Saturday, August 28, 2010

1993 & 94 Tomy Sets

While BBM was the first company to sell baseball cards the way they were sold in the US (10 or so cards to a pack rather than 1 being sold with some sort of food), they weren't the last. The next company to try it was Tomy in 1993. Their first set was 410 cards plus 81 puzzle cards (which made up nine different puzzles). Most of the cards show a photo surrounded by a colored border. Each card also has the initials "I.D." prominently on the front - I have no idea what they stand for. Like the 1993 BBM set, the most highly sought out cards are the rookie cards for Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui. Unlike the BBM sets of the time, the cards were the standard US card size - 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.

Here's a couple example cards of Susumu Mikoshiba (#125) and Takuro Ishii (#232):

A number of the cards feature border-less, multiexposure photos (a la some of the early Upper Deck sets), labelled on the back as "Action Series". Here's one of Jack Howell (#392):

Oddly enough, at least one of the "Action Series" cards commemorates one of the Hawks players who played for the Salinas Spurs in the California League in the early 1990's. I don't know if there are any more of them than this card of Motoi Ohkoshi (#401) who played for the Spurs in 1992, the final year they had an affiliation with the Hawks:

According to Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide", the set also includes team checklist cards and four card Japan Series subset (don't know if the Series in question is the 1992 or 1993 Series - both of which were the Lions and Swallows). I don't have any those cards, so I can't show you them.

I got a question in a comment recently about whether or not the Tomy set had multiple series. I think the answer is no, but the set did have multiple printings. On the lower right side of the back of each card is either "I.D.69-001" or "I.D.69-002". This is sheer speculation on my part, but I suspect that set got issued in two printings with this value changed between issues. There are also three "error" cards from the first printing that appear to have been replaced in the second. Here's the back of Ichiro's card (#102) where you can see the "I.D.69-002" on the bottom right:

Tomy followed up in 1994 with a smaller (288 cards including 45 puzzle cards) set. The first 72 cards of the set were "Kira" cards showing the player superimposed on a sparkly silver background - a preview of the kind of thing that BBM would do a couple years later with the Diamond Heroes sets. Here's Kimiyasu Kudoh's card (#54) as an example:

The remainder of the cards (except for the puzzle cards) showed full bleed photos of the player. Here's Takahide Itoh's card (#106):

Oddly enough, although the set does not include a card for Ichiro Suzuki (Tomy not being as prescient as the Hilo Stars team set manufacturer), it does feature three cards (including two "Kira" cards) for Mac Suzuki, who at the time was playing in the US minors, having signed directly with Salinas in 1992 independently of any Japanese teams and played for San Bernardino (where Salinas moved to in 1993) and Riverside (after signing with the Mariners organization in 1994) in the California League.

For whatever reason, Tomy ceased to produce sets after 1994. I suspect that it is not a coincidence that in 1995, BBM increased their card size to the standard 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 size, same as Tomy's. Also in 1995, BBM had puzzle cards in their set for the first time (they would return in the 1996 set as well). And as I mentioned before, the "Kira" cards from the 1994 Tomy set resemble the kind of cards BBM would start producing in 1996 for the Diamond Heroes set and later the Touch The Game sets. So while Tomy may be gone, they may have had an influence on BBM.


Anonymous said...

Excellent write up on the 1993 / 1994 Tomy ID. Thanks. BTW - some of the cards in the 1993 Tomy ID set are signed by various players. I did sell a Tom O'Malley signed 1993 Tomy ID card awhile ago. It was a total surprise to me when I received a card that was signed by a player in black ink.

NPB Card Guy said...

Thanks. There's no information in Engel about any signed cards inserted into the Tomy packs, but there's also nothing in Engel about the multiple printings either. If that's true, then they were doing that before BBM did as well.

Deanna said...

Wow, Mikoshiba. The main character of Rookies was named after him (all the Rookies players are named after former Tigers but most more recent), but I don't think I've ever actually seen a card of his.

But, oddly, I *have* that Takuro Ishii card! I got it for 30 yen at some point in a pile at a Mint store.

NPB Card Guy said...

I have to say that I only used that card of Mikoshiba because I liked the picture and I wanted to show a card with a horizontal format...

I'd never heard of "Rookies" before you mentioned it - that's pretty cool. And neat that everyone is named for a Tiger - even Shinjo!

I had no idea there was this much baseball related manga out there.

Deanna said...

There is so much baseball manga out there that it is impossible to know it all, I think -- I only know the ones that were adapted into live-action shows for the most part with the exception of Dokaben. Rookies I watched because Mikoshiba-captain was played by my favorite actor, Keisuke Koide :)

Actually the crazy thing about Rookies is that all of the players are named after TWO HANSHIN PLAYERS each! Like "Kei Shinjo" is Igawa's first name, "Tomochika Wakana" is Tsuboi's first name, things like that.

And when they made the live-action movie of it, the "new guys" were Hamanaka and Akahoshi. It was pretty funny.

BTW, oddly, on a whim last night I stopped by the card shop that I found those Tomy cards at before, and they still have assorted random ones for 30 yen each. But CRAZIER, I got the Suntory Premium Malts 2009 box set for 200 yen -- just the regular cards, they opened it and took out whatever inserts, but it did come with the box. 200 yen! I woulda happily paid 200 yen just for the Randy Bass Holding A Huge Beer card, so getting the entire set with it was nice.

Tokyo Big 6 Fall Set is out soon! It's going to be another 36-card set, which sucks, but it'll have Daisuke Takeuchi's first card and I might actually ask him to sign it for once :)

NPB Card Guy said...

I hadn't realized the first names were from the Tigers also - that's really funny. I take it the artist is a Tigers fan.

I thought the Premium Malts set was kind of neat - lousy card design but it was fun getting cards of OB players in an old timers game - especially Isao Harimoto.

I've already pre-ordered my Big 6 set from AmiAmi. Let me know if there's a particular insert card you're looking for.

Mark @ Sell Baseball Cards said...

I am glad I found your blog. I was only recently introduced to the Japanese card market through Sayonara Home Run. That has whet my appetite for the hobby. I look forward to more of your posts!