Calbee's Series One set, the first of their expected three sets for 2021, was published about a month and half ago in the middle of March. Calbee's sets tend to be very similar from year to year and this one is no exception to that. The base set contains 88 cards - 72 player cards (6 per team), a 12 card "Exciting Scene" subset and four checklist cards.
Calbee has been alternating between having the players names in English or Japanese for the past six years or so and since 2021 is an odd numbered year the names this year are in English. The big difference in the design this year is that the font for the names has changed a little and the letters are black with a white outline. You may think that's not a big difference but for Calbee that's a sea change.
I've usually felt that Series One's a bit light on the big name players and that's the case again this year. The biggest stars in the set are probably Tetsuto Yamada, Seiya Suzuki, Tomoya Mori, Shuta Tonosaki, Takehiro Norimoto and Nobuhiro Matsuda. There are no rookies and only a couple foreign players (Tyler Austin, Neftali Soto and Dayan Viciedo). There doesn't appear to be any cards of players who switched teams over the winter.
I beat up Calbee all the time for their "mundane photography" (as Sean puts it) on their player cards and this set really gives me no reason to stop doing that. The vast majority of the photos used fall into the "batters batting, pitchers pitching and catchers catching" categories. There's really only two that don't - Sosuke Genda is shown fielding and Naoki Yoshikawa is shown running the bases. In complete fairness though, some of the photos are very nice. My one other complaint is that there are no player cards with a horizontal format. Here's some examples:
The 12 cards in the "Exciting Scene" subset show an...uh...exciting scene from last year for each team. This is a subset that Calbee includes every so often - the last set that included it was Series Three from 2019. Some of the players included in this subset are Hayato Sakamoto (for his 3000th hit), Hotoka Yamakawa (his 150th home run), Naoki Miyanishi (his 350th hold) and Ukyo Shuto (12 straight games with a stolen base). Other players in it are Yudai Ohno, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Hideaki Wakui and Shintaro Fujinami. Some of the photos on these cards are really good:
The last four cards are the ubiquitous checklist cards. As is usually the case for Series One, these show highlights from late last season and the post season. Card #C-01 shows the Hawks celebrating their Nippon Series victory on November 25th, Card #C-02 shows the Giants celebrating their Central League pennant clinching on October 30th, Card #C-03 shows Yudai Fujioka's home run to put the Marines up for good against the Lions on November 8th and clinch a spot in the Climax Series and Card #C-04 shows Koji Chikamoto stealing his 30th base on November 1st which I think made him the first Hanshin Tigers player to steal 30 bases in each of his first two seasons. Here's the Fujioka and Chikamoto cards:
You can see all the cards (including the "Title Holder" and "Legend" insert cards and the limited edition "Team Strikeout Leader" box set available from Calbee's Amazon shop) over at Jambalaya.