Monday, December 18, 2017

2018 BBM Japanese Sumo Cards Arrive - 18 January 2018!

The next issue of sumo cards is right around the corner releasing on 18 January.  The set promises the usual cards: 70 base cards (although it appears this might actually only be 69 since Yokozuna Harumafuji retired due to an abuse scandal), 2 new Juryo cards, 5 Young Hopefuls, and 14 Off Shot cards.  Plus there will be special autograph inserts that usually fall once every few boxes.  Here are pictures that I pulled off of BBM's website.  I've found that Rakuten is a good place to order and prices are fairly reasonable.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sumo World Magazine Archive Now Populated!

After several weeks, I was finally able to get all of my Sumo World Magazine covers scanned and uploaded along with the table of contents.  Check out the archives in the upper, right of the web version....or at the top scroll down menus of the mobile version.  It was definitely a walk down the path of history as I was scanning through each of the magazines during the scanning and upload process.  I am hoping people will enjoy the cover art and if there are any articles you'd like to read, let me know.  I'll continually add to this archive as I get more and more, but here are some of my favorite covers:

One of the greatest Yokozuna of all time and an incredible physique!

Takamiyama was arguably the reason sumo became popular outside of Japan!

Akebono...the first foreign Yokozuna and a Hawaiian hero!

I love picture banzuke and this cover showcases these unique pieces of art.

It is not everyday you have 4 active Yokozuna...let alone all of them posing for photos.

This image captures all that is the scandals that go with sumo.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Germany's Annual Trading Card Show

I went to Germany's Annual Trading Card Show near Frankfurt a few weeks ago to scope out the German card-collecting scene.  Before anyone runs out and buys their tickets for next year, read on.  I was able to hook up with a prominent Germany collector (Nick Bolton) who speaks English and was able to get a better understanding of the current state.  First, vintage card collecting is a dying hobby in Germany.  He said I was the first new collector he had met all day and that he knew every single person in the room until I came along.  New collectors are not coming to the hobby at all.  Consequently, the show was very small compared to American standards.  In fact, all the dealers (about 15 in total) fit inside the small auditorium with room to spare.  Local shows in America would be much bigger.  Second, the internet has killed any sort of in-person show.  With the vast amounts of trade and cigarette cards, going to shows to eek out a profit isn't worth it for the collector's anymore.  Most early cards in Germany were produced by the hundreds of they can be had for less than a dollar these days and since no one is really collecting, shows have died.  Lastly, in my opinion, there is a lack of printed checklists for all the sets out there.  So I imagine new people have a hard time getting started in collecting, because it is difficult to focus.  There are several books out there, but they unfortunately don't dive down into individual cards.  It would be like having a card catalog that lists the 1952 Topps set as having 407 cards in it, but no individual names.  It is a different way to collect than in America and so it makes foreigners who want to start difficult too...let alone the language.

I am the worst at taking photos so no actual photos of the venue itself and the internet has failed me on digging any up.  It was small so pictures wouldn't have added to it at all.  Unfortunately, the show was only from 10:00 to 3:00 so I couldn't dig through all the bins like I wanted to.  There were tens of thousands of singles I could have spend half a day digging through.  I just ran out of time.  Everyone was extremely nice and I got by with my English decently. talks so when I found stuff to buy, we made it all work out.  I could have spent 100x as much as I did and really jumped into German card collecting.  Hopefully by next year I'll be much smarter and can focus on some interesting sets.

I ended up buying Nick Bolton's book that does an amazing job of capturing pre-WW1 card sets.  Nick is a Brit that lives in Germany.  He was an amazing source of info.

Nick also hooked me up with this amazing Riquet set called Tee in China.  It is a 12-card set printed on rice paper with amazing and vivid printing.  I was sold as soon as I saw it.

I was able to buy the Abraham Lincoln card from another dealer.  This is from the Bensdorp Cocoa "Famous Men" set which has 104 cards in it.  Card # 62 has the famous Honest Abe.

Here is boxer Max Baer and swimmer Johnny Weissmuller from the Bravour-Bilder Set.
I haven't been able to catalog this boxer from this 1937 Siegel set.

Lastly, I picked up these 4 interesting cards from the 1935 Olleschau Lesezeichen Set: Sigmund Freud, Walt Whitman, Isaak Newton, and Mark Twain.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2017 Japanese BBM Infinity Multi-Sport Set - Part 3

This is the last post on my 2017 Japanese BBM Infinity Box Break.  You can see the results of my first and second box breaks by clicking on the links.  This part will only be 4 packs long.  One unopnened pack is going to fellow BBM sumo enthusiast Paul for his unopened box collection and another unopened pack is going to longtime blog reader Fuji for his Japanese collection.

Pack 15: Starting off to bat...pun an 80% baseball pack including another Brilliant Athlete.  Some old school soccer in here as well.

Pack 16: Starting to see more and more doubles!

Pack 17: Nailed some more sumo (Onokuni...aka...the Giant Panda) and another bodybuilder.  I wonder if they will ever do a boxed set of these wouldn't surprise me.

Pack 18:  Back to back Onokuni, but I nailed an Ohtani baseball card!

Overall impressions:  I like this set and I really like the variety of athletes they used.  Baseball tends to dominate and it did in this set as well.  Also, who can complain about on-card autos??!!  The athlete actually touched the card as they were writing on it.  Way to go BBM.  Although I can't say all the autos are on card.  My two biggest complaints are the lack of imagination on the front and back images (they are the same).  This has been my biggest complaint of BBM in recent years.  Also, the production quality is subpar.  I felt like a good majority of my cards did not look mint coming right out of the box.  There were corner dings as well as bubbles in the surface of some cards.  Baseball fans might be justified in buying a box, but it is quite an investment for fans of other sports as you only get a sprinkling of cards.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

2017 Japanese BBM Infinity Multi-Sport Set - Part 2

This is a continuation of my first thread where I opened 7 packs.  Here are the next 7 packs.  Let's hope I can get some more base sumo cards.

Pack 8:  Some freestyle skiing love in this pack.  I might be entering the double realm soon.

Pack 9:  Curling and Badminton and my second Brilliant Athlete insert card.
Pack 10: Gotta love Bodybuilding cards.

Pack 11:  Boom!  I hit the auto card (Rugby Player Kiyoshi Imaizumi) in this box!  It is #1/60 and an actual on-card sticker!

Pack 12:  Starting to see some doubles....

Pack 13:  Nailed another base sumo....Kaio!

Pack 14: Another Brilliant Athlete badminton insert card.  Must be a badminton hot box!!!

Definitely a great 7 packs.  I'll open up the last packs in the next few days.

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Japanese BBM Infinity Multi-Sport Set - Part 1

BBM just released another multi-sport set called Infinity.  For those that bought the Masterpiece set last year, Infinity falls right in line with that.  This set has mostly baseball players (42) along with a variety of other sports including Curling, Speed Skating, Ice Hockey, Pro Wrestling, Tennis, and Badminton to name a few.  Some of the players are still active while others have been retired for a while.  Most importantly for this blog are the 5 sumo wrestlers that are included in the base set along with a few sprinkled in insert sets.  This is an All-Japanese set so you likely won't find many names that you recognize unless you follow a particular Japanese sport.  There are 112 cards in the Base Set along with 4 Insert Sets: a 9-card All the Glory set, a 9-card One and Only set, an 18-card Brilliant Athlete set, and a large autograph set.  I believe the Brilliant Athlete set also has foil-stamped facsimile parallels in it.  Likewise, the One and Only set has holographic parallels #ed to 50.

I bought two of these boxes off of Rakuten and I am going to rip one here and keep the other one for a rainy day.  Packs come 20 per box with 5 cards per pack.  Let's keep fingers crossed for some sumo cards!

Pack 1:  Pro Wrestler Masakatsu Funaki and Horse Jockey Yutaka take make their debut.

Pack 2: A Baseball Heavy Pack
Pack 3: Boom, my first sumo card....the cropping on this card is a little weird though

Pack 4:  An eclectic pack for sure and I snagged a Brilliant Athlete insert...Naoko Takahashi.  Awesome to see a female hockey player too.
Pack 5: Another sumo wrestler...Kisenosato.  This is a Speed-Skating heavy pack.
Pack 6:  Some old school images here and another speed skater.
Pack 7:  MMA, Curling, and Baseball all in the same pack!  I love this set.
I'll bust another 7 packs and post in the next few days.  Until then...enjoy!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

1912 Rikishi 0 Set (R121)

The Nihon Sumo Kyokai (NSK) has ran a fairly stable professional sumo organization for about the last 90 years.  Before 1926, however, there were actually two professional sumo associations in Osaka and Tokyo competing for wrestlers and a cut of the sumo pie.  Menko sets produced during this era would actually include wresters from both of these organizations which can make identification and cataloguing a challenge; especially when the menko are not marked with any sort of affiliation.  Fortunately, this 1912 set has both the Osaka (大坂) and Tokyo (東京) designations.  I have only seen these three examples from the R121: 1912 Rikishi 0 Set so the date could be plus or minus a few years.  These are gorgeous examples of a woodblock-printed set with vibrant colors.  Each menko is printed with 4 colors and has the name of the wrestler on the front of the mawashi.  The backs have the wrestler's rank, height, name, and association listed in black ink.  This particular set also has varying amounts of parallel red lines across the names on the back.....which I am not sure mean.  They measure about 2" x 2.75" and are on a somewhat thin paper stock.  Hopefully more of these pop up someday to get a more complete checklist, but for now here are the three:

Maegashira Isenohama (Future Ozeki) - Tokyo
Maegashira Omijuji - Tokyo
Maegashira Hidenoumi - Osaka

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Crash of Japan Airlines 123 and the Death of a Sumo Family

On August 12, 1985 tragedy struck a great deal of families across Japan.  Kyu Sakamoto, the famed singer, the president of the Japanese Baseball Team Hanshin Tigers, Hajimu Nakano, and the entire family of former Ozeki Kiyokuni died along with 500 other fellow passengers in Japan's largest aviation disaster in history.  Kiyokuni's 39-year old wife Sanae, his 12-year old son Yoshihiko, and 10-year old daughter Kiyoe were on their way to Osaka from Tokyo to visit Sanae's parents who were living in Osaka.  The cause of the crash....a ruptured pressure bulkhead in the rear of the plane that wasn't properly fixed when the tail struck the ground during landing 7 years earlier.  I visited the memorial at the crash site when I was living in Japan and was amazed at the story of devastation and survival. 

After the crash, Kiyokuni (having changed his name to Isegahama Oyakata when he took over the Isegahama stable after retirement) never was able to recover and drove his stable into the ground.  When he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 in 2006 he had just two wrestlers under his roof.  The stable dissolved in 2007 after being around for almost 150 years.  Here is a great article from the now defunct Sumo Fan Magazine...I used to write for this magazine back in the day and sadly the magazine went belly up in 2012.

The above card represents one of only a few cards that features Kiyokuni....this one belonging in the famous 1973 Calbee Sumo Set. When this 1973 set was published, Kiyokuni was on the backend of his career having won one tournament.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Happy 91.5 Birthday Queen Elizabeth II - Her Majesty's Rookie Card?

Today the Queen celebrates her 91 1/2 birthday being born on 21 April, 1926.  I have had a lifelong fascination with the British Royal Family.  Maybe it is because my Great Grandfather x13 immigrated from England in the 1700s, or because of the opulence that Royal Family represents, but they really are intriguing.  Our recent trip to London only fueled my interest and I ended up picking up this 1937 Wills's Cigarette King George VI/Queen Elizabeth "Our King and Queen" set off of eBay.  My main interests were of the Princess Elizabeth cards (Current Queen Elizabeth II).  My main goal with picking up sets like these is to find her rookie card...the very first card she was depicted on that was available to the public in quantity...and not a postcard.  I've seen other mid-to-late 1930s sets, but not sure which contains her earliest.  For now, I'll claim this set!

Queen Elizabeth II has actually been a fairly popular Queen and she is the longest service British Monarch in history.  She celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 marking 60 years of reign.  Call it lucky, but when the Queen was born, she wasn't slated to take over the throne at all.  Her Uncle, King Edward VIII was actually in line and after a brief time as King, he abdicated the throne to his brother, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth now had rights to the throne when her father passed away in 1952.

The main focus of this 1937 Wills's "Our King and Queen" set was on Princess Elizabeth's parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I.  In 1937, they had only been in reign for a year so they captured some interesting moments in the 50-card set.  Princess Elizabeth is shown on three cards in this set.

Card #2 (The Royal Family) shows her with her sister and parents
Card #4 (The Royal Princesses) shows her with her sister
Card #50 (The Princesses and their Miniature House) shows her with her sister

One of each of these cards came in a pack of cigarette's and they were meant to be glued inside of an album.  Several albums are for sale on eBay and I may end up picking one up one of these days.