Monday, June 1, 2020

1971 Japanese Sumo Wrestling 3D Lenticular Cards - Move over Kellogg's!

This auction had me super excited as I counted down the days until it ended and I wasn't about ready to let these slip through my fingers.  For the vintage sumo menko and card collectors, this is the toughest set to find in the post-menko era (after 1964).  Some of the very first lenticular/3D cards in both the Japanese baseball and sumo world, this 15-20 card set features baseball players, boxers, and sumo wrestlers.  These black-backed wonders capture the very first card of Takamiyama, the first foreigner to win a sumo tournament, as well as Tamanoumi who was destined for greatness only to pass away shortly after this card was produced from appendicitis.  I have seen only one other of these (another Takamiyama) and these will likely only pop up once every 5-10 years at the rate I am seeing them.  Distribution of these is unknown, but could have very well been issued with candy or gum.  Have a great week and stay safe out there.  Sayonara!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

1997 Japanese BBM Historic Set Sample Cards

The first modern BBM (Baseball Magazine) pack-issued card sets were issued in 1997.  For the longest time, I had always thought the 1997 Modern set was released before the 1997 Historic set.  However, reading Sumo World Magazine from this time, it became evident that the 1997 Historic set was actually released first, followed several months later by the 1997 Modern.  What is the difference between the sets you may ask?  The 1997 Historic featured drawings and artwork of the very first rikishi before photography was invented.  Basically from the origins of sumo to the mid-1800s.  To help promote the 1997 Historic set, these 3-card promotional sets were given away to show potential buyers what the cards looked like as well as a little sales card that highlighted the composition of the set.  These very rarely pop up for auction so grab them if you can.  Have an awesome weekend and stay safe with all the craziness out there.  Sayonara!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

1960s Sumo Appointment Card - What day of the week is it?

Days have blurred into nights have blurred into weekends during quarantine.  Given the fact that I have not posted in almost a month just illustrates how time flies and gets blurred when work, home, hobby, and free time are all done within a 40' distance from one another.  I hope everyone is doing well and hanging in there.

I won this BB-series card several months ago and thought it was an apt opportunity to highlight it here.  I have only ever seen this card in all my years of collecting.  It appears to be an appointment card for the Daiichi Paint company that was prominent in the 1970s and 1980s.  On the front is soon-to-be Yokozuna Tamanoumi and on the back are days of the week (Monday through Saturday) along with times from 1:00pm to 6:00pm.  It is a pretty cool piece of ephemera from the late 1960s when Tamanoumi was starting his run for Yokozuna promotion.  Regrettably, Tamanoumi died suddenly in 1971 from appendicitis and so he full yokozuna potential will never be known.

Given it has a bunch of ambiguous days of the week and times, it fits perfectly into how most of us are feeling on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.  It measures about 2.5" x 3.75" and has a nice amount of foxing on the front to give it just the right amount of patina.

Have an awesome week!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Sumo Stickers from when I was born - 1976 Kodansha NST Sumo Stamp Set

Sumo Wrestling was fairly popular in 1976, the year I was born.  The major set that came out during this time was the 1976 Kodansha NST Stamp Set.  Here is a recap of the set I did about 4 years ago.

The 1976 Kodansha NST Stamp Set has had me intrigued for quite a few years mainly because it's been elusive and a difficult set to put together.  Single stamps from this 288-stamp set are almost nonexistent and packs and albums rarely come up for sale. If they do at all they are usually sold at a premium.  Unlike the baseball guys who have numerous stamp sets to choose from over several years, sumo collectors only have the 1976 stamp set so auctions will usually command high interest among collectors from around the world.

   Stickers/seals/stamps became popular in the 1970s likely due to the success of the Panini brand from Italy.  The sumo stamp set was among numerous different subjects produced by Kodansha NST (more on Kodansha later) during this time including baseball, animals, trains, tv shows and even Guiness Book of Records.  All sets came with an album that cost 200円 and with packs that came 8 stamps to a pack for 50円 a pack.  I also have several "sample" packs that were given to stores to be used as promotional giveaways and the store owner had the opportunity to write in his business's name on the back of the packs to guide kids, and their money, his way.  These came 3 stamps to a pack.  The stamps are approximately 2" x 3".

  The sumo set I own has been glued to the pages of an album aside from the handful of loose packs I've picked up along the way. Those will stay sealed....for now at least.  The front has a nice shot of Ozeki Takanohana who was extremely popular in 1976 and used on a lot of the packaging items(see below).

As mentioned in numerous blogs the stamps were intended to be glued into the album into their corresponding slot/area.  There is a little strip along the top where the glue was to be applied and so you could still flip the stamp up and read the tidbit of trivia and information that was usually printed there (see below with several open slots).

The set is broken up into 19 subsets, although none of the subsets are more difficult to complete than the others.

Here is the list of subsets:

- Combat Rivals

- Famous Rikishi of Eastern Japan

- Famous Tall Rikishi of the 36 Bales

- Our Heroes/Yusho Winners

- Jungyo Scenes in your Town

- Inside Takanohana's heya (stable)

- An array of Present Day Star Rikishi

- Kitanoumi's different winning kimarite (winning techniques)

- Famous Retired Yokozuna

- Inside Shitake Heya

- Dohyo Support Personnel

- Scenes from the Dohyo

- Edo Beauty / Sumo Nishikie

- Sansho Prize Winners

- Action Sequence of Clashing Star Rikishi

- Famous Light Rikishi of the 36 Bales

- Famous Heavy Rikishi of the 36 Bales

- Famous Rikishi of Western Japan

- Takanohana 9-piece Picture Puzzle

The back of the album had an order form for kids to order any single stamp for 7円 as well as a checklist as seen below to keep track of the individual cards they had.  This last page also explains the process for turning in 168 of your doubles for a special present.  What that special present is, I am not sure, but will have to do more research on that.

Here are scans of the front and back of a regular and sample pack.

The auction I purchased also had a full size copy of a reproduction poster that would have hung in the window of the toy shop.  It's quite attactive and I only wish it was an actually original instead of a copy.

I was quite curious on the NST brand and did a 30 minutes search trying to research the company.  I came up empty handed and really started examining the album more for clues as well as look at other albums from the different subjects.  As it's written on everything, the sumo stamps (as well as baseball stamps) were manufactured under the supervision of Baseball Magazine Sha (BBM) and issued/published by Kondansha International NST Project Office.  Kondansha International was the English-language publishing house of Kondansha, but there are no clues to NST Kikakushitsu (Project Office).  So the chase was on and I went out and researched other kikakushitsu organizations.  It turns out all the references I found dealt with the publishing world in the form of "Modern Project Office", "Parenting Series Project Office", "Kobe City Project Office" and "Neko Project Office", etc....  All of these project offices released a distinct set of publications.  Clearly the NST Project Office had the authority to use their logo instead of Kodansha so my guess is NST was a division of Kondansha that was tasked to produce the whole series of stamp sets (approximately 15-20 by my estimate) during this era.  Likely NST stands for something like Nihon Stamp Team, Nihon STamp.  I'm hoping someone else will be able to weigh in on this as well.

Monday, April 6, 2020

1941 Japanese Sumo Wrestling Menko - R416 Rikishi Math Backs 1-2

Being cooped up with a school-age kid makes me really appreciate all the hard work and effort our Nation's teachers give and sacrifice on a daily basis during a "normal" school day.  With the shift to online learning throughout the country, the new and creative way that teachers are overcoming this "new" method of teaching is nothing short of epic.  Thanks to all of our educators out there!!

Back in 1941, right before World War II started (or at least between the U.S. and Japan), an unknown Japanese company produced this Math Back menko set in order to entice kids to buy them in hopes that they would not only play with them, but use them as a learning tool as well.  There are numerous examples throughout the 1940s and 1950s of Japanese companies doing this.  They are the precursors to flash cards it seems.  These three menko that recently came up for auction are the only three of this set I have seen in my close to 20 years of collecting sumo menko making them extremely rare.  This small lot features the great Yokozuna Futabayama (75/5=), the weak Yokozuna Minanogawa(27+5=), and the even weaker Yokozuna Akinoumi shown here as an Ozeki (50+4=).  Amazingly, these menko survived the air raids and destruction of the city they resided in starting 79 years ago.

Take care and good luck with all the home schooling and online learning!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

1988 Score #555 Phil Niekro

I was browsing through my scanned folders and came across this beauty...a 1988 Score Phil Neikro adorned in orange-outlined goodness.  A most deserved Hall of Famer who played for 4 teams across 3 decades.  Phil had the remarkable luck of being born on 1 April 1939 making this a perfect fit to share with the blogging world as well.  Everyone stay safe during this crazy month of April.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Japanese Baseball 1960s Yukata Bolt & Card - Nagashima

Thanks to all that responded and replied in my last post on the 1960 Japanese Yukata Bolt and Sumo Card of Yokozuna Taiho.  Equally as popular in the 1960s were baseball stars Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima and they both promoted yukata companies and adorned several cards attached to these beautifully indigo-dyed fabric bolts.  The bolts allowed the purchasers to make their own yukata patterns and sizes at home.....basically like buying fabric in bulk.  This particular bolt made by Tokyo Yukata features a beautiful jagged herring bone pattern in dark, light, and pale blues although the card of Nagashima shows him wearing a more cross-hatch pattern.

Stay safe everyone!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

1960s Japanese Yukata Bolt & Card - Yokozuna Taiho

In the past year or so, I have been very enamored with these bolts of indigo yukata material with photo cards attached to them from the 1960s.  Athletes, actors, singers, kabuki stars....they all adorned brilliant blue/indigo yukata and promoted many different styles from many different companies.  Right now I have a close to 30 of these bolts in my collection and there is something soothing and mystic about the patterns.  This particular bolt and card are made by the Tokyo Yukata Company (東京ゆかた) and feature a card of the Dai-Yokozuna Taiho attached to a neat "shell" patterned bolt.  The card has the number "110" on it.  I also own #103 and #113 with different wrestlers so it appears that this was a run of sumo cards in a larger group of bolts.  Would be neat to know if Tokyo Yukata made hundreds of other bolts....I'm always on the lookout.

Folded up, these bolts measure about 13" long, 6" wide and about 1.5" thick. 

Please stay safe out there with this ever rapidly-changing health environment!  Sayonara!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

We Have a Majority - 2008 Bowman Chrome Red Refractors #/5

I have been collecting Brandon Laird (now playing in Japan for the Chiba Lotte Marines) cards for a while now and became interested in Brandon's career for two reasons: 1) I worked with his mom in CA several years ago so would get to hear about his adventures in Japan, and 2) I collect some Japanese sports cards and it was a natural fit.  I've been trying to track down all his U.S. cards and parallels from 2008 to present.  I haven't dove too deeply into his Japanese cards since those tend to be a bit more expensive, but I do monitor auctions for cards from his U.S. playing days.  Recently, I was able to add the third #ed to 5 2008 Bowman Chrome Red Refractor meaning I now own a majority of the 5 that were printed.  Not sure I will be able to add the final two, but would be cool to have all 5 in possession at some point in my life.  Anyone else ever have a majority of refractor parallels of any players?

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Unopened Box Bepop

Fuji and I have a little dual-post action going on this Saturday where each of us is posting our Top-10 favorite unopened boxes we have in our collections.  Check out his here.  It was tough narrowing it down to ten, but I was able to break them down into different categories to help me decide.  From #10 to #1, here is what I came up with:

#10 (Also known as my favorite Vintage Japanese Sport Box) - 1991 BBM Baseball
This was the first large-scale baseball set that BBM issued which also happened to contain a bunch of Hideo Nomo 2nd-Year cards and baseball legends Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima as coaches.  My box is a bit beat up, but still a beauty and hard to believe it was 29 years ago!  30 packs per box with 10 cards per pack.  

#9 (Also known as my favorite Collector's Choice Box) - 2013 BBM P. League Bowling
I used one of my 10 boxes as kind of a miscellaneous box, or Collector's Choice Box.  Pretty girls that are bowling seems pretty quirky, but if you go watch videos of them in action they are very talented.  The P. League has somewhat of a reality show feel, but fun to watch and the ladies do not disappoint.  The autographs of these ladies are extremely well done as well.  54-card set per box with 2 special insert cards to boot!
#8 (Also known as my favorite Vintage Japanese Non-Sport Box) - 1950s Weapons "Gold" Menko

In the mid-1950s, the world saw a proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as rockets, jets and bombers filling the skies.  This set captures the imagination of the artists through weapons and destruction  What makes this set very interesting beyond the artwork, is the liberal use of gold ink on the packaging and cards.  A great example of Japanese artistry.  These boxes are considered "unopened and sealed" when the twine is present with the box.  50 packs per box with 6-7 menko per pack.

#7 (Also known as my favorite Foreign "Non-Japanese/U.S." Box) - 2019 Panini European Kimmidoll

I went through Spain and Portugal earlier last year right during the Kimmidoll craze.  Panini issued these cards only in this part of the world for a span of 3-6 months.  After I saw them, I ended up buying two unopened boxes online as well as an album.  Now you can't find them anywhere it seems.  These postcard-sized cards are strangely appealing to me and the artwork is amazing and refreshingly Japanese.  There are 18 packs per box with 6 cards per pack.

#6 (Also known as my favorite Modern Japanese Non-Sport Box) - 1986 Amada Famicon Mini Cards

I was and still am a huge NES fan.  The hours/days/weeks I spent engrossed in these games always brings a smile and air of nostalgia to me.  Amada kept the mini card craze strung along until the mid 1980s and issued these cards which captured screenshots of actual in-game play.  These boxes have 30 packs with 2-3 mini cards per pack.  I can still hear the Super Mario Brothers music playing in my head right now.... 
#5 (Also known as my favorite Oddball Box) - 1997 Takara Basscole Fishing Lures

 Most of you are scratching your head on this one.  Me too.  Why do I have this box?  Read about it here in full detail.  But basically Brad Pitt's movie, A River Runs Through It" sparked a bass fishing frenzy in Japan which also happend to coincide with the boom in trading card production.  What are these cards?  Trading cards of bass fishing lures.  No, no the actually people bass fishing, just the lures.  A must in my collection for sure.  30 Packs per Box and 10 Cards per Pack.
#4 (Also known as my favorite Modern Japanese Sport Box) - 2016-2017 BBM Basketball
I have a PC of Yuta Tabuse...or at least a really good handful of them in my collection...and decided I wanted to collect these boxes.  At the time, the new B.League partnered with BBM to produce these trading cards.  That was back in the 2016-2017 timeframe and they have since been making these for 4 years.  This was the very first series issued back in late 2016.  20 Packs per Box and 5 Cards per Pack 
# 3 (Also known as my favorite U.S. Non-Sport Box) - 2018 Topps Stranger Things Series 1

I love the show Stranger Things and when Topps announced they were releasing a trading card set based on the series, I knew I had grab a few boxes.  I can't remember the exact story or controversy, but I believe the odds for special cards there was stated on the retail? packs wasn't accurate and this evolved into a lot of complaints and poor reviews of this first product.  Alas, this box stays on my shelf with unknown content....mysterious!  24 Packs per Box, 7 Cards per Pack
#2 (Also known as my favorite Modern Sumo Box) - 2016 BBM Sumo

I chose this year of BBM sumo cards because this was the year I connected with a great group of collectors on Facebook devoted to strictly BBM sumo cards.  It has been a great opportunity to share my passion with like-minded collectors and fans.  A sharp-looking set with great box art.  24 Packs per Box with 5 Cards per Pack. 
#1 (Also known as my favorite Vintage Sumo Box) - 1958 Dash 7-8 Menko

 This box is what got me into sumo card collecting in the first place. The very first sumo box I owned!  While vacationing in the southern islands of Japan, I found this box in a small antique shop in the resort town we were staying at.  I knew I had to have it!  This 1958 Dash 7-8 (Catalogue #M581) has resided in my collection as the first-ever sumo card box that I have owned and so it captures a special place in my heart and the #1 spot on my list of unopened card boxes.  I haven't counted the packs, but there are at least 100 packs with the special uncut gold prize card sheets on top. 
Well, there you have it.  Thanks for stopping by and please make sure you check out Fuji's unopened box bebop as well.  Cheers and Sayonara!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

RIP Byamba

The world of amateur sumo wrestling lost a great representative this past weekend.  Ulambayaryn Byambajav, or Byamba as he was affectionately known as, passed away at the age of 35.  The website has more information about Byamba and his contributions to the sumo community.  He is most remembered as a TV and Movie star, but he was very talented inside the ring as well.  R.I.P. Byamba

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Fuji for President!

Fuji is the ever-generous gifter throughout the sports card blogging community.  He recently shot out 33 care packages and I was on the fortunate receiving end of one of them.  Like the other 32 recipients of these postal gold mines, I am deeply honored and very surprised with how well Fuji creates these.  He knows everyone's tastes and collecting passions.  Fuji doesn't collect sumo wrestling cards, but this package nailed a bunch of awesome cards for my other collections.  Let me dive in a bit more:

2018 Stranger Things Season 1 Commemorative Patchs Tommy H and Officer Powell.  These came one per blaster box and Fuji sent them my way to fill in some holes.  I am slowly working on this 24-card insert set. 

1975 Phoenix Giants Michael Cramer and 1969 Topps Man on the Moon #48B Space Food!  Michael Cramer was an amazing part of our hobby since the 1970s and started the Pacific Trading Card Company.  He is also an NFL photographer and an all around legend in the hobby.  Rich Klein did an excellent article about him back in 2013.  The Man on the Moon set is one that I would love to complete as I am a space nut!  But thanks to Fuji, I am one less card away!

A pile of 1980s to modern Nolan Ryan cards!  As a kid I collected Nolan Ryan like tens of thousands of other kids and adults.  The 1994 baseball strike, college, and companies producing too many cards to enjoyably collect and drove me out of the hobby back then, but I recently pulled out my Nolan Ryan collection again and want to fill in some holes.  Fuji loaded me up with enough goodness to keep me busy for a while!

California Lottery Scratchers.  Last time we met, Fuji and I gambled a bit of our card show money away on CA Scratchers....he is keeping the tradition alive between us for a bit longer.  I am going to slow roll these over the course of a week or so, but the few that I have scratched haven't led me down a path to retirement yet.

Fuji, I can't thank you enough!!  Fuji for President!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Day After Valentine's - Heart Broken Sumo Wrestling Game

A lot of my friends and family are actually celebrating Valentine's Day on Saturday this year since yesterday was a workday.  Us too, we are heading out to our favorite happy hour joint later today.  So I consider this Valentine's Weekend as a whole.  And like many other bloggers, I feel like I should get up a Valentine's Weekend post.  Today I highlight the 1959 3-Part Trump Set (Catalog #G591).  These awase "matching" sets are popular even today since a host of games could be played with them.  We see a variety of them in the United States as kids games.  Most commonly, they are used in Japan as playing cards, or trump as it is known in Japan.  They are also used as a matching game where you put the cards face down and try to find the corresponding cards to form the wrestlers' image in this case.  There are 16 wrestlers total in the G591 set with 48 total cards coming in the box.....surprisingly, these sets are not all that uncommon and so you can pick them up here and there for reasonable prices throughout the year.    I pulled out the 4 wrestlers that bear the heart pips in honor of Valentine's Day to give you an idea.  Coincidently, these are the 4 highest ranked wresters in the set: Yokozuna Wakanohana, Yokozuna Asashio, Yokozuna, Tochinishiki, and Ozeki Kotogahama. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

1956 Sumo Wrestling Bookmarks

Recently, I stumbled across these somewhat unusual "cards" in the form of bookmarks.  Actually, they are bookmarks, but still a fun paper collectible.  I have only ever seen these four cards alluding to how rare they are.  I usually do an occasional search for sumo bookmarks and just happened to time it right for these to be at auction.  It looks like these were issued in uncut sheet that kids would have to cut out and were likely issued in kids magazines which were really popular in the 1950s. I love the black look on these.....pretty sharp looking which is why I picked them up.  Notice the uncut hole at the top where the bookmark string would go in...I'm wondering if the string came within the magazine as well.  Oh well, what do you think?  Anyone else collect oddball sports ephemera?

Have a great weekend!!!