Saturday, November 29, 2014

2014 BBM Classic

BBM issued their version of the Heritage and Archives sets done by Topps a few weeks back.  The set is called Classic and it uses a "classic" BBM card design for current players.  This is the second edition of the set.  Last year's used the set design from 1991, BBM's first year.  This year they are using the 1992 BBM design so it would probably be safe to assume that, like Topps Heritage, BBM will reuse their old designs in sequential order - in other words, I'd expect them to use the 1993 design next year, the 1994 design in 2016, etc.

I need to clarify that when I say the set uses the 1992 design, I actually don't mean the entire set.  The set contains 108 cards but only 72 of them - the 72 for active players - uses the 1992 design.  The other 36 cards are OB players and their cards use a different design.

I'm not positive but I think there were only three players in the 1992 BBM set that were still active in 2014 - Motonobu Tanishige and Masahiro Yamamoto of the Dragons and Takashi Saito of the Eagles.  Only Tanishige appears in the Classic set so I'll show the front and back of his cards from both sets:

1992 BBM #93

2014 BBM Classic #055

1992 BBM #93

2014 BBM Classic #055
The biggest differences between the two designs is that the team logo watermark on the back of the card has been replaced with a logo for the Classic set and the new cards are the standard size instead of the 2 3/8 by 3 5/16 inches size that the 1992 set used.

The 72 active player cards are split evenly between the 12 teams (so there's 6 cards per team).  The players included most of the big stars - Shinnosuke Abe, Hayato Sakamoto, Sho Nakata, Shohei Ohtani, Yoshio Itoi, Takeshi Toritani, Matt Murton, Chihiro Kaneko, Yoshio Itoi, Kenta Maeda, Seiichi Uchikawa, etc.  There's also a number of rookies including Daichi Ohsera, Yuki Matsui, and Ayumu Ishikawa.  One of the Cuban players, Yulieski Gurriel, also appears in the set.  My only real complaint about the cards is that, like BBM's 2nd Version set this year, the photos are pretty generic - pitchers pitching and batters batting.




The 36 OB cards are also split evenly between the 12 teams (3 per team).  I don't recognize the card design that BBM used for the OB cards - I think it actually is a new design.  Not sure what the criteria for inclusion in the OB subset was (other than agreeing to autograph a bunch of cards for BBM).  Similar to my complaint about the active player cards, the images on the OB cards are almost all pitchers pitching and batters batting, although Isao Harimoto's card is pretty cool regardless.  Daisuke Yamashita is the only player shown fielding.



I like this set and I really like the concept but I'd like to see BBM improve some stuff.  Either eliminate the OB subset altogether (preferably replacing them with more of the current players) or either use an older, non-BBM card design (menko, Kabaya-Leaf or even use a Topps design) or use the same format as the rest of the cards (like Topps has done with Archives).

One thing that BBM could have done with this set that would have been cool was to replicate a couple of the subsets from the original set.  The original set had a subset dedicated to the 11 ballparks in regular use at the time (the Fighters shared the Tokyo Dome with the Giants).  Five of those ballparks are no longer in regular use (and only two of those are still standing) and one of the others (Seibu Dome) is significantly different than it was in 1992 (it has a roof on it now).  This would have been a great opportunity to have an up-to-date ballpark subset.  In addition, the original set had a subset of multi-player cards (all with two players).  Since BBM hasn't done multi-player cards in their flagship sets since 1996, this would have been a good way to bring the concept back.

Jambalaya has all the cards here, including the inserts.

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