Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Deciphering the 2015 BBM Sumo Wrestling Sets

As a completionist sumo card collector, I don't envy the Japanese Baseball Card community.  The vast amounts of baseball cards, compared to sumo wrestling cards, would overwhelm me fairly which happened to me in the early 1990s when the explosion of sets made it difficult for me to keep my focus.  So hats off to the Japanese Baseball Collectors and I really enjoy reading your blogs about the new and vast amounts of sets that are released every year.  For the sumo card collector we've been limited to 1-2 sets per year since 1997.....until 2015.  It wasn't until I got a hold of a SMC checklist that I was able to decipher the "craziness" of 2015 when three, yes three, sumo wrestling sets were released.

The first set is the standard "Regular" set that BBM has released the past 19 years which includes cards of all the top division wrestlers as well as smaller subsets .  However, 2015 was the first year the set shrunk to an all-time low of 90 cards in the base set, but it does contain 9 different Autograph Cards (all #ed to 60) of active wrestlers to make the master set complete at 99 cards.  The star power of the autographs is not very strong and only containing some of the lower sanyaku ranks.  Since this is the standard BBM sumo set, it was released right at the beginning of the year and contains a comprehensive checklist of all the top division wrestlers.

Regular Set #2 - Yokozuna Kakuryu
Regular Set - Aminishiki Autograph (#d to 60)

The second set is a set called "Essence" (粋) and features 81 cards in the base set and 9 different Autograph Cards (all #ed to 60) of active wrestlers making the master set 90 cards.  To be honest, I am really not sure what the big difference is between this and the Regular set above although one of the past Sports Card Magazines (SCM) likely explains the set release.  It was released later in the year (summer) and captures only the popular rikishi of the time and eliminates a lot of the lower ranked wrestlers from the checklist, but also tries and captures popular and up-and-coming rikishi.  There are 4 subsets including one dedicated to the gyoji (referees) and the subsets have more candid themes versus the more "serious" of the Regular set.  The star power of the autographs has greatly increased with this set and it captures all three Ozeki at the time (Kisenosato, Kotoshogiku, Goeido)

Essence Set #42 - Maegashira Chiyomaru
Essence Set - Terunofuji Autograph (#ed to 60)

The third set is another Legend set called "Most Valuable Asset (MVA)" (至宝) and is similar to the 2013 Legend set called "Glory".   The Legend MVA set features 72 famous retired rikishi in action shots on the cards.  However, the main draw of this set is the massive autograph checklist of 58 different wrestlers (#ed from 30 to 90 of each card) including some great like Kitanoumi, Chiyonofuji and Taknohana.  The big downside, however, is that they are all sticker autographs....For such a significant set and limited autographs, it would have been nice to see on-card autos.

Legend SVM #5 - Yokozuna Onokuni
Legend SVM - Chiyonofuji Autograph (#ed to 90)
There you have it, all three sets laid out.  Looking forward to picking some of these sets up for cheap and I'll soon be checklisting them in English to include in my book.  The next edition of the SCM is coming out soon, so will be highlighting any sumo sets mentioned there.  Thanks!


  1. Didn't realize you were writing a book. Very very cool.

  2. I'm working on the 4th edition of the book already. Has been in publication for ~4 years or so now.

  3. I keep seeing a variety of the 2016 series - the Irodori Box - on ebay from time to time. Is that the 2016 variety of the essence set?

  4. The Irodori set is the 2016 Series 2 set from last year. It's like the 2015 Essence set.