The first of Calbee's expected three sets this year was released just about a month ago. The base set contains 99 cards split up between 72 player cards, 23 "Title Holder" cards and four checklist cards.
After going away from their traditional design (putting the player names in black text in 2015
and in Japanese last year
), Calbee has returned to the card design that they've pretty much used since 1997 - full bleed photo with the player's name in white text with his uniform number and team logo and name on the front. In fact the only thing I see that distinguishes these cards from say the 2014
set (other than the year listed at the top of the card) is that the player's first initial is included on the front of the card in this year's set. Previously it was only there if two players on the same team shared a last name. UPDATE - actually Calbee included the first initial on cards up to the 2012 cards - the 2013 and 2014 cards are unusual in them not having the initial.
There are six player cards for each team (6 times 12 equals 72). Like last year I've noticed that most of the big names in NPB are not included in the base cards in this set - not a big deal since there will be two later sets (Series Two usually comes out in June and Series Three usually comes out in September). Probably the biggest names in the set are Nobuhiro Matsuda, Wladimir Balentien, Motohiro Shima and Shinnosuke Abe. There are cards for several of the high profile players who changed teams over the winter - Yoshio Itoi with the Tigers, Takayuki Kishi with the Eagles and Shun Yamaguchi and Daikan Yoh with the Giants - but there are no cards for any rookies.
Traditionally one of Calbee's strengths is the great photos they use for their cards. I feel this set fall somewhat short of expectations. There's just way too many of the "batters batting, pitchers pitching" kind of photos that BBM always uses. There's only a couple cards showing someone running the bases or someone other than a catcher fielding. I'm hoping this is just a fluke and that Series Two will be back to normal.
Here's some sample player cards:
The stars that are missing from the player cards are pretty much all in the "Title Holder" subset. This subset features the players who either lead the league in some category or won an award. The subset includes Shohei Ohtani, Tetsuto Yamada, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, Hayato Sakamoto, Tomoyuki Sugano, Sho Nakata and Yuki Yanagita. The cards feature the player's photo superimposed over text spelling out the title(s) they hold - everything but the two MVPs (Ohtani and Takahiro Arai) are in Japanese. Yoshio Itoi is not included in the subset despite being tied for the PL stolen base title with Yuji Kaneko (who is included) - I'm assuming this is because he switched teams. I always like an Ohtani card that shows him both hitting and pitching so I like his card from this subset:
The four checklist cards feature events from last season - the Fighters winning the Nippon Series, the Carp clinching their first CL pennant since 1991, the Hawks beating the Fighters in Game One of the Final Stage of the Climax Series
(I think it shows Shuhei Fukuda stealing third in the ninth inning of the game) and Shuichi Murata of the Giants being mobbed at home plate after hitting a walk off grand slam against the Dragons on September 27th
. Here's the Carp card:
Despite my concerns about the photography, this is a typical Calbee set so if you usually like Calbee sets, you'll like this one as well.
All the cards (including the inserts and the lucky card redemption box set) can be seen at Jambalaya