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

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Friday, February 28, 2014

2013 BBM Masahiro Tanaka Undefeated Legend

I've been playing the translation of the title of one of the latest box sets in my mind for a while. The immediate translation of 不敗神話 (the title of the set) is Invincible Myth. However, there are other translations for invincible, and I believe Undefeated is the implication. Likewise, the kanji for myth can also mean legend, and the word Legend is used on one of the base cards in the set. Though, Invincible Legend is a pretty awesome name. 

Tanaka's 2013 season is the stuff of legends, after all. In 28 games he compiled a 24-0 record plus one save, compiling a 1.27 ERA (just a little higher - not even .01 higher - than his 2011 ERA. His pitching prowess led the Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series title, which is certainly a very bright moment in the Tohoku region's recovery after the 2011 earthquake. 

There already exist a couple Masahiro Tanaka player sets; BBM (2010, box set) and Sports Graphic Number (2012, pack-based set) both issued commemorative cardboard. This set has one card for each of Tanaka's 24 victories in 2013, one for his save vs. the Lion on September 26th, one for a victory in August of 2012 titled "Prologue to the Legend", and a final "Off Shot" card that pictures Tanaka with a Japanese idol group.
 The base cards have heavy foil use along the edges and in the card title. My example card is from the game I attended in Sapporo - it's pretty cool to have a card which recognizes a game you've been to!
While the back uses the basic BBM layout, they were smart and provided the box score and Tanaka's line from the game. The kanji for "Undefeated Legend" (不敗神話) appears on the copyright line.

Box sets (27 cards, plus one random special card from the list below) retail for a steep 8000 yen, which is probably why I haven't found any base sets cheaply yet. I really would like a set for myself! While the print run wasn't announced, using the stated numbers of special cards (seen below) shows that 1500 box sets were released.

There are six different memorabilia cards inserted into boxes, with two, three, or four parallels for each card.

  1. Home jersey (#/150), kira/sparkle (#/90), patch (#/30), and big patch (#/18)
  2. Visitor jersey (#/150), kira (#/90), patch (#/30), big patch (#/18)
  3. Home and Visitor dual jersey (#/90), kira "plate" (#/30), patch (#/18)
  4. K Miyagi Star pitcher plate (#/150), kira (#/90)
  5. workout outfit (#/150), kira (#/90)
  6. undershirt (#/150), kira (#/90)
There is a super-metallic card #/30, with a gold parallel #/18. Apparently these are available by redemption.

Finally, there are 18 sticker-autographed cards randomly included in the box sets.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

2013 BBM Shinya Miyamoto Memorial Set

Issued in late November, this box set pays tribute to Shinya Miyamoto. In a fairly unique move, BBM included several of Miyamoto's teammates in the set. There were 3000 box sets produced, with a retail price of 4000 yen.
 There are 27 regular cards in the set, many of which feature Miyamoto. However, 15 additional players appear in the set. The first nine cards are Miyamoto by himself, the next 15 are single-player cards for his teammates. Cards 25-27 are dual-player cards using a kind of split-screen format. The fronts have the player's name as well as a title (the card above's first line says "Miyamoto Shinya History"; the second line translates as "Consecutive Chances at Shortstop Without an Error: 463") in Japanese characters.
The backs use a sepia-toned version of the front with a write-up. [SHOKYU] appears on the copyright line.
Each box includes the full 27 card base set and one special card. There are three types of special cards:

  • three different photo cards
  • 16 different foil signature cards, in blue foil and gold foil variations
  • 16 different autograph cards, in vertical (30 copies each) and horizontal (60 copies each) orientation.
With 1440 autographed cards, less than half of the boxes contain autographed cards - and only 90 of those have Shinya Miyamoto's autograph. I couldn't find any samples or information on the photo and foil signature cards despite their relative abundance.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2013 BBM Greatest Games 10-16 1985 Swallows vs. Tigers

Not quite a new release, but I just picked up my sample from this set a couple weeks ago.

Released in December, the latest Greatest Games set focuses on the game played between the Swallows and Tigers on October 16, 1985. This game gave the Tigers the league championship - and it ended on a tie! This was the first time the Tigers were league champions in over 20 years. 
 The base cards have a three-sided border, and the usual basic information is given on the front. Images aren't the best but I'm 99% sure BBM uses photos or possibly film grabs from the game itself. The backs use a cropped image from the front and some basic write-up information. A statline is on the back for the year; the text below this describes the player's contribution to the game.

Each box comes with a complete base set of 36 cards, plus one special card. There are 3000 sets in total, and their retail price is 4000 yen.

There are four "Special Insert" foil-signed cards with 60 copies each, plus a triple foil-signed card with 34 copies. If you're wondering, Randy Bass appears on one of the 60-copy cards, plus on the triple card. I haven't seen one of these online or in stores - only 274 (less than 10%) of the sets include a foil-signed card.

from BBM/SportsClick
Almost all boxes will come with actual autographed cards. Seventeen Tigers players and eleven Swallows signed cards for the set - I haven't seen them in person but I'm sure they're sticker autographs. There are between 60 and 120 copies of each autographed card. Randy Bass does not appear on the autograph checklist.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pack Busting: 2013 BBM 2nd Version

My coworker/friend was kind enough to give me a couple packs of cards. I don't usually open packs in Japan, but I owe him a pizza or beer now. 

The pack I'm going to share with you is from 2013 BBM 2nd Version. It's the second series of BBM's flagship set. The packs generally sell for about 300 yen, and contain 10 cards each.
 This is a good start: Tomonori Maeda just retired and is a lock for the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame: he has 2119 hits and a career batting average of .302 over 23 seasons (limited playing time in the past four years, though).
 I've seen plenty of this set already, but I still think it's one of BBM's most beautiful designs. It's simple and while the photography is pretty "standard" it's still nice quality.
 Do you know what pitch Takeda is throwing from this photo?
 I wish BBM would use more unique images throughout its set. You'll find pitchers pitching, batters batting, and fielders fielding. At least Topps has made an effort to mix it up a bit with some unique dugout shots, great plays, or quirky images.
 BBM does make an effort to catch players in poses that are characteristic of their playing style. If a pitcher uses a unique windup, it'll be on a BBM card - probably every card. Likewise, batters with unique stances or follow-throughs will show up in those positions.
 I pulled one subset card, a First Pitch single. I already have all of these from the 2013 set, but First Pitch is a subset I really enjoy. BBM has decided to change things up for 2014 1st Version, but I really hope First Pitch cards return in 2nd Version.
 Another pitcher pitching. On the upside, this is the second Giants card I pulled. I guess that's good, although I don't favor them in any way.
 Cross Wind was the cross-brand insert set issued last year. Balentien is a pretty good pull, though he doesn't quite pull a premium yet.
 The ninth card is of Akihito Fujii. He seems to share his catching job with another player; last year he was in 112 games, the third time in his 15 year career that he's been in over 100 games. He averages about 65 games a season, though he's been seeing more and more action the past three years since moving to the Tigers.
The last card in the pack was a nice surprise: a silver signature card of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. In nine seasons in the NPB he has totaled over 1000 hits, with a career average of .292. He spent 2011 and 2012 with the Twins, but wasn't very successful, batting .215 and getting only 50 hits in limited play, partly due to an injury caused by Nick Swisher.

I had a good time opening this pack. Maybe even more than my 2014 Topps jumbo pack. That could be because it was free, or because the jumbo set me back $15. But I'm saving my money for singles and oddities, so don't expect many more Japanese pack busts!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Box Load of 1973 Topps!

Mixed in with the vintage menko and bromides, new releases, and just random odd stuff I've been gathering, I worked out a trade for 1973 Topps cards from Greg Dunn. He wanted the new BBM Foreigners sets and we each sent big boxes across the ocean. (Greg, do you have a blog?)

There were so many cards included that I just can't post them all. Let's just say my needs from 1973 were significantly reduced, especially among the higher numbered cards. Here are my favorites!
 Don Sutton is just cool. Palm trees behind Don Sutton are even more cool!
 Bobby Bonds! It's like Barry, but without the steroids. In Candlestick Park.
 This is my first Harmon Killebrew vintage card, too. If you want a reminder of what some of the best action cards looked like 40 years ago, this is it.
 Why do I like this card? The names. Will we ever see another baseball card with the names Dick, Jerry, Vern, Irv, and Wes together? For that matter, will Vern and Irv ever appear on another piece of MLB cardboard?
 Is Garvey short or is Parker tall? Steve is a little taller than I am, according to Google.
 Bert Campaneris shows how to slide into first without getting your pants dirty. I guess the A's players did their own laundry in the 1970s.
 This is how you slide and get dirty! Not only is Gamble on the ground, there's another player getting buried under a cloud of dust!
 If I saw Bob Robertson on the street, I would cross it to get out of his way. That's one mean, scary face.
 Another Dick. Green wearing green, with lots of green grass around him! Looks like he's making an error over there at second base, though.
 Sweet play at the plate!
 Another Candlestick card, and another play at the plate but without a catcher. Was this on a passed ball?
 Alan Foster is here because his lower case a has a halo. It's such a cute logo. Like, Japan cute.
 In this photo, we see Dave Johnson demonstrating a country line dancing move.
 Hmm. The Twins playing baseball at home at Wrigley Field? I bet Topps loved this move. "We just need to write in a "T" over his hat and he'll have a TC hat for Twin Cities! We're so clever! Nobody will notice that he's in a Cubs uniform at home in Chicago!"
 Another play at the plate! I gotta hand it to Topps for trying to get some good action shots into the set.
 I wouldn't want to be in New York in the early 1970s either.
 They should have just photoshopped the entire card... The question is, what was he wearing when this photo was taken? A White Sox or Yankees uniform?
 Another card with the cute angels text. And the Chevron Big A in the background.
 Any card that shows an old baseball stadium's trademark is a good card in my book.
 Speaking of stadiums, come by the sandlot on 57th Street where you'll see the White Sox holding practice.
 Without seeing the uniform on the Giants batter at the plate, I had this pegged as a Candlestick card immediately. I should mention that Candlestick was the stadium where I saw my first baseball game.
 Hm. The Cubs at home, with no ivy? This must be a spring training image; the Cub patch on his arm is too good to be photo-shopped IMO. Or am I wrong?
Let's end with this shot. The White Sox using the Reds colors. I know, I know, the Sox have used red off an on since the 1930s. It's also a Spring Training shot, I'm pretty sure. Or a minor league stadium; Egan spent the 1973 season in the corn fields of Iowa.

Anyway, thank you Greg for the awesome cards! I'm glad we could work something out! If there's anything else I can get you over here, let me know. And sorry it took me so long to post this trade and for us to actually get the trade done!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

More Pretty Girls on Cardboard

I'm really tired, so I want to get out a short post today.
I collect strange stuff, and I know it. In addition to baseball cards, I've picked up plenty of non-sport issues. Add in some figurines and other stuff from Akihabara and plenty of random souvenirs during my travels, and my apartment has boxes of knickknacks I don't even know how to display!
 I've been chasing after a Disney sticker set here in Japan, issued similar to bromides in small paper envelopes for 32 yen per pair of stickers. There are some short-printed sparkly stickers and I need just a few to finish my set. These packs of stickers occasionally have coupons for free packs, but because the store had no more stickers, they gave me three envelopes of AKB48 menkos.
I'm not really complaining, although I would really like to finish my Disney set.

I'll be heading off to bed soon (I'm writing around 10:30 PM)... good morning to everyone in the US when this post goes live, though!

Friday, February 21, 2014

I bust out the mad hits every day, yo.

You might recognize one name on all of these cards, if any. But these are (almost) all major league baseball players, and most of the cards here are autographed and numbered pretty low!

Okay, so they're NPB major league players, on NPB cards. But unlike the USA, autographs and relics haven't flooded the market (yet?) so they keep a decent value and are rarely cheap. But I found some knocked down in a "clearance" bin at the Mint/Yellow Submarine in Akihabara and grabbed every single one. Which is why I've been broke for the past couple of weeks and will be until pay day Tuesday.
Hiroki Kokubo might be the only name you know here. Then again, if you don't follow NPB baseball, you probably haven't. Kokubo managed to accumulate 2000 hits (the NPB equivalent of the 3000-hit club in the MLB) and retired at the end of the 2012 season. The rest of the players here aren't really household names, even in Japan.

 Nakahama played in the Suntory Dream Match, but he only had two seasons of NPB ball playing in a total of only 8 games. How confusing. How are the players chosen for this event anyway?
 You have to love teams that give their players jersey numbers in the 100s.
 This is a parallel of a subset. Off the top of my head, I can't remember a single set BBM has done an entire parallel for. They do issue parallels for some players in most sets, though, sometimes creating parallels for one or more of the subsets in a set. Or multiple parallels. It's quite confusing. Sure, 2014 Topps has over a dozen parallels, but with the exception of the silk parallel every single card has every single parallel.
 I didn't realize it at first, but once I looked at the cards a little more closely at the store I realized I had some Korean singles! Too bad these sets don't have a design worth collecting. Now, some of the Taiwanese CPBL cards of the 1990s are collectible by design.
I'm looking for Takara cards for a few collectors, so I browsed Wrappers' meager selection. I came up empty-handed for others, but I picked up a couple for my collection.

Random finds like these are part of what makes card hunting fun, even at shops I've searched through multiple times!