Thursday, October 30, 2014
This was spurred by a Yahoo Auction purchase I made last week of a lot of 59 cards from the set. I added these to the 60 cards I already had (in a piece of incredible luck the new cards were almost all ones I needed), meaning that I now have over 100 different cards.
1987 Calbee (about 3/4 complete now) and the 1990 Calbee low numbers (about 1/2 complete) being the others.
The big difference between the 1984 set and the 1987 and 1990 ones is the difficulty of putting them together. The latter are among the more do-able of the pre-1998 rare Calbee sets to complete, while the 1984 set is among the hardest. The sheer size of the set - 715 cards - is daunting (the 1987 set has about half that and the 1990 low number series only 55). Among these are a number of series which were only released regionally in limited quantities (detailed here) which account for about one quarter of the total and are incredibly expensive. I don`t have any of those and might content myself with tracking down the easier to find ones first and, if I become independently wealthy in the future, might work on the rare block ones then.
There are some pretty cool cards in the set, which has a distinctive look to it. I love this Reggie Smith with his hair overflowing from under that batting helmet.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
I picked up a couple of cards of Randy Bass, the key player on that 1985 Tigers team, off of Yahoo Auctions that arrived today. They are both from the 1984 Calbee set, which I am starting to make a more serious effort at putting together (more on that in another post). I kind of like these cards. The one on the left, from the "big hat" part of the set, has a pensive looking Bass staring at the ground. The one on the right, from the "little hat" part of the set, is kind of an awkward photo with his face mostly lost in shadow, but I love the pinstripes of the hat that the 84 Tigers wore.
I have a soft spot for the Tigers and Randy Bass is one of my all time favorite NPB players, so I am very tormented about who to root for in this series. I have spent 4 years of my life living in Fukuoka as a Hawks fan and 5 years of my life living in Hyogo prefecture as a Tigers fan (plus 2 years living in Nagoya, my current city, as a Dragons fan). It is very troubling because both teams have things that strongly attract me to them. I only left Fukuoka in 2012 so this year's team still has a lot of the players I used to root for when living there - Matsuda, Uchikawa, Morifuku, Settsu, Honda and company. On the other hand, I kind of fell in love with this Tigers team. Going into that series everyone was saying the Giants would just walk over them easily, and seeing the Tigers turn the tables and make Kyojin look awful.....it was immensely impressive.
I will have to think long and hard about this before game time......
Monday, October 20, 2014
In other words, in each decade Calbee had one basic design philosphy and applied it almost uniformly to every set year after year. Except the 1990s.
If you look at Calbee sets from year to year in the 1990s you`ll notice that it is the only decade in which the design of the cards changed, sometimes radically, from year to year. This gives Calbee cards from the 1990s a degree of uniqueness not found in other decades.
It is kind of interesting to speculate why this was so. My guess would be that the introduction of serious competition from BBM from 1991 forced Calbee to respond and they experimented with a series of design changes in a trial and error process. In 1998 they seem to have had that "Eureka!" moment since from that year on they have kept pretty much the same design.
The 1995 set is one of the more interesting ones from this period. The shape and size are the same as that used from the latter half of 1990 through the 1996 set, but the design, which is quite colorful and distinctive, was only used in this one set. Though I generally prefer the full bleed design they usually use, I kind of like this set. It looks very 1990s.
I got a half-dozen cards in this lot. Prior to that I only had one card - one of the low number Ichiros. I will add this to my list of "sets in progress that I will hopefully one day finish but probably not." The high number cards in this set are notoriously hard to locate, having been sold in very limited quantities and containing a couple of quite expensive cards of Ichiro (who, incidentally, had his first regular Calbee card in this set, though he had been featured in a regional set in 1994).
Sunday, October 19, 2014
It seems almost every year this happens. When Series 1 comes out in the spring, bags are available at almost every convenience store and grocery store I go to. And, being so happy to see them after so many months and overflowing with excitement for the months of baseball ahead, I always jump in and buy them almost everyday. My salt intake in the early months of the baseball season rises accordingly.
Then when series 2 comes out the occasion is marked by....most of those same stores continuing to sell bags of series 1. It seems most of them prefer to burn through their inventory of the first series before moving on to the next. Many of them don`t even bother, it seems that by the time they do sell off all their series 1 bags they decide to just move on and use the shelf space for some completely different snack. So the number of stores selling Series 2 is always a bit less than the number that had been selling Series 1.
By the time Series 3 is released, the number of shops stocking them has shrunk to almost nothing. Being released late in the season undoubtedly hurts it, as does the fact that those stores which bothered to stock series 2 still have bags of those to unload.
This year I have not seen a single bag of Calbee series 3 in any convenience store (and I go to a lot of convenience stores). This is not unusual, the same thing happened last year. The only places that seems to stock Calbee Series 3 are large scale retailers like AEON (which is where I finally bought my first bag).
This makes me wonder if Calbee Series 3 cards are rarer than cards from earlier series. I have noticed when buying older Calbee series from the 2000s in large lots that the breakdown of cards on average is about 50% Series 1s, 40% Series 2s and 10% Series 3s - the drop-off once you get into the higher numbers is noticeable and for most of the sets that I am working on between 2002 and 2012, the biggest number of holes in my sets are in Series 3.
There is of course a historical comparison to be made with American Topps sets from the pre-1974 era when they issued them in series. With only a couple of exceptions, for pretty much every Topps set from 1952 to 1973 the last series are considerably harder to find than the lower number series because fewer people were interested in buying cards towards the end of the season. When Topps and other companies re-started issuing sets in series in the 1990s by then the hobby had gotten so sensitive to real or perceived scarcities they couldn`t issue one series in lower numbers than another without affecting the price, so they didn`t.
Its interesting that Calbee seems to be doing the same thing that Topps did way back in the old days....yet another little oddball thing that I like about Calbee. Well, actually I kind of prefer it when the bags are available in convenience stores....
Sunday, October 12, 2014
I have had those albums for a couple of years, I bought them at Mandarake in Fukuoka a while ago. I am not sure but am guessing that these albums were availabe as mail-in giveaways back then like they are now. The 1970s albums were a lot better though, I love the photography they use on the covers, rather than the sterile, generic look current ones have.
This is the photo on the inside flap of one from 1975:
Not a Nagashima fan, but that is a sweet photo.
I like the full bleed photos on Calbee cards, and the sets from the 70s has some of the best photography out there. For some reason, and I`d be curious to know what the story is, part of the 75-76 set has a rather thick pink border, like these babies that were among my recent acquisitions:
The similiarity with the look of the 1975 Topps set is hard to miss, they even have the baseball in the lower right corner of the photo. I suspect somebody at Calbee must have decided to copy them as a template. Anyway, these pink bordered ones include my only Japanese Davey Johnson card:
Anyway, just some random thoughts about Calbee albums.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Mainly though it was because one of my other hobbies, my model railway, had been taking up most of my time.
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been building a Japanese baseball stadium made of baseball cards (and other odds and ends) for my train layout. Last week I finally finished getting the basic structure together. So I hereby introduce Najima Kyujo.
As you can see, it has a couple of train lines running around it:
I vaguely had Koshien in mind when I started putting it together but it ended up looking nothing like that hallowed ground. I named it after a town I used to live in which had a municipal baseball field called Najima.
There are about 50 baseball cards in there, most of the walls and the rooves are made of painted cards, mostly Score and Topps commons from the mid-90s that I had a pile of lying around.
The exterior isn`t quite finished and there are a few details like the landscaping outside that need finishing but I`m pretty happy with how it turned out. I also have to add more people to the stands (they are the only thing in the stadium that actually cost serious money)! The scoreboard is a done deal though (it also features the only Japanese baseball card, the player photo is the back portrait photo from a 2013 Calbee card that I sacrificed for the project):
In the meantime I have actually picked up a few cards for non-building a model railroad stadium purposes, I will have to do a post or two about them sometime!