Sunday, October 24, 2021

YouTube Channel - SumoMenkoMan - All Things Sumo Cards.

Sorry it has been almost 8 weeks since I last reality I've been exploring the new medium of "posting" over on YouTube and learning a bit more on what it takes to produce video content so that has been eating up most of my time.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words and a video worth ten thousand words....I'm able to do a bit more with sumo cards over there than just pictures and written words on this end.  So for now, still on a bit of a hiatus, but if anyone is interested in the video-related sumo card content my video can been see on the SumoMenkoMan channel.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Telephone Time - Sumo Wrestling - 1995 Kyushu Supporters Association Set

Supporters Groups have a long and important history in sumo wrestling.  They often supply sumo wrestlers and stables a valuable and needed flow of money to cover costs associated with the sport.  Costs for travel, uniforms, food, and supplies quickly add up and are difficult to cover by the stable master or wrestlers alone.  These Supporter Groups help keep sumo wrestling running smoothly in exchange for the wrestlers time at various functions, parties and events.  This Kyushu Supporters Association set was made in the 1995/1996 timeframe and either sold to members or given away as a commemorative release for contributions or membership.  It features the extremely popular brothers Takanohana and Wakanohana who likely received contributions from the Kyushu Supporters Association.  Kyushu is the is the third largest island of Japan and home to Fukuoka tournament and this group has it's presence across the island in support of the sport.  I have catalogued it as the CT951: 1995 Kyushu Supporters Association set.

I am a sucker for holographic telephone cards from Japan and this set is no exception.  Several holographic cards along with an additional action and posed shot are fitted nicely into this green holder and tucked away in a nice soft tan envelope.

I hope everyone has a great week and is ready for the upcoming tournament!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Telephone Time - 1999 Osaka Tournament Souvenir Telephone Cards

When I moved to Japan in 1999 telephone cards were still used and I used to to carry numerous ones around with me in case I needed to make calls while I was out and about.  By the time I left in 2001 cell phones had hit the scene and were all the rage pretty much phasing out phone booths and pay phones.  But in 1999, people were still collecting phone cards like this sumo set I came across recently.  It's an interesting set with some heavy hitters (pun intended).  Yokozuna Wakanohana (the other half of the famous Hanada Brothers), Ozeki Chiyotaikai, and Maegashira Terao are the ones I have come across so far.  Interestingly, these came in the little paper/plastic purple holders to protect your "investment" which the owner did until I rescued them and catalogued them here and in my book.  I love telephone cards and I'll certainly pick any up I can for the right price.  Imagine a world without cell phones like we lived in 20 years ago...

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

My 2021 National Recap

What a weekend spent in Chicago at The 2021 National.  One of my bucket list items for quite a while...I was actually on my way to The National 10 years ago when a family emergency forced me to turn around and miss the event.  Didn't miss it this time and had a great and amazing experience.  There are dozens and dozens of other collector reports of The National and I thought I'd also post my thoughts here of my Saturday and Sunday experience.

1. The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center is huge.  It took my brother and I 12 hours to walk and look at every single booth while stopping at about 10-20% of them to look through boxes.  If I was to do it again 3 days would have been perfect.  We walked 9 miles around the convention floor weaving in and out.

2.  The modern-card hobby is in a boom right now for sure as there were a ton of people.  I can't help think the modern cards market is going to collapse in on itself soon with the prices being thrown around.

3.  There is plenty of vintage at The National...don't let the modern-card YouTubers lead you to believe otherwise.

4.  1986-1987 Fleer Jordan rookie cards are not rare, however, they are rare in the PSA 9 and PSA 10.  I could have walked away with 2-3 dozen graded examples PSA8 and below.

5.  Likewise, 1951 Bowman Mantle and Mays rookie cards are not rare either.  Surprising how many The National brings out of the woodworks.

6.  After plenty of research, we ate a big breakfast and brought sandwiches and power bars for lunch and snacks so we didn't have to wait in line and pay the crazy vendor prices.  People always seem to be complaining, but with a little preparation we were just fine and saved all that time.  They did need more tables and chairs around the perimeters though.

7.  I have a good sense of smell and I didn't smell nasty BO until the last day with one of the venders.  Thanks to all the collectors out there for showering.

8.  Absolutely bring good shoes.  My hip flexors were really sore after two days of shuffling on the concrete floor and bending over looking at cases.

9.  The aisleways did get crowded and I did run in a fellow sumo card collector so I was probably guilty of clogging the aisles.  The convention center needs about 15% more space to spread out and give people a bit more room to maneuver in the aisles.

10.  People were really polite as well as the dealers.  I didn't have one negative interaction!

11.  I asked about 6 dealers and they all said they had an amazing show as far as sales.  Money was flying around no doubt.

12. The modern-card YouTubers were out and about, but I very rarely saw them...I only saw their videos afterwards.

13.  People say there were a bunch of kids there and they definitely were, but this hobby and industry really isn't for them anymore.

14.  People carrying lock boxes around with tens of thousands of dollars in slabbed cards is a site to behold.  When it is a 10-year old kid it makes me sad though.

15.  There is plenty of stuff to do: autographs, memorabilia, box breaking, card shopping, dime boxes, dollar boxes, corporate booth festivities.  There is not a shortage of fun.

16.  There were good deals abound, but you had to search.  I was surprised how much inventory was still sitting around at the end of the show leading me to believe the prices were a bit high for most buyers.

17.  Beer at The National.  A brilliant idea designed to pry more dollars out of people's hands.

18.  NASCAR card collecting is dead at the moment.  I saw maybe one or two booths with unopened, but no one was selling any singles.  Soccer, Wrestling, MMA, and F1 have all overtaken NASCAR at this point.  Again it's pretty sad to see how far NASCAR has fallen.

19.  I'm not sure we'd do the VIP Passes again.  Unless you are going to be there all 5 days, it really wasn't worth the price for what we did.

20.  I bought 5 items there...yes only 5 items:

    a)  An unopened taba pack of late 1950 sumo bromide cards!

    b) A box of 1987 Donruss to rip back at the hotel and relive my youth!

    c) A 1990 Donruss Nolan Ryan Learning Series Card

    d) A SGC 7.5 2018 Topps Chrome Ohtani - I wanted to own an SGC slab to have in my collection, but didn't want to spend a ton of money so I rescued this one.

    e) A full set of 1991 Kicks American Taekwondo Association Cards 

Well, there you have it.  Would I go to The 2022 National in Atlantic City?  You bet!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Bigger is better---Oversized 1938 Japanese Sumo Menko

Large menko are cool....not only because of their large size, but because you very rarely see them.  When you hold one you know you are holding something special because it took a small miracle for it to survive.  It had to survive wars, moms cleaning out rooms, storage in small Japanese homes, and ruthless menko battles.  So when I ran across this "large" set, I knew I needed to hold them, checklist them, and catalogue them.  They are pretty cool, not doubt, and the photographs and print quality are second to none for the era.  These R3811: 1938 Rikishi Large 7-8 menko measure about 2" x 4.5" and are a sight to behold.  What about you, do you like to collect large, "oversized" cards or are they a pain?

Have a great week everyone and sayonara!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Caricatures are fun...especially with sumo wrestlers!

Caricatures are always good time at fairs and carnivals.  I am always amazed by how quickly and relatively accurately artists are able to develop and draw these out for patrons.  I am not artistic so I always applaud and admire people who are.  Did you know some of the earliest caricatures were done by Leonardo da Vinci?  Makes sense since he was such a brilliant engineer and really used the right side of his brain to the betterment of a whole generation of artists, engineers, scientists, and craftsman.  Anyway, I digress....we are talking caricatures because of this set as it is almost truly unique in the world of sumo.  Normally, many sumo menko are drawn to approximate a rikishi's face, but this set does have the appearance of overexaggeration.  Before cameras and photographic reproduction were main stream on sumo menko, there must have been a small army of artists cranking out material.  I don't think this set was meant to be humorous or funny, but 84 years later it does bring a smile to my face.  Catalogued as the R3713: 1937 Caricature 4 set, these are fairly large at 1.5" x 3". 

Have an awesome week and sayonara!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Pop Quiz Hotshot - 1941 Japanese Quiz Menko

Anyone remember what movie the quote "Pop Quiz Hotshot" is from?  If not, I have the answer at the bottom of this post.  I love quizzes and trivia and was the kid who wanted to play Trivial Pursuit growing up.  Not that I was particularly good at all the categories, but I found it fascinating to learn new things about the world.

In 1941, this menko set was printed to test kid's on their knowledge of one of the 82 different winning moves (kimarite) in sumo.  A drawing on front depicted one of the winning moves and inside a circle on the front asked which move it was...there were small clues in the question asking which throw, or which trip, or which push was used.  Then on the back the kids would discover the answer.....simple idea really and well executed on this set.  I was able to pick more of this set up since I reported on it almost 2 years ago.

I have catalogued this set as the M416: 1941 Circle Quiz 5 set and each menko measures approximately 1 3/8" x 2 7/8".

If you are wondering what moving the first quote was from, if you guessed "Speed" then you are correct!  Here is a short clip featuring this famous movie quote:

Have a great week and sayonara!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Cold War Era - 1956 Japanese Military Menko

The Cold War in the 1950s must have been as stressful time as any to be alive given that nuclear weapons were now a real possibility and that at any time World War 3 could have ended the world as we know it.  Thankfully cooler heads prevailed to get us out of it, but I am sure it has left a lifelong impression on many citizens all over the world.  Japan was not immune from the Cold War and were caught in the political crossfire of Russia, China, Korea, and United States.  Having no offensive capability of their own, Japan relied heavily on the United States for protection and the weapons we employed during that time we fused into the lives of many children.  Menko companies took advantage of that fascination and made this set in 1956 that highlighted the popular rikishi of the era as well as some of the weapons children had no doubt read about or seen in books.

This M5623: 1956 Military 10 set is extremely hard to find...I am not sure why as most 1950s menko sets were made in decent quantities.  Maybe the war theme was too much for the general population at the time.  I have only seen these 6 menko in my over 20 years of collecting making them Extremely Rare.  Each menko measures approximately 1 3/8" x 2 3/4".

Have a great weekend and sayonara!

Friday, July 9, 2021

Paint it Purple - 1938 Japanese Sumo Wrestling Menko Set

Purple as a color is just awesome!  I guess anyone could say that about any color, but there is something about purple that screams elegance and luxury.  Did you know that purple is associated with the Japanese emperor and Japanese aristocracy?  And in England it is used only on special occasions with the Royal Family.  Crazy...anyway, purple came up as I was cataloguing this new set...the R389: 1938 Rikishi 4 set.  The fronts are a high quality picture and the backs are printed, well, in purple.  Not a deep shade of purple, but a good looking one nonetheless.  This set is extremely hard to find and I uncovered 9 menko from the set during the pandemic and am finally able to document it here and in my book.  These could be the only 9 in existence at this point.  These menko are relatively small at 1" x 2 1/8", but they make up for it as real stunners.  The backs originally had a piece of paper glued to it in order to stand them up I reckon to play kamizumo, but not sure.

Have an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Pre-War Japanese Sumo Menko...I mean pre-WWI!

I don't often use the word "Museum Quality" when it comes to sumo menko.  However, the early 1900 woodblock prints that were coming out of Japan at the time are nothing short of remarkable.  There are different qualities of woodprinters no doubt, and the artists that were making menko at the time were likely not skilled enough to compete with many of the heavy hitting artists.  Nonetheless, the quality and intricacies they devoted to the woodblock menko of the time was tremendous.  The woodblock set below is the R051: 1905 Priest, Gun, Fox Back 0.  Maybe more importantly than it's 116 years in existence, is the fact that it has two extremely, extremely rare menko of Osaka Yokozuna Okido and Wakashima.  At the time, there were two factions of sumo both in Tokyo and Osaka.  The one is Osaka struggled and eventually folded into the Tokyo Association, but for a brief time talented rikishi were competing there.  They don't nearly get the love and most artists seemed to have associated in Tokyo more so not many menko were produced of the Osaka rikishi.  These menko are printed on thin cardboard-like paper and are about 1" x 1 3/4".  Someday these will be in a museum!

I hope everyone came back same from the holiday and has a great week.  Sayonara!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

2021 Mid-Year Report Card

Well, with the year half over I thought I would do a quick review of where I stand on my 2021 Collecting Goals.  Not going to lie, this has been a tough year with work and COVID-19.  Oddly, my time to even blog has been drastically reduced due to inefficiencies of teleworking and having to spend more time "at work" to make up for the time lost trying to coordinate everything virtually.

I know there are a fair amount of collectors that don't like to do collecting goals...However, I'm one that likes to lay out the year to help me focus and to generally guide my collecting habits.  I seldom vary from my larger collection so I don't have a ton or random collections that are half-started...just expanding my normal collections and then maybe tackle one or two more.  Anyway, let's see how I am doing.

Goal #1: Blog 60 posts this year! - (26 as of this post) - Current Grade - "C"

This goal has been a little rough these past few months, but I feel like I should be able to catch up and get in a rhythm as things have quieted down at work some.  I think I stand a good chance of getting to 60 and maybe a few more as I have a stack of blogging material waiting....really it is stuff to catalogue for my book and some eye candy for the blog.

Goal #2: Publish the 5th Edition of the Sumo Menko and Card Checklist. - Current Grade - "C"

I am making some good progress on the 5th Edition and really do think I can get it finally published and out the door.  Work should slow down for me later this year for a little bit and if I can get 2-3 hours a week devoted to this goal I should easily crush this.  We'll see how the next few months goes though.

Goal #3: Get to the halfway point with my 1973 Calbee set - Current Grade - "D"

Ugh, I have not focused on the Calbee cards too much this year so far.  Prices for the high-numbers are expensive and I have focused my efforts on the other goals thus far.  I think I can pick up 3-4 more and really get back on track to 50% completion by the end of the year.  It all takes money and that would solve a lot of my problems here.  Ha!

Goal #4: Relabel my Binders/Sets and Pass Along Excess "Stuff" - Current Grade - "C"

I'm getting there are relabeling binders and tidying seems like it is a never ending process.  I seem to clean up two piles and another one appears.  I am getting a small stack of cards and menko ready for eBay too which will be great to put a bit of extra money in my pocket!

Goal #5: Expand my 1980s/1990s Japanese Telephone Card Collection - Current Grade - "B"
This goal is part of my alt-collection and something fun as I am browsing for sumo auctions.  I have picked up a decent amount of telephone cards so far and am waiting for them arrive from Japan shortly.

Goal #6: Do Something with my Yukata Card/Bolt Collection - Current Grade - "F"

Still have no idea what I am going to do with these......but they are cool!

Goal #7: Continue Giving my Non-Sumo Collections Some Love - Currrent Grade - "C"

Amada Nintendo (NES)/Famicon Mini Cards
No real progress here.....

1983 Myojo Noodle Mechanical (Meca) Cards

I have picked up a crap ton of these cards and lost count how many new ones I now have.  

2014-2020 Airport Trading Cards
Still haven't found one of the "Dirty Five" yet.  Although I missed out on one recently as if flew under the radar before I saw it.

1974 Japanese Yamakatsu Bruce Lee "The Way of the Dragon"
No joy here....

Radio Shack Zip Zap Cards
I have managed to get a few more of these....not too shabby.

Brandon Laird and Yuta Tabuse Cards

Not really making any progress here as new cards rarely pop up that I need.  

Goal #8: Get out at least 1 Care Package a month - Current Grade - "F"

Ummm, I suck...sorry everyone!

Goal #9: Get to The National! - Current Grade - "A+"

VIP tickets purchased, plane tickets in hand, and hotel booked.  Here we go!

Goal #10: Maintain/Improve Google/Yahoo/Bing Search Engine results for Sumo Card(s) & Menko
- Current Grade - "A+"

Sumo Card: Bing #1, Google #2, Yahoo #1
Sumo Cards: Bing #1, Google #2, Yahoo #1
Sumo Menko: #1, Google #1, Yahoo #1
Sumo Wrestling Card: Bing #3, Google #3, Yahoo #3
Sumo Wrestling Cards: Bing #2, Google #2, Yahoo #2

I think I am doing well on this one and hopefully my hiatus these past few months doesn't hurt my metrics.

Thanks for being loyal readers and I hope everyone had a safe 2021 so far and I hope your collection keeps growing.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Shohei Ohtani - The 2013 Japanese BBM Flagship Series 1 Rookie Card Guide

There is nothing hotter than Shohei Ohtani right now in Major League Baseball.  He is on fire and looks to make a run for MVP this year....if he keeps this stat trend through the remainder of the year, I am going to call him a shoe in.  Believe it or not, Ohtani has been doing this for 8 years now and before he made an impact on the MLB scene in 2018, he was the two-way star of Japan destined for bigger and better things.  He has a ton of Japanese cards and a good handful of rookie cards from 2013, but none are more iconic than his 2013 Japanese BBM Flagship Series 1 Rookie #183.  Here is a guide to the 11 variations of his important, iconic, and impactful rookie card.  I apologize in advance as some of the images are taken from Yahoo Japan Auctions website.

2013 BBM Series 1 Box

This is the box that could land you the Red #183, Red #183 - Silver Signature, Red #183 - Gold Signature, Red #183 - Holofoil Signature Rookies, Red #183 - Red Signature, Red #183 - Blue Signature, and Green #183 - Rookie Parallel.


2013 BBM Series 1 Red #183

Ohtani's most popular and iconic rookie card.


2013 BBM Series 1 Red #183 - Silver Signature

Affordable silver facsimile signature parallel that is unnumbered. (Photo courtesy of YJA)


2013 BBM Series 1 Red #183 - Gold Signature #ed/100

Spendy gold facsimile signature parallel numbered to 100.  Difficult to find. (Photo courtesy of YJA)


2013 BBM Series 1 Red #183 - Holofoil Signature #ed/50

Very difficult to find & expensive hologram foil parallel numbered to only 50.  (Photo courtesy of YJA)


2013 BBM Series 1 Red #183 - Red Signature #ed/25


2013 BBM Series 1 Red #183 - Blue Signature #ed/1

No image available.


2013 BBM Series 1 Green #183 - Rookie Foil Parallel #ed/100

I have only seen one of these ever show up for auction.  Very expensive and numbered to 100.  (Photo courtesy of YJA)


2013 BBM Series 1 Green #KP2

Handed out during a family event at Kamagaya Stadium (Photo courtesy of Ameba)


2013 BBM Series 1 Pink #SL07

Handed out at another stadium event (Photo courtesy of YJA)


2013 BBM Series 1 Purple #183 - Sports Card Magazine (SCM)

Issue #98 of Sports Card Magazine had 5 original promotional cards including this one of Ohtani.


2013 BBM Series 1 Purple #183 - Sports Card Magazine (SCM) Silver Signature

Randomly inserted in SCM #98 were silver facsimile signature parallels.  (Photo courtesy of YJA)


There you have it.  I hope everyone has a great time watching the All Star Game and Ohtani in the Home Run Derby!  Sayonara!