Saturday, April 25, 2015

Yamakatsu Taba - Star Wars, Voltron and Space Runaway Ideon

 Japanese baseball card collectors will be familiar with the post-card sized Yamakatsu cards from the 1970s, which are among the more attractive vintage sets out there.  One of my side-hobbies is collecting non-sports Yamakatsu sets from the late 70s/early 80s, in particular those with a sci-fi theme. I thought I would do a little post about them here because they are....just really awesome.

One of the more famous of these are the Star Wars cards.  The copyright on the back says 1977, but I believe these were actually released in 1978 (the film itself was originally released in spring of 1977 but would have come out later in Japan).  Topps had the license to produce Star Wars cards in the US and entered a joint venture with Yamakatsu to distribute these.  This actually makes these cards an oddity in trading card history - they are a Yamakatsu set but they do not have the Yamakatsu logo or name anywhere on them, the back just says Topps Chewing Gum Inc

There are 36 cards in this set, which all feature either scenes from the film or publicity photos of the stars in character

They were released in taba, pull-off envelopes which came 30 to a bundle and were sold individually for 20 yen each (kids just ripped one envelope off at a time).  Typically these taba would be displayed with a sample card taped to it, like mine here which is about half full (15 envelopes left on it) and has a Jawa card taped to it

I have a few others.  The popular animated series/toy line from the mid-80s known as Voltron was originally known as Beast King Five Lions in Japanese and was quite popular.  I have a mostly full taba of cards from that series which is in pretty beat up shape:

I actually remember watching that show when I was a kid and I had one of the lion toys (Yellow lion!)  If you had all 5 you could make the complete Voltron but nobody I knew had parents rich enough to get them all.

Space Runaway Idion is another early 80s animated series that got the Yamakatsu treatment. I am under the impression it was some sort of  Gundam spin off.  It must not have been too popular judging by the condition of my Yamakatsu taba, which is complete and looks like nobody even touched it back in the day:
There are quite a few other series out there and they make for a kind of interesting thing to collect, especially if you are someone like me with a fondness for 80s sci-fi kitsch.

No comments:

Post a Comment