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

Want Lists are located here. NPB Baseball Want List is located here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bargain Box: 2012 AKS AKB48 "Starter Box"

The semi-local Mega-Donki store has had super-discounted packs the last two times I've visited. At only 10 yen each, I'm willing to buy anything. There is a limit of five, though, per item per person per day. I only bought two of these starter boxes (why didn't I buy more?) which originally retailed for about $30.

As you know if you've been reading this blog, AKB48 is the biggest J-Pop group in the world, and the fans can be downright insane. With great popularity comes great amounts of merchandise, found for the group as a whole as well as plenty of goods for individual members. What you see below is the AKB48 Trading Card Game & Collection Trial Deck. It's advertised as "Volume 1" though I've never seen a follow-up (this came out in 2012).
The empty box, above. The top card in the pack shows through the window. My favorite member, Mayu Watanabe, is wearing the hat. Those three girls are special in the game.
The back describes a bunch of details about the cards and how to use them in an online game. The checklist of cards included is listed on the left; there are forty cards, forty card holders, an instructions sheet, and a game mat. As mentioned in the actual checklist, some of the cards are duplicates in the box. I guess you can clone idols in AKB48 game world.
Here are the contents of the box. The card sleeves on the right (special ones with AKB48 logos!), and the cards on the left. I mentioned the three girls on the box cover are special: they each have one card in the box which can only be found here, and not in the booster packs.

I don't know how the game works. It involves an app of some kind, with codes found on the backs of the cards. I'll eventually get some help to explain this to you all! I also bought a full box of booster packs at a big discount, and I'm two cards away from a full regular set. Again, those full details will come at some other point in the future.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yahoo Auctions: Japan's eBay

Did any of you use Yahoo Auctions when it existed in America? I tried it out a few times, but the US site was seriously lacking compared to eBay. It started in 1998 and lasted for about 10 years in the US, even less in the UK. In fact, it only remains in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan.

eBay never got off the ground here. Sellers enjoy the concept of a site that has no fee for listings - eBay has listing fees, final value fees, PayPal requirements and fees. And all those happen for every auction. Yahoo started with no fees at all, though they now charge a monthly fee (about $4) and a flat fee of about 5% on final auction values (with some exceptions), also seemingly calculated monthly.

Another problem I think eBay had was payment methods. Japan relies heavily on bank transfers, and the heavy emphasis on PayPal really made things tough. Yahoo does have an online payment system where buyers can pay with credit card or bank transfers through their site, but bank payments are still allowed.

Yahoo in Japan feels a lot like eBay did when it was great - relatively simple and fairly user-friendly if you understand Japanese. I usually use the website, but the iPhone app is pretty handy too. The low fees for sellers means prices start fairly low and shipping is via post - 82 cents at the lowest.

Now, paying for auctions has a cost. Using Yahoo's system, you can pay a 100 yen (about $1) fee to use a credit card, or 162 yen to do a bank transfer. There is a 0-yen method that I would like to learn how to use, which I think requires going to certain banks and paying at the ATMs there.

I'm able to pay using my bank's online system, too - the fee there is 100 yen unless it's to my same bank (those transfers are free). I compare that to eBay - the lowest shipping there seems to be $2, though it's usually $3 or $4 for just one card.

Speaking of shipping, I mentioned that dealers generally offer shipping at or under $1 for single cards. I recently received a 24-card set shipped for $1, and the three thick cards you see below were shipped for $1 total. I just won a 95-card set where the seller is charging $2 for basic shipping.

So, what have I been buying? Not that much, really, and it's mostly been cheap stuff. I bought my second and third series Calbee sets off Yahoo. In the past couple weeks I've been learning about how to make payments and using the communication system. Shipping addresses and such need to be typed in to each dealer, as well as telling the seller which bank the money was sent to (many sellers have multiple banks). With help from a coworker, I've essentially developed a form letter that I copy from auction to auction.

My first multi-auction win is a group of three cards from Immaculate Collection. I was bidding on another card that I didn't end up winning.
One of those is numbered to 49, and all three will fit in my type collection. Combined with shipping and payment fee, these cards cost me under $5.

I can certainly see myself using Yahoo for MLB and NPB single cards as I get better and better at using the site.  Much like eBay was wonderful for my collections in the late 1990s through mid 2000s, Yahoo opens up a whole world of merchandise in my (not-so-)new country.

By the way, eBay does still exist here, basically through the main portal site. But I imagine only savvy businesses selling Japanese goods to overseas buyers, and collectors of international things use it. (Keep in mind that shipping from the US to Japan is super-expensive.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

1964 Morinaga Top Star: Awesome Find!

A long time ago, almost two weeks ago, I made my last post. I've had some personal issues (read my other blog for a few more details if you're interested). But I'm back now, and there are hundreds of cards lying in front of me that I've picked up in the past couple weeks. I'm not sure if they're all blog-worthy... but yeah. This card is:
 Does this look like any other bromide I've featured on the blog? Well, technically, I guess it is. What you see is from the 1964 Morinaga Top Star set. Identified as JF2 in Engel's guide, it's the non-die-cut version of cards issued by Morinaga, a major candy company in Japan.

The die-cut cards are identified as JF 1 (1964 Morinaga Standups). JF1 is designated "R2" rarity (100-249 known copies) while JF2 is "R1" (250-1000 known copies). However, both sets have a few scarce cards, for whatever reason.

Fronts from both sets share identical photos and both have pure fronts without any text.
Yasumitsu Toyoda's card is one of two super-scarce cards in the JF2 set. I paid about $15, though it "books" for $250! I lucked out here - I just skimmed through the cards available at the store and grabbed the one that appealed most to me.

Backs have black text on the white card stock. The top line says Morinaga Top Star Card in Japanese, and the text below that hints that they were issued along with gum of the same name. The Morinaga logo is at the bottom along with company information.