Around the turn of the millenium (is that a phrase?), Japan's idol card industry was really just getting underway. Sure, (not always authorized) bromides could be found of the hottest J-Pop performers, and non-sport sets were being issued, but it's around 1998 that the first pure idol card sets were issued. I should mention that this is based on my own card-hunting experience, and there certainly could be earlier gravure idol sets out there. Instead of single models getting entire sets, many of the releases around this time were collections of girls. And around that time, a lot of race queen sets were produced.
The Japanese wikipedia article for gravure idols identifies 2000 as the beginning of the idol trading card industry, and this is when race queen cards began to be sold as well. I recently picked up a random lot of race queen cards at Nakano Broadway, and below is a sampling.
Yoko has a knife. Seriously, she's pointing a knife at her eye on the back side.
Interesting to note is that the front and back have different models here.
I didn't know what I was getting in the lot, but it turns out there were some nicer cards, including this clear card.
My scanner hates black backgrounds. This set copies photos on the back. Lazy.
This set doesn't copy photos on the back. Winner!
Oddly enough, the front of this card from the same set as the previous scan puts a lot of information on the front one would normally find on the back. I wonder if that website still works... nope.
This card puts the stats on the back. Those are birthday, hometown, blood type, measurements, and affiliation.
The strange background on this card is caused by it being foiled. And it curls just a tiny bit. This is another insert mixed in with the base cards.
A couple cards from the 2003 SRQ GT set. I already have at least one SRQ set.
Most likely due to the lack of a good established collectors network, finding these old sets isn't easy. I'm sure they pop up a good bit on YJA, but even superstar Yuko Ogura has only singles for sale, with occasional full sets popping up.
This is the first true hit in the lot, a costume card. It's serial numbered on the back but there's no idea of how many cards were made in all.
And there was an on-card autograph, too! Aya Fujimoto was born in 1983 and appeared in one Japanese movie released in 2005. You can see that the card is embossed. This card isn't from a race queen set, though, just a regular idol set.
That's it for today! I should be back on baseball tomorrow.