Monday, August 29, 2016

Busting Japan Post Smart Letter Packs: Better than Busting Wax

For the past couple of years I have minimized my purchases of bags of Calbee chip bags to just a few per series.  This is partly because of a desire to avoid eating potato chips (screw you, salt) and also because of the impracticality of putting together Calbee sets one bag at a time.  I tried that once in 2011 and ended up with less than half a set and so many bags of chips that I didn`t know what to do with them (and it cost quite a bit too).

So these days I try to put my sets together via the purchase of large lots of singles off of Yahoo Auctions, which seem to be getting easier to find (at least for recent stuff).  I like it because getting one of the lots in the mail in a Japan Post Smart Letter Pack is sort of like getting a huge wax pack to open. I picked up one 72 card lot of 2016 Series 1 cards which arrived in the mail yesterday and just cracked it open:
The seller used part of the cardboard box that the bags originally came in as packing material, which is kind of a neat touch (actually the box is from series 2, so maybe the same seller will have some of those soon....):
And the cards are all nicely stored, the seller even inserted them individually into their own flimsies (not necessary but still a nice touch):
Voila.  72 different cards including some from the base set, Title Holders subset and Star Cards subset.  Best of all: no doubles!
With current Calbee cards I like those featuring Hiroshima, Hanshin, Yakult, Rakuten, Lotte and Yokohama the best.  Photos of the players are almost all (in fact, maybe all) taken at their home stadiums (kudos) and those are the teams that don`t play in domes, so the photos don`t have that ugly flourescent sheen/fake grass backdrop like ones of Dragons, Giants, Hawks and other Dome teams do.
I have to admit to still not understanding how the business models of sellers who put these lots up on Yahoo Auctions works.  I paid only 300 Yen for the lot (not including shipping), which works out to less than 5 Yen per card.  Purchased retail at 98 Yen per bag with 2 cards would work out to more than 10 times that much. 

Obviously if you buy bags wholesale in quantity you would pay a lot less, but it would still work out to way more than 5 Yen per card.  The seller seems to make it up by selling the insert and parrallel cards (gold signature  and Wins Leaders) at a premium, but even those don`t seem to sell for too high (250-600 Yen each on the same seller`s listings).  Given the amount of work that would go into it I can`t imagine it being a particularly profitable venture, but I do thank them for making these things available to me!  I am not quite close to finishing the Series 1 base set this year.


  1. You're probably right that they have a source for bulk lots of chips at a wholesale price. Then they get most of their money from inserts and parallels, and anything they can get out of the remainder is a nice extra. They may be a collector just looking to make back some money on the cost of building their own set, rather than a business venture looking for a big profit.

  2. As an aside, I wish I could find a cost-effective way to use Yahoo! Auctions. It seems like it would open up a whole world of cardboard that matches my interests. I'm sure there is a way, but I get frustrated by brokers and accounts and usually give up before I get too far into it.

  3. You are probably right about it being a collector - just doesnt seem to be enough money in it otherwise!

    And its true about Yahoo Auction, it is difficult to make it cost effective if you are overseas, unless you are buying something particularly expensive in which case the relative cost comes down. For a puchase like this lot of cards though it would easily quadruple the cost. It would be great if more sellers started directly selling to overseas bidders, but easily 99% don`t...

  4. I love opening packages that have card lots. It's like Christmas! I do wish more Yahoo Auction sellers sold internationally as the proxy bidding service fees really add up. Like you said, the cheap lots easily quadruple in price when importing them. I have about a package a month from Jauce so I spread my shipping costs out a bit, but have to get lucky and find lots by the same seller or ones with free shipping.

  5. Yeah, it does kind of feel like Christmas!

    The ironic thing for sellers on Yahoo Auctions is that they would probably make a lot more money if they did offer overseas shipping, there seems to be a pretty big market for their stuff (not just in baseball cards) but so many people get put off on bidding for things owing to the expenses of proxy bidders that they probably are getting half what they otherwise could for things.