Thursday, February 7, 2019

1989 Mermaid Data Cards

In 1989 a candy company called Mermaid (at least that'd be my best guess here) issued a set of baseball cards.  The set featured 50 cards in total - 10 cards for each of the Central League teams except the Swallows.  Each pack (the wrapper of which is seen above) contained one card and one sticker along with a couple pieces of candy.

The cards were slightly smaller than the standard size - 2 3/8 inches by 3 3/8 inches.  The set contains most of the major stars of those teams - Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, Tatsunori Hara, Hiromi Makihara, Masumi Kuwata, Manabu Kitabeppu, Yutaka Ono, Akinobu Mayumi, Akinobu Okada, Masaru Uno, Norihiro Komada, Kozo SHoda, and Akio Saitoh.  Here's some example cards:

#2 (Genji Kaku)

#7 (Kiyoshi Nakahata)

#13 (Kazuhisa Kawaguchi)

#17 (Yutaka Takagi)

#21 (Akinobu Mayumi)
Here's what the card backs look like.  You can see why they're called "Data" cards:

#6 (Tatsunori Hara)
I noticed something odd about the checklist for the set.  The first five cards in the set are for the Dragons, the next five are for the Giants, the next five are for the Carp, the next five are for the Whales and the next five are for the Tigers.  That's the first half of the set.  The pattern then repeats itself for the second half of the set with five cards for the Dragons, five for the Giants, five for the Carp, five for the Whales and five for the Tigers.  The teams are ordered by their finish in 1988 (the Swallows finished fifth between the Whales and Tigers).  I've wondered if the cards were actually issued in two series - cards 1-25 followed later by cards 26-50.  One reason beyond the checklist that makes me wonder this is that while I have 20 cards from this set, I only have cards between 1 and 25.  Are the other 25 a separate series?  Engel doesn't say anything about it so probably not but it is odd that I only have cards from the first half of the set.

The accompanying "stickers" are much smaller - they're squares that are about two inches on a side - and are really decals rather than stickers.  They are essentially a parallel issue to the cards as they appear to have the same checklist - I say appear because Engel doesn't actually include the sticker checklist but the 19 I have match the numbers of the cards (and like the cards I only have stickers between 1 and 25).  The best part of the stickers is that instead of photos they have caricatures of the players instead.  Here's some examples:

#3 (Kazuyoshi Tatsunami)

#4 (Toshikatsu Hikono)

#10 (Katsuhito Mizuno)

#14 (Takehiko Kobayakawa)

#19 (Mitsunori Kakehata)

#22 (Akinobu Okada)
Here's what the sticker backs look like:

#9 (Masumi Kuwata)
The Mermaid Data cards were only issued that one year.  I don't know any more background on these - why they only did cards for those five teams, why they stopped making them, etc.  I don't even know if the company is still in business.  But they are a nice looking set of cards and an entertaining set of decals.


Sean said...

Wow, cool find, I've never seen those before nor even heard of "Mermaid". I'm going to have to keep an eye out for them now!

SumoMenkoMan said...

Interestingly, they have a Gu-Choki-Pa picture on the back. Looks very similar to the menko of old.

Fuji said...

Those caricatures stickers are fantastic! Never seen them before.

NPB Card Guy said...

@SumoMenkoMan - I meant to mention that but I forgot. There have been a couple non-menko sets to feature them including the Nippon-Ham cards from the 70's.