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

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch Dragons

The 2017 Epoch Dragons set is the same as the others - a smallish base set, several variations, a couple parallels, inserts, and autographs. So here we go.

The Dragons set is the only one I know that I can't find singles in the Tokyo area. They might be somewhere, but my go-to sources didn't bust any Dragons sets. I got my singles in Nagoya over summer vacation. Packs and boxes were available (and still are as I'm writing this) but no singles. Maybe they are somewhere I haven't looked.
 The base cards. There are 30 cards in the Dragons set. Epoch has not released details about which cards can be found for each of the variations and parallels (except for the Signature parallels) so a complete checklist is pretty tough to get.
 Variation 1 is an HDR filter variation on the photo. You can see this in the "crispness" of the image.
 Variation 2 is a cropping difference.
 Variation 3 is a photo variation.

Variation 4 is a cropped photo variation.

I'm not aware of any five or six star variations, but they might exist. My guess for the five-star variation is an HDR version of the photo variation.
Signature Parallel cards have facsimile signatures on the front. Again, I have no details, but Epoch has done variations on this set which usually are the six-star variations. Those tend to be photo variations. All 30 regular cards have signature parallels.

There is also a parallel of the regular cards with an "a" suffix. If I understand correctly, these have a sepia-toned background. They also appear to use the photo variation instead of the regular image.

Inserts are a little bit less complicated - only three Holografika insert sets were released: Holografika (18 cards), Holografika Rookies (6 cards), and Holografika Collage (12 cards).

It looks like 19 different autographed cards were produced as well, each obtainable by redeeming 100 points randomly found in packs.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The 2017 Kochi Fighting Dogs Team Set, and Manny Being Manny

Earlier this month, I had my summer vacation. When all was said and done, I had stops in eight prefectures (kind of like counties or states here) over seven days. I'll relay a bit more of my trip eventually, but just to give you an idea, I went to four amusement parks, seven card shops, a decent number of sightseeing spots, and three Shikoku Island League Plus baseball games.

One of those games included the Fighting Dogs, and unlike the other three teams in the league, they had a merchandising presence at the game, and they have a team card set for this year.

The set doesn't come cheap - 3000 yen (about $30). But they had random packs of 10 cards for $5, which means that, with luck, you could get the entire set for less ($15, even). I only needed one pack, though!
 Here's the design. The fronts are very minor-leaguey, as I guess one would expect from an independent team. The backs are black and white and recycle the front photo. There are 30 cards in the set; the card number is in the lower-right on the back.
 Photography is pretty standard, but thankfully it is full of action shots.
 They follow the standard BBM style of pitchers pitching and batters batting.
 The images are relatively sharp. I think every game plays around sunset or before, so they have plenty of daylight to take photos.
 Fielder fielding! But the best is yet to come:
Yep, the Manny Ramirez, playing in Japan, for an indy-league team. But then again, he is in his 40s. Manny didn't play in the game I attended, but he was there and visible. As I was wandering around before the game, I took a glance in the Dogs dugout and saw him relaxing on the bench. I realized who he was pretty quickly and was like, "Oh, hey!" and he gave me a little nod. He is definitely supportive of his teammates, cheering them on in the dugout and high-fiving players as they came back from the field. Actually, that little experience has turned me into a Manny fan, and I'll be building a little Manny collection eventually. I guess I've already started with this card!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch Hawks

Here's yet another set I'm two months behind on posting about. Released on June 24th (yes, exactly two months ago), the Hawks team set from Epoch gets my vote as second-best design from them this year. There is a lot of wasted space in the bottom border, but the team color match is good. I will add that Epoch is mentioned twice on the front and the Hawks have both the team name printed at the bottom and the team logo plucked in the top corner.

As usual, four cards plus either a promo filler card or a point card are in each 250-yen pack.
The regular base set has 27 cards.
One star variations have the usual crop.
Two stars are, again, a photo variation.
Three stars have a crop different from the two-star version.

Four and five stars both have croppings of the photo variations.
Print Signatures use a gray border in place of the yellow on the front and back, and like the BayStars set, adds a nice difference for the parallel set.
Print Signatures Photo Variations ****** use the same design as the regular Print Signatures, but have the photo variants.

Here is the base set/parallel breakdown:

  • base set: 27 cards
  • * (crop): 24
  • *** (crop): 22
  • ** (photo variation): 14
  • **** (photo variation crop): 9
  • ***** (photo variation crop): 6
  • Signature parallel: 27
  • Signature parallel photo variation ******: 6

The Holografika and Autograph cards use similar designs to the base cards with small differences; these also use foilboard card stock to make them shiny. The Holografika insert series has four sets: Sluggers (10 cards), Hurlers (12), Rookies (4), Combos (10). It looks like there are a total of 23 different Autograph cards.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch BayStars

Released on June 17th (okay, not so new anymore?), the Epoch BayStars team set follows the same format as its others: cheap packs (about 250 yen for four cards) with a small base set, a few foilboard inserts, and some rare autographs obtainable by point cards.
I believe the BayStars set is the most attractive of the team sets so far. The Hawks set was nice, but the blue and white pinstripes that match the uniforms are really cool. Here you can also see Epoch's Rookie logo. The base set has only 27 cards.
One-star variation: crop. The picture is cut much tighter. And you can clearly see the single star on the back of this scan, since Epoch didn't use a black border this time! (Note to card companies: solid white or black borders frequently get cropped depending on the scanner model - some sort of border design really helps.)
Two-star variation: photo variation. Note that the back photo remains the same.
Three-star variation: The half-crop from the original photo.

Four-star and five-star variations use the photo variation. I believe the four-star is a closer crop than the two-star. It appears that the five-star variation has a wider photo than the two-star variation.
Printed Signature parallels have yellow borders. There is a six-star Signature parallel, which uses the photo variation.The yellow and blue borders look really cool, too. And they remind me of my high school team colors. Go Eagles!

Here's the breakdown of the base set and variations:
  • base set: 27 cards
  • * variation (crop): 27
  • *** variation (crop): 22
  • ** variation (photo variation): 11
  • **** variation (photo variation crop): 8
  • ***** variation (photo variation crop): 6
  • Signature parallel: 27
  • Signature ****** photo variation parallel: 7
As usual, Epoch has a line of "Holografika" foilboard inserts as follows: Sluggers (8 cards), Hurlers (10 cards), Rookies (9 cards), and Combos (9 cards). The combo cards feature only one player, but use two photos.

And as mentioned above, autographs are available with the submission of 100 points found randomly in packs. Ten different autographed cards were produced.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Quickies: New Ichiros and Vintage Ohs

I'm pretty sleepy, so it's time for Show and Tell.
I'm making pretty good progress on my Japanese player collections. There are three: Ichiro, Kenta Maeda, and Masahiro Tanaka. I got rookie cards for both Ichiro and Ma-kun a couple weeks ago, and I finally found the last Japanese card for Tanaka I needed as well. Ichiro has made some progress - in addition to the big BBM rookie (I now have two - one for my set and one for my player collection), I've gobbled up most of his flagship BBM cards as well. I believe I need just one or two more! And Maeda is missing just a couple as well - his rookie card is surprisingly tough to find, plus I need another BBM card. I'm pretty happy those player collections are reaching completion! (Until next year, that is, when they get more Topps flagship cards.)
And what you see here is a pair of Giants cards from the Calbee Spring Training subset. I had a little luck during summer vacation, too, and I'm down to needing just one Sadaharu Oh card to finish the subset!

There'll be more fun stuff to come soon!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Release: 2017 Epoch Swallows

The Epoch Swallows team set follows the same basic structure as the others. Epoch has released some details for some of its team sets, and Swallows is one of them, so I can provide a bit more detail. For the Epoch sets I've already written about, only the Carp set has additional released data, and I've already updated that post.
For the Swallows, I chose a card of David Buchanan, partly for the Newcomer graphic on the front.
My scanner cropped off the star on the back, but this is the first level of variation. Notice that a tighter crop was used on the front photo.
Here is a two-star parallel. Buchanan doesn't have a two-star parallel, so I went with Ishikawa.

I have yet to see three and four-star variations in person, but they do exist. Three-star variations have photo variations, and I'm guessing that four-star variations have tighter crops.
There are two levels of parallels with signatures on the front. Regular PS parallels have black signatures.

A second parallel with gold signatures was also produced.

Epoch didn't release information about what each variation is, but they did release a comprehensive checklist.

  • base set: 30 cards
  • * (crop): 24 cards
  • ** (tighter crop): 12
  • *** (photo variation): 6
  • **** (unknown): 6
  • signature parallel (black): 30
  • signature parallel (gold): 6
Note that players appear in all previous variation levels (**** variation players also have ***, **, and * variations, for example).
Five foilboard insert sets were randomly included: Holografica (12 cards), Newcomers (6 cards), Rookies (6 cards), Combos A (6 cards), and Combos B (6 cards). The checklist for the two Combos sets is the same, so they are variations. The image above is a promotional image from Epoch.

Finally, autographed cards can be "won" by collecting 100 points. Points are randomly found in packs. There are 10 different autographed cards.