Wednesday, April 25, 2018

2018 Calbee Series One

Calbee's first set for the year, Series One, was released about a month ago.  Well I say their first set but it's really just the first part of their set this year.  Assuming no typhoon-induced potato shortages in Japan this year, this is just the first third of Calbee's 2018 set.  Series Two should be out in June and Series Three is expected to be released in September.

Calbee's sets are pretty consistent from year to year and there's not a whole lot of surprises this year.  The biggest change this year is that the text on the front of the card is in Japanese rather than English.  This is only the second time since 1989 that there's no English on the regular cards - the 2016 cards also had no English text.  The other "surprise" this year is that the subset/non-premium insert set with Series One is not the "Title Holders" subset that it's been the past two years, instead it's a 12 subset featuring the first round picks from last fall's draft.  More about that in a minute.

Other than that, this is a pretty standard Calbee set.  There's 72 "regular" player cards (six per team) which has been the usual the past few years.  I had noticed the last two Series One sets were kind of lacking in star players and I figured it was because they were in the "Title Holder" subsets.  But as I mentioned this year there's no "Title Holder" subset and the set still is missing most of the big names.  Tetsuto Yamada, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, Takehiro Norimoto, Yuki Yanagita, Hayato Sakamoto, and Tomoyuki Sugano are not in the set.  It's not a big deal because they will all be in at least one of the other two Series but it's still kind of disappointing.  On the other hand, the set does include guys like Seiya Suzuki, Sho Nakata, Kosuke Tanaka, Kazuo Matsui (who is the only player who switched teams this winter included in the set), Ryosuke Kikuchi, Randy Messenger, Seiichi Uchikawa, Dennis Sarfate, Takeya Nakamura, Hotaka Yamakawa, Wladimir Balentien, Jose Lopez, Zelous Wheeler, Eigoro Mogi and Yasuaki Yamasaki.  Calbee's photos are usually a strength for them and there's some good looking ones in the set but they do fall into the rut of having too many generic shots of pitchers pitching and batters batting.  There's a couple cards of players celebrating milestones though - Shinnosuke Abe (2000 hits), Masahiro Araki (2000 hits) and Nobuhiro Matsuda (200 home runs).  Here's some example cards:

#005 (Dennis Sarfate)

#009 (Kazuo Matsui)

#024 (Kenya Wakatsuki)

#029 (Taishi Ohta)

#041 (Ryosuke Kikuchi)

#057 (Shinnosuke Abe)
In addition to the 72 "regular" player cards there are two subsets - the afore-mentioned 12 card 1st Round Draft pick subset (called "Dora-Ichi) and four checklist cards.  The "Dora-Ichi" cards are just what you'd expect - a card for each team's 1st round draft pick.  The biggest names so far from the subset are Kotaro Kiyomiya of the Fighters and ShoheiShosei Nakamura of the Carp.

Each of the four checklist cards feature scenes from late last season - the Hawks celebrating their Nippon Series championship on November 4th, the Carp celebrating clinching the Central League pennant on September 18th, the Lions 13 game winning streak last August and Takeshi Toritani getting his 2000th hit on September 8th.  Not sure why Toritani is on a checklist card while Abe, Araki and Matsuda got player cards but that's what they did.

All 86 cards of the base set can be seen over at Jambalaya along with the insert cards (3 "Legend" and 24 "Star" cards) and the "Special Limited Edition" box set that I think it available via a mail-in redemption of "Lucky Cards".  Sean's done some posts about the set as well.


Sean said...

That is a good point about the photography. To me, in addition to the predictability of the poses, its also a problem of the location they are taken in.

In the past few years I've noticed that I am always most drawn to cards of the Hiroshima Carp because the photos of their players are almost always taken during day games at their fantastic new stadium. The cards just look so vivid and colorful with that wonderful backdrop and natural lighting.

Cards of the Giants or Dragons (etc) are always taken in Domes, with very drab backgrounds and the reflection of florescent lighting everywhere. It just looks awful.

Its one reason I massively love the cards from the 70s when all the photos on the cards were taken outdoors. They just look so much better.

NPB Card Guy said...

You raise a good point about the photo locations. I hadn't thought about it before but you're right about the Carp cards being the best looking. The best photo in BBM's 1st Version set this year shows a Carp pitcher warming up in Mazda Stadium - can't remember who it is off hand but I'll show the card when I do my post for the set in a couple days.

Anonymous said...

How many star cards are in the 2018 set? I pulled 7 of them in my 24-bag box.

NPB Card Guy said...

There's 24 Star cards in each Series