Wednesday, July 15, 2020

2020 Calbee Series Two

Series Two, the second of the expected three Series of Calbee sets this year, was released just about two weeks ago.  It was a slightly later release than usual - early July instead of late June - but I don't know if the delay was related to the COVID crisis.  There's a couple things in the make up of the set, however, that are related.

The base set contains 87 cards - 72 player cards (6 per team), 12 "AVG Leader" cards (1 per team) and 3 checklist cards (instead of the usual 4).  As usual the set has the same design as Series One and continues the card numbering of the player cards (Series One had card numbers 1-72 while Series Two has card numbers 73-144).

It's always hard to talk about player selection for a Calbee Series since no Series really stands alone but I will say that this Series seems a bit light on having "regular" player cards of big stars.  Probably the biggest names in the set are Seiichi Uchikawa, Takeya Nakamura and Munetaka Murakami.  There's a number of foreign players (Wladimir Balentien, Brandon Laird, Neftali Soto, Brandon Dickson and Po-Jung Wang) included along with four rookies (Roki Sasaki, Masato Morishita, Takaya Ishikawa and Yasunobu Okugawa) - all of whom were first round picks in last fall's draft.

I thought Calbee was doing better with their photos in the Series One set this year but I feel like they back-slid some with this set.  I think they've fallen back into the "batters batting, pitchers pitching" rut a bit too much although there are a handful of decent photos.  They've also back-slid on using a horizontal foramt - there are only two horizontal cards in this Series after there were five in Series One.  Here's some example cards:

#079 Seiichi Uchikawa

#125 Ryutaro Umeno 

#138 Kento Fujishima

#144 Munetaka Murakami

#118 Haruhiro Hamaguchi

#075 Tatsuya Imai

#094 Roki Sasaki
The set includes a 12 card "AVG Leader" subset that features the top hitter from 2019 for each team.  As you'd expect there's a bunch of big names in the subset - Seiya Suzuki, Tomoya Mori, Norichika Aoki, Kensuke Kondoh, Hayato Sakamoto and Yoshio Itoi for example.   This is kind of an odd theme for a subset in a Calbee set - this is the kind of thing Calbee typically would do in one of their boxed sets that you win via a "lucky" card redemption - but I'm guessing with the season not starting until about two weeks before the set was released they didn't have a lot of options (although they COULD have done a subset featuring all 12 first round draft picks from last fall which they've done in the past).  Here's an example "AVG Leader" card:

While the topic for the subset might have been affected by the delay in the start of the season, the checklist cards were definitely affected.  Usually there are four checklist cards and the fronts of them show highlights from games in March and April.  Since there were no games in March and April, Calbee had to come up with something else.  What they decided on was to feature the new managers for this season - Hajime Miki of the Eagles, Shinji Sasaoka of the Carp and Shingo Takatsu of the Swallows.  Since there were only three new managers they only did three checklist cards.  Here's Miki's card:

I should mention that the checklists are numbered 5 to 7 since the checklists in Series One were 1 to 4.

All the cards can be seen over at Jambalaya (including the Star insert cards and the limited edition box set called WINS Leaders).  And Sean wrote a little about this set the other day as well.


Sean said...

I was hoping they would have a bit more interesting photos. Though at least you can really tell those were taken this season, look at all those empty bleachers in the backgrounds!

NPB Card Guy said...

A lot of the photos on the Epoch NPB cards are the same way!