Well, I'm late as usual getting to this - the set's been out for almost three months and I've had mine for almost a month. This year's BBM 1st Version set contains 549 cards along with a couple of insert sets (including the standard Best 9 and Golden Glove sets) and the assorted memorabilia and autograph cards. It's a fairly typical BBM "regular" set, although a couple of the subsets that I've come to expect have been skipped this year due to the inclusion of the 20th Anniversary "Cross-Stream" subset.
The set contains "regular" cards of 35 players per team plus the manager. For the first time in a couple of years, the cards do not feature full bleed photos - there's a black border on the bottom of the card. The photos on the cards are the usual quality shots that you've come to expect from BBM. Here's some sample cards of Shinnosuke Abe (#014), Makoto Kosaka (#275), So Taguchi (#425), Tomoya Satozaki (#378) and Seiichi Uchikawa (#199):
For the second year in a row, the team checklists feature team mascots. And for the second year in a row, I'm not impressed. Here's the Hawks checklist (#510):
There are 33 cards for the "2009 Leader" subset, which features cards for the statistical leaders and award winners from last year (as well as a card for the Nippon Series Champion Giants). As usual, there are multiple card for players who had multiple honors (Yu Darvish and Alex Ramirez have three cards each). Here's the card honoring Tetsuya Matsumoto for winning the Central League Rookie Of The Year award (#435):
The set also contains a 24 card subset called "Pick Up Hope" which features two young players per team. The previous two years, BBM called this subset something like "Rookie Of The Year Candidate", but since they missed all four award winners the last two years, they've changed the name this year. It's not surprising that Yusei Kikuchi is included in the subset (#484):
There's a 12 card "Farewell Heroes" subset saluting players who retired after last season. Surprisingly, it includes a card for Norihiro Akahoshi, who unexpectedly retired during the off season. Even more surprisingly, it does NOT include a card for Kazuyoshi Tatsunami. And sadly, it includes a card for the retirement of Takuya Kimura, who passed away suddenly in April, right before the set came out. Here's the card for Noriyuki Shiroishi (#492):
The final subset in the set is part of a cross set subset that celebrates BBM's 20th Anniversary. This set includes 36 cards for the "Cross Stream" subset - 3 per team. The 2nd Version and Touch The Game sets will also include 36 cards for the subset and each team set will contain six cards for the subset. So each team will have 15 cards - three from each of the "big" sets and six in the team set.
I've gotten the impression from BBM's description that the "Cross Steam" subset will contain OB players as well as current players, but the cards that are part of the 1st Version set are all current players. The front of each card features the image of the player superimposed over water splashing. The back of the card features the same image of the player in it's original setting. The back of the card is also in a design that is very similar to the 1991 BBM design. Here's the front and back of Hisashi Iwakuma's card (#CS107 - note that it is not numbered with the 1st Version set):
I've been trying to figure out how many players in this set had cards in the 1991 set. So far, I've come up with Koichi Hori, Motonobu Tanishige, Masa Yamamoto, Akihiro Yano, Tomonori Maeda, Masao Kida, and Kimiyasu Kudoh. Also most of the team managers except Marty Brown, Shigeru Takada (well, he WAS manager when the set went to press - Junji Ogawa IS in the 1991 set) and Masataka Nashida. None of the players who appeared in the 1991 set appear in the "Cross Stream" subset (at least for 1st Version).