Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 Calbee Series One

The first "flagship" set of the year was released by Calbee a few weeks back and my copy of the set arrived today in the mail courtesy of Yahoo! Japan Auctions by way of JAUCE.  At 94 cards in the base set, this year's Series One is the smallest Calbee Series in recent memory.

Calbee's "regular" card design has stayed fairly constant over the years so just like it was a big deal last year that the names were written in black text instead of white, it's a big deal that this year the cards have the player's names in Japanese, not English.  I think this is the first time that the cards haven't had the names in English on either the front or the back since 1989 (at least for the standard sets - off hand I know that the 1994 Calbee Hokkaido set had only Japanese as well).

There are 72 "regular" player cards in the set - 6 per team.  Since this is only a third of what the Calbee set will eventually have in it, it's kind of silly to nit-pick it but it seems that almost none of the biggest NPB stars appear in the "regular" player cards - no Shohei Ohtani, no Tetsuto Yamada, no Yuki Yanagita, no Shogo Akiyama, etc.  The biggest names are probably Seiichi Uchikawa, Shinnosuke Abe, Kazuo Matsui and Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh.  The set does include a couple guys who changed teams over the winter (Toshiaki Imae and Tomotaka Sakaguchi) and two players returning to NPB from overseas (Kyuji Fujikawa and Tsuyoshi Wada).  Louis Okoye of the Eagles is the sole rookie included.

As usual, the photography is outstanding and the cards are beautiful:

#002 Kenta Imamiya

#011 Daiki Asama

#014 Kazuya Fukuura

#024 Kazuhisa Makita

#034 Louis Okoye

#040 Yuhei Takai

#053 Kyuji Fujikawa
The set includes two subsets (or non-premium insert sets).  The first is the 18 card "Title Holder" subset.  This is a subset that Calbee does somehow each year - lately it's been as a box set only available as some sort of mail-in premium but as recently as 2013 it was included as part of the base set for Series One.  Each player in the subset either won a major award or lead the league in a major category (or both in a number of cases).  This subset is where all the stars I felt were missing from the "regular" cards showed up - Ohtani, Yamada, Yanagita and Akiyama are all included as well as Takeya Nakamura, Shintaro Fujinami, Dennis Sarfate, etc.  The only league leaders that are not included are three pitchers who left for the US over the winter - Kenta Maeda (lead the CL in wins), Tony Barnette (tied for the CL lead in saves) and Seung Hwan Oh (tied with Barnette for the CL save title).

The other subset is the ubiquitous checklist subset.  As usual, there are four checklist cards.  Each card features a highlight from late last season - the Hawks winning the Nippon Series, the Swallows clinching the Central League pennant, Shohei Ohtani having a game winning hit last August, and Hayato Sakamoto scoring during Game Three of the First Stage of the Climax Series against the Tigers last fall.

Jambalaya has scans of all the cards in the base set as well as a number of the Star and Legend inserts.

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