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

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 Goals: Mid-Year Reflection

We're approaching half way through 2013, and I thought it'd be a good time to reflect on my collecting goals for the year, and where I stand! Since I've been quite silent on posting this year, it'll also help to bring you up to speed on what I've done lately.

Original goals in italic red, reflections in normal text.
1. Build my Japanese Card Type Collection. It's currently at 35%. I reached that figure mainly through Calbee cards, base BBM cards, and gaming cards. Reaching the next level is going to be much more difficult, because the remaining cards are obviously tougher to locate or more expensive. Or both. But by the end of 2013, I want 50%. The most gains will come from BBM, both in new releases and prior issue inserts and base cards. Difficulty: 7/10.

Today, the Japanese type collection stands at 49%. Actually, I'm writing this post Saturday night and I could pass 50% this weekend if I do some card shopping. As I predicted, most of the cards have come from BBM issues, but I've also discovered some new shops that have given me a whole bunch of oddball and older issues. Maybe I'll be able to reach 67% by the end of the year!

2. Put together/buy some 2013 sets. This year, just like last year, I'll probably just buy the flagship set, Gypsy Queen, and Allen & Ginter (I didn't buy A&G in 2012 and I need to get that set put together). I haven't seen anything else that interests me yet. As with 2011 and 2012, I will put together a master set of Gypsy Queen, meaning the base set and insert sets. Difficulty: 3/10.

I haven't really touched 2013 issues, but I'm not worried about them. I'll pick up the flagship set as a full issue of series 1 and 2, and I might have Gypsy Queen in the next couple weeks.

3. Finish 10 sets from years past. I'm not sure how I'll track this one, but since I'm not collecting any new insert sets this year, I need to take some time to finish off some of the older insert sets I'm working on. That includes 2012 Gypsy Queen, as I didn't do too well building those insert sets. Difficulty: 6/10.

I finished all the 2012 Gypsy Queen insert sets this week with some Sportlots purchases; I've also completed the Ballparks insert set from 2012 Panini Cooperstown. I wanted to finish 10 old sets, and I've finished six of the easiest sets. Now, what to try to tackle next?
4. Pay more attention to Panini. I used some of my birthday money to buy three boxes of Triple Play super-cheap (I should have in-hand them soon) - I want to build the set, obviously. Golden Age looks like a great issue. And there are some cards in Cooperstown that I want in my collection. A lot of people cry about the logos, but they have been really trying to put out interesting sets and it seems that they have been listening to collectors. All three card sets I mentioned here feel like they were stolen from my writings. And that's good, though I wouldn't mind them sending a couple boxes or sample sets my way to review. I need to get Panini cards in my type collection. And I want to look into putting together an insert set or two of theirs. Difficulty: 5/10.

I am working on my Triple Play master set from last year, and I have the Cooperstown and Golden Age base sets. This year, I want another master set of Triple Play. I'm planning on getting Golden Age and keeping my eye on other issues. As I just mentioned, I have the Ballparks insert set on the way, and I might tackle another this year.
5. Visit the rest of the NPB baseball stadiums. I went to Fukuoka and Hiroshima, and saw local-area Swallows, BayStars, and Lions. There are two more local area teams (Marines and Giants) plus the Kansai teams and two teams to the north. It's going to be rough getting to the Kansai stadiums in-season - there are three teams playing in the area (Tigers, Buffaloes, and Dragons). Difficulty: 9/10.

The baseball season started only about six weeks ago, but I have managed to get to two new stadiums already (Tigers and Buffaloes in the Kansai region). The Dragons aren't exactly in Kansai - Nagoya is in a different prefecture between Osaka and Tokyo. I might go to Nagoya next weekend, and I've got my eyes on local team schedules.
6. "Fix" my MLB type collection. The major and minor league issues are mixed together. Random Australian and other league issues are part of that group. And the spreadsheets are just insane. I want to rework it a bit. This will give me a better view of percentages for each type of card (MLB, MiLB, etc) and make it easier to look through my lists. It will also help me focus my type collection. I still want the minor league and international cards, but I want to have them tracked separately like I do Japanese and Taiwan CPBL cards. Difficulty: 4/10. But time-consuming.

Yeah. I haven't started. Maybe next month.

7. Complete at least 15 trades this year. I completed maybe a dozen trades last year, far fewer than in 2011. But living in Japan makes it difficult. I have access to CardGen singles that give me some really unique trade bait. So I think I can manage this year. Difficulty: 6/10.

CardGen hasn't come out yet, but I have done a couple trades already. I have a bunch more in the works that I need to follow up with.

8. Finish at least two player collections. This should be easy to do via trades, COMC, or SportLots. Difficulty: 2/10.

Haven't really looked at this. Maybe later. Instead, I've been working hard on the Japanese Awards Collection. It's around 90% complete!

9. Post a year-by-year review of Calbee issues. Since I have over 75% of Calbee issues I can really showcase this beautiful annual release. I'm not sure what to do with all those missing 1970s series yet, though. With 40 years of sets and counting, I can post once a week and finish by the end of the year. The challenge will be sticking to it! Difficulty: 4/10.

Something else I haven't started, but I really want to. I have 89% of Calbee issues covered in my type collection, but most of the missing cards are from 1977 and 1979.

10. Do a better job picking up 2013 release singles. With only (less than) 15% of 2012 complete, I am missing a ton of cards. I can always pick these up later, but I want to stay on top of new releases. My goal for 2013 will be 25%. Difficulty: 7/10.

I haven't really bothered with 2013 sets, or 2012 for that matter. I have a feeling I'm going to fall way short of this goal.

11. Make meaningful posts on the blog. 2012 was a blur for me, and I churned out a ton of "look at what I bought!" posts. I'd rather make interesting posts about the stores, cards, and other baseball things that drive my passion. Difficulty: 5/10.

I've avoided the "look at what I bought!" posts but I haven't posted much of anything else, either. I guess I need to get back into the posting groove, something I've had trouble with.

12. Create a menu/table of contents for some of my posts. I'm talking about Card Shops in Japan, my featured sets, and stuff like that. And when I get that Calbee series underway, I should have a list for those too! Difficulty: 3/10.

I haven't started this, but since I haven't been posting lately I haven't exactly been motivated to make menus.

13. Have fun collecting. If you read my other blog, you know how frustrated I got in Korea looking for baseball cards and souvenirs. But deep down I still love collecting and I enjoy the thrill of the chase. While I came home from Korea without actual baseball cards, I've found tons of them - plenty of them uncatalogued - here in Japan. I'm planning a trip to Australia in April, and while I don't think I'll get to see any games I can hopefully dig up some Australian baseball cards and souvenirs too. Difficulty: 1/10. In having fun, I mean. Not the trip to Oz. That's looking like a 9/10.

Australia didn't happen and isn't happening as far as I can see. If it does happen, it'll be because I move there next year, I think. If I move there - this isn't an announcement of anything. I haven't figured out my plans for next year. But I've had a blast collecting so far, hanging out with other collectors, and checking out new stores. If only I had more money...

Overall, I'd say I'm making pretty good progress on my collection. I can easily buy American cards, so I'm not so worried about MLB issues. The Japanese collection is growing very fast, which I think is pretty important, because they're much more difficult to find outside of Japan. I wish I had more time and energy to devote to my collection - trading and posting especially. For those of you I've been talking with about trades, I'll get back with you soon, I hope!

Until my next post...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cool People, Cool Cards: Dutch Oven

OK, so I have one last set of "traded" cards to show off this weekend. The Dutch Card Guy is another fan of US baseball living outside of America, and he loves to trade! Since it would probably cost him about the same to ship to America or Japan, I was able to get the cards delivered here. He put together an eclectic, but super-fun package of cards. And these cards are HOT! And by that I mean great:

 He helped me work towards completing my 2012 Triple Play set. I still have a few cards left to finish it (my want list spreadsheet is up to date) but this will probably be my favorite card from the release. Nothing like a ball to the ear-flap on a sticker.
That card reminds me of this song. I've never seen the show, but somehow I ended up with the song in my collection for a while.
 There were a whole bunch of 2012 Triple Play cards, but I wanted to show this adorable picture of little Matty. He opened a box a few months back and I think these were from it. For your information, I do want to have a full master set of 2013 Triple Play, just like I'm working on for 2012. I haven't started that yet, and I'm not sure if I'm going to try to do it with boxes this year or just buy a set. Both options seem kind of tough right now.
 Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole mess of these old Fleer stickers in the package. I'm not sure why he included them, but almost all of them found a home. The team logos work nicely for my collection of World Series winning teams (I'm too lazy to try to find team picture cards or other specific cards honoring each team right now).
 The backs look like the card below:
 Most of them feature specific players. If I couldn't use the player, I could probably use the team. Some day I'll actually try to put together complete sets of the Fleer sticker backs that feature cartoons.
 He helped with my 2012 Allen & Ginter set a whole bunch. There were a bunch of Yankees I was missing.
 I'm not sure if any of them were SPs, but the cards he included were a big help regardless.
 There were a few inserts. I always love the Baseball Highlight Sketches.
 And I seem to get attached to a couple of the inserts or mini inserts every year too, despite a lack of interest when the sets are announced. So he helped there too!
 Ahh, 2012 Gypsy Queen! I do believe that I finally finished this set this week! And now I can start on 2013 Gypsy Queen. Oh, and I still need a couple cards from 2011...
 A really odd group of cards were these 1986 Fleer Baseball's Best. I think they were padding for the package but either way they were a fun reminder of the days when little sets of superstars could be found on drug store shelves.
 This is the second Mattingly card in this post!
 The WBC wasn't forgotten! Abe is very popular in Tokyo, and he won the NPB MVP Award for his team's league last year. There were multiple versions or copies of some players, including Abe.
 As you know, I collect Team USA cards. I have expanded that to include WBC sets as well, though I don't go after any of the autographs or relics. Bow-Chro is perfectly fine though!
 Do you like football? By that, I mean soccer. There were some European soccer cards included (I think they were European). While I don't collect soccer cards I love to see random oddballs.
 Plus, these cards have dutch language on them, I think. So they're even cooler!
 And what package from Holland would be complete without some Panini stickers? I haven't opened them to see what's inside, but I think I'm going to keep them anyway!
Finally, the perfect card to end a post on. Mr. Dutch included a Fan Favorites autographed Terry Pendleton card from Archives. Pendleton isn't a tough signature to get in person, exactly, but as far as certified autos go he doesn't show up very often. So I'm glad to have this as part of my autograph collection!

Thanks again for the awesome cards, everyone! Now hopefully I can get back into the rhythm of posting semi-frequently!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cool People, Cool Cards: The NPB Bulletin

NPB Card Guy finally made it to Japan in March, and we arranged to hang out on my two days off. He's written of our escapades together, and I did a good bit of card buying that weekend. Being that he's got a supplier already and pretty much everything he needs, I didn't really have anything to offer him as a gift or in trade. However, he had accumulated a bunch of nice older cards he didn't need any more that fit perfectly in my collection!
 He had a couple Korean cards, about the size of phone cards or credit cards (with rounded corners), attached to a backer card as you see above.
 The card looks like this, removed. Yeah, nothing too special from the above scan. Anyway, Korean cards are super-difficult to find so this was an awesome gift.
 He had a bunch of menkos. I didn't want to be greedy (all in all he brought a 200-count box full of cards to trade or sell) but I did find some I needed for my collection.
There were also some cards from the 1970s that, well, you don't see very often.
 The older cards were fun to thumb through.
 I don't know why, but I enjoy seeing foreigners on older cards than I do on newer releases.
 But menkos are cool, creases or not! Anything helps when you build a type collection.
 There is one set I had to have two cards from: this pin-back set from Yamakatsu. I should have asked to keep a pin too, but I didn't think about it at the time. He traded all the pins and cards I didn't want to the store owners.
 The Giants in this set don't have players on the pin backs. I had to have a cartoon!
The last thing Mr. NPB Card Guy tossed in was this silver signature promo of Rie Tanaka from SCM Magazine. It's fairly tough to find and is a great addition to my Women In Sports collection!

By the way, he also gave me several bags of American candy! I'm still trying to finish it off two months later.

Thanks again, NPB Card Guy (I'm not using his real name because I've never seen him post it, and I want to respect that) - I really enjoyed helping you plan your visit, and traveling from shop to shop with someone else! And thank you so much for your generosity. I know you said it was payback for my help in planning but I think you certainly did one better than that!

Tomorrow (again, yes, I promise) I have one more set of trade cards to show you, with an awesome (for me) ending!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cool People, Cool Stuff: The Kenny Files

It's been a long time since I've made a real post here. Life just gets in the way of writing for me. After spending all day with the English language - listening, speaking, correcting, suggesting, all with energy and a smile - I don't have much brain power left for here. Excuses, as always.

There are several things I can report on now. I want to get what I feel is most important out of the way, so I need to talk about a couple trade/gift packages I've received in the last few months. Yes, I know there are more that were sent in the last four or five months (I think someone sent something in December that wasn't included in my last care package from America - so six months there) but I don't have everything in hand.

First, my Japanese-American friend Kenny - you should know him as Zippy Zappy - lived here last year and went to school nearby. He's a great guy anyway, and in trades he was very good to me! He returned to New York last month, but several hundreds of cards are now in my possession. I posted my want list for 2012 Allen & Ginter (I still have a bunch of needs from that set, by the way) but haven't bought a single card yet, thanks to his generosity and then the generosity of others.
 The last time we met we exchanged a few cards. Well, I guess I should say he gave me a few cards. I always seem to come out on top of the deal. There were a handful of 2013 Topps.
 A couple inserts were in there to give me an idea of what the release looked like in hand, too.
 I guess this set is my favorite of what I have, but I'm not too impressed with this year's Topps inserts. (Thanks for the cards, though!)
 He also tossed in some great shinyness! Platinum mining...
 A bit of green refractory bo-chrome...
 A bit of refractory to-chrome (that doesn't sound as cool).
 Silly scanner. It doesn't like the curly, slicky, thick Chrome stock. Always hard to scan. The card itself is perfectly fine.
 A little bit of fishing...
And this orange refractor of Chipper! While all these cards are ending up in my collection, this was probably my favorite since I have enjoyed watching Chipper play (and have affairs with Hooters girls - no, I didn't watch him have the affair though I bet that would have been a pretty hot seller in the adult video stores).

Okay, moving on. Kenny and I are working on our next trade, which is going to be pretty big, given the cards he's interested in! I hope he's having a good time back in the States. Thanks for all the cards you've given me and all the good times we've been able to have running around Tokyo!

Until tomorrow (I promise!)...