Sunday, December 11, 2016

2016 BBM Fusion

Last month BBM released a new set called Fusion.  This set apparently is taking the place of the annual "Historic Collection" sets that BBM has done since 2001.  Like the "Historic Collection" sets, the set has 144 cards but there aren't many similarities after that.

In some ways, the set could have been named "3rd Version" or "Final Version".  There's four subsets in the set and two of them are continuations of the 1st and 2nd Version sets.  There's a nine card "1st Version Update" subset that features several players (well, nine actually) who for whatever reason did not appear in the 1st or 2nd Version sets this year.  There's four foreign players who signed midway through the season - Cody Satterwhite of the Tigers, Carlos Peguero and Felix Perez of the Eagles and Elian Herrera of the Baystars.  There are also four players who "graduated" from being ikusei players this season - Hiroki Kondoh of the Dragons, Satoshi Sonobe of the Buffaloes and Ryo Hirai and Yoshinori Satoh of the Swallows (the latter three were all returning to their team's rosters after being development players briefly).  The final player was Kazuki Kondoh of the Swallows who was traded from Orix mid-season.  Obviously unlike the "Update" subset from the 2nd Version set, there's not an equal number of cards per team.  The cards are numbered 601 to 609 (which is where the 2nd Version set left off).


The other subset that's a continuation of something from the earlier set is the nine card "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset.  Seven of the cards feature the usual actress/model/gravure idols that are pretty standard for these cards - Ayama Goriki, Manami Hashimoto, Ami Inamura, Moemi Katayama,  Ruriko Kojima and Sumire (Matsubara).  Goriki, Kojima and Inamura have been featured in previous "First Pitch" subsets - Goriki in the 2015 2nd Version bonus cards with SCM #113, Kojima in the 2nd Version sets in 2014 and 2015 and Inamura in the 2nd Version set this year as well as bonus cards from SCM #113 and #120.  The other two cards are for retired players - Hisashi Yamada and Isao Harimoto.  I think this is the first time that there's been a "First Pitch" card of a former player since Hiromichi Ishige in 2007.  The cards are numbered FP14 to FP22, again in continuation of the cards from 2nd Version (FP01 to FP13).


The third subset is a throwback to the "Leader" subsets that BBM's flagship sets had between 1991 and 2013.  This 24 card subset features the 2016 statistical leaders for 12 categories for each league - Batting Average, Home Runs, RBIs, Hits, OBP, Stolen Bases, ERA, Winning Percentage, Wins, Saves, Hold Points and Strikeouts.  Like the old "Leader" subsets if a player led the league in multiple categories then he has multiple cards - for example Yoshitomu Tsutsugoh led the Central League in both Home Runs and RBIs and therefore has two cards in the subset.  Unlike the old "Leader" cards, if there's a tie for a category then there's multiple players on one card.  For example, Yoshio Itoi and Yuji Kaneko shared the Pacific League Stolen Base crown with 53 each and therefore share the card.  In the old "Leader" subsets, each player would have had a card.  The cards themselves kind of look like the Genesis cards this year - I don't know if that's intentional or just a coincidence (or if I'm imagining things).  This subset is numbered as part of the Fusion set itself (#103-126).


The remaining subset for the set isn't really a subset - it's the 102 "regular" player cards for the set.  As you can guess by that number, they are not evenly split among the 12 teams.  There's 47 cards for players who were active in 2016 (including a couple guys who retired at the end of the year - Daisuke Miura and Hiroki Kuroda) and 55 OB players.  What I think is going on with these cards is that each of the active players did something or reached some milestone this year and each of the OB players has some relationship to one of these events.  For example, Kenta Imamiya of the Hawks got his 200th sacrifice this season.  This event is commemorated on card #043.  Card #044 shows OB player Masahiro Kawai getting HIS 200th sacrifice in 1992.  Since the cards are all in Japanese (as you would expect), it's not clear to me what all the events are or even if my assessment is true (although it appears to be backed up by BBM's original web page on the set).  The active players include Tetsuto Yamada, Yuki Yanagita, Louis Okoye, Shun Takayama, Shintaro Fujinami, Tatsuhiro Tamura, Tomoyuki Sugano, Yoshitomu Tsutsugoh and two cards for Shohei Ohtani - one pitching and one hitting.  Hideki Kuriyama (the Fighters manager), Koichi Ogata (Carp manager) and Shinichi Kondoh (a coach for the Dragons) are also included.  The OB players include Sadaharu Oh, Keishi Suzuki, Koji Yamamoto, Sachio Kinugasa, Koichi Tabuchi, Hisashi Yamada, Minoru Murayama, Katsuya Nomura (as Swallows manager in the 1990's), Koji Akiyama, Yutaka Fukumoto and Kazuhiro Sasaki.  Unlike most of the "Historic Collection" sets, the OB cards do not include anyone currently playing in MLB.  The design of the cards is original to the set - it doesn't appear to be a repeat or reference to any other design this year.








There are a lot of things I like about this set.  I love the "1st Version Update" subset and I'd like it to be bigger.  I'm pleased that the "Leader" subset has returned, even if it doesn't quite have everything it used to have (no award winners as the set was released before the major awards - MVP, Best 9, Rookie of the Year - were announced).  I can take or leave the "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset but I'm happy there were a couple retired players in this subset.  I have somewhat mixed feelings about the "regular" player cards - I like the idea of featuring player highlights (even if I don't know what the highlight is) but I'm not sure how much I like the OB player cards.  There tends to be a lot of repetition of players in BBM's OB sets - I like Hisashi Yamada a lot but I can count 13 BBM OB sets he's appeared in over the last 10 years.  Keishi Suzuki's been in at least 15 over that same time frame.  I understand that autograph cards make the world go 'round so BBM must have OB players in the set to have autograph cards of OB players but it's like being asked about when Shohei Ohtani's coming to the US - it gets old after a while.  I'm hoping that this set proves popular enough that BBM will do it every year.

All the cards card be seen at Jambalaya.

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