For a Halloween post there are plenty of trading cards I could post featuring people in costumes. There are comic book cards with their caped superheroes, wrestling cards with their spandex-clad personalities, movie and film cards with a wide range of characters, and even sports cards with their colorful uniforms and equipment. Today I am going to feature some of the most colorful wrestling cards around.
One of my favorite US-based card shops, The Puroresu Central Shop, deals specifically in Japanese wrestling collectibles. I've picked up some very cool things from them, including a very rare figure (from a series of wrestling figures I haven't shown here yet) and several autographed cards for my various player collections. They recently posted on Twitter that they had one box of the 2016 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling cards available in the shop. I wasn't sure whether or not it would be worth going after it, as I'd picked up a bulk lot or two of the autographs in the set and I've got plenty of base cards from the boxes I busted earlier in the year. The price was in the ballpark of what I'd spend to import a box on my own. I finally caved and placed my order. #YOLO
For the full review of this product, you can read my post from February, when I placed my initial order for a few boxes. For this post I am sticking with a handful of base cards and all the hits.
|水波 綾 - Ryo Mizunami; 志田 光 - Hikaru Shida|
雪妃真矢 - Maya Yukihi; KAZUKI
Collation is the worst part about this product. You get 140 cards in a box with about 5 of those spots being a hit. So 135 base cards should be enough to complete a set of 126 cards. Instead, the boxes consistently give out 110 / 126 cards, with around 25 doubles. Argh! #FirstWorldProblems
|紫雷美央 - Mio Shirai|
Most True Heart sets have a subset or two after going through all of the individual active wrestlers. Usually these include tag teams, Hall of Fame or wrestlers who retired the previous year, and modeling or casual photo shoot cards.
Here are four of the autographs I got in this box. They match up with the base cards I selected to scan. Often I will pull a wrestler who I don't know well, and I match up the autograph to the corresponding base card, then I use the checklist to search for their name on the internet.
I didn't know who Maya Yukihi was, so I matched up her picture up with card # 106 on the pdf checklist from the BBM website. Having it in text form allows me to copy and paste the text directly instead of trying to find out how to type the characters, and a quick search (usually) takes me to something I can work with. Those numbers to the right are the print runs for various autographs. The leftmost column is the base autograph, the middle column is the special inscription autograph, and the right column is the Cheki, or Polaroid-type photos that are signed and labeled. The print runs can vary quite a bit, and not all wrestlers have all of the variations.
The backs are pretty standard, with the Certificate of Authenticity and the serial numbering. And now I know why Hikaru Shida wrote # 54 by her autograph on the front of the card. It's card # 54 / 85 in her print run. You can see that KAZUKI's card is extremely limited, as it is one of the special inscription cards. Each wrestler who did those only has 5 of them, and they are usually identifiable by the extra writing and different-colored ink.
Getting a limited # / 5 auto is pretty cool, but the Cheki photos are the biggest hits in the product. And I may have pulled the biggest one of all in Mio Shirai. I've mentioned before that the Shirai's (Mio and Io) are some of the most popular wrestlers around. Mio retired last year, but Io is still active. I've seen rumors that Io has an offer from WWE to join their ranks, along with another popular wrestler named Kairi Hojo. Io and Kairi don't have True Heart cards because they wrestle for a promotion called Stardom that doesn't have cards in the True Heart sets. Stardom recently (sometime in the last year or so) made their own trading card available in their international store, but they are expensive and shipping makes them even more so. I did buy one pack of them a while ago from an eBay seller, but I haven't posted them on the blog. Their brand emphasizes modeling more than other wrestling promotions, and the cards reflect that. They are one of the more English-friendly promotions out there, though. They have a video subscription service that has all of their shows, plus other video events, and every video has English subtitles. The other promotions don't have that, to my knowledge.
Back to the card, Mio Shirai doesn't have a # / 5 inscription card in this year's set, so this is her most limited card in the set. It's a pretty big deal. I guess it would be like an extremely limited farewell year hit of David Ortiz, to compare it to baseball.
The card shop's owner shut down the store a few months ago, citing a need to reorganize and decide what his plan for the future was. During the shutdown he contacted me and we discussed some of the sources for True Heart cards. I guess there aren't a lot of people collecting these cards, and he didn't want the knowledge to be lost if he decided not to reopen. One of the sources he uses is the same one I use, but my e-mails with him were what convinced me to try out the Buyee shopping service. He e-mailed me again after I purchased the box, expressing surprise that I had been the one to jump on it as I know how to get the cards elsewhere. He was a little remorseful about selling the cards when he heard what I had pulled, which I think would be the really hard thing about selling products for a hobby you enjoy. On the one hand, you get to earn money from something you enjoy. On the other hand, the things you enjoy can double as inventory, and you either don't make money because you hold onto everything of value or you have to watch cool stuff move on to new owners. I am glad that someone out there does it, but I would have a hard time owning a card shop just because I'd want to always be busting boxes of stuff and hoarding the cool singles that came through.