Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Set / 1959 Manga King Magazine Bookmark Cards - Wakanohana and Nagashima! (B591)

Here is an interesting pair of bookmark cards that I picked up over in Japan recently.  It is from bimonthly magazine called Manga King (漫画王).  This was given away in the annual 1959 New Year's edition and measures approximately 4 3/4" x 4 3/4" and printed on thin cardboard.  I've never seen this set before and it has a previously uncatalogued card of Yokozuna Wakanohana and an uncatalogued second-year card of the baseball Hall of Famer Shigeo Nagashima of the Giants.  The back is printed in purple ink and has calendars for the first 6 months in 1959.  There is also a line down the middle to cut the card in half so you get two separate bookmarks.  These type of sets were fairly common in the 1950s and 1960s as give aways in magazines....especially in the elementary school magazines.  Here are the cards and the sample cover of the April 1959 magazine.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 BBM Japanese Shining Venus Female Athlete Cards

Later this month, BBM is releasing a Shining Venus set (similar to Real Venus sets I believe) staring Japanese female athletes from a multitude of sports.  On thing I find interesting is the vast array of sports represented here: sport climbing, unicycling (yes, I said unicycling), BMX, weightlifting, swimming, table tennis, skateboarding, keirin (competitive short-track bicycle racing), basketball, karate, and so on.  Wow, talk about some niche sports here. Retail on these is 1 pack with 5 cards for ¥300 or a box with 20 packs for ¥6000.  You can preorder them on Rakuten for ¥5400 right now.

Some of the athletes are putting in signed Valentine cards with messages....just in time for the romantic holiday in February as well as some Happy New Year cards!!

Anyone thinking about ordering any of these?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A big bowl of Sukiyaki! - New Set 1963 Amada Famous Stars Trump (G631)

Everyone knows the feeling of reaching into your winter coat pocket after you put it on the first time during winter and discovering a long-forgotten $20 bill, getting surprise present from a fellow trader or friend, or finding out the latest episode of The Walking Dead is an hour and a half instead of an hour.  This newly discovered set is all those joyous feelings wrapped up into one.  Due to oversight or carelessness, I thought I had picked up a 4-card auction of Japanese sumo and baseball cards.  Low and behold, I realized that I was bidding for the entire 54-card set (52 cards plus 2-jokers).  And what a set it is in the sheer amount of famous stars from Japan from 1963.  However, as I was thumbing through the set I realized that there was one card in here that stood out from the rest as I saw the telltale kanji of 九 in Kyu Sakamoto's name.  Kyu Sakamoto had some semblance of Richie Valens' life in they both had successful singing careers early in their life and both died in plane crashes: Richie tragically in Iowa and Kyu in the mountains of Gunma Japan on Japan Airlines Flight 123...the deadliest single plane accident in history.  I had a chance to visit the crash site and memorial when I lived in Japan and a somber rememberance of all the lives lost.

Why am I mentioning Kyu Sakamoto?  This card is the earliest known of him (although my research against this statement is very limited) and printed just a few years after his breakout single Ue O Muite Aruko (Sukiyaki in Western Countries) made him a superstar in Japan and the United States.  Sukiyaki was the first Japanese song to climb to #1 on the American Top 100 charts which did so in 1963.

On a brighter note, these are two previously unknown baseball cards of Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima...hopefully they'll make it into the next edition of the Japanese Baseball Card Checklist.  This set also has Yokozunas Taiho and Kashiwado which I'll get into the 4th Edition of the Sumo Menko and Card Checklist.....Pro Wrestler Rikidozan is in this set and was was unfortunately murdered not too long after this card was printed.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017 BBM Japanese Basketball B.League Cards

A few weeks ago, BBM announced the upcoming release of a new set of Japanese B.League Basketball cards.  I only occasionally watch NBA basketball here in the States so doing some research on Japanese basketball made my head spin.  In a nutshell, here is how we get to the B.League, which started up just a few months ago:

Japan Basketball League 1947-2013
Basketball Japan League 2005-2016
National Basketball League 2013-2016
***BJ League and NBL merged in 2016 to form B.League
 B.League 2016 - current (Operated by Japan Professional Basketball League)

A quick search really shows very few Japanese basketball sets exist.  According to SCM there are four sets:
- 1998 National Team Set
- 1999 BBM JBL Set
- 2000-2001 JBL Set
- 2001-2002 JBL Set

Here are the details for the 2016-2017 B.League set.

1 box is ¥8000 (about $65)
1 box has 20 packs with 5 cards per pack
There are 72 base cards (4 players from each of the 18 teams)
Insert Set called On-Fire (looks like 1 player from each team)
Unknown amount of autograph cards

This 1st Half set comes out at the end of January and the 2nd Half set sometime in February.

Here are some pictures for the enthusiasts from BBM's website:

 It is interesting to note that there can only be 3 foreign players on a team...which isn't surprising since baseball and sumo have similar rules.  I'm not sure of all the foreign players in the league right now, but imagine there are some ex-NBA stars living it up over in Japan.  I guess Yuta Tabase, the first Japanese ever to play in the NBA, has a card in this set.

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Set / Circa 1975 Boken Oh New Year Playing Cards

Getting back to sumo cards after a few other posts, I picked up these sumo card singles a month or two ago over in Japan.  Normally for these kids magazine cards I turn to the Japanese Baseball Card Checklist as Gary usually has most of these cataloged.  Surprisingly, this set is not it there, but these cards appear to be from around 1975 given the wrestler's ranks.  These trump cards (as the Japanese call playing cards) came in small boxes and different sets were inserted in issues of Boken Oh (Adventure King) magazines throughout the year during the January issues.  Likely there are 52-54 total cards in this set and I have three of the sumo wrestlers (Wajima, Takanohana, Kitanoumi) and one pro wrestler (Antonio Inoki), but there are likely singers, actors/actresses, baseball players and other famous people throughout the set.  They measure 1 5/8" x 2 1/8" and are printed on thin paper stock.  Anyone else have any of these?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Favorite Card of 2016

Fuji over at The Chronicles of Fuji pointed me to a contest P-Town Tom was running through 9 January 2017.  The basic premise is to post your favorite card of 2016 and you are entered into a contest to win a 2017 Topps S1 blaster.  I have too many sumo cards to choose from, but one "other" card that I do consider to be one of my favorite is this 2016 BBM Masterpiece of Sunao Takizawa who is the captain of the Japanese NEC Green Hornets rugby team.

There are three reasons this card is my favorite:

1. Takizawa-san's legs are bigger than my waist...look at those things.  Plus, his hair is flying up because he is lowering his head to ruin someone's day.  This is one of the most menacing cards I have ever seen.

2. I owned exactly one autographed card before this one.  It is a Laura Prepon 2015 Panini Americana that I picked up cheap at the Chantilly Card Show.  Other than that, this is it (Actually, this card is on its way over from Japan, but this is the auction photo of it).  Takizawa-san's signature is a really beauty and when I saw this card, I knew I needed to have it.

3. This card would not have been possible without the help of Raz over at The Raz Card Blog.  I shot him a small care package a few weeks ago and he unexpectedly dropped a little extra in my PayPal account to say thanks.  A huge gesture and this card represents the great folks I have met over the past year of blogging.  Thanks Raz!

Thanks to P-Town Tom as well for running your contest.  Cheers everyone!

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Collecting Goals

Happy New Year Everyone!  I'm assuming if you are reading this your survived all the festivities and are ready to clean the slate as we enter another year.  As everyone knows, 2016 was a tough one in the collecting community as many of our childhood idols passed on this past year.  In the sumo world, we lost one of the best modern Yokozuna the sport has seen with the passing of Chiyonofuji who won 31 national tournaments.  A simply amazing wrestler that drove the popularity of the sport to new heights in the 1980s.
Yokozuna Chiyonofuji (June 1, 1955 – July 31, 2016)

This year will bring change again as my family faces an impending move from Alabama to some unknown destination, but likely overseas.  As last year, the move will probably kill my blogging chances throughout the summer and hopefully we'll be back up and running sooner than later.  But in the meantime, I'll have 5 months of uninterrupted blogging opportunities with a short break as we head to Japan for Spring Break.  With that, I wanted to lay out some goals as many have done on the board.  In order of priority, here are my goals:

1.  Finish the 4th Edition of my Sumo Menko & Card Checklist.  I'm about 1/3 the way done with the 4th Edition update.....which is about 25 pages of new sets and updates to existing sets.  The 3rd Edition was published in December 2014 so it is time for an update.  Looking at my schedule, I think I should be complete with it in the late April, early May timeframe. 

2. I'm hoping we end up over in Europe or Australia.  If we do, this goal focuses on branching out of the sumo world and collecting cards of the local sports team and hopefully the main sets of the entire league.  I could see myself getting into the German Bundesliga or Premier League for soccer or cricket or rugby down in Australia.

3. As far as sumo menko and card collecting, my goal is to "discover" and catalogue at least 5 vintage sets (pre-1960), add at least 3 of the 1973 Calbee cards to my set, and complete the base 2017 BBM set from opening boxes and trading.  Finding new sets is becoming harder and harder as most of the material out there I have already documented.  Likely, any new set is going to be from the 1930s or earlier.  The Calbee cards have always been a fascination to me and buying the entire set at one time is out of my price range.  So I am forced to pick up singles from this set and occasionally I think I can nab one for under $50 per card.  If I could ever complete this set, it will be a highlight of my modern collection.  And the BBM sets I have woefully ignored in order to focus on the vintage stuff, but there is a good group of collectors that focus only on the modern sumo stuff and I need to as well.

4. I've always had a fascination with old Japanese stuff and the old Japanese tobacco cards have been intriguing to me for a while.  I'd like to start collecting Murai Tobacco Cards, but I am very ignorant on what sets were produced, prices, and availability.  Just adding a few to my collection this year would be fun to see if it would be worth pursuing any further.  Lots more research to do in this area.

5. I think most of us are collecting now because we had such fond memories of collecting in our youth.  I was a big baseball card collector in the late 1980s and early 1990s (along with all the other kids) and the strike of 1994 along with college killed my baseball card passion.  I still pick up a pack now and then, but it's not the same.  One set that I think can change all that is the 2017 Topps Heritage set and I plan on trying to complete that set through boxes and trading.  Plus the fact that the 2017 set is based on the 1968 design is a bonus, as Nolan Ryan is my favorite player and his 1968 rookie card is a must have.

Image from
Image from

6.  The last goal isn't really last on my list, but it is one that I haven't been able to think through all the details so I put it here.  But I'm thinking about trying to do an interview post 4-6 times a year where I'm able to interview fellow collectors and blogging the details and transcript.  Its goal is not to dig up embarrassing facts, but an opportunity to get to know fellow collectors a little better and focus on collecting, their collections, and blogging life.  I've even thrown the idea of maybe trying to organize a round-table discussion with 2-3 other collectors where a relevant topic is discussed.  Lots of hurdles to make it fun, readable, and relevant.  Again, I haven't thought through this one as much, and I'm not sure blogging is the right venue for it.....but it seems like there could be some potential or opportunities.  Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Good luck to everyone else on their goals and I'm looking forward to 2017!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016 Year in Review

This will be the last post I get out this year as the holidays will likely tie me up over the next week. It surely has been a great year.  I really had no expectations on where this blog would take me, but I'm enjoying it and having a great time interacting with the community of collectors. I'll post my 2017 goals early next year, but wanted to mention a few of my card collecting accomplishments this year.

1st - I've been able to connect with a few other collectors and enjoy immensely their perspectives.  The Raz Card Blog and The Chronicles of Fuji are among my favorite. The Japanese Baseball Cards Blog and Baseball Cards in Japan are excellent blogs as well where I get to absorb more Japanese card knowledge than I know what to do with.  I was also able to connect with a Facebook Group that focuses on the modern BBM sets. Thanks guys!

2nd - My line of work has always been a priority right behind my family so I am fortunate to be able to get some time to focus on my collection and sharing it with the wider collecting community.  What I didn't realize is that my fellow collectors have motivated me to broaden my collecting interests too. Although I haven't dove in yet, I have ideas for next years. Thanks Raz and Fuji!

3rd - I finally expanded my proxy bidding knowledge thanks to Dave at Japanese Baseball Cards and Raz at The Raz Card Blog.  Through some spreadsheet comparisons and research I've been able to try another service besides JAUCE which has the good potential to save me money in the long run.

4th - This has been a busy year at work and we eventually moved down to AL for a 10-month assignment at the end of summer. My schedule became more predictable and I've been able to start selling more on eBay to "thin the herd" of my collection. I've had doubles and misc stuff I've had slated to sell for a I've been able to move it and put some of that money back into my collection.

5th - I've been able to regularly add new cards and menko to my sumo collection throughout the year for which I'm very grateful. I thought the older stuff,that I don't already have, would dry up, but I keep finding more and more of it which prevents me from working on the more modern stuff.  No complaints though, since the older stuff is much more rare and harder to come by.  There is too much to mention specific things that I've added, but all of it will be included in the 4th edition of my Sumo Book.

6th - My vintage Japanese Pro Wrestling PC has come a long ways this year. I added a few more cards to my 1974 Yamakatsu New Japan Pro Wrestling Master Set. I'm also 1 card away from completing the base 1976 Yamakatsu All Japan Pro Wrestling set, not to mention all the other cards I've added to that Master Set. I've also been able identify the complete 16-card Japanese Pro Wrestling Menko set from 1974. In one me card away from completing that set as well.

Cheers and everyone have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

2017 BBM Sumo Wrestling Set

 A few days ago, BBM announced their 2017 annual wrestling set that is due to come out in the middle of January.  There will be 90 base cards in the set, 20 of which will be subsets to the regular 70 standard wrestling cards.  There is also expected to be between 9-12 signed inserts that will be randomly inserted in packs.  Each box will contain 24 packs with 4 cards per pack.  Retail is ¥7200 which is a great deal now that the exchange rate is so high compared to the American dollar.  Here are some pictures of the expected signed cards.

I'm sure the March 2017 edition of the Sports Card Magazine (SCM) will be highlighting the entire set with more pictures.  Stay tuned for more info.