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

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Friday, April 18, 2014

New Release: 2014 BBM 1st Version

BBM released the first series of its flagship set last week, and after hearing the news I made sure to swing by the card shop over the weekend and get cards for my type collection.
 The flagship's base cards use a borderless design with very little design to the front, and I like that. The photos are pretty sharp and clear and depict a lot of action, though it is of the typical nature that BBM uses: pitchers are in their pitching motion, and batters are usually at the end of their swing. As usual, the back has a head shot, biographical information, statistics, and a write-up. Luna's stats include his MLB season and career as well, though team names are very difficult to decipher, especially because they are abbreviated and in katakana (in 2010, Luna played for the Marlins, which is read above as "Mari").

There are 408 cards in the base set, but only cards 1-324 are normal cards; the rest are subsets. Each subset has 12 cards (one per team), and for player-based subsets (all but the team checklists), the backs always feature 2013 and career total statistics.
 Genuine Ace has the "best" starting pitcher from each team. They have an eliptical pattern placed over the background of the photo.
 The Big Slugger subset has the top power hitter, as determined by BBM. The card has a smoky background with a white stripe down the middle, as they tried to picture the team's "big gun" at the plate. I guess that's a smoking gun.
 The most promising rookies are featured in Limitless Hope, with a sunrise with rays showing from the bottom of the card.
 The design of Spirit of the Team looks quite simple compared to the layouts of the prior three subsets. Spirit has veteran players for each team who probably serve as captains or leaders.
 God of Defense recognizes the top defensive players for each team with a green-bordered card. I like the design here, but my sample card above is the only one showing the player (hopefully) doing something amazing in the field; the rest of the cards had players fielding routine grounders or just ready to field.
The final player-based subset, Last Guardian, pictures each team's closer. Nishimura was the top closer in the subset, with 42 saves, but some players may have been chosen based on their intended role this year, not prior performance.
 As expected, the team checklists finish off the set, and the fronts all have pictures of the teams' mascots. I've never really studied the checklists before, but I noticed that it breaks down the team's inclusions in each of the subsets and inserts. And as you can see, each team received 27 base cards, 7 subset cards in the base set, and 3 insert cards (one per insert set).

There are four (known) partial parallels of the base cards (108 cards in all, 9 per team) randomly inserted in packs; the subsets have parallels as well.
 The most common parallel is Silver Signatures. I don't know about the odds, but they aren't serial numbered.
 The Gold Signatures parallel is serial numbered on the back to 100 copies.
 The Holographic Signatures parallel is my favorite, limited to 50 serial-numbered copies per card.

Additionally, a Red Signatures parallel has 25 serial-numbered copies each.

While I didn't mention them before, each team has a "Rookie" subset as part of the base set. The regular cards look identical to the other base cards, except for a small Rookie logo in one corner of the card. These cards have a parallel with a unique design; the player's photo appears on a greenish background with gray left and right borders, and the words "2014 Rookie" printed down the left side of the card. These look like they have foil fronts, and are serial-numbered to 100 copies each.

Additionally, the following subsets are paralleled to 100 copies each, usually with foil backgrounds, special foil printing, or even acetate card stock: Genuine Ace, Big Slugger, Limitless Hope, Spirit of the Team, God of Defense, and Last Guardian.

There are three insert sets in the First Version set.
 Wonder Rookies are horizontally oriented and have foil backgrounds with foil printing. As you can imagine, the players (one per team) are the top rookie prospects for each team (however BBM might want to define rookie prospect). Each card has a WR- prefix.

These have a parallel version, serial numbered to 100, that has white accents added across the top and bottom of the card front.
 The other "common" insert is Great Hit Makers, which uses a background design that looks a lot like the Trust Yourself! insert from this year's Hawks team set. They have an HM- prefix in the card number.
This, too, has a parallel, with foil accents in two of the front corners; it is serial-numbered to 100 copies.
The rare insert this year is titled Lightning, and there are only 50 copies of each card. I haven't seen these in person so I don't know how that foil front looks yet. Card numbers have an L- prefix.
Only 19 (sticker) autographed cards have been inserted into packs, with a print run of 10-25 copies each. Needless to say these are going to be pretty pricey, and I haven't seen any other than the samples posted to BBM's website. They mention the inclusion of memorabilia cards, but none of those have surfaced (I haven't checked Yahoo! Auctions).

I am aware of four types of promos. Each promo set has one card per team, so each is complete at 12 cards.

  • 12 cards, numbered LE01-LE12, use the base card version with a yellow-tinted background, and have Stadium Event Limited Edition notations of the front. The checklist includes one rookie from each team.
  • A green-tinted background parallel of 12 cards, numbered SE01-SE12, are identified as Stadium Event Special cards.
  • The Hit Makers insert set has a red-background version, numbered SP01-SP12 and also identified as Stadium Event Special cards on the front.
  • The Limitless Hope parallel set has a blue-tinted Book Store Special version with gold foil signatures, numbered BS01-BS12.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

More Calbee, With A Double Surprise!

Here comes some more Calbee cards. I bought 15 bags of chips this week, and only two days later most of the chips are gone at work. Never underestimate the hunger of coworkers.

I think they're going to be more sick of chips than I am by the time this season's over.
 The first pack is lackluster at best. Aikawa is a veteran who was the starting catcher for the Swallows for several years, but he's been playing only half time the past two seasons. He has a .261 career batting average but I'm sure he's known more for his work behind the plate than at it.
 Collation this year on inserts is really strange. This is the second time I have received two Starcard inserts in a single pack...
 And it happened twice in back-to-back packs! Starcards are probably the rarest inserts in Calbee. The gold-foil signature parallels are certainly tougher than the regular versions, and the lucky card that serves as a redemption is really rare too, but for the main checklist, these are the cards with the highest value. Oddly enough, I still haven't seen any of the four checklists or two league champion cards.
Rookie pitcher Yuki Matsui for the Eagles received card number one honors. That's more likely due to his low jersey number and being on the Japan Series Champion team than any Ken Griffey Jr-esque hope for the future.
Kenta Imamiya and Takehiro Ishikawa are two more common cards, neither player performing notably at the plate despite being pictured there. I'm not sure how good they are in the field, though both are everyday starters.

That's it for today! Thanks for reading as always!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

5 More Packs of 2014 Calbee

As I said last week, my goal is to finish my Series 1 Calbee set by the end of the month, although Series 2 won't come out until July. So, here are the cards from five more packs.
 Pack 1 has an insert (Climax Series). Not a bad start!
 Another insert, but I already have this Japan Series single. Kisanuki has never been a great pitcher, but seems to have managed to stay in the starting rotation, or he's used as a middle/long reliever, as he averages more than 5 innings per appearance. He hasn't played yet this year, though.
 Three for three with another insert, this time from the Legends set. This is Ohsera's (or Osera's) rookie season, and he's off to a decent start.
 Ibata is a solid-hitting infielder for the Giants who had been with the Dragons from 1998-2013. Obviously, Calbee has a Spring Training photo here.
This is the second Luna card I've pulled. Sakaguchi had a few good years with the Buffaloes around 2010, but the last two seasons he hasn't seen much action. Fun fact: Sakaguchi literally translates as Hill Mouth, or an opening in a hill... like the entrance to a cave.

That was a fun five packs, found at my local supermarket! I'm glad to see these in at least one more store now.