Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013 Calbee Series One

I'm starting to wonder if Calbee has decided to mail it in on the flagship set the way BBM has the last couple years.  (And since Calbee only has a flagship set, that's really getting lazy.)  Don't get me wrong - Series One contains the usual attractive photos in Calbee's standard design.  It's just I feel like they did the minimum required to put this set out.

Let me get to the details about the set.  It contains 100 cards, 72 "regular" player cards, 24 "Titleholder" cards and four checklist cards.  So that's my first complaint - in previous years, Calbee had at least two subsets to go with the regular cards and the checklist cards.  This year, just the one.

As I said previously, the photos on the 72 player cards (6 per team) are very attractive as always.  Here's a couple examples:




It's the player selection that I find lazy with this set.  None of the players included changed teams this past winter and none of the players included are rookies.  So it's pretty obvious that all the pictures were taken last season.  Not a big deal as Calbee has two more Series to include these players but it's just another example of the lack of effort behind the set.

The Titleholder subset contains 24 cards of players who last season either won an award or lead the league in a category (or both).  This is basically Calbee's version of BBM's Leader cards only instead of issuing cards per category like BBM does (so you can have multiple Leader cards of a particular player), Calbee issues it per player.  Here's an example card of Katsuya Kakunaka, who won the Pacific League batting crown last season:

BBM included three guys in their Leader subset that Calbee didn't include in Title Holders - Tatsunori Hara (Shoriki Award), Yoshio Itoi (OBP), and Kan Ohtake (Comeback Award).  I have a gripe about Itoi being left out.  While BBM always depict the players in their Leader cards in the previous year's uniform, Calbee always depicts the Titleholder players in the current year's uniform.  So last year, BBM showed DJ Houlton as a Hawk while Calbee showed him as a Giant.  Apparently this year Calbee couldn't get a picture of Itoi as a Buffalo, so they left him out.  Now I applaud Calbee's decision not to airbrush or photoshop a Buffaloes uniform on Itoi like Topps would have, but maybe they could have still included him in a Fighters uniform.

Calbee's actually selling some sort of "special" box set featuring the Best 9 players from last season, but they left out the four guys who changed teams in the off season.  Two of them were heading for the States (Nakajima and Tanaka) so I can understand their omission,  But the other two were Itoi nad Tony Blanco.  Maybe the fact that Itoi was playing for the WBC team is an excuse for not getting a picture of him in a Buffaloes uniform (not that it stopped BBM for "The Trade Stories" set) but there's really no excuse for not getting Blanco.

My final complaint about the set is the checklist cards.  In past years, the checklist cards have featured exciting action shots commemorating great plays and significant events.  This year, they are featuring the team mascots.  It's bad enough that BBM has seen fit to do the mascots on the team checklists in the 1st Version set something like four of the past five years.  There's really no reason for Calbee to do it too, but they did.  I guess someone at Calbee couldn't resist the symmetry of their being 12 teams in NPB and 12 checklist cards (four in each of the three Series).

The Series One checklists feature the mascots from the Buffaloes, Baystars, Marines and Tigers.  Here's Starman from the Baystars:

You can see all the cards here.

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