Wednesday, December 30, 2020

2020 Year in Review

Geez, it seemed like yesterday that I was just doing this, but here we go again.  I really like to read fellow bloggers' year-end summaries and their New Year collecting goals.  It helps me find inspiration in my own collecting and we definitely need that this year.  I feel like I did fairly well this past year finally getting settled in a high-stress job and adjusting to life under a pandemic.  Since I collect cards mostly from Japan, my collecting habits weren't impacted too much and other than slower shipping over to the U.S., my hobby weathered the storm rather uneventfully.  Let's hope that 2021 brings a lot more health and prosperity to all of us and let's get 2020 behind us!  Over the past three years, here is how I fared with my Annual Goals:

2017 Overall Grade = B
2018 Overall Grade = A-
2019 Overall Grade = B
In 2020, I set out to accomplish 10 collecting and hobby goals.  I do this every year and I know it can seem quite ambitious, but I thought most of them could be easily achievable....I wanted my trophies and to get my "A" grade.  The pandemic did curtail some of these so I will "grade on the curve" on those.  Thanks for reading.

Goal #1: Blog at least once a week - 52 posts this year! - Grade "A"
Darn, you would have thought I would have knock this out of the park to an "A+"...well beyond once a week, but the inefficiencies of working from home and the increased amount of time devoted to pandemic work really limited my blogging time until about November.  Fortunately, these past few months allowed me to catch up.  I am claiming victory here and thanks to all my loyal readers!

Goal #2: Publish the 5th Edition of the Sumo Menko and Card Checklist - Grade "D"
This did not happen....again.....  I keep putting it on here in hopes that I can make it happen.  Is 2021 the year for this?  I need about 40 hours to get everything tidied up, final checklists updated, and all the administrative stuff that goes along with self publishing a book.  However, I am constantly updating the checklists in the draft of the book and whittling away at the work, but need to hunker down and light a fire to get over the goal line.  Almost a big goose egg this year, but the ball did move forward on this.
Goal #3: Add 5 more Sumo World magazines from 1973-1999 to my collection - Grade "A+"
Boom, I was able to connect with a long-time sumo fan who was downsizing her collection and I was able to pick up the remainder of all these magazines (except for the July 1974) and even added some post-1999 issues.  These are such a wealth of history and information I would love to be able to republish them for the greater community to read.  However, I now have the entire run and ready to retire this goal! 
Goal #4: Attend three card shows this year - Grade "Audit"
Well, I think it is fair to have "dropped" this goal and have audited it for the year.  SoCal does not have a great variety of shows, so I've had to travel elsewhere for shows....however, the pandemic basically killed that this year.  I had a great time with Fuji last year and was really looking forward to do it again this year.  It's an easy flight up to San Jose from SoCal and Fuji is an amazing friend and so easy to converse we now have a DelTaco tradition.  I have penciled in the National this year which is another easy flight from LAX to Chicago.  More to follow on that.  

Goal #5: Add three more 1973 Calbee cards to my set - Grade "A+"
Boom, nailed this goal this year with some nice pick ups!  I'm ready to get to the halfway point in set completion in 2021!  

Goal #6: Keep rounding out my Japanese yukata fabric bolt & card collection - Grade "A+"
Another home-run goal!  This is one of the quirks in my collection.  In the 1960s and early 1970s, Japanese cloth makers would add photo cards to bolts of indigo yukata material to help entice the buyer into buying the material to take home to make their own yukata.  Say what?  Yeah, hard to explain, but here are a few pictures to help give you a visual.  The problem with these is not so much the price, but they are heavy and expensive to import to the U.S.  Not sure what I am going to do with them all, but I'll figure it out at some point.  Weird, huh?  I was able to pick up a ton of them this many that I very rarely see any new ones pop up for auction anymore.  Likely going to make this a different goal for next year and that is to get them catalogued on my blog.
Goal #7: Publish at least 6 BBM Card Set reviews - Grade "F"
This did no happen this year....booo.  I had a little hobby/video area set up to do this and then the pandemic hit and hobby/office got rearranged to accommodate a home office which overtook my hobby area.  So, alas, I did not get to this and not sure I will be able to until the pandemic is over.  I could have made it work, but too many other things took over.  

Goal #8: Add 20 more cards to my Non-Sport Collection - Grade "A+"
Wow, I was on a roll this year with my non-sports collections as a lot of the cards seemed to show up for auction.  I attribute it to the pandemic and people were selling because 1) they needed the money, or 2) they were bored and digging out all their old cards.  To recap, I am very particular with my non-sumo wrestling sets and only have a few sets that I am actively collecting: 1980s Japanese Myojo Noodle Cards2002-2005 Radio Shack Zip Zap Cards1980s Famikon (NES) Amada CardsAirport Trading Cards, & 1970s Yamakatsu Bruce Lee Cards


Goal #9: Send out 10 care packages - Grade "A"
I lost count of who I sent out packages this year, but I am pretty sure I was able to get to 10.  I'll chock this one up as a win!
Goal #10: Maintain/Improve Google/Yahoo/Bing Search Engine results for Sumo Card(s) & Menko - Grade "A-"
For a fourth year in a row, my goal has been for this blog to be the #1-at-the-very-top-of-your-browser result when you go search up Sumo Card(s) and Menko.  Last year I was the #1 on Yahoo, almost the #1 on Bing, and the #1 to #6 on Google.  Now I am in the top 3 all around!  This is a fun one to chase and trying to beat the search engines algorithms is always a challenge.  Excluding the ad sites that always pop up at the top, here is how I fared this year (last year's rankings are in brackets [ ]:

Sumo Card: Bing #1 [#2], Google #2 [#6], Yahoo #1 [#1]
Sumo Cards: Bing #1 [#2], Google #2 [#4], Yahoo #1 [#1]
Sumo Menko:#1 [#1], Google #1 [#1], Yahoo #1 [#1]
Sumo Wrestling Card: Bing #3 [#1], Google #3 [#3], Yahoo #3 [#1]
Sumo Wrestling Cards: Bing #2 [#1] , Google #2 [#2], Yahoo #2 [#1]

Well, there you have it again.  A ton of really good "A" grades marked by two not-so-good "D" and "F" grades.  It was a great year collecting and so I feel like I earned a "A-" this year.  As always, thanks for stopping by and being a part of this blog.  I hope everyone stays safe tomorrow on New Year's Eve and I'll catch everyone in the next New Year!  Sayonara!

2020 Overall Grade = A-

Thursday, December 24, 2020

5-Year Blogiversary - Thanks Everyone!

5 years ago and 321 posts later, here we are.  Thanks everyone for stopping by through all these years and all the great comments.  I am a rookie when it comes to a lot of the other blogs out there, but am thankful to be part of the card-collecting blogosphere.  This also marks my 2-year anniversary of doing my Fantasy Sumo Card game which has been holding strong at 16 players per tournament.  Here is the latest set that I recently gave a design refresh.  Sumo popularity is as strong as ever and I am extremely thankful to help try and be an ambassador to the sport.

Have a great Christmas everyone!  Sayonara!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Thanks @ Run-Fore!-Kelloggs - 1977 Sumo Wrestling Sportscaster Cards

Much thanks is owed to Matt over at the Run-Fore!-Kelloggs Blog.  He sent me a care package with 5 Sumo Wrestling Sportscaster cards for my collection and I was able to knock two off my want list.  I don't have an accurate checklist of how many different ones they made of the Sumo, but right now I have 4 of the 7 that I know of.  Matt sent me an extremely cool one from Belgium as well!  Thanks so much Matt and totally unexpected, but much appreciated.  Here it the checklist and two of the cards Matt sent!

03-08 Printed in Japan (English Language)
03-08 Printed in Italy - Blank Series (English Language)
03-08 Printed in Italy - A Series (English Language)
03-08 Printed in Italy - B Series (English Language)
03-56 Printed in Belgium (Dutch Language)
03-56 Printed in Italy (French Language)
03-56 Printed in Finland (Finnish Language)

Friday, December 18, 2020

Mistakes Were Made - 1960 Doyusha Fusa 7: Type 2 (BC603-2)

Mistakes on Japanese cards are fairly rare.  Mistakes on vintage Japanese cards are even more rare with only a handful of known examples.  With the wild west of production from the 1930s to the 1960s, I am surprised there wasn't a ton more.  And with hundreds of sets and hundreds of thousands of menko and cards being produced, this is quite the astounding feat.  However, one set that got it wrong was the BC603-2: 1960 Doyusha Fusa -Type 2 Set.  The front of the menko look normal, but upon turning them over it quickly becomes apparent that someone at the Doyusha factory had a bad day.  They got the wrong backs...meaning the name and statistics for another wrestler accidently appear on the menko.  Instead of redoing the layout and reprinting, Doyusha overlaid a fan with the wrestler's correct name.  The Type 2 set is printed on grey paper stock and is the set that contains the error.  The Type 1s all appear correct and were printed on tan paper stock leading me to believe that either A) the Type 1s were printed later after they were all corrected, or B) the Type 2s were printed at another factory and corrected locally.  Either way, it makes for an interesting piece of Japanese menko history.

I hope every one has a great weekend and sayonara!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

You don't collect Chuck Norris...he collects you! 1974 Japanese Yamakatsu "The Way of the Dragon" Cards

When Chuck Norris goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Bruce Lee (I've used this one before, but it never gets old).  Here is a short recap of one of my previous posts on this Yamakatsu set...believe it or not, these two legends met on the screen in 1972 in the movie The Way of the Dragon eventually leading to (spoiler alert) Chuck Norris', aka Colt, death.  Probably the one and only time a Chuck Norris fact that doesn't play out in his favor.  During the insane Bruce Lee hype that swept through Japan in the early 1970s, Yamakatsu captured these two martial artists on a set of mini trading cards leading to rookie cards of the now famous Chuck Norris.  The Way of the Dragon set has 48 cards (Card #s 49-96) with some repeating images, but most of them capturing Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee in different stages of their final duel.  Card #s 1-48 are from the Enter The Dragon set, and card #s 97-144 are from The Green Hornet set.

At the beginning of the year, I was down to only needing 9 more cards from this The Way of the Dragon I added 4 more, and along with one other card I picked up earlier this year, I need only 4 more cards now to complete this set.  A little over a year ago, I completed the Enter The Dragon set (Card #s 1-48), and now have been focused on this The Way of the Dragon set.  It will be one of my collecting goals for 2021 to finish.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

1983 Japanese Myojo Meka メカ Trains, Planes, & Automobiles Cards

In 1983, the Japanese noodle company Myojo "明星" affixed one メカ card (Meka, or Mechanical in English) out of 9 different series to the top of a bowl of their instant noodles.  These cards depict a mechanical transportation object and each series has 30 cards in it.  Talk about odd-ball as these cards capture some pretty cool old photos.  The Star Wars Series cards are by far the most expensive and cards can be upwards of close to $30 or more depending on condition.  The other series are a lot cheaper and down around the $5 per card range or even less.  These meka cards in general are somewhat difficult to find with the Classic Car series being the easiest and the Space Machines, Jets, and Dream Cars series being the most difficult to find.  Each of the cards measures 2.25" x 3.5" and are printed on think paper stock.  I pick them up whenever I can, but as far as I can tell there is no known checklist for any of the series besides the Star War Series.  Below are some examples of the World Classic Cars and World Steam Locomotives that I recently picked up.  Does any collect any of the Star Wars cards from this series?

Series #1: World Steam Locomotives

Series #2: World Racing Cars

Series #3: World Classic Cars

Series #4: World Ships

Series #5: World Jets

Series #6: World Motorcycles

Series #7: World Space Machines

Series #8: World Dream Cars

Series #9: Star Wars

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Golden Cards - 1990 Chiyonofuji Sumo Wrestling Telephone Cards

The Telephone Card Craze in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Japan must have been madness.  Telephone companies couldn't print the cards fast enough as it was like printing money.  Although they held value for use in telephones, they held much more value among collectors.  It was almost pure profit at that point for the companies so a wide variety of subjects and of different quality flooded the market.  This high-quality set from 1990 commemorates Yokozuna Chiyonofuji's 1000 top-division win and 30th championship.  There are three cards in this set with two of them that have a mirror-gold finish and they come in this really amazing 3D foldout holder.   This holder folds up and is tucked away in a white paper envelope.  Not sure what the cost would have been back in the day, but imagine somewhere between ¥5000-¥10000.  Chiyonofuji passed away in 2016, but is absolutely one of the top 5 Yokozuna to ever grace the sport.

Anyone else collect Japanese telephone cards?

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Everyone Loves an Underdog - 1996 Sumo Wrestling Playing Cards

Fuji over at The Chronicles of Fuji sent me a short sumo wrestling video of the popular small wrestler, Enho, taking on his stablemate and arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Hakuho. Enho is one of the smallest, if not the smallest, wrestler in the top divisions and his speed combined with technical savvy is almost unrivaled in sumo at the moment.  But he is small and in sumo sometimes no matter how fast and agile you are, size does matter.  In an era of weaker top division wrestlers, Enho might have been able to make a bigger mark, but sadly he has likely topped out on any future promotions.  However, as Fuji puts it, we all love an underdog from time to time.

The original small guy and underdog that I remember is one-time Sekiwake, now Shikoroyama Stable Master, Terao.  He had a 23-year active career from 1979-2002 and was the popular small guy at the time.  Crowds loved him, he was spry, and he had the right personality and aura about him to make him so fun to watch.  I first saw him at the sunset of his career, but he still had some gas left in the tank and still dominated his peers.  However, his career peaked in the mid 1990s right when sumo was reaching new popularity heights with the dominance of Wakanohana, Takanohana, Akebono, and Konishiki, not to mention Musashimaru and Kaio.  He was never destined to promote to the top ranks, but he sure drew a crowd.

I was recently reminded of Terao when I picked this 1996 Playing Card set up with Terao as the queen of diamonds, a very healthy and respectable position in these sumo card decks. Looking at the wrestlers above him and around him at the King and Jack levels, it is easy to see why sumo loves the underdog, but it surely doesn't offer any respite from taking on the big guys.  

Monday, November 30, 2020

2020-2021 BBM Japanese Basketball B.League Cards Arrive - 15 January!

It has been a long time since I have done one of these announcement posts for the upcoming Japanese B.League BBM Basketball card releases.  The past few years there has been some mid-season boxed set that always peaks my interest, but this year due to COVID both BBM and B.League opted to forgo any such sets.  So last January was the last time we saw any new B.League basketball card product.  Well, the new season is upon us with the first games kicking off several months ago which also means a new card set is forthcoming as well.  BBM's fifth annual release is slated to drop in stores in mid-January 2021.  Normally how BBM does it is they release two separate series a month apart.  Series 1, called "1st Half", comes out in January and Series 2, called "2nd Half", comes out in February.  I don't expect them to do anything differently this year and I will be jumping on board since I have been buying the boxes since the 2016-2017 season.  Interestingly they have slashed the box prices by ¥2000 from ¥8000 down to ¥6000.  However, they have also reduced the number of packs in the box from 20 to 15.  With 5 cards per pack, you are looking at only 75 cards per box.  The base set is 132 cards so it will easily take you 3-4 boxes to complete a set by hand.  Here is a preview image of the set design.  Not a very exciting design at all and an odd picture choice as well of Yuki Togashi, unfortunately.

Friday, November 27, 2020

We Have Another Majority - 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Red Refractors #/5

Earlier this year, right before the COVID Pandemic kicked off in full force, I was able to pick up the majority of Brandon Laird's 2008 Bowman Chrome Red Refractors #ed/5.  Sitting in my collection are #s 1, 2, & 4.  Fast forward 8 months to today and I am now the majority owner of Brandon Laird's 2011 Bowman Chrome Draft Red Refractors #ed/5.  My scanner still stinks picking up slabbed cards, but here are the 3 that are now sitting in my collection:  #s 3,4, & 5!  Wondering if cards #1 and #2 will ever show up one day.  Brandon did not have as good of year as in past while playing in Japan, but the COVID-shortened season definitely did not do anyone any favors.  Here is hoping next year will bring more success to him.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and stay safe out there Black Friday shopping!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mike Jaspersen - Jaspy's in Hermosa Beach, California

I've been fortunate to have a local sport card legend living and working "right around the corner" from where I live.  Mike Jaspersen is the owner of Jaspy's, a brick-and-mortar store in Hermosa Beach, CA which also has a very successful and popular breaking business, Jaspy's Case Breaks.  Coincidently, they just broke a box of Panini Immaculate and landed a 1-of-1 Logoman of Lebron James a few days ago that has been making its way around news wires across the country as this likely is a 6-figure card.  Mike runs a great business and just opened back up after having been closed for a while due to COVID.  I was in there the other day and noticed an autographed card of himself that had been issued in the 2017 Allen and Ginter product.  Mike explained that he had signed 10 of them and he talked briefly about the Topps representative stopping by for him to sign before moving on to other people in the area.  I did not have an opportunity to ask why he was featured on the card, but I picked up a copy for myself and plan on swinging by here shortly to inquire.  It does state on the back that he was the "A&G Las Vegas Party Winner", so excited to get more information on that.  Mike has a very interesting history in the hobby and here is an interview from several years ago by Sports Collectors Digest.

Anyone else ever get to meet someone who was featured on a trading card besides an athlete?

Monday, November 16, 2020

1941 Japanese Sumo Wrestling Menko - R417 Rikishi Math Backs 1-2-3-4

Back in April I wrote about these flash-card type of menko that had math equations on the back for kids to solve and as a way, I am assuming, to get kids more engaged in math.  Here is another set I came across during the COVID days of browsing auction sites.  Interestingly, all the math-back menko that I own are from 1941.  Not sure why this is.  It may be that the same company produced all math-back menko and found success in the math theme.  Maybe there was some cultural phenomenon going on that made these type of backs more appealing to the kids and several companies hopped on board.  Not sure we'll ever know.  Definitely a pretty cool piece of Japanese history for sure.

This set captures the great Yokozuna Futabayama as well as many of the top-ranked wrestlers of the era.  Hard to believe that soon after this set was released, Japan would drag the United States into World War II which would ultimate cease menko production for the next 5 years until the war ended.

Here is a shout out to all the teachers out there fighting through this pandemic continuing to educate our kids and keeping them engaged in important school subjects.  Thanks especially to Fuji!

Monday, November 2, 2020

2020 Sumo Wrestling Playing Cards

"Playing Cards" in the United States are known as "Trump Cards" (トランプ カード) in Japan.  Not getting political here, but Trump Cards don't have anything to do with President Donald Trump, but rather have to do with the "Trump" being the term used to identify a powerful suit in different types of card games.  The tie to sumo wrestling has to do with the fact that these sets are popular souvenirs during tournament time as they depict the different active sumo wrestlers.  Since 1973, there have been over 63 sumo wrestling trump card sets released.  From quick napkin math, you can see that in some years there was more than one set released.  This often was the case when sumo popularity was extremely high and the Japan Sumo Association was trying to capture the latest, ever-changing ranks of the wrestlers.  This past September, the Japan Sumo Association released its 63rd set.  I scanned the top 3 cards in each suit (J,Q,K) of this 2020 set as these cards depict the 12 highest-ranked wrestlers at the time.  Interestingly, the Japanese don't view the Ace as a strong card in general, but with these sumo wrestling sets, the Ace is usually a veteran or someone notable so not necessary the weakest wrestler either.

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Dirty 5 - Airport Trading Cards Update

For those of you who are collecting the 2014-2020 Airport Trading Cards, I hope you have good luck on the last five cards needed to complete the 156-card master set....I've dubbed them the "Dirty 5".  Several fellow collectors and I just can't seem to find these last five cards.  Rumors are abound that the cards exist, there are images of them on the internet, but no one seems to have any and they don't pop up for auction.....or hardly at all.  And 4 of the 5 cards are from large, well-traveled airports which makes it that much more odd on why they are so hard to find.  Here are the "Dirty 5":

2014 ATL-001 Hartsford-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

2018 ATL-003 Hartsford-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

2018 LAS-001 McCarran Las Vegas International Airport

2014 SJC-001 Mineta San Jose International Airport

2014 YLW-001 Kelowna (Canada) International Airport

If anyone out there has any of these 5 and is willing to part with them, let me know.  I will make it worth your while, promise.

I was able to whittle away at the 156-card master checklist this past weekend picking up these 7 beauties and knocking down one from the tough 2014-series, MKE.  COVID has made a lot of the airports rethink if they would issue a 2020 series which has allowed me to catch up a bit instead of new cards again flooding the market.  Usually at the annual conference of the Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA) the new series of cards are revealed as "new" airports hop on board this fun collectible program to help promote their airports...or the "old" airports reveal the next card they will produce.  However, this year the conference was cancelled and I have not heard a peep if 2020 will up the 156-card master checklist again.  Oh well, this has been an awesome set to chase.

Anyone else out there collecting these?

Monday, October 12, 2020

Columbus Day - 1910s Japanese World Historical Figures Card Set

Today is Columbus Day, but I think the writing is on the wall that this day ought to celebrate the Native American population that was here long before Columbus set foot on what is now American soil.  But 100 years ago, history told a different story and he was revered for being the founder of the land we call The United State of America.  About 100 years ago in the 1910s or 1920s, this set was printed in Japan to capture 32 historical figures from around the world.  Columbus was a worldwide name at that time and the Japanese adorned him on one of the cards from this set.  In reality, it is a pretty neat set that captures some great historical figures.  Check out this checklist of Who's Who in History that earned a card along with a few samples:

























Sun Yat Sen







Yuan Shi Kai

Have an awesome week!  

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Mystery of the 1955 Parkhurst Sumo Wrestlers #60

I'm not sure if it has ever been discussed before, but who are the mysterious "sumo" wrestlers on the 1955 Parkhurst Wrestling #60 card?  I've seen this card for several decades and have never owned a copy.  Not sure why, but I have never pulled the trigger on owning one.  I think the main reason is that the "sumo wrestlers" that are on the card are actually former sumo wrestlers that switched over to pro wrestling after their active sumo years were over.  This was quite common and a lot of the early Japanese pro wrestlers started in sumo wrestling.  The main clue that these three wrestlers were not active in sumo when this card was made is that their hair is cut and not formed into the instantly recognizable chomage, or ginko leaf, style.  Let's find out who these mystery men are.

I recognize one of the wrestlers instantly - Azumafuji.  He is on the far right.  He retired in 1954 from sumo wrestling and turned to pro wrestling with some mild success in the mid-1950s.  He was also a Yokozuna, or Grand Champion, in sumo so his departure from the world of sumo into the world of pro wrestling was extremely controversial at the time.

The middle wrestler looks like the famous Rikidozan.  He too started off in sumo wrestling and was fairly successful, but called it quits in 1950 and entered the pro wrestling world soon after.  Probably the most famous pro wrestler in Japanese history.

The wrestler on the far left I believe is Fujitayama.  He was part of the same sumo wrestling stable as Azumafuji and they likely left together in 1954 to enter pro wrestling, although I am not certain on that.  No successful in sumo and doesn't appear he was either in pro wrestling.

It's sad that the back of the card does not promote the sport of sumo well.  It calls the movements in the ring slow and clumsy which, in my opinion, is far from the truth.

Well, there you have it.  My little bit of mystery solving to advance the trading card community.

Have a great week!  Cheers!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Thanks @ A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts! - Free Isiah Thomas Card

 A little over a week ago, Jon over at A Penny Sleeve for your Thoughts ran a Free Stuff Friday: Anniversary Edition.  This was to celebrate his 5th Blogaversary.  I have not participated in his Free Stuff Fridays before, but saw an awesome 87-88 Fleer Isiah Thomas card that I could not pass up.  Late 1980s basketball cards definitely appeal to me and this was an excellent hook up.  Last week I just finished watching "The Last Dance" and the rivalry that Isiah and Jordan had was intense....two large egos, both skilled, and both destined for the Hall of Fame....I knew I needed this card.  It looks awesome in hand and I can't thank you enough Jon!  Good luck on the next 5 years with your blog!