or decklist card in the fourth slot.
Every sheet represents an area from the original Pokemon games. The map of this specific area is shown on the back, along with a sample of the possible Pokemon from that area. Since each area has 3 different sheets, the 3 Pokemon featured on the back of each sheet are not necessarily the ones on the sheet.
There are 3 sheets per “area”, but each numbered sheets has a set list of cards. Every numbered sheet has the exact same cards.
Expansion Sheet 1 (Blue Sheet)
The first sheet has blue backs, and was released on March 23, 1998. They feature peelable damage counters and coins in the fourth card slot.
Sheets 1-3: Professor Oak’s Lab
Sheets 4-6: Viridian Forest
Sheets 7-9: Mt. Moon
Sheets 10-12: Safari Zone #1
Sheets 13-15: Cerulean Cave #1
Sheets 16-18: Celadon City
Matte texture versions
The vending machine cards were all printed with glossy texture and rarity symbols, but some were also reprinted in the Quick Starter Gift Set with matte texture, without a rarity symbol. The Quick Starter versions of the cards also stated “CoroCoro Illustration Contest” next to the artist’s name if they were designed by winners of the early illustration contests.
In July 2020, a Expansion Sheet 1 Mr. Mime with matte texture and a rarity symbol appeared on Yahoo Japan Auctions, listed by user ‘granturismo_ultima2222’. It also lacked the additional “CoroCoro Illustration Contest” next to the artist’s name, meaning it was from an earlier print run. This did not match any of the existing known versions of the card:
|Surface Texture||Rarity Symbol?|
|Expansion Sheet 1||Glossy||Yes|
While the auction title called the card a “misprint”, there’s some evidence that suggests that this is an earlier test print.
Further proof that this is not a “misprint” of the vending machine set and likely from a completely different print run of the card stems from how matte and glossy Pokemon cards are produced. Most standard Pokemon cards printed are matte, and are printed in sheets before being cut up to be placed into sealed product or distributed.
Glossy cards on the other hand, are mainly distributed as promo cards that can be peeled off from magazine inserts.
Cards that came from these “peelable” sheets were not printed on the matte cardstock, since it would not be feasible to print out cards on the standard matte cardstock and then repackage them into sheets. Instead, glossy cards are printed directly into whatever product they’re peeled from, and then perforations are pressed to facilitate peeling.
This can be seen by the “interior” of peelable sheets having extra borders to give the peeled card more margin of error with regards to the print centering, but they aren’t laid out in the same pattern as standard matte sheets.
This shows that the “gloss” on the vending machine cards was not something that was applied after a standard matte copy was printed, but that the glossy print layer is indeed part of the card.
Matte vending machine cards have surfaced in the past, but it has never been clear how exactly they were distributed. Since you can’t actually “peel off” matte cards, it’s unlikely that they came with the standard sheets found in vending machines.
Instead, they’re more likely test run prints, or from other non-standard distribution methods, This Mr. Mime is very likely to be from the same print run as a few other matte vending cards that have surfaced: