Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 BBM Rising Sun

One set I missed this year when it was originally released was the 2017 BBM set titled Rising Sun. While it is identified as a 2017 release, the set came out last December - about one year ago, to be exact. It wasn't until this fall that I finally got a card for my type collection, but you won't see that card; it was filed away without being scanned!
Why did it take so long to get a Rising Sun single? This is an ultra-premium release that followed in the footsteps of Master of Insert. As such, even commons from the base set don't come cheap, and the set has been on the back burner for a while.

With a price point of 13,000 yen per box and only six cards per box, this is a gamble, similar to US products. But, since I'm in Japan, card prices tend to stay relatively high. Unlike America, where that $150 box will most likely net you $20 in cards.

Only 1500 boxes total were produced, which means only 9000 cards total were made for this issue. That includes all base, parallel, insert, and hit cards. BBM advertises that each box contains six cards - one is an insert card, while another is an autograph or memorabilia card. Based on print runs, you'll get 2.4 base cards, 1.2 parallels, 1.4 inserts, and one hit. (If my math is correct, 55 boxes contain two hits.)
 There are 36 subjects in the base set. Those are numbered out of 99 copies, making it one of the most limited base sets in existence. A parallel set is numbered out of 50 copies, though some players are numbered to 48 or 47.
 The Prime 3D is a perfect example of Japan's overuse of "the". Each card in this 12-card set is serial-numbered to only 25 copies. As you might have already guessed, these cards have a 3D effect.
 Each of the 36 players has a card in the Nightbreaker insert set, serial-numbered to 50 copies each.
 While autographs are probably the biggest draw in a premium product, they aren't exactly easy to come by. Only 19 players have autographs, with print runs from 5 to 30 copies each. I count 259 autographs total.
 Memorabilia cards appear for 23 players. Most of these are jerseys or undershirts, but Sakamoto has a bat card. The clothing swatches are numbered to 30 or 50 copies each, while Sakamoto's bat card is numbered to only 6. And for 15 of the players, a patch parallel version of their jersey card was issued; each of those are numbered to 15 copies. One player has an autographed batting glove memorabilia card. That card is numbered to five copies.
Yuki Matsui is the only player that can be found in the Autographed Authentic Ball set. Matsui signed 20 authentic baseballs which were chopped up to be used in this set. Or maybe only a few balls were chopped up, but he signed each in multiple places. Anyway, there are 20 of these cards.

Sure, pulling a Shohei Ohtani autograph (only 5 copies) or relic (180 copies total among three cards, two with patch parallels) would give you pretty good value for your investment. And that Matsui ball probably would pay for the box and maybe then some. But I honestly can't seeing this being a smart break. Yes, you'll get some additional money - better than in the States - for the other five cards. Oh well, it's not like I'll ever drop 13,000 yen on a 6-card box anyway!

Note that all images used in this post are promotional images from BBM. I don't have any of these cards.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2017 BBM 2nd Version

It's been forever since my last post. I've been busy... again. Let's see if I can get caught up on 2017's sets before 2018!
 BBM's 2nd Version came out back in August - yes, four months ago. There's nothing unsurprising under the hood.
 The set starts out with "1st Version Update", which is a subset that's completely pointless to me. Though, I guess if you consider the 2nd Version set to be a true mid-year set, rather than just a second series, it makes a tiny bit of sense.
 The 2nd Version design has slightly opaque borders on the left and right which matches the bottom banner. Those aspects carry over to the back. What makes 2nd Version unique from 1st Version, aside from the design, is the statistics. The 1st Version set and its updates have statistics through the 2016 season, while the 2nd Version set includes stats through late May.

Similar to the 1st Version set, 2nd Version has some "secret" variations - one per team. The Yamasaki card above is a variation I pulled from a pack.
 Team Checklists bring up the rear of the set, and BBM went with mascots. The Marines have an additional secret variation for their team checklist.
 1st Version Update and 2nd Version both have identical parallels. The most common is Silver Signature, which is not serial numbered.
 Here's a 1st Version Update parallel.

Gold Signature parallels are serial-numbered to 100 copies.
 Hologram foil signatures are serial numbered to 50.

Red foil is serial-numbered to 25, while green foil signatures are numbered to only 10.
 First Pitch is an unbelievably popular subset now which has been pulled out of the base set for the past couple of years. While the cards appear to be printed in the same quantities as regular cards, they carry premiums - some go for 300-400 yen each!

BBM's checklist states that these cards are available in parallels of 200 and 50 cards as well as autographed versions. Additionally, one of the subjects has a secret variation, bringing the total in the set to fourteen.
 The lone insert set in 2nd Version is Bright Stars. These are available in parallels of 150 and 50 serial numbered copies too.
 Cross Squall is this year's cross-brand insert, and autographed and parallel versions are included.
Only a few types of hits are available: the previously-mentioned Cross Squall autographs, as well as memorabilia cards, regular autographs and combo autographs.

Friday, September 1, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch Tigers

The Tigers set from Epoch has a little bit more to its design than the others - actual fading and interaction between the photo and its borders. I think it's a bit nicer than the other sets, though at the same time I like cards that don't hide the background.
 The base set has 36 cards.
 One-star variations: photo variations.
 Two-star variations: photo variations.

Epoch has been issuing sets with up to six variation levels. However, the Tigers set is the first to have two different photo variations. Jambalaya doesn't have three-star variations, so Epoch might have stopped with just three sets of variations.

Signature Parallel cards have facsimile autographs in three variations: Red (PA- prefix), Silver (PB-), and Gold (PC-). An image of the gold facsimile can be seen below. (Note that two parallels of print signature cards would give this set just two-fewer variation/parallel sets.) I wasn't able to find any facsimile autographs when I visited the shop, but that's because they appear to be much less common than the other print signature cards Epoch has released; in fact, based on images online, I believe they're on foilboard and about as rare as the insert sets.
Here's Epoch's promo image. Holografika inserts come in various subsets: Sluggers (10), Hurlers (9), Rookies (8), and Combos (9). Furthermore, twenty different autographs are available via Epoch's points system.
I found this promo card at the shop; Itohara's regular card doesn't have such a large rookie logo or text. This design reminds me a lot of mid-1990s Score baseball card sets.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch Dragons

The 2017 Epoch Dragons set is the same as the others - a smallish base set, several variations, a couple parallels, inserts, and autographs. So here we go.

The Dragons set is the only one I know that I can't find singles in the Tokyo area. They might be somewhere, but my go-to sources didn't bust any Dragons sets. I got my singles in Nagoya over summer vacation. Packs and boxes were available (and still are as I'm writing this) but no singles. Maybe they are somewhere I haven't looked.
 The base cards. There are 30 cards in the Dragons set. Epoch has not released details about which cards can be found for each of the variations and parallels (except for the Signature parallels) so a complete checklist is pretty tough to get.
 Variation 1 is an HDR filter variation on the photo. You can see this in the "crispness" of the image.
 Variation 2 is a cropping difference.
 Variation 3 is a photo variation.

Variation 4 is a cropped photo variation.

I'm not aware of any five or six star variations, but they might exist. My guess for the five-star variation is an HDR version of the photo variation.
Signature Parallel cards have facsimile signatures on the front. Again, I have no details, but Epoch has done variations on this set which usually are the six-star variations. Those tend to be photo variations. All 30 regular cards have signature parallels.

There is also a parallel of the regular cards with an "a" suffix. If I understand correctly, these have a sepia-toned background. They also appear to use the photo variation instead of the regular image.

Inserts are a little bit less complicated - only three Holografika insert sets were released: Holografika (18 cards), Holografika Rookies (6 cards), and Holografika Collage (12 cards).

It looks like 19 different autographed cards were produced as well, each obtainable by redeeming 100 points randomly found in packs.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The 2017 Kochi Fighting Dogs Team Set, and Manny Being Manny

Earlier this month, I had my summer vacation. When all was said and done, I had stops in eight prefectures (kind of like counties or states here) over seven days. I'll relay a bit more of my trip eventually, but just to give you an idea, I went to four amusement parks, seven card shops, a decent number of sightseeing spots, and three Shikoku Island League Plus baseball games.

One of those games included the Fighting Dogs, and unlike the other three teams in the league, they had a merchandising presence at the game, and they have a team card set for this year.

The set doesn't come cheap - 3000 yen (about $30). But they had random packs of 10 cards for $5, which means that, with luck, you could get the entire set for less ($15, even). I only needed one pack, though!
 Here's the design. The fronts are very minor-leaguey, as I guess one would expect from an independent team. The backs are black and white and recycle the front photo. There are 30 cards in the set; the card number is in the lower-right on the back.
 Photography is pretty standard, but thankfully it is full of action shots.
 They follow the standard BBM style of pitchers pitching and batters batting.
 The images are relatively sharp. I think every game plays around sunset or before, so they have plenty of daylight to take photos.
 Fielder fielding! But the best is yet to come:
Yep, the Manny Ramirez, playing in Japan, for an indy-league team. But then again, he is in his 40s. Manny didn't play in the game I attended, but he was there and visible. As I was wandering around before the game, I took a glance in the Dogs dugout and saw him relaxing on the bench. I realized who he was pretty quickly and was like, "Oh, hey!" and he gave me a little nod. He is definitely supportive of his teammates, cheering them on in the dugout and high-fiving players as they came back from the field. Actually, that little experience has turned me into a Manny fan, and I'll be building a little Manny collection eventually. I guess I've already started with this card!