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

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pack busting: 2012 Calbee Series 1!

While you fine folks in America are busting packs of the same old Topps flagship, Opening Day, and Heritage, I'm here in Japan stockpiling cards printed in a different language.

I haven't talked much about my card purchases. Having a full-time job and spending the weekends poking around Tokyo and its environs while still keeping up with weekly laundry, cleaning, and cooking needs fills a lot of time. Plus, after spending all day working with the English language, I don't have much interest in using it to write posts! Plus, I don't have a comfortable way of typing up posts. I think I'm going to find one of those lap pillow table things and a cordless keyboard so I'm not hunched over like ... well, a hunchback. That might help my motivation, or at least my back problems.

However, I haven't been avoiding cards or baseball in general! I wrote about my day with Kenny - who is coming back to Tokyo soon if he isn't here already. (Right, Kenny? Aren't you starting class in the next week or so?) I have visited a few card shops - mostly different locations in a chain called Mint. I have been focusing my efforts on the cheap singles for base sets and "insert" sets that are as common as the regular cards, though I have picked up a few cheap sets here and there and found some good bargains on a few of the better inserts. A recent pickup knocked out about 1/3 of the Calbee sets through 2007, so I think my first main goal will be to complete the Calbee type collection.

And speaking of Calbee, as I posted yesterday, the Calbee cards have arrived in stores! While singles in stores run 50-100 yen each, a bag of chips with two cards is under 100 yen - a snack and two cards for less than they would cost in stores! Plus, I have a chance for the rarer insert sets.

The first series checklist (in Japanese) is here. There are 73 cards in the first series base set. Out of my six bags of chips I have 8 base cards:
 Kubo, the card I'm keeping. The fronts are in English!
 And the backs. Very little English here. It lukes like Kubo had a 1.17 ERA last year: not bad!
 Note that the card numbers are on both the front and back! (Look at the upper left in the scan above.)
 At the bottom is the team logo and name, the player's jersey number, and his name.
 Did they steal this photo from a Prince Fielder card?
 While you can't tell because of my scanner's cropping, the cards have slightly rounded corners, making them much more durable in the long run.
 Hey, I know him! (Not personally.)
 Is he pointing at a popup?
Each photo is full-bleed. This is the kind of set I'd like to collect. Who knows, if I go crazy with the chip-buying (doubtful), I can collate my own set!

The first insert I pulled (and I showed off yesterday) was from the Title Holders insert set. The set is currently 22 cards deep, and basically showcases leaders in various statistical categories.
 The fronts are very similar to the regular set, except for the set name at the top in place of the Calbee logo, and the background effect on the photo.
 The backs are different too. Note the different card number (most Japanese sets use some kind of prefix on the card number to identify the set, other than the flagship base issue).
He isn't Japanese! It seems like many of the foreign players do well in Japan.

Next, we have the Reprinted Card insert set. Just like it sounds, this set reprints 13 cards from prior Calbee sets. The player focus is on managers, and while rookie cards aren't necessarily chosen, the reprints are from each manager's playing days. The card I pulled is a reprint of a 1975 issue:
 Similar to the Topps deluge of reprints, the fronts are basically identical to the original issue. Cards have been resized to this year's dimensions (the 1975 issues were smaller) and there is a notation with 2012 and the card number at the top. Calbee did a similar reprint issue in 2007, but the cards were in a shadow "frame" that really identified it as a reprint.
Also, the backs are essentially identical, with some change to the bottom. Older Calbee issues are very difficult to identify by year. For the most part, Calbee has followed a very simple basic design formula. The card number seen on the front and back "M-09" means this set is really called Memorial, though the literal translation of the set's name on the website is Reprint or Reprinted.

The last insert card I pulled is from the flashy Starcard set. Each card has a foil background very much like last year's atomic refractors (if I remember correctly) or the gold parallels in Topps' flagship. There are 24 cards in this series, two players from each of the 12 teams. 
 As I said, there's a foil/sparkle effect added to the photo. My scanner doesn't handle it too well, but you can get an idea of the sparkle "pattern" if you enlarge the scan. Note the insert set name at the top, the centered logo, team name, jersey number, and kanji instead of English across the bottom.
And here are the backs. Again, note the unique card number and year. This kind of labeling really helps me determine what set I'm looking at while searching through boxes of random cards at the stores!

Calbee has issued foil signature parallels of some of the insert sets in the past, along with background color variations. I have no idea if they are doing that this year - if you happen to have any information about parallels Calbee sets from 2008 on I'd be glad to have it!

There is a four-card checklist set from which I was unable to pull any cards. I'm not sure if I'll buy more series 1 chips, but the checklists are sequential through the year's releases so I should have a chance in the future. I'll be keeping the Kubo, Sakaguchi Title Holders, the reprint, and the Starcard. The rest of the cards will be for trade, but excuse me if I wait to see if we can build a bigger trade. I do have access to MLB cards (Opening Day is about 100 yen, and Heritage about 300 yen per pack at the last store I saw, though that's probably retail.)

If you'd like to outright buy some Calbee chip packs, let me know - we can work something out where I send you only the card packs. It won't be terribly cheap (remember, each bag costs about 100 yen - $1.25 before any shipping costs).


  1. Those are pretty cool. Of all the stuff I import from Japan (mostly Transformer toys) I've never thought about looking for baseball cards.

  2. Man... if shipping were more affordable, I'd be all over your offer. These are so cool!

  3. I'm going to Tokyo on the 2nd and I'll find myself in hell for about a week. I'll contact you when I find some time on my hands.

  4. I never really thought about other countries with baseball having cards. Keep posting these, it's nice to see something different.

  5. Colbey: I may be able to help you in that regard! The toys here are amazing, for sure.

    Fuji: if the chips aren't part of the package, it gets much cheaper. I can't separate the packs from the bags, but I can take the chips out of the bags and send them empty. (This partly explains why people don't just steal cards from the bags.)

    Kenny: Take your time! This month is really busy for me too, now. I think every weekend day is now booked with something, and Golden Week isn't too far into the future either!

    Jeff: I will. I found some good oddballs for later. Hopefully tomorrow, if I wake up on time!

  6. Just curious... w/o the chips... how much would 10 packs cost me shipped to CA?

  7. I collect Matt Murton, so I'm down for trading for him if he hasn't been claimed yet.