Sunday, April 14, 2013

Opened Box Sets

I wanted to briefly talk about the eight opened box sets that I bought while in Japan.  The original, unopened sets have the possibility of containing some form of memorabilia or autograph card.  So these were sets that were opened and had those special cards removed and were therefore a fraction of the cost of the unopened versions.  Since I'm really not all that interested in insert or memorabilia cards (at least not enough to pay for them), these were perfect for me.

Since all of these sets are fairly recent, I've included a link to Jambalaya's web page for each set so you can see what all the cards in the set look like (although I'm also showing a sample card from each set).

2011 BBM Farewell set
For each year from 2002 to 2010, BBM would include a subset for players who retired the previous season in either the 1st or 2nd Version sets (or both).  The subset was usually fairly small (less than 10 cards) and frequently had some somewhat noticeable absences (no Tsuyoshi Shinjyo in 2007 or Kazuyoshi Tatsunami in 2010 for example).  Starting in 2011, BBM moved this subset into its own, somewhat larger and more complete box set.  I'm not entirely sure what the name of the set is - I've been calling it the "Farewell" set but it's probably more like "Farewell Heroes".  Certain players in the sets might end up with multiple cards - usually depicting the player with different teams.  I think the most I've seen any player end up with is 3 cards in the set.

The 2011 edition of the set featured 14 players on 27 cards.  There were multiple cards for Kazuo Fukumori (Baystars, Buffaloes and Eagles), Koichi Hori (Orions and Marines), Makoto Kosaka (Marines, Giants and Eagles), Arihito Muramatsu (Daiei Hawks, Blue Wave, Softbank Hawks), Noriyoshi Ohmichi (Nankai Hawks, Daiei Hawks and Giants), Ken Takahashi (playing and do-age), "Yuki" Tanaka (Buffaloes and Swallows) and Akihiro Yano (Dragons, Tigers and do-age) as well as single cards for Atsushi Kizuka, Shigeru Morikasa, Masanobu Ohkubo, Akira Ohtsuka, Makoto Shiozaki and Shinji Taninaka.

2012 BBM Farewell set
The 2012 version of the set also featured 27 cards, but this time featuring 18 players.  There were multiple cards for Osamu Hamanaka (Tigers and Buffaloes), Daisuke Hayakawa (Buffaloes and Marines), Hirotoshi Ishii (playing and retirement ceremony), Satoru Kanemura (Fighters and Tigers), Hidetaka Kawagoe (Buffaloes and Marines), Masahide Kobayashi (Marines and Giants), Shinya Okamoto (Dragons and Lions), Hiroshi Shibahara (Daiei and Softbank Hawks) and Kiyoshi Toyoda (Lions and Giants).  Oddly, there was only a single card devoted to the 29 year career of Kimiyasu Kudoh (shown with the Lions in the 1980's).  The other players included on only one card were Yosuke Hiraishi, Takeharu Katoh, Daisuke Maeda, Satoru Morimoto, Kosuke Noda, Hiroaki Ohnishi, Masaumi Shimizu and Shinji Shimoyama.

2013 BBM Farewell set
There were some fairly significant players to retire at the end of the 2012 season and the 2013 version of the Farewell set expanded to 41 cards to accomodate this.  There are 37 players represented in the set and only the four really big names ended up with multiple cards (2 each):  Takuro Ishii, Kenji Johjima, Tomoaki Kanemoto and Hiroki Kokubo.  I won't list all the other players included this time, but some of the more prominent names are So Taguchi, Shingo Takatsu, Michael Nakamura, Ryuji Miyade and Makoto Imaoka.

2012 BBM Tomoaki Kanemoto Memorial set
In addition to the latest farewell set, BBM put out several box sets last fall to commemorate the careers of Takuro Ishii, Tomoaki Kanemoto and Hiroki Kokubo.  I picked up the Kanemoto box set at Coletre by accident - I had meant to grab the 2011 BBM Farewell set but I wasn't paying close attention to what I was doing and I took this instead.  (I didn't get the 2011 Farewell set until I got to Wrappers two days later.)

Despite the accidental purchase, it's not a bad little set (as the single player sets go).  It contains 27 cards.  The first 18 cards show highlights of his career (5 with the Carp and 13 with the Tigers) and the last nine are entitled "9 Episodes of Kanemoto" - not really sure what that means.  The photography is the typical high quality photography that BBM features in their sets.

2012 BBM Greatest Games - 10-8-1994 Dragons vs Giants set
Unfortunately, the next couple sets I'm going to discuss feature unusually poor photography for BBM sets.  Last fall, BBM started a new series of box sets dedicated to "Greatest Games".  The first set celebrated the final game of the 1994 season (played on October 8) between the Giants and the Dragons in Nagoya.  The two teams were tied for first going into the game, so the winner was going to the Nippon Series and the loser was going home (this being in the pre-Climax Series days).  Spoiler alert - the Giants won.

The set features 36 cards - there are 17 cards for Dragons players (including manager Morimichi Takagi), 14 cards for Giants players (including manager Shigeo Nagashima) and five game highlight cards.  I think all the pictures on the cards were taken at the game itself and that's one of the problems with the set - the photos are terrible.  They are very dark and a lot of the player's faces are in shadow.  I assume the game was a night game and it was not played indoors (the Dragons didn't move into Nagoya Dome until the late 1990's) so this probably accounts for the poor photography.  In addition, the player cards have a couple ugly borders - a white frame onto of a "brick wall" background.  It's just not an attractive set.

2013 BBM Greatest Games 10-22-1973 Tigers vs Giants
The second "Greatest Games" entry suffers from much the same issues as the first set.  This one commemorates the final game of the 1973 season between the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants.  The Giants victory clinched their ninth straight Central League pennant by putting them a half game ahead of the Tigers .  This would be the final Central League pennant for the V9 Giants and for manager Tetsuharu Kawakami.

At 32 cards, the set is slightly smaller than the first one.  There are 18 cards for the Tigers players (and manager Masayusa Kaneda), 10 cards for the Giants players (including Kawakami) and four "Game Highlight" cards.  The photos are all black and white and it's not clear if they were actually taken during the game or not.  Several of the photos are blurry.  The "Game Highlight" cards don't actually show any action from the game - one card shows the starting lineups on the scoreboard at Koshien stadium, one shows Shigeo Nagashima with a cast on his finger - he was injured and did not play in the game or the Nippon Series, one shows two Giants coming off the field with photographers behind them and one shows Kawakami's do-age (which looks like it's being done in a locker room so they couldn't have thrown him very high).  The cards also have an ugly frame on them.  So like the first set, this is not an attractive set.  The set itself had been released just a week or two before I got to Tokyo, so finding an opened set was a little trickier than the others - it wasn't until I got to Wrappers that I found one.  Despite the 1000 yen price tag on the box, I think I only paid 500 yen for it.

One interesting piece of trivia - October 22, 1973 was also the day Ichiro Suzuki was born.

2012 BBM Suntory Dream Match
Last August, Suntory Brwery sponsored another old timer game, this time played up in Sendai as a benefit for earthquake relief.  The set contains 49 cards for the players who actually appeared in the game between the Premium Malts and the Tohoku Japan Heroes.  Some of the bigger names in the set include Randy Bass, Isao Harimoto, Osamu Higashio, Masayuki Kakefu, Shinji Sasaoka, Koji Yamamoto, Norihiro Komada, Masumi Kuwata and Yasushi Tao.  It's not a bad little set - I don't like the borders on the cards but the photography is nice.  This is the third Premium Malts set and I'm actually not sure there's anyone who shows up in this set that hasn't shown up in the previous ones.  If you already have one of the others, there's really no compelling reason to pick this one up.

2012 Hiroshima Athlete Magazine Starting Lineup set
To end this on a higher note, the final opened set I picked up was the first set from Hiroshima Athlete Magazine.  It's called "Starting Lineup" and it exclusively features the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.  The set contains 27 cards - 14 player cards, four cards for 2012 Carp rookies (including Yusuke Nomura), six cards for Carp prospects and three cards for the three guys on the 2012 Carp roster with 2000 hits - Takuro Ishii, Tomonori Maeda and manager Kenjiro Nomura.  It's an attractive set - the design of the player cards resemble a magazine cover.  I've seen previews that Hiroshima Athlete Magazine is going to put out another set featuring OB Carp players.  I'll be looking forward to seeing what they do.


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