Sunday, December 21, 2014

2002 Calbee: Tough Set, Nearing Completeion

 I picked up a large lot of about 500 Calbee cards on Yahoo Auction last week.  It was a mixed lot and I didn`t know what cards would be in it until they arrived (the photos were pretty grainy and the seller`s description was pretty vague). I kind of like buying cards that way, it builds anticipation in me that is similar to opening a wax pack.  Sometimes you get screwed with a bunch of damaged cards, but sometimes it pays off.

This one actually did pay off.  There was a pretty wide selection of cards, including about a dozen from the 1975-76 Calbee set which were alone probably worth almost as much as I paid for the whole lot.  The thing that got me most excited though was that about 100 of them were 2002 Calbees. 

I think the 2002 Calbee set is probably the most difficult to find out of the post-1998 Calbee sets.  Word on the street has it that the reason for this is Japan`s co-hosting of the World Cup that year with Korea, which diverted everyone`s attention away from baseball.  This resulted in Calbee printing way fewer baseball cards (and presumably way more soccer cards) that year, making the 2002 Calbees harder to find than most.

This story generally squares with my own experience in buying these lots, which almost never include any 2002 Calbee cards (the 1999 and 2000 sets on the other hand are usually over-represented, making me think they were printed in greater quantities.  Those were Ichiro`s last 2 years in Japan, which makes me wonder if his popularity transferred into greater baseball chip sales in those years, followed by a steep decline after his departure in 2001).

As somebody actively trying to complete most Calbee sets, my 2002 set up until now had been way less developed than any other set of the past 16 years, with only a few dozen cards mostly from the regular set.  With the additions from this big lot, I now suddenly find myself about 75% of the way to a complete regular set and well on my way with most of the subsets too.

The design of these cards is slightly different from most Calbee sets in that it has a 30th anniversary logo on the front, but otherwise they are about the same.  I think this must have been Hideki Matsui`s last Calbee baseball card before singing with the Yankees.
 The lot even included an un-used Challenge card from that year.  The 2002 set had a pretty sucky prize system, you had to collect and mail in two of these, which didn`t actually guarantee you a prize, but just put you in a draw for one of 3000 card binders they were giving out.  I much prefer it when Calbee gives special card sets as prizes rather than these stupid binders that don`t even have enough space for the whole set and generally look terrible (at least the recent ones).
 To commemorate the 30th anniverary of their baseball cards they issued a special memorial card subset whcih featured reprints of various cards from previous years.  I now have almost all of this set.  I have to say it is really really poorly designed, with just horrible looking beige or grey borders and a very uninspiring `Memorial Card` band along the bottom.  Do they really need to tell us in such big letters that this is, in fact, a memorial card?  Also I think the use of the word "memorial" is a bit misplaced, it sounds like the set is dedicated to players who have died in the past year or something.  Anyway, they did something similar in the 2012 set when they commemorated the 40th anniversary with reprints of cards from previous sets, but the subset from that year was much better, dispensing with the borders and just making a straight-up reprint of the cards. 
Anyway, thats my 2002 Calbee set so far, I`m down to about 30 cards for the regular set which I need. 


  1. Ironically this is one of the pre-2012 Calbee sets I have the most cards from. In 2002 and 2003 I traded/bought from a bunch with a guy in Japan. He was trying to complete the Calbee sets and would trade/sell me his doubles. The card shop near him closed after 2003 and his wife got tired of their living room being filled with potato chips so he stopped collecting after that and I lost contact with him. Unfortunately I don't have any doubles available to trade.

  2. Wow, cool! That was a lucky coincidence since they are pretty hard to find. I actually collected the BBM set back in 2002, though I didn`t quite complete it.

  3. I actually bought a lot of 2500 BBM sumo cards based on only a few photos. Crossing fingers. Although I am having it shipped via boat to save on international shipping fees. Hopefully it pans out and fills in a bunch of holes from my BBM sets and aren't too many doubles. I like buying in bulk and I like the gamble. Hopefully eBay will be kind to me if I need to unload any extras.

  4. I`ve done that a couple of times with big lots of baseball BBM cards (3000 cards which I snagged for next to nothing each time, I`m not really into BBM but for a cheap price I can be lured in). It was hit and miss with mine. One lot had a pretty decent selection from various sets and only minor duplication. The other was basically 3000 cards from about 9 or 10 small BBM team sets, which meant I ended up with 7 or 8 copies of most of the cards, none of which I really wanted in the first place (I ended up giving most of them away). Since then I`ve shied away from bidding on the big lots (except for Calbee ones that turn up).

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