Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Calbee Series One

I am under no illusion that any card company in Japan pays any attention to what I write.  But I am happy that my main complaint about last year's Calbee Series One set was addressed in this year's Series One set, even if it had nothing to do with my complaint.  I would expect that there are ways in Japan for collectors to indicate their feelings about a set to the card companies and I would be surprised if I were the only one making this complaint (on the other hand, I can be really picky so maybe not...).

Last year I complained that Series One contained no rookie cards and players who switched teams in the offseason - the implication was that there were no pictures used in the set that were taken during Spring Training.  This year, while the bulk of the photographs were probably taken last year, there's a handful that were taken this spring.  There are a couple veterans with new teams - Hideaki Wakui (Lions to Marines in the off season) and Hirokazu Ibata (Dragons to Giants).  There are also several rookies - Yuki Matsui of the Eagles, Daichi Ohsera of the Carp, and Tomoya Mori of the Lions.

The set itself has 100 cards in the base set - 84 player cards and 16 cards in assorted subsets (or non-premium insert sets).  The 84 player cards are split evenly between all 12 teams so there are seven per team.  The player cards use essentially the same design that Calbee has been using since 1997 - full bleed photo on the front with the player's surname, team name and logo and uniform number.  As always, Calbee's photography is exceptional.  Here's a couple examples:





The remaining 16 cards are split into five subsets/non premium insert sets.*

* OK, I always call them subsets but I may be using the terminology incorrectly because they are not numbered in sequence with the player cards.  So I guess they should be considered insert cards but for sale purposes, these are considered part of the base set, as opposed to the Star inserts which are a premium insert set and not considered part of the base set.  Confused?  That's why I prefer to call them subsets, even if they technically aren't.

The subsets all show events from last season.  There's a three card Legend subset that features the retirement ceremonies for Shinjiro Hiyama, Tomonori Maeda and Shinya Miyamoto:

There's a two card subset celebrating the two league champions from last year, the Giants and the Eagles.  Just as a reminder, in NPB the league champion is the team that finished first during the regular season, not the team that wins the Climax Series and represents the league in the Nippon Series.  As it happens, both league champions made it to the Series last year so the distinction is moot this time:

There's a four card subset for the Climax Series - one card for each stage in each league:


There's a three card subset for the Nippon Series. The first card shows the Eagles celebrating (surrounding Masahiro Tanaka) while the other two cards are for Series MVP Manabu Mima and "Fighting Spirit" award winner Hisayoshi Chono.  I'm very happy to see this subset given that BBM didn't do anything to commemorate the Eagles' Series win.


The final subset is the four card checklist subset.  Here's another thing Calbee fixed with this set.  Last year Calbee decided to use pictures of the team mascots on the checklist cards rather than the candid/action shots they had been using for years.  They have returned to those kind of pictures this year.  The four cards show Wladimir Balentien celebrating his 60th home run last September, Chihiro Kaneko pitching a three hit shutout of the Marines on September 4, Norihiro Nakamura doing something on August 20 (I think), and Sho Nakata and Shohei Ohtani of the Fighters celebrating after a win in Obihiro on August 17:


All the cards can be seen either at Jambalaya or the posts that Ryan has done as he attempts to build the set via packs.

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