We're in the slow time for Japanese baseball cards. It's been a couple weeks since the last sets were released in 2014 and it'll be a few more weeks until the first sets of 2015 hit the stores. Here's a couple upcoming sets:
- BBM is releasing their annual box set commemorating the players who retired the previous year. I'm never sure what to call this set as it's Japanese title "Sekibetsu Kyuujin" translates to something like "Regret at Parting Ball Players". I decided a while back just to call it "Farewell" in my database. This year's edition features 36 cards in the base set which doesn't mean there will be 36 players in the set - I'm pretty sure each of the previous editions of this set have featured multiple cards for certain players. I don't know for sure who's in the set but the web page lists Atsunori Inaba, Makoto Kaneko, Tomoya Satozaki and Alex Ramirez among others. I think Ramirez will be the first gaijin to ever make this set - I don't expect to see Kevin Youkilis in it. Each box set will contain one "special" card in addition to the base set - looks like there will either be a foil facsimile autograph card (that I assume is a parallel of a card in the base set) or an authentic autograph card. The set will be out January 29.
- BBM's next set commemorates the other end of the career spectrum. The annual Rookie Edition set features all the players taken in last October's NPB draft. This year's base set contains 117 cards - 103 cards for the draftees, 2 kinda-sorta checklist cards and 12 "Then & Now" cards that pair up a draftee and a veteran or OB player. There is a parallel foil signature version of 81 of the draftee cards - I think it's only for the players who were taken in the regular draft as opposed to the ikusei draft. There are two insert sets - a two card "Rookie Of The Year" set including the two award winners from last season (the Marines' Ayumu Ishikawa and the Carp's Daichi Ohsera) and a 12 card "Next Generation" set featuring a top young player from each team. There's also a variety of autograph cards available, both of the draftees and the other players featured in the set. The set will come out in mid-February.
- Front Runner Trading Cards (aka Frontier International) is releasing their first box set for 2015 in either late January or early February. It's called "Yomiuri Giants Game Used Bat" and features 14 cards in its base set. The 14 cards break down as two each for seven Giants players - Shinnosuke Abe, Hisayoshi Chono, Hirokazu Ibata, Yoshiyuki Kamei, Yasuyuki Kataoka, Hayato Sakamoto and Yoshinobu Takahashi. Each set will also contain two premium cards - there are several different types of game used bat cards as well as foil signature parallel cards available.