BBM True Heart is one of my favorite releases each year. It is produced in Japan, and features wrestlers from most of the Japanese women's wrestling promotions. It usually releases early in the calendar year, in January or February. I get pretty excited for it as previews start to show up, and even more when pre-orders open on my favorite retail sites. This year I pre-ordered 3 boxes. Collation is usually not great, but three boxes traditionally has netted me a full base set. BBM opened three boxes on their Facebook page, and the boxes this year seem to drop 6 or 7 autographs for hits. My math suggests that there were between 1800-2000 boxes packed out for the 2017 BBM True Heart product.
Each box contains 20 packs, with 7 cards per pack. The box lid has had the same basic format for the last few years, with a group of images of the more popular wrestlers. The line of text in the upper right seems to talk about the set containing newcomers/rookies. The line in the middle talks about popular tag teams. The stuff at the bottom, just above 'BBM,' appears to discuss the rest of the checklist, which contains veterans, popular wrestlers, and the most complete lineup ever. The vertical lines of text along the right side seem to talk about the inclusion of autographed cards. I am translating this all with an app on my phone, so I may be missing some of it. The box flap traditionally features that cat wrestler in the white mascot uniform, but this year another cat-themed wrestler appears alongside. Her name is Kuroneko, and she recently made an appearance on the This Card is Cool blog. The MSRP on a box is 8,000 JPY, which at current rates is about $72. You can usually find them a bit cheaper at release, but you also have to account for overseas shipping if you are not based in Japan.
The bottom of the box has the checklist. This year's set has 135 cards in it, broken up into a few subsets. Last year there were base autographs, special ink inscription autographs limited to 5 copies apiece, and cheki (Polaroid-style) autographed photos. This year the special ink autographs were dropped, and the print runs on the base autographs were normalized, so almost everyone with an autograph signed 95 base autographs. There is a little more variation with the instant photos, with wrestlers signing between 3 and 9 photos. There are 115 different signers in the set, and 54 photo subjects. If you want to view the checklist, you can look at it here.
The box lid also has two of these little perforated hanger tags on the underside. They've got a little hole at the top so that a shop owner can hang them on a peg.
The pack itself mimics the design of the box, and has the usual pack stuff on the back, some legalese and a truncated breakdown of the checklist.
|Top Row: Aja Kong - アジャコング, Kyoko Inoue - 井上京子, Manami Katsu - 勝 愛実|
Bottom Row: Kyusei Ninja Ranmaru - 救世忍者乱丸, Maho Kurone - 黒音まほ, Command Bolshoi - コマンド・ボリショイ
The base cards have had the same basic design formula for the last few years. You get one or two shots of the wrestler in their ring gear, posed against a colorful background.
The card backs also feature a familiar formula, with a single action photo of the wrestler, a paragraph about them, and a block of information like birthdate, debut date, height, weight, and stuff of that nature.
|Top Row: Reika Saiki - 才木玲佳, Meiko Satomura - 里村明衣子, Third Generation Misaki Guriko - 三代目・三崎グリ子|
Bottom Row: Sawako Shimono - 下野佐和子, DASH Chisako - DASH・チサコ, Dump Matsumoto - ダンプ松本
Cards 1-129 in the set all feature individual active wrestlers. That only leaves room for a couple of small subsets at the end of the checklist. Reika Saiki has got some interesting stuff out there, like this video game-inspired arm wrestling video.
She's got some arms on her, that's for sure. She is also a member of an idol group called Deadlift Lolita. The other member of the group is the cross-dressing male wrestler Ladybeard. They have a Facebook page, a web page, and a music video. I usually find some pretty interesting stuff when researching these posts, and this certainly didn't disappoint.
I'm still trying to recover from those videos. Wow. They overshadowed some other notable wrestlers from that set of scans, though, like Meiko Satomura, DASH Chisako, and Dump Matsumoto. There are always a couple of wrestlers I regret scanning for these posts, because I can't quite translate their names. I think the wrestler in the upper right is another alter-ego of Misaki Ohata, or maybe someone trained by her? I'm not sure.
|Top Row: Cassandra Miyagi - カサンドラ宮城, Hanako Nakamori - 中森華子|
Bottom Row: Nonoko - のの子, Fairy Nihonbashi - フェアリー日本橋
There are some horizontal cards in the set, so I had to scan a few of them for this post. Cassandra Miyagi has wrestled in the United States. She was part of the trio that won Chikara's King of Trios event in 2016, which also included Meiko Satomura and DASH Chisako.
Nonoko (bottom left) is the woman who is arm wrestling Reika Saiki in the video embedded above. Pretty much every online profile she has mentions her cup size, and the back of her card mentions it, too. She has a YouTube video that is a spoof of the PPAP (Pen Pineapple Apple Pen) song that was big a few months ago. I'm not going to link to it here, though. A lot of these wrestlers have other work outside of wrestling. Some are musicians or DJs, some probably have more conventional jobs, some are bodybuilders, and a lot of them do modeling or acting in some form or fashion.
|Top Row: Chesca - チェスカ, Tequila Saya - テキーラ沙弥, Arisa Nakajima - 中島安里紗|
Bottom Row: Hibiscus Mii - ハイビスカスみぃ, Ayako Hamada - 浜田文子, Vancouver Cat - バンクーバーキャット
There are a couple of comic-inspired costumes in this scan. You've got a Wonder Woman-inspired getup on Chesca in the upper left, and a Harley Quinn cosplay on Vancouver Cat in the lower right. You can see in the background picture of Vancouver Cat's card that she's got a Canadian maple leaf on the front of her regular ring gear. I can't pass up mentioning Ayako Hamada here, as she's done some wrestling in the U.S. over the years. I also have to laugh a little every time I see Hibiscus Mii, as she is sponsored by A&W.
Out of my three boxes I was able to complete one base set. That's kind of disappointing, but that's how it is. I wound up with two or three copies of most cards in the set, but there were a few on the checklist that I only pulled one copy of, and I pulled four copies of a few other cards. I got 117 / 135 or 118 / 135 cards from the set in each box, and pulled 16 doubles from each box. The variance comes from the fact that I got 6 autographs in two of the boxes and 7 autographs from the other. You get enough cards to complete two base sets and most of a third from three boxes, but your doubles have to line up right, and mine didn't. That leaves me with a base set and most of two more.
|Top Row: Akane Fujita - 藤田あかね, Hiroyo Matsumoto - 松本浩代, Ray|
Bottom Row: Rabbit Miu - ラビット美兎, Kyoko Kimura - 木村響子, Hikaru Shida & Syuri - 志田光＆朱里
Akane Fujita is apparently a baseball fan. Ray is a favorite wrestler of mine. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor a while ago. As far as I know, she is in pretty poor health at the moment. The first three-card subset is subtitled 'Hall of Fame,' and features wrestlers who retired in 2016. It is made up of cards 130-132. Rabbit Miu was a personal favorite wrestler of mine. I read somewhere that she retired because she was getting married. That is a pretty common occurrence in these promotions.
The second subset fills the last three card numbers in the set, 133-135, and highlights tag teams. The card I chose to scan shows Hikaru Shida and Syuri.
Zippy Zappy recently (well, kind of recently) announced his intent to collect many cards featuring the Japanese baseball Chunichi Dragons. I couldn't help noticing that Akane Fujita is wearing some Dragons gear on the back of her card, including some blue ears that resemble those of the Dragons' koala mascot. Most wrestlers who retire get a final show centered around them, and the cards usually feature photos from that retirement event. I think that's a cool little touch. That about does it for the base set.
|Mizuki Endo - 遠藤美月, Manami Katsu - 勝 愛実, Nodoka-Oneesan - のどかおねえさん, Mitsuru Konno? - 紺乃美鶴, Kyoko Kimura - 木村響子, Maika Ozaki - 尾崎妹加, Hamuko Hoshi - '星 ハム子|
This first scan is the box I pulled seven autographs from. I didn't pull a lot of autographs from the wrestlers I actively collect in this batch of boxes, but I got a nice variety of autographs. Rather than bust a bunch of wax chasing specific cards, I just sought out the ones I was looking for on Yahoo! Auctions in Japan and used a buying service to get them. I got that package the other day, which is really pressing me to get this post done. I'm not 100% sure on some of these names. I can usually find pages or pictures of the wrestlers, but I can't always get the names right.
|Marika Kobashi - 小橋マリカ, Akane Fujita - 藤田あかね, Reika Saiki - 才木玲佳, Yuki Miyazaki - 宮崎有妃, Hyper Misao - □ハイパーミサヲ, Arisa Nakajima - 中島安里紗|
There are some names I recognize here. It is pretty cool that I got Reika Saiki's autograph. I am not sure why Marika Kobashi signed in gold ink, but her print run is 95 cards, just like nearly every other wrestler in the set. I guess that's the pen she had nearby. I like cards with props in them, like Akane Fujita's glove and ball.
|Ryo Mizunami - 水波 綾, Hibiscus Mii - ハイビスカスみぃ, Maruko Nagasaki - 長崎まる子, Maho Kurone - 黒音まほ, Chikayo Nagashima - 永島千佳世, Mika Iwata - 白姫美叶|
I think I am running out of stuff to say. There weren't a lot of autographs in this last box that jumped out at me. I do like that Hibiscus Mii autograph, though, because of the A&W branding on her gear. If every wrestler had sponsorship logos on their gear, it might get a little old, but she's the only one I know of and that makes it kind of cool.
Those were my three boxes of 2017 BBM True Heart. I've got most of the autographs I really wanted, but I will probably still bust a few more boxes of this stuff so I can chase more base sets and maybe some of the rare autographed photos. I always like chasing this product and adding more True Heart cards from any year to my collection.