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

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two Packs of Calbee Series 3

I've been posting quite sporadically lately. I've just been busy, as always, of course. I intended on shipping out a bunch of trade packages and such over a month ago, but the pile of cards is just waiting for me. My weekdays/nights are generally full as I find myself working about an hour of overtime every day, and I've been dragging in the morning too.

Weekends aren't much better, because I am in a period of six weeks were something special is happening for work on five of them; this weekend is my only break but I'll still be doing "work" things as I'm helping my coworker clean her apartment - for a delicious cheeseburger and a banana split, of course.

So while I have stuff to post - Calbee history posts, a few new things here and there - I haven't been to a card shop in a few weeks and a lack of time and energy makes it real hard to push the keys.

Oddly enough, I've been trying to get my card fix through other means. One of those is by buying bags of Calbee chips with the baseball cards. I've bought a few bags for myself at the same time I've been picking up packs for Fuji. Here are a couple packs of cards. And by pack, I mean bag of chips with a pack of two cards super-glued to the back.
 For a base card, I was pretty happy to get Matt Murton. He's one of the better foreign players over here and as such is pretty popular. Coincidentally, I dressed up as a Hanshin Tigers baseball player for Halloween this year. My students tell me I look like Randy Bass:
I don't have a beard, though...
 I pulled two All Star Game subset/insert cards in my two packs. Hirano plays for the Buffaloes.
 Maru plays for what might be my favorite team, the Carp. If only I could have found a Carp jersey. The Tigers one I have is road grey with only Hanshin across the front.
I pulled one real insert, a Starcard of Giants pitcher Yamaguchi. I'm not sure why, but I've had better luck this year pulling inserts than in the past. Granted, I haven't bought many bags of chips to begin with, but it's nice to spend less than 100 yen and get a couple cards I need instead of spending 200-300 yen in stores per card.

I opened a few more bags but I haven't scanned those cards yet. I might get to that eventually... if only I have more time!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New Release: 2013 BBM Young Lions

In late August, BBM released a box set for the rookies and younger players on the Seibu Lions. It wasn't until mid to late September that I finally picked up a few cards and now, a month later, I'm finally posting about the set. Given the quantities of all the insert cards and autographs, 3000 sets were printed overall. In typical fashion, each box contains one complete base set plus one of the special cards. The suggested retail of each set is 4200 yen; autographs fall one in every three boxes on average.
 There are 27 cards in the base set. They have a design similar to the Lions set this year; a Young Lions 2013 logo is at the bottom. All 27 cards have the same design with no subsets.
 The backs have the traditional BBM layout. Statistics have career totals through 2012, and 2013 statistics through July 17th. The copyright information identifies the set as Young Lions 2013.
 There are a few inserts in the set. One is a die-cut nine card set. Each card is die-cut to the shape of the player's jersey number; the fronts have the typical foil background. Here you see the rarer red-foil-text version.
 Red foil cards are serial numbered to 50.
 A less-rare gold-name version exists.
The gold cards are numbered out of 125.

There is a three-card Photo Card set. They have a very large border, typical of BBM photo cards. Two of the cards are serial-numbered to 145, with the third numbered to 146.

Finally, there are 26 autographs with print runs between 30 and 40.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Calbee By Year: 1974-75 Calbee

 Calbee's next set was issued over two years, starting in 1974 with card numbering continuing through 1975. Then, at some point in 1975, they started numbering over again for the next issue. All cards in the 1974-75 set seem to have the same layout on front: borderless photos with one or two lines of text at the bottom in either black or white print.
The backs all seem to be essentially the same as well; "Pro Yakyu Card" and the series name appear across the top with the card number, followed by a waving team flag (some cards have two waving team flags). All the backs are grey. Cards issued in 1974 don't have a specific series name, but do list the year 1974. 1975-issued cards have no year, and instead have the actual short-series name.

There are several series in this release spread over two years:
  1. 1-72; some cards have baseball terminology on the back
  2. 73-90 Chunichi Dragons
  3. 91-126 Kansai Region Teams
  4. 127-144 Western Japan Teams (regional issue)
  5. 145-216 non-Western Japan Teams
  6. 217-288
    [note that cards 289-324 were not issued]
  7. 325-396 "Shoot Out Series" notation on front (in Japanese); backs have two team flags
  8. 397-432 "ON Series" notation on front (Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima)
  9. 433-504 "Scenes Series" notation on front, lots of Oh and Nagashima again
    Several cards in the Scenes Series appear in sepia colors
    ---Begin 1975 issues
  10. 504-576 "Thrilling Race Series"
  11. 577-648a "Camp Series" (Spring Training photos)
  12. 648b-755 "Opening Series" (Opening Day photos)
  13. 756-827 "Slugfest Series" (sluggers, generally, but also some pitchers?!)
  14. 792-827 "First Place Battle Series" (Chunichi Dragons)
    Note that these card numbers overlap the Slugfest Series. 
  15. 828-863 "Fierce Battle! Reversal Series"
  16. 864-899 "First Place Battle Series" (Hiroshima Carp)
  17. 900-935 "First Place Battle Series"
Note that according to Engel there are supposed to be 21 series but I only list 17, using the series breakdown from a Japanese collector. Some of these series splits seem to be ambiguous; cards 1-288 all seem to have the same design; likewise, the First Place Battle Series cards could be considered one series.

The latest edition of SCM (as of this writing) that lists Calbee cards puts the commons at 500 yen each; cards issued in 1974 carry a premium over 1975 with the first few series carrying a much higher premium. Of course, card values aren't always reliable, especially with vintage cards.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Release: 2013 BBM Young Tigers Box Set

One of the late-season releases issued by BBM this year is a 27-card box set featuring rookies and younger stars on the Hanshin Tigers team.
 The base cards have a yellow and black background with two photos as seen above.
The background photo is reused on the back of the card along with the usual stats, data, and write-up. Again, the yellow and black color scheme is used.

Most people will buy the box set for the chance at a big hit. One of the following card types is included in each box:

Three memorabilia (jersey) cards were issued: Hiroaki Saiuchi, Akira Iwamoto, and a dual-relic card with both players.

There are three different photo cards.

Foil-signature cards with gold signature (/100) and holographic signature (/50) - there seem to be 9 of them. I can't verify that all cards have the same print run and additional parallels may exist.

The big hits will be the autograph cards. They all seem to be serial-numbered to 30.

Unknown parallels could exist for any of the special cards.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Release: Orix Buffaloes Rookies & Young Stars

A few teams have had some boxed sets this year that weren't issued by BBM: Carp, Lions, BayStars, and now the Buffaloes.
 The Buffaloes set is made by the same company that released the Lions and BayStars sets, as all contain the same "ry STARS" logo you see on the front and back of the card. The company has played with the set design over the year; I think the Lions received one single card design, the BayStars had several designs, and the Buffaloes have just one (with a variation). All the cards feature the team logo at the top with the "ry STARS" logo beneath. The bottom of the card has a three-line banner with ORIX Baseball Club or ORIX Buffaloes, the player's jersey number, name, and position, and finally the name of the set. Members of the 2013 All-Star team are noted on the fronts between the team logo and ry STARS logo.

Cards 1-11 have a dark blue color scheme, 12-17 use pink, 18-21 have lighter blue (seen above), and 22-27 return to the dark blue color but also use a jersey-styled "R" in the background of the photo. Cards 1-11 are the manager and stars, 12-17 are young stars, 18-21 feature former BlueWave legends, and 22-27 are rookies.
The backs have the same photo as the front in the upper half, with a long write-up at the bottom. Cards are numbered in the lower-left and say "Copyright ORIX BUFFALOES" but they do not have a year or manufacturer information.

The 27-card set was sold in box-set form along with autographed cards. One autographed card was inserted in each box; some "hot" boxes could have multiple autographs.

The autograph issues break down as follows:

  • A seven-card regular autographed set with black ink signatures and a red ink signature parallel.
  • Two combo-signature cards with red ink parallels.
  • Four "Foreigner" signature cards with red ink parallels.
  • Six "Young Star" autographed cards with red and blue ink versions.
  • BlueWave Legends Combo cards (2 cards) with red ink parallels.
  • Six Rookie autographs with red and blue ink versions.

Note that blue ink versions might replace the black or red ink versions; it's difficult to tell. With 27 autographed cards, I think everybody appears in the set on one autographed card; the All Star members have second autographs on the two combo-signature cards, and the Legends only have combo autographs.

It appears the manufacturer of the set is named Frontier International.

The boxes are quite expensive for a small set and a single autographed card, though I guess buying a case would possibly give you a hot box or two and I'm guessing that a couple good pulls will net bulk buyers a decent profit - a single-digit serial-numbered dual-legend autograph card will bring big bucks in Japan.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How Important is the Mascot to Japan?

Kids love mascots. That goes without saying. If they didn't, the Phillie Phanatic, the San Diego Chicken, and Ronald McDonald wouldn't exist. Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse wouldn't troll around theme parks. And Japan would be nowhere as cute.

Where do you see mascots in Japan? Everywhere. They're on the trains - railroad companies have mascots, and sometimes individual rail lines have their own mascots. There are at least three shinkansen (bullet train) mascots that I know of. The post office, convenience stores, point cards, manufacturers, and just about every single entity that deals with the public has a mascot. The English school I teach for has a mascot, and our elementary school textbook line has its own macsot of sorts.

Japan itself must have an official mascot - possibly many more. Each branch and division probably has a mascot. Prefectures have mascots, and towns even have their own mascots. Fukushima is the prefecture and major city most affected by the earthquake in 2011 - the nuclear power plants are located in the prefecture. It is also the name of a company that makes refrigerators. Here is that company's mascot:

It's name is Fukuppi. That's pronounced "Foo-koo-pee" and is a combination of "Fuku" from Fukushima and "ppi" or "ppy" from the word "happy". Unfortunately, they named their character "Fukuppy" using English characters, which sounds a lot like the adjective form of a dirty word. 

The image spread quickly around the internet and in fact we were talking about it at work today. The simplest, most effective change is to simply change the y to an i - and some other ideas would be Fukupi, Fuku-Pi, Fuku Pi, or some other variation which would keep the pronunciation the same while looking less offensive.

Now, how important is the mascot? The company has issued two apology letters on its website about the name already and removed the English text from the graphic. And because the company has the same name as the town, many people (including myself, until I had a chance to see the actual website) associated the mascot with the town. 

But I like the little egg, and the name is cute if pronounced properly.

Japanese baseball teams have mascots too. Each team has a few, actually - one or two main characters (usually a male and a female)  and three or four extra characters, which might be family members or friends of the mascots, or completely unrelated characters. Plus, some mascots have multiple versions (note the eco-friendly mascot below). And the first set to exclusively feature mascots (that I'm aware of) was released in 2011 - it's a box set by BBM titled Our Friends. The cards from that set are shown below.

Not all mascots are in the set, by the way. BBM released a second Our Friends set this year with even more cards, and that means even more mascots. I have been looking for a set lately but haven't come across one.

This 2011 set has posed pictures behind a starburst style background, with the character's name, jersey number (if applicable) and team name, and the set's logo at the bottom. The backs give a bit of history on the characters (back-of-card scan is at the end of the post). The box set includes the 45 base cards you see here, plus one of 40 autographed cards.

I am curious about who signs the mascot autograph cards. Does only one person play each character, and thus have a unique, distinct signature? How often do mascots change performers? Mascot signatures have appeared on BBM cards for several years now - are the signatures on the 2013, 2011, and 2008 cards from the same person?

Anyway, here are the cards in order.

Sorry, Fuji. I know you just posted this set too, but the timing of the Fukushima mascot just made it too tempting.