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Pokémon "Pokéjets": Limited Edition Boeing Jetliners That Make You Wanna Catch 'Em All
If you're a 20-something, heck, even an early 30-something, you have one of two opinions about Pokémon and all the riff-raff therein. You either love it, or you can't stand it. Sure, there are those who are indifferent. But contemporary gamer culture especially stands divided.

Pokémon "Pokéjets": Limited Edition Boeing Jetliners That Make You Wanna Catch 'Em All

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But if you fall on the Pokémon fan side of things, we think we've found your personal fleet of chariots. A collection of limited-edition commercial airliners devised a Japanese commercial service convinced whole-heartedly that it had its finger on the pulse of what late millennials and early zoomers enjoyed the most.

All Nippon Airways is one of Japan's longest-serving post-war airlines. With an HQ only a short bullet-train trip away from Nintendo's, it makes sense that the two parties had the wherewithal to make this partnership happen.

We've covered custom paint jobs on big airliners before. Check out our latest piece to learn more about the intricate details of what it takes to make it happen. Small spoiler, it's a pretty immense effort.

Imagine the very same intensive artistic labor, expensive equipment with aerospace-grade paint, and a basketball arena-sized paint booth. They multiply it to the size of an entire fleet of Pokémon-branded jetliners that serves as the pride and joy of the iconic franchise's advertising campaigns.

It's a small group of jets with an eclectic set of layouts, engine options, and seating capacities that cover everything from regional puddle jumpers to the world's most iconic quad-engined jumbojet continent crushers. It all started in the summer of 1998, in celebration of the release of Pokémon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back in its theatrical release in Japan, only coming to North America afterward.

These first two aircraft consisted of one Boeing 747-400D. The famous double-decker quad-engined airliner was built to make a New York to Tokyo look easy. But in its service with Nintendo and All Nippon Airways, it serves as a gargantuan 600-plus seater puddle jumper in service with routes within Japanese airspace.

This featured the bare basic but globally familiar group of original Pokémon on display, including Clefairy, Togepi, Mew, Mewtwo, and Snorlax on the port side. But also Psyduck, Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Jiggly Puff on the starboard. Of course, Pikachu is present on both sides. This jet retired in 2013.

The second in the fleet unveiled at the same time was a Boeing 767-300 twin-jet that sports a 21.1-foot (6.43 m) fuselage extension compared to the older 767-200. This was done by taking the older airframe's bare frame and additional re-inforced composite metal sections inserted before and after the wings.

The second Pokémon Jet featured the same ensemble cast of iconic first-gen Pokémon and was retired from service shortly after its "Seven-Four" cousin. New airframes arrived to supplement the special edition line of custom jets until at least 2011.

At that point, the fleet reached its peak capacity of four jets in the sky sporting the custom-painted artwork in the service at any given time. In that period, the collection of Pokémon evolved, as did the anime and the card game.

During this time, the fleet expanded to include a regional variation of the Boeing 737 (Seven-Three) medium-sized twin-jet as well as an all-new Boeing 777 (Triple-Seven). Sadly, All Nippon Airways ceased operations of all Pokémon jets and had their liveries removed by 2016.

But that wasn't the end of the Pokejets. Half a decade later, in 2021, it was announced a new partnership between Nintendo/Pokémon and three separate Japanese airlines. These include Solaseed Air, Air Do, and Skymark Airlines. This time around, a 737-800 features a strictly Pikachu-themed livery, which one can only assume because more is always better when it's a prized mascot IP worth its weight in diamonds.

More recently, a Boeing 767-300 twin jet was unveiled with the much-beloved Vulpix fox-like Pokémon as a focal character. That's scheduled to go into full-time service sometime after 2025.

There's an argument to be made that overt advertisements for an anime meant for children that supports a line of toys that, at most, looks away from people who bully and haze those who can't afford the newest games and shiny card releases or at worse, completely condones it.

But from a strictly artistic and engineering perspective, it's hard not to appreciate the planning and subsequent execution of what's become a remarkably noteworthy footnote in the advertising campaign of an internationally beloved franchise.

But what do you think? Is the Poke Jet series as cringe-worthy in your mind as the rest of the franchise is? or do you think they're airborne works of art that make you want to break out the old Nintendo DS?

Let us know in the comments down below. Stick around for more from Limited Edition Month here on autoevolution.

 
 
 
 
 

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