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.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

1984 - The Year the Hawaiian Sumo Torch was Passed

1984 marked a pivotal year in foreign participation in sumo wrestling....especially for the Hawaiian wrestlers.  Superstar Takamiyama (Jesse Kuhaulua from Hawaii) ended his historic 20-year career in sumo wrestling.  He racked up an impressive career.  Jesse was the first foreigner to win a sumo tournament and at the time of his retirement had the most kinboshi(victories over yokozuna), most career bouts with 1,653, and was the third heaviest wrestler in sumo history.  Jesse was well like and it was a difficult adjustment for those used to seeing him in the ring after 20 years.  In 1984, up-and-coming Hawaiian superstar Konishiki (Saleva'a Atisano'e from Hawaii) had just broken into the top ranks of sumo and would go on to have a storied, although troublesome, career retiring in 1997.  By all standard marks, Konishiki would have been promoted to yokozuna with his impressive succession of tournament records, but his status as a foreigner and the Sumo Association's general dislike of him prevented him from reaching this goal.

The 1980s were dismal in terms of sumo card sets.  The only sets being produced were playing card sets with pictures of the wrestlers on them.  This 1984 set is the only set that captures the handing of the Hawaiian sumo torch from Takamiyama to Konishiki.  Takamiyama was designated the Jack of Spades and Konishiki the 7 of Diamonds.  Face cards were reserved for the top-ranked wrestlers and Takamiyama was well deserving of this honor.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

1981 Daichi Pharmaceutical Calendar Card - Ozeki Chiyonofuji

I don't often come across cards or ephemera that have sumo wrestlers advertising commercial products.  There just weren't that many that I know of and not a whole heck of lot of wrestlers were using their likeness to promote products.  When I came across this card issued by Daichi Pharmaceuticals, I knew it was something I needed to pick up.  For ¥100, it made it an even better fact, I paid many times more in fees and shipping than the actual card itself. 

This card was issued right in the middle of 1981 when Chiyonofuji was on the brink of promotion to the rank of Yokozuna.  He was the hottest thing in sumo and would carry the sport throughout the 1980s until the Hanada brothers took the reigns in the early 1990s.  It appears this particular card was issued with a product call Patex, a compression support of ankles, elbows, and other joints...hence the fact that Daichi issued it.  The back has a 6-month calendar from September 1981-February interesting calendar span.  I've done other searches for additional cards, but it appears this is the only card.

I'll get this inserted into the next edition of my book.  Not sure what I'll categorize it as yet.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sumo World Magazine Archive List

Some may noticed a new tab in the upper right corner of this blog.  In a new...and hopefully fairly quick project....I am scanning the covers and documenting the content of as many Sumo World Magazines as possible.  This English-Language magazine was the go-to publication for decades until just recently.  The editor and publisher of the magazine finally wasn't able to keep up with the print demand, but it is still available electronically on your Kindle.

I have a decent collection starting in 1973 going into the early 2000s and have been scouring the internet for online references to the magazine.  There are surprisingly very few references out there, although at one time there were several sites that supposedly contained good information.  Sadly, those websites no longer exist and I am hoping to at least bring a bit of that nostalgia back here on this blog.  This magazine have a huge array of information available for those that don't read Japanese and the older issues have a lot of historical pieces that are priceless for English readers.  For those that might find a column title interesting in a particular issue, or are doing any research, please give me a holler as I might be able to help.  Enjoy browsing the cover art once this resource is completely up and running.  Here are just a few to whet your appetite...

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The World According to Byamba

Byamba entered the world of professional Japanese sumo with the rush of other Mongolian wrestlers in the early 2000s.  One of the greatest rikishi of all time is the Mongolian Yokozuna Hakuho who has sat on the top of the sumo world for the better part of a decade now.  Byamba (His shikona was Daishochi when he was in the Nihon Sumo Association) seemed destined for similar success, but was sidelined by an injury right before he broke into the top ranks and retired soon after.  After he retired from professional sumo, he turned to amateur status and won two Sumo World Championships in the heavyweight class as well as Gold in the 2009 World Games.  In 2013, Topps captured Byamba in their Allen and Ginter's "The World's Champions" set.  From what I gather there at ~10 different types of cards of Byamba in this set:

Regular Red Back #/25
Mini Wood #1/1
Mini Relic
Mini Auto
Mini Auto Red Ink #/10
Black, Cyan, Magenta Printing Plates

Good stuff.  I am hoping to slowly add more of these to my collection over the years.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

35mm Film Slides - Collectibles, Cards, or Crazy? --1963 Sumo Wrestling--

We've all heard, or maybe even experienced, the agony of being invited over to a friend's or family member's house for the dreaded minute-by-minute pictorial walk through of someone else's vacation.  A fancy 35mm slide projector was set up and everyone would gather around as the vacation was described and broadcast in painstaking detail.  I was never subjected this torture, but recently I stumbled across a set of 35mm slides produced by the Nippon Bunka Film Co in 1963.  These were mass produced and sold as souvenirs to tourists and I guess you wouldn't have to take your own pictures and have them processed at the local store saving you a bunch of time.  This particular auction lot had 15 different boxes of various Japanese topics including Japanese sumo wrestling.  In each of these boxes is 10 35mm slides related to the box topic.

This series was marketed for English-speaking tourists as each box contained an English-language brochure highlighting all the different series (works) you could buy.  Additionally, there is a small booklet that describes each of the 10 slides in the box written in both English and Japanese.

Anyone have any crazy slide stories?

And the big question....should these be collectibles in the sports card arena or am I just plain crazy?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

1961 Maruta Sumo Menko (BC612) - Tsunkoro Daisuke TV Drama

From 1961, Fuji Television aired a showed about a young boy from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and his trials and tribulations trying to make it big in the world of sumo.  The show was somewhat popular in part fueled by the guest appearances from actual sumo wrestlers.  Capitalizing on the success of the show, Maruta produced a set of BC-series menko depicting various scenes from the show and what appears to be some behind the scenes views.  It is unknown how many of these menko there are, but likely somewhere around 32....needless to say they are extremely difficult to find.  I have accumulated 3 over the years and fortunately have one of Yokozuna Wakanohana (left side below).  Menkonohako has some great images of more of the menko including the one below of Daisuke getting some encouragement from his stablemaster.  There were manga printed to accompany the show as well.  I'd love to land a full set of these someday!

Image courtesy of

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New Sumo Wrestling Menko Card Set / 1938 Rikishi 7 (R388)

Tomorrow is the 16th Anniversary of the terror attacks on 11 September, 2001.  It is difficult to fathom how quickly the time seemed to go, but it is one of those world-changing events that we'll all be telling our kids and grandkids about for the rest of our lives.  I hope everyone is able to take a moment of remembrance.

In a similar vain, the U.S. would official be thrust into World War II with the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Up until then, Japan was engaged in a brutal and horrific war all throughout the Pacific.  The war had permeated all throughout Japanese society and it is hard to imagine anyone in Japan not affected by it in some way or another.  I recently picked up this 1938 set and the war's stark reminder was boldly embellished on the kesho-mawashi of the wrestlers: a rising sun flag, bombers, fighters, cannons, and gas masks.  These are just a few of the reminders the wrestlers and Japanese society were faced with.  I am hoping to pick up more menko from this set.

As always, I find it amazing that these survived the war, the paper drives, and the post-war years fairly unscathed.  I was lucky enough to get them inserted into the 4th Edition of the Sumo Menko and Card Checklist right before printing and now the set is permanently documented for future generations.

Friday, September 1, 2017

First Good Year Blimp Trading Card - 1932 German Garbaty "Die Eroberung Der Lift" Set

The German card market has a wealth of cards that seem fairly undiscovered on the other side of the Atlantic.  This set is one of them in the fact that it contains the earliest known Good Year Blimp Card...the "Pilgrim."  While the Pilgrim wasn't the first blimp built by Good Year, it was the first to have the words Good Year printed on the side.  This 1932 German "Die Eroberung Der Lift" (The Conquest of the Air) set was the first to capture the iconic Good Year Blimp image on a card.  In fact, the only other cards I can find of the early Good Year blimps are postcards.  This set was made to collect and paste into an album which was typical of the German tobacco sets of this era.  Surprisingly, this small lot of cards I won at auction survived this pasting fate.  Köberich catalogues this set as the 20703-5 and it chronicles the history of human flight over 234 cards from mechanical wings on humans to passenger aircraft and blimps.  Each card measures approximately 2 7/17" x 1 9/16".

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Yuta Tabuse Collection Update #2

Before Japan's Basketball B League was formed last year through the merger of the NBL and bj leagues, Yuta Tabuse was a star for the NBL's Tochigi Brex.  Surprisingly, BBM did not jump on board with getting the NBL license to print cards so NBL had their own cards printed.  Here is a somewhat difficult 2015-2016 card to find of Yuta Tabuse in his NBL uniform.

Here is also some numbered goodness from 2004, an Upper Deck Rookie Sweet Shot Rookie card numbered 707/1250.

Preseason B League actions starts up here in another week with the Early Cup tournaments taking place.  The defending champions Tochigi Brex are playing in the Kanto tournament with five other 1st Division rivals, while the other twelve 1st Division teams are playing against each other and some of the 2nd Division Teams in 3 other tournaments around the country.  A pretty interesting is the schedule.

That is it for this evening.  Check out my 1997 Japanese Bandai K-1 MMA pack opening over at A Pack to Be Named Later.