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.