BBM's last set for 2019 (at least the last one labeled as a 2019 set) is Fusion which was released in mid-November. Fusion is kind of a Frankenstein of a set - the base set consists of four parts that are unrelated. The four parts are the "regular" player cards, the "Title Holder" cards, the 1st Version Update cards and the Ceremonial First Pitch cards. This is the fourth year that BBM has done a Fusion set and there's two new things about this year's edition. The first thing is that the base set is now 162 cards which is 18 cards larger than the previous editions. The second thing is that each of the four sections is numbered separately which makes it very confusing to try to checklist.
There are 99 "regular" player cards in the set. This section includes cards of both active and OB players. It is intended as kind of a season summary set. The active players included in the set are commemorated for reaching some achievement while the OB players included have some sort of relationship with whatever the active players did. I'm sure this explanation is clear as mud so let me give you an example. In Sapporo on Opening Day this season, Sho Nakata hit a sayonara grand slam to lead the Fighters to victory. Nakata is card #03. Card #04 is for Tsutomu Itoh, who hit a sayonara grand slam on Opening Day back in 1994. Here are their two cards:
|#03 & #04|
The cards alternate between active players and OB players - card #01 is an active player, card #02 is an OB player, card #03 is an active player, card #04 is an OB player, etc. There's a couple times where there's either consecutive active player or consecutive OB player cards due to whatever achievement is being celebrated. The cards are ordered by the date that whatever active player achievement is being celebrated occurred (which is displayed prominently on the front of the card), so card #01 has something from March 29th, card #03 has something else from March 29th, card #05 has something from April 9th, etc. Hopefully this all makes sense - you'd think after four years of this I'd come up with a clear explanation.
49 of the 99 "regular" player cards are for active players. As you might guess, these are not evenly divided between teams - there are seven Baystars but only two Marines and two Dragons in the set. As usual I'm not completely clear on what the active player achievements are (and most of the obvious milestones like Takeya Nakamura's 400th home run are commemorated in the "Great Record" insert set that I'll discuss in a minute) although I do know that the no-hitters thrown by Kodai Senga and Yudai Ohno are commemorated. Two players have multiple cards - Koji Chikamoto and Yoshihiro Maru. Other players include Tetsuto Yamada, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, Seiya Suzuki, Hayato Sakamoto, Tomoyuki Sugano, Munetaka Murakami and Shogo Akiyama. Photo selection is a little better than normal for BBM - I suspect that having to feature a photo from the actual event makes it a little harder to find boring photos. Here's some example cards:
The 50 OB cards include Shigeo Nagashima, Koichi Tabuchi, Kazuhisa Inao, Yutaka Fukumoto, Takuro Ishii, Futoshi Nakanishi and Koji Akiyama. Tomoaki Kanemoto has two cards - one with the Carp and one with the Tigers. There's a card of longtime Chiba Lotte Marine Saburo Ohmura from his three month stint with the Giants in 2011 - this is only the second card I know of depicting him with Yomiuri (the first being a Bandai Owners League card from 2011
). There are cards of two players who are spent 2019 in MLB - Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani - and two cards of players active in NPB in 2019 but that depict them from earlier in their career - Hideaki Wakui and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Here's some sample cards:
The "regular" player cards are numbered from #01 to #99. Twelve of the cards (all for the active players) have "secret" versions which are short printed photo variants.
The "Title Holder" subset features the 2019 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. If a player led the league in multiple categories then he has multiple cards - for example Shun Yamaguchi led the Central League in Winning Percentage, Wins and Strikeouts so he has three cards in the subset. The Leader cards are numbered #TH01 to #TH24. This is a change from previous years when this subset was numbered in continuation of the "regular" player cards.
This subset is a throwback to the Leader subsets that BBM used to feature in their flagship sets from 1991 to 2013. The big difference is that since the set is released before the awards voting is announced this subset does not include cards for the MVP or Rookie Of The Year award winners. Here's a couple example cards - I included the Soto one because I thought the framing was odd (and I should point out my scanner cut off part of the border of Matui's card):
At 21 cards, the "1st Version Update" subset is the largest it's ever been. This subset features players who were not included in the 1st Version (or 2nd Version) sets this year - at least not with the team they are depicted with in this subset. This includes foreign players who signed after the 2nd Version went to press in early June such as Leonys Martin of the Marines and Rubby De La Rosa of the Giants as well as Carter Stewart of the Hawks (although technically Stewart signed before then), traded players such as Kengo Takeda of the Dragons, Takumi Miyoshi of the Carp, Shingo Usami of the Fighters, Masato Matsui, Yusuke Matsui and Steven Moya of the Buffaloes, Ko Shimozuru and Ren Wada of the Eagles, and Yohei Kagiya of the Giants. It also includes several players who moved from the ranks of ikusei
players such as Yaku Cho of the Buffaloes, Ryota Ishibashi and Yoshinori Satoh of the Eagles and Kota Yamashita of the Giants. This subset starts its checklist where the 2nd Version set left off so it's numbered from #601 to #621.
The final subset is the 18 card continuation of the "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset from this year's 2nd Version set. The cards are numbered #FP22 to #FP39 (since the 2nd Version ones were #FP01 to #FP21). As always these cards feature a number of Japanese celebrities. There are the usual assorted Idols - Sarina Soda
and Yuzuki Hidaka
of SKE48, Tomoka Igari of Steam Girls
, Maria Makino of Morning Musume
and Ayumu Takeuchi
. There are several actors and actresses - Mario Kuroba
, Kazusa Okuyama
, Riho Yoshioka
, Shotaro Mamiya
, and Momoko Tanabe
, a couple voice actors - Aimi (Terakawa)
and Yuki Kaji
, a model - Akusa Kijima
, and a professional cosplayer - Enako
. The remaining celebrities are all athletes - table tennis player Mima Ito
, figure skater Sara Honda
, gymnast Ari Hatakeyama
(who recently married Carp outfield Seiya Suzuki) and boxer Naoya Inoue
. Makino and Inoue have been featured in previous "Ceremonial First Pitch" subsets - Makino in the 2017 and 2018 2nd Version sets and Inoue in the 2014 2nd Version set.
Igari has an interesting although sad backstory, She suffered a freak injury in the spring of 2018 where a sidewalk sign fell on her, damaging her spinal and leaving her legs paralyzed. She is continuing her Idol career from a wheelchair:
I splurged a little when I bought this set and I picked up two of the insert sets for it. The first one (the one I was most interested in) is the previously mentioned "Great Record" set. This is a 24 card set that features two players from each team who reached some milestone in 2019. This subset includes Takeya Nakamura (400th home run), Seiya Suzuki (100th home run), Tetsuto Yamada (200th home run), Tomoyuki Sugano (1000th strikeout), Shinnosuke Abe (400th home run), Yasuaki Yamasaki (150th save), Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh (200th home run) and Kosuke Fukudome (1000th RBI).
The other insert set is as 12 card set called "Legendary Player". It simply features an OB player from each franchise. Each of the OB players has a "regular" player card. The set includes Futoshi Nakanishi, Yoshinori Hirose, Yu Darvish, Tetsuya Yoneda, Masahide Kobayashi, Kazuo Matsui, Tomonori Maeda, Akimitsu Itoh, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Tomio Tashiro, Hitoki Iwase, and Kochi Tabuchi.
As usual you can see all the cards over at Jambalaya