I was strolling around Youtube this morning and found this video which asked an interesting question: How much money does it take to complete a Calbee set one bag of chips at a time?
I've only really made two serious efforts at completing Calbee sets that way. The first was in 2004 when I was living in Himeji, working as an English teacher, and made a point of coming back from the grocery store with at least 2 or 3 bags of Calbees each time. The bags only cost 63 Yen back then, but they also only came with 1 card. I didn't even get halfway on any of the series, but had fun trying. I was newly married at the time and this was my way of introducing one of my eccentricities to my wife.
The next stab came seven years later in 2011 when I was living in Fukuoka. Don Quijote, a huge discount retailer, in the summer that year had a glut of bags of Series 1 chips (at least the one near my place did) and put them on sale at 39 Yen per bag, less than half the normal retail rate of 98 Yen. I thought to myself "this is a sign" and once again would return home each day with 2-3 bags that I could never eat with me. I probably bought about 100 bags that year for just that one series, but only got about half the set. My wife just thought "Ah, he is at this again."
Since then I haven't really made the attempt, though every year I buy at least a few bags. You just end up with way too many bags of chips and nowhere near to completing a set. But I always wondered if anybody actually does it.
This video answers that question: Yes, but only insane people who can pay for the chips via lots of YouTube advertising revenue.
The video is by a comedian who bought 2500 bags of 2018 Series 1 to see if he could reach the goal of completing the set with that many bags. To succeed he wanted not just the regular set and 24 card Star Card insert set, but also the harder to find Star Card gold sign parallel set.
So he actually opened 2500 bags of Yakyu chips which retail for about 250,000 Yen (about 2,000$ US) (though presumably he bought them wholesale in bulk so probably paid less than that).
Unsurprisingly he was able to finish the 72 card base set without difficulty early on in the opening. And the Star Card insert set was completed next. And.....in the end he was able to successfully complete even the gold signature parallels too, though he had to open every case to get them.
The video unfortunately doesn't show some interesting data, like which number out of 2500 packs he found the last card needed in, or how many regular sets he was able to put together out of all those (2500 packs equals 5000 cards so probably quite a few). He does tell us that he only pulled 16 Lucky Cards (redeemable for an album) so those are quite rare.
The real takeaway from the video for me though is the sheer futility of trying to do a Calbee set bag by bag. It cost 250,000 Yen to put that set together - and that is only Series 1! They'd have to do that two more times to finish the whole 2018 set, which is definitely not worth 750,000 Yen!
Postscript: You might wonder what he did with 2500 bags of chips he had left over. In a follow up video he reveals that 500 of them he gave out to friends and family, and the other 2000 he took to this Ramen shop (he seems to be friends with the owner) to use in a one month special "chips and ramen" dish.