Saturday, June 30, 2018

2018 Epoch NPB set

I was excited a few months ago when I heard that Epoch was going to be releasing a full flagship set in late May.  I figured that even if the set wasn't all that good it would still put pressure on BBM to up their game.  The fact that the set turned out to be very nice just makes it all better.

The base set contains 432 cards which are all "regular" cards - there are no subsets or team cards.   There are 36 cards per team.  I had been a little concerned that Epoch would do a similar thing to what they've been doing with their Rookies & Stars sets - have 90 cards in a set but only have cards of 70-ish players because some players have multiple versions of their cards.  But Epoch didn't do that - all the cards are for individual players (and of course the 12 managers). 

BBM hasn't done a flagship set this large since the 2013 1st Version set but in fairness that set contained a number of subsets.  The actual number of "regular" cards was only 324 (27 per team).  The last time BBM had 432 "regular" cards in their 1st Version set was 2010.  (You can make the argument that 1st and 2nd Version sets should be considered a single set but even in that case the Epoch set still likely contains more individual players than any BBM combined set since 2010.)

It was a bit of a pain to get the set.  There weren't many complete sets that got listed on Yahoo! Japan Auctions so finding one took a while and I got outbid on the first one I tried.  I ended up getting one for 7000 yen via JAUCE and auctions fees and shipping added another 5460 yen so the total cost worked out to around $120.  This is a little higher than I spend on the 1st Version set this year (around 10700 yen which included shipping for two other sets as well).

One thing I found interesting was Epoch's player selection.  I had expected to find that Epoch had cards of all the guys who showed up in BBM's 1st Version set,  Since BBM's 1st Version set had 27 cards per team I figured that there'd be 9 new players for each team for a total of 108 players who were not in 1st Version.  The number's actually a little higher - 129 to be exact.  BBM's 1st Version set has cards of 21 players who aren't in the Epoch set.  What's interesting is that a large number of the players who aren't in Epoch's set but were in 1st Version are foreign players - Mike Bolsinger, Matt Dominguez, Edger Olmos and Tanner Scheppers of the Marines; Onelki Garcia of the Dragons; Leonel Campos of the Hawks; Nick Martinez, Bryan Rodriguez and Michael Tonkin of the Fighters; Fabio Castillo and Neil Wagner of the Lions; Chia-Hao Sung of the Eagles; Jordan Armengot and David Buchanun of the Swallows; Edison Barrios and Neftali Soto of the Baystars and Taylor Jungmann of the Giants.  That's 17 of the 21.

The players that Epoch included that BBM didn't is interesting.  The fact that Epoch's set went to press later than BBM allowed them to include a card of Koji Uehara who didn't sign with the Giants until March 9th.  The set also includes a number of player that frankly I'm surprised weren't in 1st Version (and I'm kind of disappointed with myself for not noticing that they were missing) - Seiya Inoue of the Marines; Kyuji Fujikawa of the Tigers; Xavier Batista of the Carp; Kazuhiro Hatakeyama and Shingo Kawabata of the Swallows and Spencer Patton of the Baystars.  There's also a handful of players who were more in the "fan favorite" category that were included like Shota Dohbayashi of the Carp and Yuki Saitoh (of course) of the Fighters.

The cards themselves look pretty nice.  One of the complaints that I've had about Epoch's sets in the past is that they frequently use an ugly card design and grainy photographs.  They seem to have avoided that with this set.  The design is pretty nice (although I prefer borderless designs) and the photos are pretty clear.  They have a little of the same issue that I beat up BBM on in that a large percentage of the photos are "pitchers pitching and batters batting" shots but there's a decent mix of other types of shot to still be interesting.

Like BBM Epoch included cards for all the non-ikusei 2017 draft picks for each team in the set.  For some reason all the photos on the cards for the Hawks draft picks are posed studio shots.  All the other draft picks have the typical game/practice "action" shot.

OK, enough talk - here's a bunch of cards so you can see what they look like:









Here's what the back of the cards looks like.  They only list the last three years' worth of statistics.  They do not list non-NPB stats so the three years on the back of Uehara's card are 2006-08.  The photo on the back is a crop of the photo on the front of the card.

#312 (Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh)
So I think it's pretty obvious that I like this set.  I don't have any idea of how popular it is in Japan but again I hope that it puts some pressure on BBM to up their game.

As always Jambalaya has all the cards on-line so you can see the whole set including inserts and parallels.  Ryan did a post on the set yesterday


Sean said...

I've never collected Epoch but I find myself kind of drawn to the design of this year's set - they do look nice (not as nice as Calbee but still pretty good).

Unknown said...

I was able to pick up a few packs of these recently. One of the packs that I opened was all Rookie Cards, do you know if that was some kind of "hot pack" or do you think it was a coincidence?

NPB Card Guy said...

I really have no idea. I don't see anything on their web page for the product that implies that they could have "hot packs" but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.