30 July 2015

Pack of the Day 102: 2015 Bowman Retail Pack

I bought a pack of 2015 Bowman a couple of weeks ago. I guess it probably came from Target? I don't remember. It didn't really have much in it that interests me, so I set it on my desk and it has been floating around near the scanner ever since. Since new card acquisitions are kind of slow lately and I have a bunch of longer posts I haven't got around to yet, I scanned the cards so I would at least have something for the blog.

First up is the Veterans part of the base set. These are the non-prospect guys, although that Javier Baez dude in the lower right is kind of straddling that line between prospect and non-prospect. I guess he qualifies for the RC logo, so he can't be in the prospect set any more. Greg Holland at least has a decent photo on his card. I think he might be on every one of my fantasy baseball rosters this year. There is a whole lot of blue in this scan.

The most notable card on that top row is the David Dahl card. It has the Bowman Chrome logo and the printed name and team logo instead of the foil name and logo, but it doesn't have the Chrome treatment that makes the card all glossy and silver like the Chrome cards on the bottom row. I just noticed that, so I guess it was worthwhile to revisit this pack so that I could discover a great oddity.

I really like those Bowman Scouts' Top 100 inserts. I guess there is just something about rankings and lists that appeals to me. When I was a kid collecting basketball cards I had a monthly 'Hot List' where I ranked my top 20 or so favorite players and tracked their rankings over time. Once I came up with my list I would swap their cards all around in my binders so that my collection was in order by Hot List ranking. I don't really recognize any of the names on this list, except maybe for Bradley Zimmer. I like Bowman as a product because there is all sorts of stuff in the packs, but when it comes to the prospect cards I usually don't have much of a clue.

29 July 2015

2014 Topps Stadium Club Adam Eaton Trio

I picked up this trio of Adam Eaton cards from 2014 Topps Stadium Club, mostly because of that card up at the top with the foil Members Only stamp. I've been gathering Members Only parallels from the 2014 set here and there, and I am guessing I've got between 15 and 20 of them. There were rumored to be less than 10 copies of each one, so the supply was pretty limited to begin with and I don't see a whole lot of them pop up any more. Most of the copies I've grabbed are lower-end players, like Eaton here, as the big stars and retired Hall of Famers tend to pull in the big dollars. A lot of these other dudes fall through the cracks. Probably the biggest name I've been able to snag so far is Zack Greinke.

I did add Adam Eaton to one of my fantasy baseball rosters recently as a backup outfielder, and he rewarded me with a home run tonight. In addition to the Members Only card, this lot contained the base card shown on the bottom and the Electric Foil parallel in the middle.

There are bloggers out there who have Star Wars-inspired names for cards that show all infield dirt or all outfield grass in the backgrounds, but I can't even keep my own name straight half the time, so I don't remember who coined the terms. The dusty shots are Tatooine cards and the grassy shots are Endor cards. This one falls into the Endor category. Even though it's a fairly simple shot there is a lot going on visually. The lines in the grass give some variety to the background. The ball is included in the picture which gives some good context to Eaton's pose, and he's wearing a nice throwback uniform to boot. I'm glad that I was able to track down another Members Only parallel, as I'm sure there won't be a whole lot more of these popping up in my price range as 2014 fades further into the past. Maybe someday I'll get my card collection all sorted and collated and figure out just how many of these things I've got.

28 July 2015

Rainbow in the Dark 31: An Addition to the Jon Singleton 2015 Topps Archives Rainbow

A little while ago I showed off the Black # 1 / 1, the Gold # / 50, and the Silver # / 199 that I acquired for the Jon Singleton 2015 Topps Archives rainbow. A couple of weeks ago this Black printing plate showed up on my eBay feed and I was able to snag it for my collection. I think the Black plate is the best one to get as it usually has the most visible detail and the clearest picture out of the four plates. I'll still keep an eye out for the Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta plates, though.

With there being only a few parallels in this set I have a realistic chance at completing the full rainbow, as long as those other plates get pulled from their packs and pop up at reasonable asking prices. Right now it seems like I am the only guy out there buying Singleton cards, so now would be an ideal time for those other plates to surface. If Singleton goes off on a big hot streak, then some other collector might begin competing with me. My guess is that he's the first person to get sent back down to AAA when the Astros need to free up a spot. I guess they could package him in a trade deadline deal, but his trade value seems to be pretty much zero and I don't know how his contract fits into the financial side of things.

27 July 2015

Pack of the Day 101: I Went Tail Over Teakettle on the Way to Get a Jumbo Pack of 2015 Topps Allen & Ginter (Bubba's Bangin' Batch of Baseball Bits 2015 Topps Allen & Ginter Contest #6 Entry Post)

This all ties together in the most tenuous of ways, and it eventually leads to some baseball cards. I wanted some of the new Allen & Ginter, but I hadn't had an excuse to go the the store. On Saturday we ran out of dog food and I needed to get some lunches and dinners for this week as my family is out of town on a trip, so I had my excuse to go shopping, but I needed to take a shower before I went anywhere. I wouldn't want to show up on People of Walmart for being a stinky fool.

So there I was, showering away, when I stepped on a super slippery spot and began to fall. I cast my gaze about for something to grab hold of, but there is surprisingly little in the way of handholds in our tub. I did manage to grab at the hose leading to the shower nozzle, but not in any way that helped me. I was going down. As I crashed through the shower curtain I thought about how I was all alone in the house, and that's how people wind up dying from falls. I also found time to swear a couple of times. I managed not to hit my head on anything, but I did manage to gather a nice collection of injuries. I tore a big chunk out of one of my fingers, either from grabbing at the shower nozzle or from hitting my hand on the lip of the garbage can. I jammed my other wrist on the floor, and that is still pretty stiff. My back took the brunt of the fall, landing awkwardly on the stepstool my sons use to get up the the toilet. I bruised my tailbone pretty hard and pulled something higher up in my back. That injury has been the worst, as it hurts to do common activities like moving and breathing. I am hoping it clears up pretty soon. I am also looking at getting a non-slip mat for the shower.

I wasn't dead, so there wasn't much to do but step (carefully) back into the tub, get the nozzle pointed back in the right direction, and finish my shower. After that, it was off to Wal-Mart. I had intended to go to Target, but I fiddled around for too long in the day and Target was closed. I wasn't expecting Wal-Mart to have any Ginter, but I hoped that they did. As I rounded the corner of the aisle I saw that there were both Jumbo Packs and Blaster boxes. I first grabbed a Jumbo Pack, but then I figured that they'd been searched and I might be better off with a Blaster. I put the Jumbo Pack back on the hook and grabbed a blaster. Then I finished my shopping. I determined that I probably didn't have $20 to spare, so I went back and put the Blaster on the shelf and grabbed a different Jumbo Pack. That is the pack whose contents I am showcasing in this post.

Here is a scan of the pack itself. It is all pretty standard stuff. 14 picture cards are promised, and the little disclaimer at the bottom reminds you that the cards shown aren't necessarily the ones contained in the pack. So apparently there aren't Jose Abreu and Clayton Kershaw autographs inside every Retail Jumbo Pack of 2015 Allen & Ginter. Good to know.

Every base card in the pack was a baseball player. I thought that was kind of a crazy occurrence. Usually you get at least one non-baseball subject. Some people open packs of Ginter that contain no baseball players! My favorite of the bunch was this George Springer card. The Astros have got a huge series coming up against the Angels after dropping 2 of 3 against the Royals over the weekend. They have the same number of wins as the Angels, but have two more losses on the year. A series win could get the Astros back on top of the division. Springer won't figure into the result at all, as he is out for a few weeks with a fractured wrist.

As far as the card design goes, the set looks like every other Ginter set of the past few years. I went back and looked, and it doesn't look exactly like 2013 and 2014 Allen & Ginter but if you held up a card from any of these three years at random and asked which it was I would probably answer wrong much of the time. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know. I guess at least the brand is identifiable. You aren't really going to mistake A & G for anything else.

I like Alex Gordon all right, even if the Royals have dropped a little in my favorite team rankings lately. You might say that me and the Royals have some bad blood after this weekend.

I also have some beef with that Fernando Rodney guy. This is mostly because sometimes in fantasy baseball you find yourself in need of saves, and over the last few years Rodney has been in the discussion for saves on whatever team he plays for. His ratios can be so awful, though, that it's like shooting yourself in the foot to pick him up. He recently got another shot at the Mariners closing job and lost it again to Carson Smith. Wins and saves are cruddy stats anyway, but they are the standard in most leagues so you have to account for them.

Tulowitzki has had an interesting career. Most recently he was in the news for misspeaking (or at least for speaking his mind) and saying that he would continue going out and playing like the Rockies' games matter. It's got to be tough to be one of the better players in the league and spend your whole career on a team that just can't get it together for any meaningful runs. edit: Of course, as soon as I post something like this Tulowitzki would get traded after years and years of trade rumors falling through. He's going to the Blue Jays in exchange for Jose Reyes and prospects.

I didn't realize that Adam Jones had been a Mariner, but I also wasn't paying much attention to baseball in 2006 and 2007. I did still have fantasy baseball teams in those years, but I can cruise through just about any fantasy sports season and barely look at names and teams. It's all a spreadsheet game. I probably do worse in years where I am paying attention to real baseball, because I get hung up on the 'name' players and have a harder time letting someone go when they're doing poorly. That's why I do pretty well at fantasy hockey. I've never watched a hockey game in my life, so it's all just numbers to me. Jones has been a regular on my rosters as an Oriole for several seasons now. This year he hasn't quite lived up to his draft position. He hasn't been a slouch at all, but he hasn't delivered on his late first - early second round price tag.

My one full-size insert from the pack was this What Once Was Believed card about the Flat Earth theory, which is pretty much what it sounds like. People used to believe that the Earth was flat, with edges and corners and whatnot.

I got two minis in the pack. One was a regular old Dellin Betances mini, and the other was a First Ladies insert of Caroline Harrison. She's got a bit of a mullet going on there, so I guess that makes her pretty Metal as far as First Ladies go.

The last card in the pack (actually it was in the middle of the bottom half of the pack, so it was probably like the tenth or eleventh card in the pack) is this purple-framed relic of Zach Wheeler, the Mets pitcher who is early in the process of recovering from Tommy John surgery. It's a nice-looking card, even if the relic piece does have a large glob of dusty lint attached to it. I don't know that it would survive a trip through the laundry, although now that I've thought of it I am kind of tempted to try it out just to see what it would look like in the end.

I also wonder what was left behind in the Jumbo Pack and Blaster box that were originally in my cart. I probably wound up with the best pack out of the bunch, but any time I pick something up and put it back I can't help wondering if I had some mega hit within my grasp.

26 July 2015

Contested Shots 9: Crowning the Contest Champions!

Photo of wrestler Command Bolshoi taken from the JWP~ICE RIBBON~REINA Facebook Group

The entry period for my blog's first contest has ended. The prizes available are one base set of 2015 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling trading cards and a couple of autograph inserts from that same set. All told I counted 10 different entrants, with 2 commenters getting bonus entries for promoting the contest on their blogs and posting the links in the contest post comments section. That made a total of twelve entries on the list, which I randomized on Random.org four times.

Appearing in the first spot and winning the complete base set of 2015 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling trading cards is Commishbob! Congratulations!

Coming in last in the randomization and winning the 2015 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling autographs is Jupiterhill! Congratulations!

I will try to contact the winners, but if you want to contact me that works, too. There is a link to my e-mail on my Blogger profile. I'll just need a name and address so that I can ship the prizes out.

For those who didn't win, there is still a chance that some of these cards could be heading your way in future trade packages. I've got some extras on-hand from a couple of the BBM True Heart sets, so I'll do my best to send a sampling out across the blogosphere to people who have shown interest in them.

24 July 2015

Star Wars Illustrated: The Empire Strikes Back Princess Leia Sketch by Angelina Benedetti

I meant to post a couple more times this week, but I got sucked back into my Out of the Park Baseball 16 campaign. In case you haven't heard about it OOTP, it's a super-detailed baseball management simulator. Instead of playing with a historical MLB league, I created a small fictional league located in the Pacific Northwest. Anyway, it is super-addictive and it can be hard to close the game down. I always want to play just another season to see if my roster moves will get my team into the playoffs.

I have a contest running on my blog right now, with a couple of prizes available from the 2015 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling card set out of Japan. Go here to enter. All it takes is a comment on the post to enter, and you can get an additional entry by promoting the contest on your blog and posting the link in the comments. The deadline is this Saturday evening (25 July 2015), so you've only got a couple more days to enter if you haven't already. On to this post's real content!

I picked up another Star Wars sketch card featuring Princess Leia. I believe this is my fifth sketch card featuring the character. This one was done by artist Angelina Benedetti and comes from the Star Wars Illustrated: The Empire Strikes Back trading card set. Benedetti is an artist out of Germany who seems a little obsessed with Natalie Portman and also Star Wars. She does some decent artwork and I am glad that I was able to add this sketch card to my collection.

Storage is a bit of an issue for me at the moment, though, as this is a two-panel booklet card. I don't have any double-sized top loaders or magnetic cases, so I don't really have an effective way to store it without keeping it folded. Keeping it folded would keep me from displaying it, and if I am always opening and closing it to look at the art I risk having the hinge wear down. I guess worrying about how to display your artwork would qualify as a #firstworldproblem.

In other news and changing the subject completely, I was running a little late for work this morning and that meant I missed my ride on the commuter van. So I had to go out to the garage and get my motorcycle, which I haven't ridden for a couple of weeks. While I was closing the garage door I noticed a rather large Black Widow spider hanging from one of the door panels. I tried to take a picture of it with my phone, but it was too dark and I couldn't get a decent focus, so I determined that I needed to capture the spider

I went into the house and got a jam jar (and put on my gloves), and raised the garage door back up until the spider was at about shoulder height. It sidestepped the jar a few times, but I finally got it captured without injury to myself or the critter.

One of my sons was awake already, so I ran to show him my prize. The ruckus woke up my wife, who wanted to see the spider, but also wanted to make sure I had a plan for disposing of it. All of the noise and light in the hallway woke up another of my sons, and he came out of his room to see the spider. I didn't want to kill the spider, but I was now quite late for work and also didn't really want to take time to find a good place for it. So the jar went into my bike's saddlebags and off we went on a motorcycle ride. People at the office were sufficiently impressed by the size of the spider, and I made sure to keep it away from anyone who might be sensitive to that kind of thing. I don't want to cause anyone trauma just because I am fascinated by creepy crawlies.

Here is the star of the show.
My family was leaving on a trip today, so they had to drive through the city where I work in the middle of the day on their way through. The boy who did not wake up for the spider show in the morning really wanted to see the spider, as they had been talking about Black Widows a few days ago and he didn't want to miss his chance to see a real one. He was kind of interested in the spider until he saw the donuts on my desk. Then he was mostly interested in his donut.

When I got home from work I let the spider go out behind my back yard. Our house backs up to a canal with trees and junk along the banks, so it should be able to find a place to live over there somewhere. It didn't seem to be any worse for wear from spending a day with me at the office and traveling over 40 miles by motorcycle.

From another angle.

This was probably the fourth- or fifth-largest Black Widow I have ever seen, and the second-largest I have caught in a jar or bottle. When I was in fourth or fifth grade my dad and I (probably mostly my dad) caught a small one in a baby food jar. I received permission from my teacher to bring it in to the classroom as long as it stayed on the teacher's desk during the day. I thought that was pretty cool. That spider was squashed to death by my mom. I forget the exact circumstances, but for some reason the jar was opened (maybe to put a bug in there for the spider to eat) and the spider made a run for it across the kitchen counter. There was plenty of squealing done by all parties and my mom found something to smash it with.

The largest Black Widow I remember catching in a bottle was during a job I had milking cows in high school. After a batch of cows was done being milked, I would pull a lever that released them from their stations and they would run out the door into the yard. On this occasion I saw that one of the cows leaped to the side and bellowed in pain as it ran out of the milking shed. Then I saw a huge spider hanging in the doorway. Upon further inspection I saw that it was the largest Black Widow I had ever seen. This sucker was huge. So I caught it in my water bottle. Unfortunately it died because there was still a little water in the bottle and it got caught up in it.

The next day when I got to work I saw that the farmer was picking up the cow with the bucket on his tractor to haul it away because it had died. I assume that as the cow went through the doorway it got bitten on the face or something and that was enough to kill it. I think there were only 80-100 cows being milked and I got pretty good at recognizing them, so I am certain it was the same cow. It had to have been bitten on the nose or the eye or something vulnerable, because I don't think a spider could really bite a cow anywhere else due to the bovine's thick skin and hairy coat. It was just one of those weird circumstances that sticks with you.

I have had a few other run-ins with these spiders, although I would imagine that utility workers and folks who work in crawlspaces for a living aren't even fazed by these things. I guess that is because in most cases spiders don't bite. Even though spider bites are super rare and unlikely to kill you, I still get a shiver when I think about venomous spiders living in my home. But really, spiders do not (usually) bite.

20 July 2015

Star Wars Masterwork Scum and Villainy Set + Contest Reminder!

Just a reminder that I am holding a contest for a complete base set of 2015 BBM True Heart wrestling cards and a couple of autographs from that same set! You don't even have to read the whole (really long) post to enter! It just takes a comment. As I write this, there are only two entries. The deadline to enter is this Saturday!

Here is something I picked up a long long time ago, probably soon after the Star Wars Masterwork set was released. It is a 10-card insert set entitled Scum and Villainy, and features some of the great lower-level villains from the movie series. It also features some of the not-as-great villains, but not everyone can be Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt. Boba Fett is the headliner for this set, taking the #1 spot in the checklist. He always has been kind of a cool guy. The inserts are pretty simple in format. The front features a photo of the villain, and the back features a cropped version of the villain and a short bio.

Jabba is a pretty dastardly fella, but he eventually meets his doom at the hands of Princess Leia, who chokes him to death with the chain he is using to keep her captive. I've got a couple of LEGO sets featuring Jabba and his retinue that rank right up there as some of my favorites.

Greedo is a low-level thug who winds up getting shot by Han Solo. For some reason there is a lot of debate over whether Han Solo or Greedo fired first during their encounter at the cantina. I think it is obvious that Han Solo preemptively shot Greedo. Without some of the Sith villains to pad this checklist out, we are rapidly running out of real meaningful villains. Jango Fett is a pretty big deal in that the whole army of Clone Troopers is based on his DNA, but I didn't find his character all that compelling. General Grievous is kind of cool, but doesn't really stick around for very long.

I thought that Ponda Baba died in the cantina scene, but according to the Wookieepdia, he recovered (partially) and went on to have quite a few wild adventures. One cool thing about the Star Wars universe is that pretty much every character with any screen time at all has a fleshed-out story telling where they came from and where they go in between and after the films. In spite of the relatively lackluster checklist, this is a pretty neat insert set. It looks pretty good and it's good to see the villains outside of the galaxy-level bad guys get a little bit of the spotlight.

19 July 2015

2013 SEGA Card-Gen Extravaganza 13: Tampa Bay Rays

I'm back with another installment of the 2013 SEGA Card-Gen set, and after all this time I am getting close to the end of the AL teams. Today's entry is the Tampa Bay Rays. The average number of cards per team across the whole set is 13, and the Rays come in a little under that number with 11 players included in the team set.

Starting things off is catcher Jose Molina. He had a pretty good career, making his money more for his abilities as a catcher than for his ability with a bat. He did pick up a couple of World Series rings, wining one with the Angels in 2002 and one with the Yankees in 2009. His 2013 season went okay, 2014 was a wreck, and he got released by the Rays last November.

In 2013 Loney was coming off of a down 2012 split between the Dodgers and Red Sox. He has picked things up since then, although I guess you'd like to see a little more power in your first baseman. He's still with the Rays.

Zobrist gets the nod at second base. He is a utility guy who has spent most of his time at second, with large chunks of time in right field and at shortstop. He's also played a number of games at several other positions. He was traded to the A's this year and spent a significant amount of time on the DL with a knee injury. He's pretty consistently put up big WAR numbers since 2009 and made the All-Star team twice.

Evan Longoria won Rookie of the Year in 2008 and put up three straight All-Star appearances from 2008 to 2010. From there he maybe tailed off a bit, but even with some regression he is in the top 50-100 players in the game, depending on the season. He'd probably be a lot more popular and famous if he played on a big-market team.

Yunel Escobar gets the call at shortstop for this team. He spent 2012 with the Blue Jays, but got traded in the offseason to the Marlins and then to the Rays. He's another guy who puts up consistently good WAR numbers from year to year. In between the 2014 and 2015 seasons he was again involved in a series of trades. The first sent him and Ben Zobrist to the Athletics, but then he was moves along to the Nationals and is currently playing pretty well for them.

Desmond Jennings is another guy who has put up decent numbers over a period of years. He's currently out with an injury that he sustained in April, and may return sometime next month.

I expected Matt Joyce's numbers to look a lot better than they did when I checked his Baseball-Reference profile, but outside of his All-Star campaign in 2011 and decent years surrounding it in 2010 and 2012, he has been okay but not great. Who knew? He's with the Angels now.

David Price is a consistent All-Star who has won a Cy Young Award once and come close on a couple of other occasions. After being traded to Detroit in 2014 he is at least in the conversation for it again this year. Various Cy Young predictors have him ranked between 4 and 6 currently in the race.

Jeremy Hellickson won Rookie of the Year in 2011 and had a good 2012 which feeds his good rating on this game card, but things have fallen off for him since then. He was traded to the Diamondbacks before the 2015 season and has been about replacement-level for them. He is currently dealing with a blister on his pitching hand.

Moore had a good 2012 and an All-Star 2013 where he went 17-4 on the year. In 2014 he got injured and needed Tommy John surgery. He has recently returned to the field, but in his three starts this month he's given up a lot of runs and has a bit of rust to knock off.

The Rays only get one relief pitcher in this set, Jake McGee. McGee had a knockout 2012 and is pretty consistently a great option as a reliever. He was probably in line to be the Rays' closer this year, but he spent some time injured and that was enough time for Brad Boxberger to grab the role and keep it. If Boxberger struggles then McGee would be first in line to step in and regain the role.

18 July 2015

2015 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling (Read/Skip to the End for a CONTEST!)

I am continuing my feature on the BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Pro Wrestling card sets with a look at the 2015 product. First up is the box lid, which follows the same pattern as the 2013 and 2014 products, with several rows of some of the more photogenic stars on the wrestling circuit. There are also a few base card previews and some information about what's in the box. It's kind of hard to see in the scan, but the flap of the box features a cat character who also gets a spot in the set. I haven't quite figured out if the cat is an actual wrestler or a mascot of some kind. The cat also shows up on the flap of the 2014 box and I haven't actually gone downstairs to check but it might show up in 2013, too

I unfolded the full bottom of the box to show what the sides look like, with rows of additional wrestler photos on the left and right of the box. It also contains a checklist and shows some small photos of the subsets and autograph inserts that can be pulled from the product.

The packs themselves replicate the box top design, while the back of the pack has a small summary of the set checklist, some bar codes, and some information about the BBM (Baseball Magazine) company. On to the base set!

The base cards make up the first 113 cards in the 120-card set. While 2013's set also featured dual images, that set just replicated the pose from the larger photo onto the smaller photo. 2014 moved to a single photo for each wrestler. In 2015 each wrestler gets two different pictures on the front of their card. I don't know a lot about any of these wrestlers, but I tried to grab a bunch of the most interesting photos for scanning. One thing I was looking for specifically was prop usage, like that frying pan wielded by Sakura Hirota in the upper left. The Peter Pan-looking girl in the upper right is called YumiRi, I believe, although I can't find much about her that makes sense to me when Google-translated into English. Some wrestlers have a lot of information out there and some don't. I also don't know a lot about the wrestler on the lower-left, but she certainly has an 'early 2000's Christina Aguilera' look going on, so she gets included in the scans. In the lower right is a masked wrestler known as Command Bolshoi. She's got a big match coming up soon, according to the Facebook groups I follow.

The backs of the cards feature action photos and biographical information such as birth date, height, weight, pro wrestling debut date, and some other stuff I can only guess at. Each also has a little paragraph about the wrestler pictured. I have no idea what to make of that cone-shaped dress in the upper left photo. The wrestler profiles say that she is known for her cosplay, so maybe that is a spin on some cartoon character or something? And YumiRi is pretty young, but apparently she isn't above putting the hurt on someone. Many of her pictures feature her making that symbol with her fingers, so I'm guessing it's her signature move.

Aja Kong is the wrestler in the upper left here. I am not sure what she keeps in that metal box, but it was an interesting enough prop that I felt like scanning it here. She wrestled in some WWF events and recently signed on for a stint with another American promotion, Shimmer Women Athletes. The panda in the upper right is named Erin, but it's hard to find much of anything on the internet by searching for just that. She apparently also goes by Eri Wakamatsu. I still didn't find much, but there are videos of a few of her matches out there. Akira Rin is the wrestler in the lower left with the TKO gloves. Most searches for her bring up a bunch of anime fanfic, so I don't know much about her. The woman with the American flag is Mizuki Endo, who also wrestles as a character named Eiger. She was seemingly born in Japan, and I am not really sure how the flag plays into her gimmick.

Some of the cards feature three-photo progressions that show a wrestling move being performed. I don't think I'd like to be tossed down on that metal box that Aja Kong uses as a prop. Nice to see those MMA gloves being put to work. In watching these matches it's hard to believe that wrestlers don't get hurt more. Some of their kicks, punches, and aerial moves don't seem to leave a lot of room for error.

In the upper left of this next scan is Fairy Nihonbashi, who I've seen in a couple of matches. She uses her wand to control other wrestlers, although it seems particularly tough wrestlers are able to shake off the effects and then punch her in the face. She did post this on her blog the other day, so you know that Fairy-land is a pretty wild place to live:

The masked wrestler in the upper right is Police Woman. She does a lot of saluting. I am not sure if Police Woman is her only character or if she wrestles under another name as well. The enthusiastic-looking woman in the lower left is Ryo Mizunami, and the serious-looking gal on the right is Michiko Miyagi.

Those two cards on the top close out my scans for the base card subset. In the upper left is Tomoko Watanabe. I included her because she looks a lot like one of my nieces. She's a super cute little gal, and she has a big smile. Ray is the masked alter ego of another wrestler, Lin Byron. After the base subset comes a three-card (114-116) subset featuring prominent wrestling tag teams.

Following the tag team subset is another three-card subset (117-119) for notable wrestlers who retired during the previous year. The wrestlers in this subset are Sachie Abe, Tomoka Nakagawa, and Meari Naito. And closing things out at the end is a checklist featuring Mio Shirai, a popular wrestler who is supposedly retiring this year. She wrestles for several different promotions, and one of the advertised draws of this product is that her autographs would be split up evenly between cards featuring her in the costume she wears for each promotion. The checklist shows all four in one picture.

Copious amounts of colored ribbon appear to be a fixture for retirement ceremonies. I've seen matches that start with a smaller amount of ribbon, too. I am not 100% why, but it certainly is colorful. The back of the checklist looks about like you'd expect it to.

I couldn't leave the base set without scanning a few horizontal cards. They seem to mostly feature sitting or lying down poses. The first one up there is Mio Shirai. Next is that cat-costumed wrestler. In the lower left is Yappe-Man No. 3, who looks like a masked Mario Brother Sister. And finally is a card from the Tag Team subset.

The backs of the horizontal cards follow the horizontal format, allowing for larger pictures. Notice what appears to be the Ninja Turtle Leonardo in the lower-left of the scan. I have no idea what is going on there, but I bet it was an entertaining match. I guess the cat is an actual wrestler. Who knew? I can't imagine how warm it would be to wrestle in that suit. Not to mention it would be impossible to see anything.

Boxes of this year's offering usually have 6 autographs inserted. I've opened more 2015 than I have any other year, so I've got quite a few autographs to show. You can see that many wrestlers add inscriptions and doodles to their autograph cards, putting US sports figures to shame in comparison. The photos used on the autograph cards are the same as the ones on the base cards. Sometimes the background shot from the base card is used, and sometimes the background shot is used. The colored borders tend to match up with the costume the wrestler is wearing.

The autographs are serially-numbered on the backs. Most are numbered to around # / 90 copies, but that can vary by a few. The official checklist has the print runs for individual cards listed on it. Most of the wrestlers on the checklist signed for the set, with only three listed as having no autographs in the set. Even the Tag Teams and Hall of Fame (retired) wrestlers have autograph print runs listed.

One wrestler who goes all out on her cards is KANNA. She drew a picture on most of her cards in addition to her signature. Police Woman draws a picture of her mask along with her name. And you'll see the Wave inscription on several autographs because that is the name of one of the wrestling promotions. The wrestler in the lower left is the unmasked identity of Ray. Most wrestler with more than one identity sign cards for both, often in different styles and with different names.

I don't know why I got just five autos in this box, but I did. I guess it's just how collation goes sometimes. I'm not sure what that critter drawn on Shoko Nakajima's card is, but I think it wants a kiss.

This is one of the most recent boxes I opened, and I believe all of the autographs are doubles. Fortunately it is a pretty good batch of doubles. I got another doodle by KANNA; this time it is a candy cane. As far as current popularity goes I kind of have to rely on the message board guy who lives in Japan, goes to the shows, and socializes with the wrestlers. He seemed impressed by this group.

The final box I opened had these four autographs plus a couple of things I hadn't pulled before, which I'll show off later. Kurumi, the wrestler in the upper right, held the ICExInfinity Championship for three months earlier this year.

Here is what the backs of the autograph cards look like. It's basically a standard statement of authenticity, a serial number, and a simple copyright line. You can also see clearly that the autograph cards are all embossed with a BBM logo in the lower corner.

Here are the two things I pulled that I haven't seen before. The first is a Polaroid-style candid photo that has been signed. The ink at the bottom is smeared pretty badly, but there's no helping that, and I am unlikely to get a clean one unless I pull it myself. There are at least two of them on eBay right now, but the seller wants $35 apiece for them. For that price I could almost get another box of cards. Maybe if a copy popped up featuring a wrestler that I really like it would be worth it. This photo features Sonoko Kato, who has been a professional wrestler dating back to 1995. She has held a few titles, but it looks like most of them were held early in her career.

The other card is just a base autograph, but I have never seen a vertical-format autograph from the set. The forum guy who has a complete set scanned his set in, and it looks like there are only two wrestlers with vertical autographs (along with two tag teams), so this is atypical in that respect. I guess the designer just wanted to see if it could be done. The wrestler pictured is Moeka Haruhi, who has a pretty robust Wikipedia page. She was targeted by a persistent stalker who was eventually arrested and was the first professional athlete to pass the weather forecasting exam, which I assume means she got some kind of certificate in meteorology.

I had to scan the backs of those cards, too, since they are different from the rest. The photo is an actual photo from a camera. To show the print run they just printed off a label with the BBM logo and set name, the wrestler's name, and a serial number and stuck that to the back of the picture. The vertical autograph carries the vertical format to the back of the card as well; it is just formatted a little differently to fit the space.


Now it is time for my blog's first contest. It is going to be a relatively simple affair. Anyone who comments on this post will gain entry to the contest. You can gain one additional entry by promoting this contest on your blog and posting the link to your post in the comments below, should you have one. The deadline for entry is the night of Saturday, July 25th. I'll probably post an official end to the contest when I wake up on Sunday. Any entries that get in ahead of my post will be counted.


Once I tally up the entries I will randomize the list 4 times using random.org. I will post the list in a new post here on my blog and use that to determine the winners.

The person at the top of the list will receive a full base set of 2015 BBM True Heart cards. I'll probably try to pad out whatever container I ship it in with other cards from my collection that I think the winner might like.

In honor of my recent streak of winning prizes by placing last in contests, I will also send a prize to the person appearing at the bottom of the list. This prize will be a couple of my duplicate 2015 BBM True Heart autographs, along with a stack of other cards from my collection that I will try to tailor to the winner's interests.

And that's it. If these prizes interest you, comment below. If you believe in giving others a sporting chance and in getting another entry for yourself, go ahead and promote the contest, too.