Friday, January 29, 2021

Thanks Daniel @ It's Like Having My Own Card Shop! - Paul O'Neill Relic w/"Star" Power

Back at the end of last year, Daniel over at It's Like Having My Own Card Shop ran a giveaway for commenting on his post letting him know what three of your hobby related goals are for 2021.  Daniel's blog is one of the best out there and you can't argue with 222 followers.  Low and behold, Daniel randomly selected my name and generously sent my a 2001 Upper Deck Gold Glove Slugger's Choice Game-Used Batting Glove of Paul O'Neill!  What a cool card, and reading up on Paul I discovered he is from Columbus Ohio...I have a handful of relatives there so that in of itself makes this card that much more special.

Daniel didn't stop there and also sent along two unopened packs of Star cards.  I'm not going to lie, I have a hard time opening vintage packs and this time won't be any will leave them sealed, but will show them off here.  First up is a pack of the 1989 Star Kevin Mitchell/Will Clark set.  Most of you reading post also collected in the late 1980s and Will and Kevin were household names on the powerhouse Giants team.  1989 happened to be the year they went to the World Series, but lost to the Athletics in a 4-game sweep.  The Battle of the Bay also had some drama as right before Game 3 kicked off, there was a powerful earthquake that hit...I remember watching it live on TV and the ensuing coverage of collapsed roadways. 

As an additional bonus is this pack of the 1991 Star Tim Hardaway set.  I didn't follow basketball too much in the early 1990s, but Tim is a name that everyone knew as well.  These bad boys are also staying sealed.

Thanks again Daniel for the goodies and Happy New Year!

Monday, January 25, 2021

WWE's Haku/King Tonga & the story of the Tongan Sumo Wrestlers

The story of Tonga 'Uli'uli Fifta (King Tonga/Haku), the famous pro wrestler, is an interesting one and one that is intertwined into Japanese sumo wrestling.  Fate always has a way of working itself out and this story is no different.

In 1974, an Asahiyama Stable's fan club's daughter met a Tongan princess while they both were studying in Australia.  This relationship resulted in the Asahiyama Stable Master being invited to Tonga as a state guest of King Tupou IV who was a Japanophile and rather large person standing at 6' 5".  He encouraged people and groups from all over the 88,000-member nation to come and watch and learn sumo from real Japanese Sumo Wrestlers as part of their 10-day tour of the country.  One such group was the Tongan rugby team which Tonga 'Uli'uli Fifta was a member.   Due to the great success of the tour, Asashiyama invited 4 Tongans to join his stable and professional sumo (really the King told them to join): Tonga 'Uli'uli Fifta (Fukunoshima), Alani Falevai (Minaminoshima), Moleni Fe'aomoeata Tauki'uvea (Yashinoshima), and Latu Vaivaka (Hidenoshima).  A fifth Tongan, Vailahi Sione (Sachinoshima) joined several months later.  All achieved early success in their sumo careers and all were in, or on the brink of, the Makushita division with their eyes set on getting to Juryo which meant a salary, status, and attendants.  Then tragedy struck!

Asahiyama, who had done so much to bring the Tongans into the world of sumo, died suddenly on in October 1975!  It was simply a tragic death mourned by the Tongans.  It certainly was not the first time a stablemaster died while leading a stable and a clear order of succession almost always emerged.  As they say, the training must go on and sumo is bigger than one individual.  At first the widow of Asahiyma, Mrs. Kusada agreed to let former komusubi Wakafutase buy the Asahiyama kabu (stock) as well as the building and land where the stable was located and take all the stable's wrestlers with him as the new stablemaster.  This would allow the Tongans to continue training under an official sstablemaster and continue competing in tournaments.  However, Wakafutase didn't have the money and struck an arrangement for a monthly payment over 5 years to settle the debt with Mrs. Kusada.  Enter Maegashira Ryuo who offered to purchase the land and building right away if he could get the Asahiyama name upon his upcoming retirement.  Since he was an active wrestler under Asahiyama, he could either purchase the Asahiyama kabu/stock or a kabu/stock from someone else and "legally" take the Tongans with him upon retirement.  However, there was no other kabu/stock available leaving him only the Asahiyama option.  Going with Ryou was a much better deal and Ms. Kusada asked Wakafutase to give everything back to her since she wanted to now deal with Ryuo.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush was her thinking.  Wakafutase rightfully refused citing the legally binding contract to own the Aashiyama kabu.  However, the Tongans believed the Tongan King put their well-being in the hands of the late Asahiyama and his widow, Ms. Kusada, was the real owner and decided to follow her wishes which was to follow Ryuo.  In reality, Wakafutase was the true owner of the Asahiyama name and the Tongans either had to follow him as he set up his new stable or retire for Sumo rules dictate you belong to only one stable and if you decide to separate from that one stable you can't join a new stable and must retire.  One year after Asahiyama died, all the Tongans submitted their retirement papers much to the exasperation of the Japanese government for they now had an international "incident" on their hands.  The Tongans had been making headlines for the two years they were in Japan and the Japanese government had to get involved and sent an entourage down to Tonga to explain the situation to the Tongan King.  In the end, there was nothing the Japanese government and Sumo Association could do except explain the rules to the King and offer their sincerest apologies.

All the Tongans scattered doing various things after Sumo, but the most famous was Tonga 'Uli'uli Fifta who went on to a much more grand and fabulous career in pro wrestling as Haku and King Tonga.  Much more than he could have hoped for in the world of Sumo.

The Tongans were captured on two Japanese card sets during the time they were active in Sumo: the 1974 Nazo Nazo 3 Set & 1975 Osato Mini Card Set.  This was highly unusual since low ranked rikishi never got their own cards, but it does highlight how popular and newsworthy their story truly was.  It also led to two "Rookie" cards for Haku/King Tonga's Pro Wrestling career and two "Debut" cards for his sumo career.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Vive la Sumo - 1977 French Sumo Wrestling Sportscaster Card

Sportscaster cards are fascinating to me.  The rich checklist as well as the almost endless variations and languages make chasing parts, or all, of the set really fun and challenging.  The lone sumo wrestling card in the set also has fun variations to chase.  Right now, I know of at least 7 different cards that exist, but almost certainly my checklist is incomplete.

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)

Recently, a French seller hooked me up with the French Language version of the card and I was able to cross off one more card from the checklist.

Run-Fore-Sportscaster Cards is a great resource on trying to decipher what is out there!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

2003 X2: X-Men United Marvel Comics Holographic Cards!

Most of you might boo me off the stage, but I am not a big fan of movies made off of comic books.  I never grew up reading comic books so never related to the characters in the movies.  However, I am a huge fan of Radio Shack's ZipZaps RC cars and holographic cards.  So I jumped on the chance to grab these 4 cards that came with the limited edition car body to promote the 2003 X2: X-Men United movie and they are stunners!  There is Cyclops, Mystique, Storm, and Wolverine in the set and each is a little smaller than a standard size trading card.  I certainly wish I could do a better job at photographing these and my scanner does not do them any justice.  Maybe I was setting myself up for failure as I did not receive the best results by removing the clear film from the face of the cards.

Thanks for stopping by and sayonara!

Monday, January 11, 2021

It Turns Out...Golf Holes-In-One and Japanese Sumo Wrestling

It turns out that getting a hole in one in golf is actually quite hard and if you are a sumo wrestler it is even harder.  Over 50 years ago the former Yokozuna Tochinishiki got one and has since been the first, and only, active or retired sumo wrestler to do so.  How hard is it to get a hole in one?  Well, according to the U.S. National Hole-In-One Registry it is about 1:12000 for an average given that a course has about 3-4 Par 3s, you would need to play about 3500 rounds of golf before you sink one.  American baseball has seen numerous holes-in-one by active and former players: Mike Maddux, Luke Hudson, and Brian Matusz to name a few.  Football's legendary Jan Stenerud and Peyton Manning have both hit one.  Even the NBA's future HOFer Steph Curry has made one.

Here is Yokozuna Tochnishiki's 1957 Tsuki 8-9-10 menko that is also extremely hitting a hole-in-one.  Fewer than 10 of these menko are known to exist...

Thanks for stopping by and sayonara!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

1990 Topps Hockey - Thanks Greg @ Nine Pockets

Last month Greg over at Nine Pockets was hosting a giveaway to celebrate his 2-year blogiversary.  I was lucky enough to snag the two 1990-1991 unopened Topps Hockey packs.  It's hard to believe that while Topps was still using wax and old school paperboard to make their cards in 1990, Upper Deck had entered the scene with high-gloss printing, foil wrappers, and holograms which made their cards seem light years ahead of the competition. Flash forward 30 years most of us yearn for that old wax and old feel of cards shuffling through our hands again.

Oddly enough, it doesn't appear anyone is really grading this set and there are no complete graded sets out there on the PSA Registry.  It does appear a lot of people are chasing the Wayne Gretzky (Cards #1-3, #120, & #199), Jeremy Roenick (#7), Alexander Mogilny (#42), Brett Hull (#77), Mario Lemieux (#175), Steve Yzerman (#222), & Mike Modano (#348).  Let's see if I can snag one of these stars...let'r rip!

Boom, nailed a Gretzky....and these cards are amazing in complaints at all!  I am sure a lot of people term these as junk wax, but for me these are gold!  Thanks Greg for the hook up and congrats on your 2-year blogiversary!  Sayonara and have an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

1953 Paper Sumo Wrestling (Kami Zumo) Game (G531)

These kami zumo (paper sumo) games are quite interesting.  The playing pieces for the game are not technically cards, but they are ephemera and can be quite collectible.  This 1953 kami zumo game falls into one of those categories of things I like to collect along with my menko and cards.  Kami zumo is quite simple to play; take these paper game pieces/figures, fold them so that they stand, and then lean them against each other on the paper sumo ring (see ring below).  Once they are leaning against each other, tap the table or board that the ring is sitting on in order to vibrate the game pieces and make one of them fall over on top of the other or push the other piece out of the ring.  It can be quite fun and provides that indoor entertainment we all need during COVID.

This 1953 kami zumo game had at least three different color inks used to print the game pieces: red, pink, and brown.  Interestingly, they also came with a small sword to give to the winner as a prize as well as a gunbai (fan) for the referee to point to the winning side.  Measuring about 2" x 2.25" I've only ever seen pieces from this set in almost pristine condition and not played with...not sure why, but I guess all the used pieces were thrown away over the years.  As you might expect, this 68-year old game is quite hard to find and I recently came across 3 "new" pieces to add to my collection.  I now have only 5 in my collection after almost 17 years of searching.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Friday, January 1, 2021

2021 Hobby Goals

Happy New Year!  As I have mentioned several times in the past, I love reading about how collectors did with their past year's collecting goals and their goals for the upcoming New Year.  I like to do them to help me focus my purchases and hobby time to help give me focus.  2020 was good hobby year for me, but just like everyone else I had to overcome all the challenges living under a pandemic.  I have a feeling most of 2021 is going to look like 2020 and am hopeful we can get back to normalcy by the end of the summer.  Thanks to all my readers and here are my 10 collecting goals this year:

Goal #1: Blog 60 posts this year!

I barely hit my blogging goal last year with posting on average once a week, but this year I want to challenge myself to get 60 posts.  Blogging is more therapy than anything and I hope I can provide a brief bit of information, knowledge, and entertainment as well to the larger collecting community.  I won't be short of things to blog about and am hoping the rest of my life can cooperate.  

Goal #2: Publish the 5th Edition of the Sumo Menko and Card Checklist.
This is it!  This is the year to get the next edition of my book self-published.  The 4th Edition was completed way back in 2017 and there have been numerous updates and additions ready to be captured in the 5th Edition.  To help me get motivated, I created a draft of the cover already....let's hope this is the year.

Goal #3: Get to the halfway point with my 1973 Calbee set
The 1973 set is a monster in terms of cost to complete.  With cards ranging anywhere from $50-$200 or higher, this 36-card set is a monster to put together.  It takes time and definitely resources to whittle away to completion.  Crazy enough, this is the most expensive sumo set in even eclipses the sets made in the 1890s....yes 1890s not well as the ultra-rare pre-war sets.  Because of supply and demand, prices have been elevated for a while now, but I am feeling lucky this year to get to the 50% completion mark.  


Goal #4: Relabel my Binders/Sets and Pass Along Excess "Stuff"
The majority of my Japanese card collection is in binders, but needs a bit of TLC to properly relabel each of my sets and relabel my binders.  Since my collection has grown from when I first started, I am continually organizing the sets within the binders but wanted to wait until it had settled out a bit before I went back in there and put more permanent labels on everything.  I also need to get into my misc. cards and make sure everything is tidied up and pass along some of my excess in care packages.  Not to mention I need to get my desk stacks incorporated into my collection.  This is the year I'd like to get that done.  Speaking of organizing, look at this binder carousel!  I have my binders on shelves, but this carousel is no joke.

Goal #5: Expand my 1980s/1990s Japanese Telephone Card Collection
I have been totally enamored recently with holographic cards.  Doing some browsing on Yahoo Japan Auctions, there are some legitimate and awesome looking Japanese holographic telephone cards.  I plan on picking up some here and there to complement my sumo wrestling telephone card collection.  Speaking of which, my sumo wrestling telephone card collection was sadly put on the backburner for the past several years, but this is the year I am going to start expanding it.  I used the word "expand" since I don't know which direction I want to take both the hologram and sumo telephone cards yet, but defining them and growing them will be this year's goal.  The real question is, how do I take good quality photos of holographic cards since scanning does not do them any justice?  

Goal #6: Do Something with my Yukata Card/Bolt Collection
I spent a good amount of energy this past year collecting Japanese indigo yukata bolts with their attached much in fact that there are very few left out there that are coming up for auction.  It's used to be able to find them on every street corner, now they are almost non-existent.  Anyway, I need to take the 40 or so I have to the next level.  I'll probably try and establish some sort of catalogue system for them and publish them on my blog.

Goal #7: Continue Giving my Non-Sumo Collections Some Love
I'm collecting specific non-sumo sets and want to continue working towards completion of them.  Each one is in a different stage of completion so I have specific goals this year of inching ever closer to 100%.
Amada Nintendo (NES)/Famicon Mini Cards
This 360-card set was issued in 6 different series and is so much fun to chase down.  These cards depict game art as well as actually screen shots from different NES games that were popular in the mid-1980s.  Right now I have only 170 of the cards leaving me a little over 47% complete.  My goal is to see if I can bump the total up by 10% to around 57% which means I need to add about 35 cards to my collection this year.

1983 Myojo Noodle Mechanical (Meca) Cards
Back in 1983, Myojo issued 9 different series of cards depicting different types of mechanical machines: 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/Meca, Series 8 - World Dream Cars, Series 9 - Star Wars Machines/Meca.  Each of these series has 30 cards for a total of 270 cards.  I only have 55 of the cards at the moment (20%), but am looking to boost that total up to 33%, or another 35 cards.  I have confidence that I can do that this year, no doubt!

2014-2020 Airport Trading Cards
I first heard about this set while I was flying through Chicago back in 2015.  I was instantly hooked and have made it my goal to try and collect them all.  No one knows how many there actually are in the master set.  I have it pegged at 156 cards, but I am likely a few short.  Back in October I talked about the "Dirty 5"....these are the 5 toughest cards to get out of the set and my goal this year is to get at least 1 of the Dirty 5!

1974 Japanese Yamakatsu Bruce Lee "The Way of the Dragon"
In 1974, Japan was going crazy over Bruce Lee and to capitalize on his popularity and promote his movies, Yamakatsu issued a three-series set covering 144 cards (48 per series).  Series 1 was focused on the movie "Enter the Dragon", Series 2 on "The Way of the Dragon" and Series 3 on "The Green Hornet".  Each Series gets progressively harder to complete and I was finally able to finish Series 1 back in September.  Right now I am down to needing only 4 more card for Series 2.  My goal for 2021 is to finish Series 2 "The Way of the Dragon" and then turn my focus to Series 3 "The Green Hornet" and add 5 more cards there.  Even something more cool about Series 2 is that it also captures the very first trading cards of Chuck Norris on them!

Radio Shack Zip Zap Cards
Some of the very first miniaturized radio control cars that came to market were the Zip Zap cars marketed by Radio Shack.  These were a huge hit and millions were sold.  All sorts of accessories, upgrades, body kits, and motors were available to customize each of the cars.  Included along with the cars and some of the accessories were trading cards.  Right now, I have been able to track down 82 cards in the master set, but I think there are more than that out there....I have 51 of the 82 (62%) cards, but would like to get that number close to 70% by the end of the year.  I need to go in and update the checklist too and try to get it reflected on the Trading Card Database.

Brandon Laird and Yuta Tabuse Cards
My three PC guys are Nolan Ryan, Brandon Laird, and Yuta Tabuse and my only goal this year is to continue adding to each of the PCs.  I don't have a specific number goal, but at least for Brandon Laird my goal is to start building up his Japanese-issued cards.

Goal #8: Get out at least 1 Care Package a month
I love sending random care packages....I actually enjoy shopping for things to put in them because of the challenge of trying to help fellow collectors out.  I am hoping I can get out at least 12 care packages this year!

Goal #9: Get to The National!
Assuming it is still on this year, my goal is to get out to The National.  Two scenarios: 1) I can hop on a redeye from LAX, land in the morning in Chicago and then hit up the show all day and fly home late that evening, or 2) spend a couple of nights in a hotel and then I can spend a few days at the show.  It all depends on my work schedule and how much time I can take off. 

Goal #10: Maintain/Improve Google/Yahoo/Bing Search Engine results for Sumo Card(s) & Menko
As a repeat from the past four years, 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.  In 2019, 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!  Here is where I currently stand, let's hope I can maintain that this year!

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 hope everyone has great luck, fortune, and health in 2021!  Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!