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

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch Swallows

The Epoch Swallows team set follows the same basic structure as the others. Epoch has released some details for some of its team sets, and Swallows is one of them, so I can provide a bit more detail. For the Epoch sets I've already written about, only the Carp set has additional released data, and I've already updated that post.
For the Swallows, I chose a card of David Buchanan, partly for the Newcomer graphic on the front.
My scanner cropped off the star on the back, but this is the first level of variation. Notice that a tighter crop was used on the front photo.
Here is a two-star parallel. Buchanan doesn't have a two-star parallel, so I went with Ishikawa.

I have yet to see three and four-star variations in person, but they do exist. Three-star variations have photo variations, and I'm guessing that four-star variations have tighter crops.
There are two levels of parallels with signatures on the front. Regular PS parallels have black signatures.

A second parallel with gold signatures was also produced.

Epoch didn't release information about what each variation is, but they did release a comprehensive checklist.

  • base set: 30 cards
  • * (crop): 24 cards
  • ** (tighter crop): 12
  • *** (photo variation): 6
  • **** (unknown): 6
  • signature parallel (black): 30
  • signature parallel (gold): 6
Note that players appear in all previous variation levels (**** variation players also have ***, **, and * variations, for example).
Five foilboard insert sets were randomly included: Holografica (12 cards), Newcomers (6 cards), Rookies (6 cards), Combos A (6 cards), and Combos B (6 cards). The checklist for the two Combos sets is the same, so they are variations. The image above is a promotional image from Epoch.

Finally, autographed cards can be "won" by collecting 100 points. Points are randomly found in packs. There are 10 different autographed cards.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch Carp

The next set I have for you from Epoch is the Carp team set.
Each team set design is different; the Carp have red and white team colors with the logo in the lower-right. The base set has 35 cards, including one for the mascot.
Single-star parallels have a sharper image, which Epoch calls "HDR". It's difficult to see, but there is a single star in the black bar at the bottom of the back of the card.
Two-star variations have a closer crop for the photo on the front.
Three-star variations are photo variations.

Four-star variations are cropped versions of the photo variations.
This next card is actually a parallel, as it caries a card number change. Card numbers with an "a" suffix have the photo variation fronts, but the photos are also slightly altered - the backgrounds are somewhat tinted, almost sepia.

There is also a "b" suffix parallel. I don't know what the difference is. I do know it uses the variation photo.
Finally, "PS" parallels have printed signatures on the front using the original photo.

Update: Epoch has been releasing full variation checklists for some of its team sets. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Base set: 35 cards
  • * (HDR): 29
  • ** (cropped photo): 12
  • *** (photo variation): 12
  • **** (cropped photo variation): 6
  • PS (signature parallel): 35
  • a (photo variation sepia parallel): 12
  • b (photo variation unknown parallel): 6

Three usual inserts are included: Holografica (18 cards, second-from-right image), Holografica Rookies (6 cards, far-right image), and Holografica Collage (12 cards, center-right image). As usual for Epoch's lower-priced issues this year, autographs can be "won" by collecting 100 points randomly found in packs. A total of 19 different autographed cards are available (sample image center-left).

The above image is a promotional image from Epoch.

Friday, August 18, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch Pacific League

Epoch has been countering BBM's higher-priced issues with a more-affordable option that's a bit toned down. That doesn't mean these don't have tricks.

I've posted about the Epoch Lions set already, and there are several more team set posts to come. But first, the Pacific League set.

The Pacific League set came out on July 22nd, and features the six teams of the Pacific League.
There are 54 regular cards in the set. Border colors change depending on the team's colors.
The One-Star variation has a closer crop. (Note the single star on the back, at the bottom of the card.)
Two-Star is a photo variation.

I don't have a Three-Star card, but I know they exist. These appear to be cropped photo variations.
The "PS" parallel has a printed signature on the front. Note that these are not foil signatures. All players in the 54 card base set have a print signature parallel.
And "PC" is the Cosmic Spark parallel, with a background design instead of the photo background. This is a partial parallel; 18 players (three per team) received this parallel.
I finally have an insert from the Holografica series. The cards look a little nicer in person but really aren't that special. They really feel just like regular foilboard inserts. A total of 36 Holografica inserts were made, six per team.

Finally, the super-rare autographed cards (24 total subjects) can be obtained by collecting 100 "points" which are inserted into packs. Each pack should have one point card and/or a promo card of some sort.

I'm going to go ahead and add here that I'm really happy another manufacturer is getting into the "flagship" set game - the more more I look at and think about the cards in these issues the more I like them. Epoch's sets are not as comprehensive as BBM's, but they do provide a nice alternative.

At first glance, they appear cheaper. One pack of Epoch's sets will run you 250 yen for four cards plus the point card (63 yen per card, not counting the points as a card). BBM's team packs is 400 yen, but you do get six cards (67 yen per card). And the 1st/2nd Version BBM packs are 300 yen for 10 cards (30 yen per card). In the end, BBM's flagship is cheaper per card, but with such a small size (54 vs. 300+ cards), Epoch's Pa-League set costs much less total.

I'm going to go ahead and get a Pacific League set (and hopefully a Central League set, if they issue one), because it's an interesting issue. But I don't collect BBM's team sets so I'll pass on Epoch's.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

New Release: 2017 BBM Hawks

The final team set issued by BBM in 2017 went to the Hawks. Issued at the end of July, the set follows the standard 2017 BBM team set formula.
The regular base cards have a borderless design with a fading background. Players make up the first 68 cards.
Card #H69 is a "regular card" but the design is different, as it features two of the team's mascots.
The first three subset cards (#H70-72) is Cutting Edge. Stats on the back compare 2016 to the first 10 weeks of 2017.
I like the design of First Headlines (#H73-76). They feature early-season highlights written up on the back.
The final five cards (#H77-81) is Heavy Hitters Squad, with the team's best hitters. Stats on the back are for the first 10 weeks of the season and are broke down by opponent.

The 18 insert cards are split into three sets. Each set has a trio of parallel versions: Gold #/90, Holo #/75, and Gold and Holo #/50.
Elite Selection is the largest set, with 9 cards. The front design might be my favorite insert design of the year.
No Limit has 6 cards. I'm not sure how Elite Selection and No Limit are different other than their background designs.
Hero Comes Back rounds out the final three insert cards, and all three commemorate the return of Munenori Kawasaki to the Hawks. So yes, all three cards in this set are Kawasaki.
 The cross-set Phantom inserts finish here with 12 cards, all #/25.
 The usual autographed cards can be found for the entire team, numbered to 60 or less.
 Two combo autographs #/5 and four rookie autographs #/10 were also included.
 Finally, nine silver foilboard autographs #/10, and gold foilboard 1/1 parallels were also included, as found in other sets.

Note, the images above of Phantom and autograph cards are BBM promotional images.