Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2015 BBM 1st Version Set

2015 BBM 1st Version Set Summary

Size: 372 cards numbered 1-324336, CP01-CP36
Cards Per Team:  28 (team card, manager + 26 players)
Team Card Theme:  Mascots
Number Of Leader Cards:  N/A
Checklists:  None
Subsets:  Cross Plasma (36)
Inserts:  Allrounders(12), Lightning(12)
Memorabilia Cards:  Jersey cards for Hiroki Kuroda and Daisuke Matsuzaka (as well as a combination card with both of them).  Each individual jersey card is serially numbered to 200 plus some sort of parallel version numbered to 10.  The dual jersey cards are numbered to 10 with a parallel that's numbered to 3.  There are 29 autographed cards with print runs that vary between 10 and 30.
Parallels:  108 of the regular player cards have parallel versions - I think there are five different versions but I don't know what they are or what they are numbered to.  There is also a parallel to a number of the rookie cards (looks like 13 in the SCM checklist).  There's also parallel versions of the insert cards.  The Cross Plasma cards have two parallels - one that's serially numbered to 100 and the other that's a "1 of 1".
Notable Rookies: Hayato Takagi, Yusuaki Yamasaki, Tomohiro Anraku, Kohei Arihara

I'm trying to decide what's the more significant thing about the 2015 edition of BBM's annual 1st Version set - is it that there are no subsets (besides the ubiquitous cross set subset called Cross Plasma this year) or the fact that this is the smallest 1st Version set ever?  Obviously the former fact is a major factor in the latter fact.

But ok, let's start with the set size.  As 372 cards, this is the smallest 1st Version set ever.  In fact, it's smaller than any of the pre-2002 "flagship" sets as well.  It's almost 200 cards smaller than the 1st Version set from 10 years ago.  The almost complete lack of subsets accounts for the drop in size - last year there were 72 cards in six 12 card subsets.  This year there's just the one 36 card subset - the Cross Plasma set.

As usual, the thing that saves the set is that the cards are very good looking.  BBM has done their usual great job in combining great photos in an attractive, minimalist design.  Here's some examples:







Back of #23 (Ryosuke Kikuchi)
There was one kind of odd thing about the set.  Typically the photos for any particular team are a mix between pictures taken last season and pictures taken in training camp this season.  The training camp pictures are for rookies, new foreign players and players who have changed teams in the off season.  When teams change uniforms in the off season, there's frequently a mismatch of photos - those from the previous season in the old uniform and those from the current season in the new uniform.  For one of the few times I can remember, BBM chose to have all the photos for the Giants and Lions taken at training camp this year due to both teams having changed uniforms.  The most recent time I can remember something similar was when the Baystars were bought by DeNA during the 2011-12 off season - all the Baystars cards in the 2012 1st Version set had the new uniforms (although the Dragons had new uniforms that year as well but still had the hodge podge of old and new uniforms on their cards).  I find that the training camp photos have a little more variety than the photos from last season - although BBM still managed to use the standard shot for Kazuhisa Makita:


Curiously, it looks like the Baystars photos were all taken at training camp as well (with the exception of Yulieski Gurriel who ended up not making it to Japan this year) although I don't think they changed uniforms this year:

One gripe I have about the size of the set is that some notable players end up being left out.  You'd think 27 cards per team would allow BBM to feature most of the regulars but keep in mind that those 27 cards include the manager as well as all the non-ikusei rookies for the team, which could be as few as four (Giants) or as many as nine (Buffaloes, Fighters, Dragons).  Which means some teams only have 17 cards for their regular, established players.  So for example, the following players who are among the leaders on the All Star ballot don't have cards:  Edison Barrios (Hawks), Kensuke Kondo (Fighters), Tatsuhiro Tamura (Marines), Mitsutaka Gotoh (Eagles), Ryoma Matsuda (Tigers), Katsuhiro Nagakawa (Carp), Hirokazu Ibata (Giants), Kenjiro Tanaka (Baystars), Tony Barnette (Swallows), Nobumasa Fukuda (Dragons), Anderson Hernandez (Dragons), Taiki Sekine (Baystars) and Wily Mo Pena (Eagles) (although I will grant you that Pena was a late signing player).  I really wish BBM would go back to 36 cards per team to make sure the set includes more of the everyday players and significant pitchers.

Another thing I wish BBM would do is pick a subject for the team checklists other than the team's mascot.  This is the sixth time in the past seven years that the mascots have been on the 1st Version checklists.  Enough!

The cross set subset has become a staple of BBM's flagship sets the past six seasons.  There was "Cross Stream" in 2010 that was in the 1st and 2nd Version sets as well as Touch The Game and the team sets.  In 2011, there was "Cross Blast" that was just in the team sets.  2012 and 2013 had "Cross Blaze" and "Cross Wind" respectively that were just in the 1st and 2nd Version and Genesis sets.  Last year there was a 36 card "Cosmic Cross" set that was only available as inserts in Sports Card Magazine.  This year the subset is called "Cross Plasma" and I don't know for sure which sets will contain the cards.  The subsets are numbered separately from the sets they are distributed with and in past years have been skip numbered so that you could kinda-sorta get an idea of how the set would be laid out.  For example, in 2013, the first "Cross Wind" cards in the 1st Version set were numbered CW001 to CW003, followed by CW010 to CW012, etc.  This implied that CW004-CW006 would be in 2nd Version and CW007-CW009 would be in Genesis.  This year, however, the Cross Plasma cards are not skip numbered - they are numbered CP01-CP36.  And CP37-CP48 were included in SCM #110.  Since the numbers are only two digits, I wonder if this means that BBM is going to have less than 100 cards total in the subset.  Perhaps the set will only be continued in 2nd Version (the early ads for that set just came out this week and there are 36 "Cross Plasma" cards in it as well).

Anyway, the "Cross Plasma" cards look pretty much like all the "Cross" cards have - a photo of the player super-imposed on some sort of odd background on the front and the original photo on the back:


Back of #CP03
The set I bought included one of the insert sets - the 12 card "Allrounders" set.  This set features a position player for each team with a foil finish:

As usaul, all the cards (including inserts, some of the parallels and some of the promo cards) can be seen over at Jambalaya.

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