Sunday, April 26, 2015

Full list of BBM sets

Ryan Laughton left a comment on a post a few weeks ago that kind of sent me down a rabbit hole that I'm just now coming out of.  Ryan said that he had stopped buying American cards in the mid 1990's because there was such an explosion of sets that it was impossible to keep up and he felt that BBM had done a similar explosion around 1998 and 1999.  I got curious and decided to do a count of the number of sets that BBM had published each year (using SCM's listings in SCM #110 as the "official" list) and see if Ryan was right.  Here are the counts:

Year Count
1991 3
1992 3
1993 3
1994 5
1995 6
1996 5
1997 8
1998 9
1999 11
2000 11
2001 12
2002 15
2003 19
2004 26
2005 27
2006 26
2007 33
2008 32
2009 34
2010 36
2011 38
2012 40
2013 48
2014 48
2015 16

Ryan's right in that BBM did start to increase the number of sets they did each year in the late 1990's but I think real explosion happened in the 2003-2004 time frame.

It's pretty wild to look at the numbers.  BBM has done a total of 514 sets in 25 years (well, 24 plus four months so far this year).  The total number of sets they did their first 10 years (1991 to 2000) was only 64.  The total for their next 10 years (2001-2010) was 260.  Their total for just the four plus years since 2011 is 190!

After I did the counts, I decided that I needed to sit down and (finally) generate the complete list of BBM sets based on what was listed in SCM #110.  It took a couple weeks to do, but I've now added this list to the Set Index page.

The sets are listed in the same order that they appear in SCM - the odd change in how the sets are listed around 2012 is due to a change they made, not me.  There are a number of sets that they list in a particular year even though the year shown on the front of the card is different - for example the "Memories Of Uniform" set has "2015" on the front (so I consider it a 2015 set) but SCM includes it in the list of 2014 sets.  I've included Engel's set notations where ever possible - since he hasn't done a modern checklist since mid-2008, his number stop there.  Engel actually lists a number of sets that SCM does not - I'll be adding them to the set index separately.  As far as I could tell, there was only one pre-2008 set that SCM listed that Engel did not which is pretty damned impressive if you ask me.

I've included links for any sets that I've written about - I think I've actually written posts on about 30% of the sets.

What I'd like to do is further expand the set index by including similar lists for the Epoch and Front Runner sets.  The Calbee sets are fairly self expanatory and any major earlier sets are already well covered by Engel.


Ryan Laughton said...

Thanks for putting the lists together. It's very interesting to see how BBM exploded too. In the late 1980s/early 1990s there were numerous new companies entering the market, but it was still manageable. Then all the subsets hit and it was crazy!

Sean said...

Wow, nice job with tabulating everything there. It is kind of crazy to see how rapidly the number of sets are expanding. I had a vague awareness there were a lot out there, but 48 per year?

You could probably have some fun doing hypothetical calculations based on the current rate of expansion and the absurdities they will lead to. Like if the number of BBM sets continues to grow at its current rate, by the year 2200 the entire solar system will consist of nothing but a solid mass of densely packed BBM cards.

Reading Ryan`s comment on the earlier post I had a similar experience, getting out of collecting American baseball cards in the early 90s in part at least because I was so turned off by the ludicrous number of sets being churned out.

There are some odd differences between the two situations though which I find kind of curious (US cards in the 90s, BBM today). The rapid expansion of US sets in the early 90s was associated with a bubble in the market which had been building throughout the 80s and had drawn in huge numbers of collectors as prices of cards went up. I don`t see the same thing driving BBM set expansion though. There certainly isn`t a similar bubble in the market, most of these smaller BBM sets end up as penny auctions on Yahoo not long after they are released.

Maybe people actually want to collect 48 sets per year (or at least a high proportion thereof) ? That doesn`t make much sense in Japan though - we all live in cramped apartments here and devoting that much space to objects whose only purpose is to collect dust would only make sense to the truly hardcore collectors out there, and there aren`t enough of them to drive market demand.

Bit of a mystery to me why this is happening. Might be somebody at BBM trying to make the card making division bigger and bigger as a means of keeping friends employed?

Ryan Laughton said...

Sean, you're absolutely right with the American market. People were loading up for retirement and that fueled the fire for sure. Interesting on the Japanese market. There must be profit to be had.