Monday, October 23, 2023

The Infinite Samurai Japan

I've mentioned this before but when it comes to spectator sports I am pretty much only a fan of baseball.  I really don't pay a whole lot of attention to any other sports, either here in the US or in Japan.  So BBM's annual multi-sport set Infinity (or Masterpiece every fifth year) is usually not all that interesting to me.  Oh sure, about a third of the set is usually baseball players but generally I already have dozens of cards of those players.  On rare occasions BBM's included corporate league or JWBL players in the set and I've picked those cards up as singles.  As a matter of fact, I had seen that this year's set was going to include another former JWBL player (Yu Katoh) as well as a member of the Tochigi Golden Braves of the indy Baseball Challenge League (Hiroyuki Takagishi, who's actually a comedian but made the team via a tryout) and I figured those would be the only cards from the set that I'd be trying to pick up.  But two weeks ago I saw this tweet from BBM and everything changed.

There are Samurai Japan cards in the set!

The photo attached to the tweet showed cards of both Hideki Kuriyama and Roki Sasaki wearing Samurai Japan uniforms.  Oddly enough though it also showed a card of Yu Darvish in a Fighters uniform, not a Samurai Japan one.  I suddenly got a lot more interested in this set.

BBM usually makes a pdf of the checklist for each of their sets available a few weeks before the set is released so I ran the one for Infinity through Google translate.  It looked like there were eleven cards for Samurai Japan members (including manager Kuriyama) which I confirmed when the set came out late last week.  The eleven players are Kuriyama, Yuhei Nakamura, Tetsuto Yamada, Yuki Matsui, Ryuji Kuribayashi, Shugo Maki, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Yuki Udagawa, Munetaka Murakami, Hiroya Miyagi and Sasaki.

So it looks like BBM now has the rights to produce Samurai Japan cards in Japan, at least for non-MLB players (which is why Darvish isn't in a Samurai Japan uniform).  They take over from Topps who had it for roughly a year after Calbee had had it from about 2016 to last year (maybe - Calbee's last Samurai Japan set was in 2020).  BBM last had it from about 2001 to 2008 (before the National Team had been dubbed "Samurai Japan").

I'm a sucker for Samurai Japan cards so of course I wanted to get these along with the two cards I had previously wanted (Katoh and Takgishi).  This left me with a dilemma - do I pick up these 13 cards as singles or do I just get the entire set?  I went back and forth a little weighing the pros and cons of each approach.  On the one hand, getting just the singles that I really wanted "should" be cheaper and would mean I didn't have 81 other cards that I wasn't that interested in (including some 64 who aren't baseball players).  On the other, it'd be a lot faster if I just got the set as I could get it through ZenMarket rather than asking Ryan to find them for me during his card shopping.

Ultimately it was this tweet from BITS, a card store in Nagoya, that pushed me to my final decision.  They said that the cards seemed to be in short supply and that it had sold out in pre-orders.  I decided to go with buying a complete set and I picked one up late last week.  I probably overpaid for it but not outrageously so and it wasn't much more than what the singles would have probably run me.  I will mostly likely wait until I get my Fusion set through ZenMarket in late November so I probably won't have the set in hand until early December.  I'll do a post on the set then but in the meantime you can see all the cards over at Jambalaya.

No comments: