Here's a quick round up of some recently released sets while I wait for that package from Ryan to show up - it was in New Jersey on Sunday and Washington, DC yesterday. I'm figuring it will be here soon now.
- The official release date for Calbee's Series One set is March 22 but somehow it's usually available a few days before that. This year's set is pretty much as expected - there's a base set of 88 cards that includes 72 "regular" player cards (six per team), 12 "Exciting Scene" cards (1 per team) and four checklist cards. There are two insert sets (or premium subsets) - six "Legend" cards featuring players who retired at the end of last year and 25 "Title Holder" cards featuring players who either led their league in something or won an award last year (or both). There is also a 12 card "Team Strikeout" box set available from Calbee's Japanese Amazon store (although I've never been able to find it there). The checklist of the base set, the inserts and the box set are all on-line at Calbee's site.
- BBM's third "comprehensive" team set for the 2021 season is for the Chunichi Dragons and will be released in late April. As usual, the base set will have 81 cards. These 81 cards are split up into four groups - 67 cards for the manager and players, three cards for their last three first round draft picks, ten "Title Holder" cards and one "Great Comeback" card featuring Kosuke Fukudome. There's a ton of insert cards - 77(!) in all - split into seven sets. Four of those sets are not fully named, just described on the web page - there's a nine card "main player" set, a three card "relief pitcher" set, a three card set for young players and a three card set for "veterans you can rely on". The other three are premium, serially numbered inserts - Phantom (20 cards), Esperanza (15 cards) and a new one called "Hyakka Ryouran" (24 cards). There are also the usual collection of autographed cards available.
- Not to be outdone, Epoch has announced their first three 2021 team sets under their "Rookies & Stars" title. These are all "reasonably priced" pack based sets (as opposed to Epoch's ultra high end sets where there's six cards to a box that retails for $150). The Baystars set will be released on April 10th, the Swallows set will be released on April 17th and the Carp set will be out on April 24th. The base set for each contains 36 cards (so they are not "comprehensive" team sets) and there is a "hologram" parallel for each card. Each set also has 12(!) different insert sets. Four of these are "Regular Printed Signature" sets ("Silver", "Gold", "Hologram" & "Variation Hologram") - there are 9 "Variation Hologram" cards and 18 each for the other three sets. There are three 18 card "Metal Power" insert sets: "Silver", "Gold" (serially numbered to 50) and "Hologram" (serially numbered to 10) and three six card "Time To Shine Hologram" sets: "A" (serially numbered to 50), "B" (serially numbered to 15) and "C" (serially numbered to 5). Finally there 6 "Gem" insert cards (each serially numbered to 15) and 6 "Black Gem" insert cards (each serially numbered to 5). Each set also has a variety of autograph cards. Each player in the base set has an "Authentic Autograph" card while a subset of the players also may have "Rookie Autograph" cards, "Star Autograph" cards and "1 of 1 Autograph" cards - there's a different count of these for each set. The Carp set also has four uniform cards available.
- For the fourth year in a row, Epoch is releasing a flagship set under the name "NPB". This is another "reasonably priced" pack based set. The base set contains 444 cards - 432 cards of active players and managers (36 per team) plus 12 cards of OB players (1 per team). I believe that one of the OB players will be Ichiro, making this his first appearance on a Japanese card since 2009 (with the exception of last year's ridiculously high end "#51 Ichiro Suzuki - ORIX BlueWave Super Luxury Baseball Card Collection" set). There are three types of "kira" parallel cards - "regular" (72 cards), "silver foil" (48 cards) and "hologram foil" (36 cards). There are also "Gem" insert cards available but I don't know how many there are. The "hologram foil" parallels and the "Gem" inserts are serially numbered but the web page doesn't say how many of each there are. There are also autograph cards available, including one for the OB players. The set will be released on May 29th.