Sunday, November 14, 2010

BBM Timeline 2006-2010

I'm going to wrap this up with a little less detail the some of the earlier posts. BBM has been producing a LOT of sets in the past few years, so I'm going to hit the highlights without getting all the nitty gritty about the sets.

After a few years of experimenting in 2002-04, BBM pretty much stabilized the 1st and 2nd Version sets in 2005 as a large set (1st Version) and a smaller, supplemental set. That continued in the past five years. The 1st Version set typically ran 500+ cards with around 35 players per team plus the league leader cards. The 2nd Version sets would run roughly 250-300 cards with 12-15 players per team, plus update cards for the 1st Version set (for all years except 2008).

Other sets that have been relatively constant for BBM over the past five years are the "Rookie Edition" (draft pick) and "Touch The Game" (high end) sets. All 12 teams have had a pack-based set usually running around 100 cards for each of the past five years also. The "Historic Edition" sets now always contain 144 cards - 72 OB players and 72 active players. The theme for the 2006 set was "Record Makers" - each card depicted a player that had set some record. The 2007 set's theme was "Draft Story" - each card featured a photo of the player from their rookie year (when they were drafted or signed as a couple players who weren't actually drafted were in the set). 2008 and 2009 were "Back To The 70's" and "Back To The 80's" respectively. Each set featured OB players from the decade in question and active players who were born in the decade. The 2010 set was called "Memory Makers" - each player featured had participated in some memorable event.

In addition, BBM has continued to produce a box set for the All Star game and the Nippon Series as they have for every year since 1991. Starting in 2007, BBM started to produce another annual box set called "Rookie Premium" which was a high end set featuring rookie players from the season with a high likelihood of autograph or other memorabilia cards.

The addition of the playoffs in 2004 in the Pacific League and 2007 in the Central League has created a challenge for BBM. In the late 1990's BBM had started to produce a box set for each league champion every year. In 2004, they produced a box set for the Pacific League playoffs that featured all three teams. In 2005, they only produced box sets for two of the three PL playoff teams (Hawks and Marines, but not the Lions). In 2006, BBM made box sets for all three PL playoff teams (Fighters, Hawks and Marines) as well as the CL Champ Dragons. In 2007, they did sets for all six playoff teams (Dragons, Giants, Tigers in CL, Fighters, Hawks, Marines in PL). At this point, I think they threw up their hands and decided it was too much. For 2008, I don't believe there were any sets created for the playoff teams. In 2009, BBM only did box sets for the teams that finished first in the league - the Giants and the Fighters. And again in 2010, it looks like no playoff sets were made.

BBM has gone a little crazy over Anniversary sets over the last five years. Before 2006, they had only done 70th Anniversary sets for the Giants (2004) and the Tigers (2005). In 2006, they did a 70th Anniversary set for the Dragons. Starting in 2008, they really started pouring them on - sets for the Lions (30th Anniversary of their purchase by Seibu and the move from Fukuoka to Saitama), the Hawks (70th), the BayStars (30th of their move to Yokohama) and the Marines (40th of their purchase by Lotte). 2009 saw sets for the Swallows (40th of their purchase by Yakult), Orix (20th of Orix buying the Braves from Hankyu), the Carp (60th) and Kintetsu (60th, even though they've been gone since 2004). All the teams except the Fighters and the Eagles had some sort of Anniversary set done. A couple of teams got revisited in 2010 with the Tigers 75th Anniversary and the Lions 60th Anniversary sets.

In addition to the annual "Historic Edition" sets and the Anniversary sets, BBM has released a number of one-off nostalgic sets since 2006. A prominent one released in 2006 was the appropriately titled "Nostalgic Baseball" set. It featured colorized pictures of players from the 1930's to the early 1960's. Other sets were 2007's "Home Run Chronicle" (top 45 lifetime home run hitters), 2008's "Lions Memorial" (companion set to the Lions 30th Anniversary set featuring players from the Lions' time in Fukuoka) and "Hiroshima Memorial" (commemorating the closing of the old ballpark in Hiroshima) and 2009's "Hankyu Braves Memorial" (a companion to the Orix 20th Anniversary set featuring players from the Braves before they were bought by Orix). In 2010, BBM issued a large set featuring both OB and active players to celebrate their 20th Anniverary.

BBM continued to produce box sets for single players. Usually they would release these sets in conjunction with the player (or manager) retiring or leaving Japan for the US, but a couple haven't had an obvious reason (at least to me). Since 2007, BBM has done sets for Masumi Kuwata (US-bound), Atsuya Furuta (retired), Tomohiro Kuroki (retired), Sadaharu Oh (retired), Kazuhiro Kiyohara (retired), Masaichi Kaneda (no idea), Norihiro Akahoshi (retired), Masahiro Tanaka (no idea), Kenta Maeda (no idea) and Hisashi Iwakuma (probably US-bound).

In 2008 BBM jumped into an entirely new realm by releasing three sets featuring college players. They produced sets for both the spring and fall seasons for the Tokyo Big Six collegiate league as well as a set for the Japanese Collegiate National Team. They continued to produce sets for the spring and fall seasons of the Tokyo Big Six league in 2009 and 2010, although they have not done another National Team set. (I'm a little curious to see if the collegiate sets will continue in the future. Six of the seven sets have contained cards of Waseda's ridiculously popular Yuki Saitoh, who was just drafted by the Fighters. I am wondering if BBM only did the collegiate sets to be able to do cards of Saitoh.)

BBM has released a couple box sets to commemorate a couple unusual baseball events. In 2008, they released a box set for the Japanese Olympic team. In 2008 and 2009, BBM released a small set called "Lions Classic" to coincide with a promotion done by the Lions where they would wear throw back uniforms for a couple series. The "Lions Classic" sets contain card showing the current Lions players in the throwback uniforms as well as an equal number of OB players wearing the original uniforms in question. And in 2009 and 2010, they produced a set for the "Premium Malts" old timer game played every year in the Tokyo Dome.

Every year BBM seems to always end up producing a couple oddball little team box sets. In 2006, they put out a set for the 2005 Nippon Series champion Marines called "Bobby Magic". In 2007, they did sets for the Lions ("Blue Leo"), the Carp ("Koibumi") and the Hawks ("Takanomi"). The Giants had sets in both 2009 ("Expression") and 2010 ("Real Beginning"). 2010 also saw sets for the Lions ("Young Lions") and Swallows ("Number 1s").

I got much of the information for the pre-2008 cards from Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist And Price Guide". The remaining information I got from BBM's website via my own blog.

From top to bottom, that's a 2006 1st Version box, a 2008 "Back To The 70's" wrapper, a 2007 "Dragons Climax Series" set box, a 2006 Dragon's 70th Anniversary set box, Sadaharu Oh's card from the 2007 Home Run Chronicle set (#01 of course), the 2007 Atsuya Furuta set box, the 2008 Tokyo Big Six Spring Version set box, and Yoshihito Ishii's card from the 2008 Lions Classic set (#20) - hmm, didn't realize that the Nishitetsu Lion uniforms from the 60's were made by Nike...

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