Sunday, May 24, 2015

2014 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling - Now With Wrasslin' Booty Action!

I'm back with another installment of BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling cards. This time I will highlight the 2014 set. This set is packed out randomly rather than being released in a boxed set. I've taken a scan of the box top here, which features some of the more popular wrestlers and a preview of a base card and a couple of the kiss mark cards that are inserted randomly in the print run.

The back of the box features a checklist and shows a few more base cards as well as this year's autograph design. One big change in the autographs from 2013 to 2014 was a switch to a paper coating rather than a glossier coating. Some of the 2013 autographs have spots and runs where the ink didn't hold on to the paper, and the 2014 cards are changed to alleviate that issue. I also folded down the sides of the box for this scan to show that several more wrestlers are depicted on the box. I believe the pictures are all cropped versions of the images used on their base cards.

The pack design is a condensed version of the box lid. The foil is a little different than most foil packs we get baseball cards in here. It's more plastic and stretchy, so it's harder to tear the packs open cleanly.

The base cards feature a single posed photo of the wrestler in their ring gear with either a red, yellow, or blue background. The card backs feature an action photo and biographical information.

In the upper left of the scans is Kyoko Inoue, who is famous for being the first woman to win a men's title in Japan. Apparently her distinctive face paint is trademarked.

In the upper right is Yumi Ohka, who it appears is wearing the Wave Single Champion belt, which she held at the time this set was released. She also wrestles in America for an independent promotion called Shimmer, based out of Chicago.

The wrestler with the assault rifle is KANNA. She is relatively new, and it is hard for me to find a lot of information about her because there is a very famous female Japanese wrestler named Kana out there, and most web searches for KANNA bring up a bunch of links to pages about Kana.

In the lower right is Command Bolshoi, a wrestler who debuted in November 1991 and has managed to keep her true identity hidden for 23 years. That's quite a run of secrecy. 

The cards are printed on pretty thin stock and are also quite glossy. That combination has made them curl quite a bit, so they are difficult to line up on the scanner and stacks of them rock back and forth on the table. Cards from 2013 and 2015 seem to be printed on stock of similar thickness, but they don't have the warping issue that the 2014 set has. Maybe the type of card stock or the coating on the cards is the main cause.

I am not 100% sure, but I think the wrestler in the upper left is an alternate identity of Command Bolshoi. I could be mistaken. I have seen some references to Dotonbori Scheuermann when Googling the name from the checklist, but there isn't a clear link to a wrestler profile or something concrete. I just like the little crustacean logo on her mask.

In the upper right is Ayako Hamada, who is another wrestler who has done work in America, wrestling for Total Nonstop Action and in the Shimmer promotion. I am covering some of the same wrestlers here as I did in the 2013 set rundown, as I guess I am already keying in on favorites.

In the lower left is another masked wrestler, this one wielding a wand of some kind. She is known as Fairy Nihonbashi. You can see on the back of her card that her height and weight are shown as ranges rather than set values, as fairies can change size.

In the lower right is Akane Fujita. I can't find a lot of information about her.

On the left side of the scan are two cards featuring the same person in different guises. On the top left she appears as Misaki Ohata, and on the bottom left she appears as Yapper Man #3. Some people might be wondering when the Wrasslin' Booty Action mentioned in the title of the post would appear, and now it's time. This match features Sakari, Katsuo, and Oyaji taking on Yapper Man #1, Yapper Man #2, and Yapper Man #3. The whole match is pretty fun, but if you're just here for the Booty you can skip to 3:07 on the video. It continues in some form pretty much until the end of the match.

02. Sakari, Katsuo & Oyaji vs Yapper Man #1, #2... by SenorLARIATO
Skip to 3:07 for the start of the Wrasslin' Booty Action.*

Back to the scans, in the upper right is a wrestler whose name Google translates to Mizu-haaya. She also appears to go by the name Ryo Mizunami. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to translating and interpreting the information I find.

In the lower right is Lin Byron, who also competes as the masked wrestler Ray, which was her original ring identity. Ray debuted in 2003, while she appeared as Lin Byron in 2010. That wraps up the individual base cards in the set, which make up cards #1-113 in the checklist.

Cards #114-117 feature teams of wrestlers, as shown in the top two cards in these scans. In the upper left is a tag team called Classic Gals, made up of wrestlers Shuu Shibutani and Cherry. Shuu Shibutani retired from wrestling this month.

On the upper right are Las Aventureras, a team made up of Ayako Hamada and Yuu Yamagata. They held the Wave Tag Team Championship immediately after the Classic Gals, and kept the title for 270 days from October 2013 to July 2014, the longest reign so far in the history of that belt. They held it again from October 2014 to March 2015.

Cards #118-121 are some kind of subset, but I am not entirely sure what it's all about. It appears to be some sort of special photo shoot with the wrestlers featured in ring gear on the front and (kind of) street clothes on the back.

I say that they are wearing street clothes, but I am not certain that most folks run around in schoolgirl outfits in their daily lives, unless they are actually schoolgirls. I don't really know.

Cards #122-123 are Hall of Fame cards, featuring wrestlers who retired during the 2013 season. Shown here in the lower right is GAMI, who called it a career after 23 years in the ring.

The final card is a checklist, which has a picture of famous wrestler Kana on the front. She is the one who keeps popping up on searches for KANNA who I talked about above. Kana is reportedly one of the best wrestlers in the business, and she's got a pretty distinctive look to her face paint. And that does it for the base set.

It looks like I've opened three boxes of 2014 cards, with each box producing 5 autographed cards. There are also autographed Polaroids out there and a couple of cards featuring wrestlers' lipstick prints, but I didn't pull any of those.

I don't think there is any significance to the one blue ink autograph I got, as all the cards are serially-numbered to around 90 each. I've heard that there are special autographs with different ink and extended inscriptions, but I haven't actually seen any of them.

The autographs use the same photos as the base cards. As I mentioned at the top of the post, the 2014 autographs have a much less glossy finish than the 2013 autographs, which had a tendency to smear and bubble because they didn't absorb the ink all that well.

I did pull one dual autograph featuring the tag team Plus Minus 2013, Mio Shirai and Misaki Ohata. Mio is a very popular wrestler and has recently announced that she will retire after the 2015 season. Misaki Ohata / Yapper Man #3 was discussed earlier in the post.

That's about it as far as 2014 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling cards. I still have a lot of gaps in my knowledge, but this is a fun set to collect and I have a good time looking things up to put these posts together.

* - I don't know what you were expecting to see when I promised you some Wrasslin' Booty Action.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

2012 WWE Heritage Allen & Ginter Minis from Australia

Over the last couple of years I've opened a few boxes of 2012 Topps WWE Heritage, a throwback product done in the style of Topps' original 1985 wrestling cards. One of the inserts in the set is a 30-card checklist of Allen & Ginter minis. I'd accumulated enough of them that buying a box of cards would likely just end in me pulling more doubles, so I turned to eBay to see if I could find the singles I needed. Specifically I was hoping to find someone who had all four cards available so that I could take advantage of combined shipping.

As it turned out, the cheapest option was an outfit in Australia. It still amazes me that I can get stuff shipped from Japan and Australia for the same price (or less!) than many American sellers charge. And sometimes the stuff even arrives more quickly to boot.

None of these final four wrestlers really does much for me, Yokozuna's heyday was a bit early for me, although I do remember his cousin, Rikishi. Dusty Rhodes was also popular before I was really aware of wrestling outside of the big stars who were famous outside of wrestling, like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar came around after the time period where I was really into wrestling, so I am aware of them but couldn't tell you much about them. Although I don't have much to say about these cards, they do all share the distinction of being the cards that helped me complete a set, and that's a pretty important thing in its own right.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lauren Hill Heroic Inspirations

I saw this card featured on a few websites when it was released a couple of months ago, and I recently ordered one of my own. Lauren Hill was recruited to play college basketball for Mount St. Joseph, but was diagnosed with a terminal pediatric brain cancer and given a very short time to live. In order to fulfill her dream of playing basketball, the NCAA and Hiram College agreed to change an away game into a home game and move it up by two weeks to allow her to play. Due to overwhelming interest in the game, Xavier University opened up their facility for the game, allowing many more people to attend and watch the game. Most of the school's games would attract 100 fans, but 10,000 attended this one.

Lauren scored the first basket of the game, then was subbed out. She also scored the last basket of the game, which her team won by a score of 66 - 55. She appeared in a couple more games and, more importantly, raised awareness and over $1 million for The Cure Starts Now, a pediatric cancer awareness foundation. She understood that she was going to die, and continued to push and drive for her cause, funding a cure for cancer. Lauren died on April 10, 2015.

Upper Deck released a Heroic Inspirations trading card honoring Hill, with profits from sales going to The Cure Starts Now. I ordered one of them a few weeks ago. There is an autographed version of the card in addition to the base card. The site for ordering the cards appears to be down now but there is another site set up, Layup 4 Lauren, to honor Lauren and continue her work.

I am kind of a soft-hearted guy, so stories like this hit me right in my feels. It was pretty amazing that she remained so optimistic and outspoken, even in the very last days of her life. It is pretty important to remember that many of these stories end without a miraculous recovery and a great many kids with cancer don't pull through, as that knowledge lends a bit of urgency to the need for awareness and funding for research on detection, prevention, and treatment. We tend to avoid the topics of death and disease because they make us uncomfortable and they're not nice or fun or beautiful, but awareness is an important part of enacting change.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Click Here to View Cart 6: A Ponycon Flash Sale Cheese Sandwich

In February the annual My Little Pony convention, Ponycon, was held in New York. It's a pretty big deal, and as part of the celebration the makers of My Little Pony trading cards held a few flash sales on their website. The first time I got a card in one of the Enterplay flash sales I was able to flip it on eBay for $250. The second time I got a flash sale card, I got a ~$30 Fluttershy card for my personal collection for $5. This time the big flash sale offering was a promotional foil card featuring the character Cheese Sandwich. I was able to get in there in time to get one. They usually release just 10 or 20 cards at a time to the public in these sales and there are hundreds or maybe even thousands of people vying to check out first. It helps to go into these things with a strategy and not get distracted or freak out when the stuff populates in the webstore.

Enterplay struggles in the realm of shipping collectibles, so the card arrived in a soft sleeve in a plain white envelope (PWE) and had a big fold in one corner where it had been damaged during shipping. I sent an e-mail in to their customer service explaining the problem and offering to send the card back in exchange for a new one. They told me to keep the one I had and promised to send another one with additional protection. It arrived packaged in a Card Saver, but half the card had slid out of the Card Saver and about a quarter of the card was hanging out of the envelope, too. Outside of a touch of white on the corner it was undamaged, so I decided to let it go. I believe they priced it at $4 this time. On eBay it regularly sells in the $20-30 range, with some outliers going for $15 and others hitting $50. I haven't felt a whole lot of motivation to list it yet, and I might just wind up holding on to it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2014 Topps Stadium Club Dodgers Triumvirate Completed

Last year I opened a box of 2014 Topps Stadium Club and pulled a Clayton Kershaw Triumvirate Illuminator card. The Illuminators a case hit, and are an acetate parallel of the normal Triumvirate Luminous insert set. Then in March sometime, I picked up a copy of the Hanley Ramirez Illuminator on eBay. At the time I thought that the third card in the Dodgers Triumvirate was Hyun-Jin Ryu, which I figured I would be able to pick up relatively cheap. As it turned out, he was actually part of the 'Pitchers of Asian Descent' Triumvirate, and the card I needed to complete the 'Dodgers Superstars' Triumvirate was none other than Yasiel Puig. At the time, prices on the Puig card were not in my range and I put the project on the back burner.

At the end of April I saw the Puig Illuminator pop up on my eBay feed at a decent price and I bought it, completing the three-card puzzle. I guess I could have scanned the cards all together to make the puzzles above look better, but that would mean tracking them all down again and running them through the scanner. It was easier to just find all the old individual scans in my computer and stick them in this post. The result is butt-ugly and no one will want to look at it, but I justify it because it is easy.

Oh, and when I bought the Puig the seller was offering free shipping if I spent a certain amount of money with them. The amount I needed to spend was the same as shipping was going to cost on the Puig, so I figured I'd rather get two cards with free shipping than spend the same amount and get one card. I chose this Jeff Bagwell Hall or Nothing insert from Skybox eX-2000. It's a die-cut, cardboard and acetate layered monstrosity of an insert that represents the best and worst of cards in the late 90's.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Giancarlo Can Hit a Baseball a Quarter Mile

The other day Giancarlo Stanton hit a baseball out of Dodger Stadium, crushing the ball an estimated 475 feet. It's not quite a quarter-mile, but it's a lot further than you'll ever see me hit a baseball. About the only person you'll find who can compete with Stanton's prodigious feats of strength is Napoleon Dynamite's Uncle Rico circa 1982, who will tell you that back then he could throw the pigskin a quarter-mile, or about the length of 4-1/2 football fields.

I picked up a couple more Members only parallel cards from 2014 Stadium Club, with one of those being Stanton's card. The photo is a close-up of him at the plate, getting ready to launch another ball into orbit.

The other Members Only card I picked up features a nice photo of Shin-Soo Choo at the plate. He suffered through the Rangers' dismal season last year, and started this year off a little slow before picking it up and swinging a pretty hot bat the last few weeks. Over the last 14 days he's gone 21 / 60 with 8 runs, 4 home runs, and 8 runs batted in. That's good for the 35th-best numbers over that time span in the world of fantasy baseball.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hakeem Olajuwon 2013-14 Panini Crusade Orange Die-Cut # 33 / 99

I was able to watch the Houston Rockets' Game 7 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday, and that was pretty good to see. The game was pretty low on drama, which is a good thing when your team is the one on top. The Rockets led for the entire game, although the Clippers made it within a couple shots of things getting interesting near the end. Houston was able to close the thing out, though, and advance to face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Houston overcame a 3-1 deficit and won three in a row to close out the series.

Including this year's team, only 9 teams in NBA playoff history have recovered from a 3-1 hole and gone on to win a series. The one that everyone is making comparisons to is the 1995 Houston Rockets, who fell behind the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals, came back, and went on to win the NBA Championship. That team was led by the subject of today's card, the great Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon. This is a Orange Die-Cut parallel from 2013-14 Panini Crusade Basketball. It's numbered # 33 / 99, which means I missed his jersey number by one. I like the Crusade cards a lot. They have a nice design and all of the different colors are fun to collect. I don't have any aspirations for chasing the full rainbow on these, but I will pick them up when I can.

I hope the Rockets can put up a good showing in the Conference Finals, and maybe even win the thing. The Warriors are a pretty tough draw this year, so I am keeping my expectations low.