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

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Friday, January 22, 2016

New Release "Pack" Busting: 2016 Calbee All Stars

NPB Card Guy alerted me to the issuance of an early 2016 set from Calbee. He heard about it from another guy who came across the chips in Hokkaido, and passed the news on to me.
Calbee usually issues three regular series per year with three special limited sets to go with them. We haven't seen what Calbee's doing with the regular 2016 sets yet, but I like this addition. The cards come in a gold bag which advertises that all cards are sparkly. There are 36 cards in the set. And while it's not advertised on the bag, there is a foil signature parallel randomly inserted in packs.
Unlike regular Calbee Chips cards, this pack has only one card. Also, you can see that one bag of chips has a respectable 123 calories.
Here is the card I pulled in my first pack. Chihiro Kaneko of the Buffaloes. You can see the sparkle showing in the photo in the upper left of the card. The photo on the front has a sort of triple-exposure effect going on which is a bit disturbing in the scan but looks a bit better in person. The background is a dark blueish-gray tone, similar to Star Card and other premium inserts over the past 10 years or so.
And the back is pretty standard as well. The card number is in the upper-right, noting the year and carrying an "AS" prefix.

As I mentioned, there are foil signature parallels but I don't know how rare they are. I would guess that they are about as rare as the foil signature cards for the Star Cards sets, as prices on Yahoo Auctions are comparable.

I bought five bags of these chips, but three packs are saved for Fuji so I'll have one more card for you next week!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fuchiko's Back to Hang Around Some More

I had a successful day at the UFO Catcher on Wednesday, coming back with six more Fuchikos after lunch! Some of these are the same style I already have, but the more, the merrier, right?
Panty shot unintentional. It's kind of hard to get my iPhone to focus properly on these.
Another bikini version. I think this is a repeat.
This, too, is probably my second one. She hangs by her twin tails (double pony tail).
See what I mean about focus? This yellow Fuchiko sits facing the inside of the glass instead of the outside.
Go Japan! Though I think I have this one already, too.
Last but not least, I finally got this green lady to balance properly on the rim of the glass. The empty glass I had been using for the other Fuchiko figures wasn't wide enough, so I put her on my Jack and Coke. Luckily she never tried swimming!

This is probably the end of Fuchiko for a while. I might try to get something else next time!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Little (Important) News and Little Helmets

Let's start with the news. It's a bit lengthy. Sorry about that.

First, I'm moving. It's not very far, but it very soon. At the end of the month, I'm moving to a different apartment around the corner from this first one. It's a bit of a long story but at least I'll get a slightly bigger place. And I think it's somewhat nicer too, though my current apartment has been at least decent for the past four years.

This means I've been boxing up stuff lately. That's mainly my souvenirs that are still loose. I'm photographing or scanning them all so that I can keep them packed safely. Even with a bigger place, there's no way I can display-store my souvenirs as I'd like. Besides, nobody who comes to my apartment wants to see them, I'm sure.

I owe some people (at least the Prowling Cat, if not more of you!) cards for trades, and there are some pending emails in my boxes. I'll address those next month. A couple of you have my current address in Japan, but please don't send anything to it!

Which brings me to my second piece of news. I'll be going back to the US for a week for my grandma's memorial service in February. She passed away about a month ago, I might manage to get to a card shop, but it sounds like things will be pretty busy, and there's no telling how exactly I'll be feeling anyway.

That said, I will be bringing my trade stacks with me to mail out next month. When I "pack" that shelf before moving, I'll take note of who I have stuff for and send out calls for addresses.

Also, many of you have a San Francisco address for me for trades. Please don't use the San Francisco address anymore - just go ahead and delete it from your listings if you keep such a thing. If you ever have something to send me let me know, and you can mail it to my mom's house in Georgia.

Over the next month, I'll be busy or just plain out of touch at times. I'm going to do my best to keep posts coming as much as possible, but don't be surprised if I go quiet again.

That said, here's today's fun!

Last week, I won an auction of four mini helmets, all autographed by players.
That's the Kyoto Flora women's baseball team. The helmets are the same size as those ice cream helmets from back in the day. Remember those? If someone did a team helmet ice cream promotion again I'd be all over the ice cream shop collecting all the teams. Ice cream four times a day for a week!
So yeah, they are autographed. I don't know who the players are, but I don't care. I just wanted the helmets! Unfortunately, the autographs are rubbing off on some of them. I'm going to have to protect them somehow.

I'm not sure what's up with the lighting on the pictures.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Star Wars Choco Eggs!

 There are a ton of movie tie-ins here in Japan for the new Star Wars film. American collectors usually have access to big things: action figures and toys, for example. But in a nation where space is seriously limited, collectors turn to smaller things.

[Okay, so the anime figurine business is pretty big here. And there are some giant stuffed toys to be won from the UFO catcher games. But for the everyday collector or just casual fan, things need to be small.]
You can find some interesting Star Wars things everywhere you look. Many are functional, like pencil cases, bags, smart phone accessories, clothing, and stuffed toys (they can be pillows too, right?). And there are plenty of plush toys that can be attached to bags. For true collectors, there are the Bikkuriman stickers, and what you see above.

Furuta is a chocolate company that frequently issues series of tiny figurines sold inside chocolate eggs. They are called, unsurprisingly, "Choco Eggs".  I decided to go after a set of these little figures full-out, and found a good deal on two boxes of 10 eggs each. That's 20 total figures, plus a few more I had bought before this.
 Inside the box is exactly what you'd expect: a foil-wrapped chocolate in the shape and about the same size as a large egg.
 Break open the chocolate and there's a small plastic capsule inside. The chocolate egg itself is white on the inside, but I don't know if it's "white chocolate" or just white milk chocolate. It doesn't taste like white chocolate. Anyway..
 Opening the plastic capsule gives you an unassembled figurine plus a small checklist.
 The figure above is Boba Fett!
 Can you guess who this is? You can see part of the checklist here, though it's all in Japanese.
 Han Solo!
 And here's Luke!
 And a Storm Trooper!

There are a total of 14 figures in the series, which appears to be the norm for Furuta's Choco Eggs. One figure is a secret, which is also rare.
 I now have the full set, though I was one figure short with the two boxes. Darth Maul was picked up off of Yahoo Auctions. So yes, I did get one of the secret figurines.
 The Millennium Falcon is the secret figure, which you see in the front.
 I love these figurines. They're tiny but detailed enough to be interesting. And they aren't too hard to find!
Most Choco Egg series lately have been Disney figures - soon after Star Wars sold out, the sixth Disney figure set was released. I found a bunch of figures at a thrift shop a couple weeks ago but I still haven't looked at them to see exactly what I have... and I have to find a list to see everything that's available.

FYI, individual eggs cost about 180 yen each with tax. I don't know of any current series being sold in stores, because the Disney eggs sold out very fast. But when they're on sale, you can find them at snack shops, convenience stores, and supermarkets.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Chipping Away at Set Building: Upper Deck Japan

In the past few years I've picked up Upper Deck's sets issued in 2000-2001 here in Japan. Yes, Upper Deck issued NPB baseball cards for a couple years. At some point I'll do a full post on them, but for now I'll just share some cards that put me a little closer to a full set.
 These three cards are from 2000 Ovation. The base set's first 30 cards were short printed as a "Rising Stars" subset. They're numbered to 2000 copies each, which is actually pretty high, but for some reason dealers sell these for a premium - we're talking $3-5 each at times. Maybe it's because they're "rookie" cards too. But they aren't exactly big stars. Anyway, three cards down, 27 to go.
From the flagship Upper Deck set is this Best Nine insert.

Until I get lucky and find a lot of inserts from these sets at low prices, I'm probably not going to add any more to my collection. I've completed the base sets already... or, I should say I've purchased all of the base sets already, and I have a few insert sets done too. So now I'm just going for the other inserts to give me a master set. There are relics and autographs involved but I'm not chasing those.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Recent Additions: Yahoo Auctions

Along with the Starting Lineup figures I posted about last week, I bought a bunch of singles from a seller on Yahoo Auctions Japan. The most I paid for any card was 100 yen (with the exchange rate, that's about 80 cents). And everything you see here was missing in my type collection. Not anymore!
 1990s Fleer! Somehow I've been missing several Update/Traded base cards. The John Rocker is just a base, but needed nonetheless.
 I'm probably overpaying if I'm not getting minor league singles for a dime, but in the end this is easier. And there are no dime boxes in Japan.
 I'm seriously lacking in minor league singles, but I tend to focus on other issues anyway. Someday, I'll really buckle down and work on these inexpensive sets.
 Mini and maxi. Not to scale.
 I was quite surprised to be able to get this Tek insert for 50 yen. If only I could get a lot of Tek cards I need for 50 yen or less.
 Does anyone really remember any of these turn-of-the-century era sets?
 One thing I was happy about was the number of "hits" I could get cheaply. There are lots to be had out there, I know. But picking through to find the ones I need gets harder and harder.
 Signed minor league issues. It seems like these don't carry much value even for players who make it in the bigs - a Tim Lincecum pre-rookie autograph is much cheaper than a Topps autograph, for example.
 I like that Morgan relic.
 Cesar Cedeno isn't that bad either - a jersey card from a multiple-Gold Glove winner for 100 yen is a good price in my book.
 I will never forget everyone in Atlanta heckling Pat Burrell whenever the Phillies were in town.
 There are some decent names in this lot. Dave Parker in an airbrushed minor league jersey?!
 For a high-end product, Upper Deck sure sucked at making nice cards for Ultimate Collection.
And we're done. I've been chipping away at my type collection lately, mostly via COMC. One of my unwritten goals for the year has been to get as many years as possible up to 25% or 50% completion, depending on where they are now. At the same time, I'm trying to knock out the most important cards for each year - the base cards - to get that category up near 100%.