Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 BBM Classic

Back in June, BBM released a set that I'd been hoping they'd do for a while.  It was called Classic and it was essentially their version of Topps Heritage or Archives - it was a set that re-used earlier card designs in a new set.

There are 109 cards in the base set - 72 cards of current players using the 1991 BBM "flagship" set design (BBM's initial year) and 37 cards of OB players using the 2002 "All Time Heroes" Historic Collection set design.  There were also three insert sets based on previous insert designs - the 1997 Rivals, the 2000 90's Best 9 and the 1999 Above Average sets.  BBM also had players sign old cards and inserted them randomly also.  Since I don't have any of the inserts or autograph cards, I'm just going to be talking about the base set.

The 72 cards of current players breaks down to 6 per team (no big shock there).  I won't really quibble with the player selection as a great player selection isn't really the point of this set.  It pretty much has who you'd expect out of the current players - Masahiro Tanaka, Shinnosuke Abe, Wladimir Balentein, Tony Blanco and Tadahito Iguchi are all here along with the big rookies - Shintaro Fujinami, Yasuhiro Ogawa, Tomoyuki Sugano and Shohei Ohtani.  I think there's four guys still playing in NBP currently who appeared in the original 1991 set - Tomonori Maeda, Motonobu Tanishige, Masahiro Yamamoto and Takeshi Yamasaki - and three of them appear in this set (Yamasaki was left out).

Here's the front and back of both Yamamoto's 1991 card and the one from this set:

1991 BBM #67

2003 BBM Classic #008

1991 BBM #67

2013 BBM Classic #008
You can see that they did a pretty good job matching the design (and the photos have a similar pose).   I think the biggest difference is that the backs of the Classic don't have the team logo watermark and they are the "standard" card size (2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches) rather than the size of the 1991 cards (2 3/8 by 3 5/16 inches).  The "Did you know?" box appears on the back of a number of cards.

Here's some more examples:

#041

#034

#057

#026
The 37 cards for the OB players breaks down to 3 per team with the exception of Orix which has four.  The 2002 All Time Heroes set was the first "Historic Collection" sets - it contained cards of both OB and active players.  Some of the OB players in the BBM Classic set appeared in the original set as active players - I don't think any appeared as an OB player.

Here are the Classic and original cards for Akihiro Yano:

2002 BBM All Time Heroes #101

2013 BBM Classic #077

2002 BBM All Time Heroes #101

2013 BBM Classic #077
So again they matched the design pretty well.  The original set had two different color schemes - blue for active players and yellow for OB players.  Since all these cards are OB players, they all use the yellow.  I thought it was interesting that they changed the "Historic Collection" logo a little - adding the word "Classic".  My only real quibble (and it's minor) was that I always liked how the original cards would list all the team that a player played for above his name on the front of the cards.  The Classic cards only show the team that the player is pictured with.

Not sure what BBM's criteria for picking the OB players was.  Many of the players were active in the last few years and there isn't anyone from earlier than the late 70's.  There's a mixture of stars (Hideki Matsui, Atsuya Furuta, Hiroki Kokubo, Yutaka Ohno, Tomoaki Kanemoto and Kimiyasu Kudoh), much lesser players  (Punch Sato) and everything in between.  This is the first OB set that ignores Kintetsu - there's three players from the Eagles instead.

#100

#080

#106
I really like the idea of this set more than the execution of it.  I like the active players part a lot but I'm kind of indifferent to the OB player section.  I hope they keep doing this, but I'd rather see a 108 card set of all active players using the old design then a dual active/OB set.

All the cards can be seen here.

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