Back in early March, SumoMenkoMan of the Japanese Sumo Wrestling Cards and Menko blog posted about a Japanese trading card set featuring bass fishing lures. He described the history behind a fishing boom in Japan, and as a hook to get you to go and read the post, I'll mention that it involves Brad Pitt.
Along with that post, he announced a contest for some packs of the Takara BassColle '97 trading cards as well as some other prizes. All you had to do was post a comment about the wackiest trading cards you've ever purchased. Unfortunately, I was the only entrant, which I know was probably pretty disappointing to SumoMenkoMan. I was also disappointed, as I was looking forward to learning about some oddball sets I could track down in the future. In spite of the low turnout, SumoMenkoMan sent me a box packed with all kinds of stuff, starting with cards from the sport that gave him his username and blog title.
These cards are from the 2016 BBM Masterpiece set, which, if I recall correctly, is a multi-sport offering with athletes from sports like badminton, baseball, swimming, rugby, and sumo. I still don't know a lot about sumo, aside from reading SumoMenkoMan's blog and skimming Wikipedia to get the basics down.
I scanned samples of the packs he sent me. There were 8 packs of fishing lure cards, a pack of 2016 Epoch Horse Racing Trading Cards, and 6 total packs from the 2016-17 BBM Fast Break product, 3 from 1st Half (aka Series 1) and 3 from 2nd Half (aka Series 2). These basketball cards were an especially generous prize, as BBM didn't anticipate the demand for them and they sold out very quickly.
I don't follow horse racing very closely at all. I mostly only hear about it when a horse has a chance at winning a Triple Crown and gets mentioned for a few weeks on sports talk radio, and these days I don't even listen to sports talk anymore. In my old car the speakers were so blown out by the previous owner that all I could hear was talk radio, and even that was only if I tuned the balance and fade just right, so that's what I listened to. My new car is new, and came with a trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, so I've been enjoying that and listening to music during my commute for the last few months.
I've made a token effort at deciphering the backs of the cards. The block up top next to the photo seems to be particular race information and rankings. There are things like track names, times, and distances. The Profile information has the information you might expect, like color, owner, birthdate?, trainer, and the like. The colorful chart to the right is the horse's bloodline, which is always important when you're dealing with stock. My dad has a small farm with some cattle, and to improve the quality of your herd, there are catalogs full of bulls with pictures and charts with all kinds of statistics about their offspring. When you're ready to breed your cows, you can order a specific bull from the catalog and the artificial insemination guy will show up with some frozen sperm and get your cows pregnant with that bull's kids. Obviously, the bulls with better statistics cost more, and I'm sure in some cases they are still fathering children after they've died, as long as there is inventory to sell. It sure beats driving the cattle all around to hook up the old-fashioned way.
I scanned a couple of base cards and inserts from the BBM Fast Break packs. I know basically nothing about basketball in Japan, but based on the number of fans in the stands it looks like the B.League has a pretty good following. I was especially entranced by the pink uniforms for the Akita Northern Happinets, as exhibited on the Ryosuke Shirahama card in the upper left. The Happinets have a very slight connection to my favorite NBA team, the Houston Rockets. The Houston Rockets employed Jason Terry for a couple of seasons recently, and his brother, Curtis Terry, was signed to play for the Happinets. Unfortunately, he got picked up for shoplifting and lost his contract with the Happinets. They might be my new favorite B.League team. Apparently their fans travel well and are known collectively as 'Crazy Pink.' The Shinsuke Kashiwagi card on the upper right is from the second series of the product, while the On Fire inserts below both came from the first series packs I opened. The star pattern in the background of the insert is a sparkly holofoil effect, which makes them look pretty cool in-hand.
Next up, I scanned a bunch of the BassColle cards, because some of these lures are pretty cool. Some of my favorites are these ones that replicate the look of mice and grasshoppers or crickets. The card backs feature information on where in the water each lure is used, and a paragraph of information about it at the bottom.
Here are a few vertically-oriented cards that I liked, especially the crawfish. I wonder if they got licensing rights for that Budweiser lure? The 'No Litter!' card has a checklist on the back.
The backs of these are the same as the ones in the previous scan, with a picture, a chart for running depth, and a paragraph about the history and use of the lure.
Some of the card backs are vertically-oriented, but I think most of them are horizontal. It looks to me like there are two checklists in the set, but I only pulled one of them. I guess I could mention that the cards come out of the pack with rounded corners, so no dings here, even with cards that are 20 years old.
Also in the package was a capsule with a fishing lure keychain in it. In a note enclosed with the package, SumoMenkoMan said that he's working on a post about capsule vending machines, and I'm looking forward to reading it.
Here's a picture I took of the keychain with my phone's potato camera. It's a pretty detailed rendition of a lure, just missing the hooks.
The capsule also included a paper insert showing the different designs you can get. I think mine is version 'C.'
The back of the paper insert tells you not to let kids eat the keychain, and not to wrap it around your fingers.
This was a pretty cool prize package. I was happy to win the contest, but kind of bummed out that I was the only entrant. I was looking forward to hearing about strange new card sets. This package was a lot of fun to go through, with a whole lot of variety and novelty. Thanks, SumoMenkoMan!