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

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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Flagship Sets from 1994 Aren't Easy to Finish

If I told you I was working on a flagship release from a major manufacturer, issued in 1994, you would probably guess I was trying to put together Topps, Donruss, Fleer, or Upper Deck's set from that year.

And you'd probably ask me, "Ryan, why are you probably spending so much time and money building a set card by card, when you could just poke around just a little and find one pretty cheap on eBay or at a shop or show?"

And you'd be right to ask, since single cards are pretty expensive compared to the overall cost of a complete set, especially from that era.

But I'm not putting together an MLB set. I'm working on 1994 BBM.

1994 BBM. Every Swallows card in the set is a short print.
1994 BBM. A set issued back before most card shops in Japan existed.
1994 BBM. With Ichiro's second-year card and Hideki Kazuo Matsui's rookie card. (And Hideki's second year card, too.)

Honestly, 1990s BBM set building is tougher than 1960s Topps building. At least with the '60s cards, you can find every card somewhere, between eBay, Sportlots, and COMC.

Luckily, some dealer on YJA has been posting team sets from the 1994 set at reasonable prices, and I got every one of them he had. Now, I say reasonable, but the Swallows team set cost me about $70, or about $2 per card. But the cheapest I ever see them in shops is $3, and sometimes as high as $6 per card... for common players.

That still left me with the checklists, some subset cards, and the BayStars team set. 

And for some reason one Marines player.

I'm down to two cards on this set! All that remains is one more BayStars card and one of the subset cards. I'm hoping I can track them down this weekend, though I'm not doing a lot of hunting so I might not have much luck.

Who would have thought 1990s flagship sets would be so tough? I guess my next project will be 1995 or 1996 BBM...


  1. There's several relatively big rookies in this set - Tomoaki Kanemoto, Hiroki Kokubo, Daisuke Miura, Tomo Ohka, and Kazuya Fukuura. It was also the first set BBM issued without a factory set.

    1. The rookies I can kind of see making things tough, but it's amazing how few cards are actually available in shops. Perhaps in '94-98 or so production was lower because Nomo was in the States and that was pulling interest from Japanese cards? Calbee from the mid-'90s are tough to find too, though the same could be said for all Calbee until about 1998/99. (Actually, '75 or so isn't that difficult, but that's probably because the set is just so big.)

  2. Best of luck in tracking down the final two cards. Was there a particular reason BBM shortprinted the Swallows cards?

    1. The Swallows changed their uniforms at the beginning of the 1994 season. The photos used on #1-42 show the team in the 1993 uniform, so those card numbers were pulled relatively early in production and replaced by an extended series. This makes #1-42 short-printed and those last cards also somewhat short printed. If I couldn't have gotten the cards all at once, as I did, I would have considered those first 42 cards to not be part of a regular set.

  3. Dang, good luck. It seems the first release in 1991 is plentiful in boxed set form. After that, it gets expensive!

    1. '91 had a US English-language box for the set in addition to the Japanese-language box, and there was a pretty high print run. I've found you still have to be patient with the '91 set. Shops and some dealers still price it at $100 or more, while with a bit of browsing and waiting for the right auction, I got my '91 set for about $30.

      The same actually happened with '93, sort of. I got the base set except for Ichiro and Matsui for a really good price... maybe $20? And then patiently waited for the right auctions to get the two missing key cards.

  4. Not to nitpick, but Hideki Matsui's rookie card is in the 1993 BBM set with Ichiro!

    That is weird about the Swallows cards being short printed, I hadn't known about that before.

    I'm not working on the 1994 BBM set, but I can say that the 1994 Calbee set is a tough one too!

    1. I think he probably meant Kazuo Matsui.

      The Swallows cards are short printed because half way through the print run BBM replaced all the Swallow cards (cards #1-42) with cards showing the players in their new uniforms (cards #567-608). So each particular Swallows card is short printed compared to the cards of every other team although for some reason cards 1-42 are MUCH rarer than cards 567-608.

    2. Yup. I was literally thinking of Ichiro and Hideki Matsui in '93, and how easy Hideki's '94 card is compared to Ichiro... and then Kaz Matsui's RC. I need to sleep more often, I think.

      I think #1-42 were pulled pretty quickly in the year. Perhaps they got photos from opening weekend or even a preseason game and changed the presses before too many cards were packed out.

      What I find relatively interesting is that the Swallows got #1-42, while other teams got split up throughout the set.

    3. Well they were the defending Nippon Series champs...

    4. You'd think, though, that just keeping every team's players together would be just as easy. With 42 cards per team, it's not so hard to figure out the card numbering. But then again, this is Japan...