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.