09 February 2016

2016 BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Pro Wrestling

Although 2016 Topps Baseball Series 1 is a pretty exciting release at this time of year, the set I was really looking forward to was the latest installment of BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling cards. They came out right at the end of January and it took a few days for my three-box order to cross the Pacific Ocean and move through customs, but they arrived mostly intact (the outer box was split along the sides and it caused a little damage to one box of cards which meant that some of the cards had little dings on their edges.

This first photo is the box lid, featuring the usual assortment of stars from the various wrestling promotions represented in the card set. It also gives some information along the bottom, telling you that there are 20 packs with seven cards each per box, along with what I'm assuming are suggested prices of 8,000 JPY (about $68.50 as of this writing) per box and 400 JPY (about $3.42 right now) per pack. The currencies move around relative to each other every day, so it's hard to nail down an exact price unless you pay with Paypal. I had a coupon and paid a lower initial price per box for mine, but shipping brought it back up to about $60 per box for the overall transaction. I did earn some points for my next purchase, too, which will be good for a few dollars when I use them.

I folded out the rest of the box here. The sides of the box contain what you'd expect to see, with more pictures of wrestlers along the sides, set name on the front, and company information on the back. The bottom of the box contains the checklist. There are 126 base cards in the set this year, with a couple of small subsets at the end of the checklist. Most of the wrestlers have autographs in the product, with print runs in the 85-100 range for each autograph. There are a couple of wrestlers with smaller print runs. There are a couple of additional types of hit, with inscription autos (special colored ink, more elaborate signatures, and a print run of # / 5) and Polaroid photos (candid shots on instant-camera photos, autographed with a print run of # / 7). Collectors in Japan can also attend special card shop events and get autographs that are unnumbered but usually have different ink and inscriptions.

The pack design replicates the design of the box. Again, each pack contains 7 cards. the back of the pack shows a small breakdown of the checklist, with 113 base wrestlers, 4 wrestling teams, 5 Hall of Fame cards, and 4 candid/casual photos. I scanned a lot of cards for this post, so at some point I might run out of words.

Aja Kong - 朱崇花 / Cassandra Miyagi - カサンドラ宮城 / Haruka Kato - 加藤 悠
Kyoko Kimura - 木村響子 / Kuroneko (Moeka Haruhi) - クロネコ / Command Bolshoi - コマンド・ボリショイ
The collation was pretty consistent, if somewhat frustrating, across my three boxes. There are 140 cards per box. Box 1 contained 5 special cards, 110 / 126 base cards, and 25 duplicates. Box 2 contained 5 special cards, 110 / 126 base cards, and 25 duplicates. Box 3 contained 6 special cards, 110 / 126 base cards, and 24 duplicates. Because of the way the duplicates fell I have a couple cards in the checklist where I have 1 copy and others where I have 5 copies. So I have enough cards for three base sets but I only have one complete base set.

The cards don't deviate too much from the established format for these sets. As I was opening the cards I actually thought that I was seeing repeat photos throughout the set, but I went back and checked them against the 2015 cards and found that the pictures on the card fronts in many cases were from the same photo shoot but at least featured slightly different poses. The photos on the backs mostly show in-ring action.

Meiko Satomura - 里村明衣子 / Sawako Shimono - 下野佐和子 / Dash Chisako - DASH・チサコ
Dump Matsumoto - ダンプ松本 / Maki Narumiya - 成宮真希 / Hyper Misao - ハイパーミサヲ
I tried to scan wrestlers with interesting gimmicks or props for this post to keep interest up, as well as some of my personal favorites. The problem with that approach is that I sometimes scan in a wrestler whose name I can't track down easily. That makes these posts pretty labor-intensive at times. A good example is Kuroneko from the previous batch of cards. She is a masked alter-ego for Moeka Haruhi, but when you input the Japanese text into a search engine you get a bunch of pictures of black cats. Other times I'll put in a name and it will turn out to be a common name or the name of a popular anime/manga character and the search results will be flooded with all of that stuff. It seems inevitable that I will misidentify someone at some point, so if any readers out there have corrections or insight into something I've missed I am receptive to that sort of thing. 

I think this is about the point where I run out of steam when it comes to writing words in between the pictures. Luckily I've got some scans coming up with points I want to hit, so I just have to get through this paragraph and hopefully the writing process will pick back up.

Hibiscus Mii (Apple Miyuki) - ハイビスカスみぃ / Chihiro Hashimoto - 橋下千紘 / Ayako Hamada - 浜田文子
Bambi - バンビ / Akane Fujita - 藤田あかね / Hiroyo Matsumoto - 松本浩代
There's quite a bit going on in this group of pictures. The main thing I noticed was the A&W logo on Hibiscus Mii's uniform. After a little searching I found a Tweet on her Twitter account saying that she is sponsored by A&W through the Higa Distillery. Bambi is another one of those wrestlers who was difficult to find because searching her name brought up a million cartoon deer. The baseball that Akane Fujita is holding in her photo clearly shows Chunichi Dragons branding. I'm not 100% sure if there is a connection there. I am also not certain why Hiroyo Matsumoto is sporting a Godzilla hand puppet.

Ayako Hamada has a bit of a following in the blogosphere because of Sportscards From The Dollar Store's 2/14 collection, featuring cards of people who share his Valentine's Day birth date. There are actually a few other wrestlers who have that birth date. I've had a small stack of cards set aside to send to him for a long time now, probably well over a year. One of these days I will find it again and ship it out.

Aoi Kizuki - 希月あおい / Tsukasa Fujimoto - 藤本つかさ
Makoto - 真琴 / Mochi Miyagi - 宮城もち
There aren't a lot of horizontal cards in the set, but there are a few. I guess for the most part they feature the sitting / lying down poses.

The card backs on these cards are horizontal, too, which is something you don't usually see in a sports card set. I guess it works out. I'm not sure why Tsukasa Fujimoto gets a full banner across the top and the others don't. It's probably just because she has that horizontal photo while the others have vertically-formatted photos.

Ryo Mizunami - 水波 綾 / Yapper-Man No. 3 (Misaki Ohata) - ヤッペーマン3号 / Megumi Yabushita - 藪下めぐみ
Kaori Yoneyama - 米山香織 / Rabbit Miu - ラビット美兎 / Ray (Lin Byron)  - Ray
I wasn't even going to do this scan, but I ran into a bunch of favorite wrestlers at the end of the checklist and had to grab a couple more to do the full scan of six cards. There are a lot of wrestlers who wrestle both as themselves and under one or more masked identities. I guess that allows them to participate in comedy matches or explore other characters and personalities without throwing off the story lines of their main identities.

One thing the new set has done is make me want to watch some more matches. I've kind of gotten away from that over the last little while as there is a lot of other stuff competing for my attention. But with the NFL season being over (I am writing this last Saturday, so I don't know the result of the Super Bowl yet) and some other things settling down I should be able to work in some time to watch at least some wrestling.

Best Friends - ベストフレンズ / Mio Shirai - 紫雷美央 / Neko Nitta - 新田猫子
Sendai Sachiko - 仙台幸子 / Fairy Nihonbashi - フェアリー日本橋 / Yuka - 優華
I'll close out the base set with a look at the subsets. The first one features wrestling team-ups. Here the subset is represented by the Best Friends tag team made up of Arisa Nakajima and Tsukasa Fujimoto. The next subset is Hall of Fame, which is made up of notable wrestlers who had their retirement matches in 2015. There are some pretty big names there. The final subset name translates to Plainclothes Appearance and features a handful of wrestlers in their street clothes. I always think it's interesting to see the masked wrestlers wearing regular clothes.

The backs of most of the retirement cards show scenes from the wrestler's actual retirement event, so there's a lot of stuff like being carried around by other wrestlers and tons of ribbon being thrown into the ring. The backs of the casual photo cards feature facsimile autographs and additional photos.

Yuka Sakazaki - 坂崎ユカ / Riho - 里歩
Shoko Nakajima - 中島翔子 / Misaki Ohata - 大畠美咲
Police Woman - ポリスウ~メン
These are the autographs from the first box I opened. They are all base autographs, but you can see that the wrestlers put a lot of extra stuff into their autographs, like doodles, hearts, and inscriptions. All of these are serially-numbered to # / 85 except Police Woman, which is serially-numbered to # / 100.

Makoto - 真琴
The second box of cards had a Polaroid as one of the hits. You can see that it's got an autograph and inscription from Makoto, as well as a couple of hearts. These are pretty cool hits and they are pretty rare, too. This one is numbered # 3 / 7.

Sumire Natsu - 夏 すみれ / Miyako Matsumoto - 松本 都
Sareee - Sareee / Kagetsu - 花月
Box 2 also contained a decent selection of four base autographs for a total of 5 hits in the box, which seems to be the average for these boxes. The print runs again are all right around # / 85, with Sumire Natsu being # 14 / 84, Miyako Matsumoto being # 47 / 85, Sareee is # 72 / 82, and Kagestu is # 10 / 85.

Aoi Kizuki - 希月あおい / Tomoko Watanabe - 渡辺智子
Yapper-Man No. 3 (Misaki Ohata) - ヤッペーマン3号 / Moeka Haruhi - 春日萌花
Dynamite Kansai - ダイナマイト・関西 / ShuTakashihana (Asuka) - 朱崇花
The final box had an extra hit, for a total of 6 autographs. They are all base autographs, but I got some pretty good ones. Aoi Kizuki has a nice colorful signature on her card with some blue sparkles thrown in. At first I thought it might be one of the special limited inscription autographs, but it wasn't. I'm a fan of Misaki Ohata's Yapper-Man No. 3 character, so it was cool to pull that card from a pack. ShuTakashihana (Asuka) is the first transgender joshi. Asuka's base autograph has a lower print run than all but one other wrestler in the set, with my copy being numbered # 38 / 43. The rest fall in the normal print range, with between 83 and 99 copies in a given print run.

That does it for my rundown of the 2016 BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Wrestling card set. I pulled some pretty good stuff from my boxes and I'll probably be trying to get more as the year goes on. I'd like to track down one of the # / 5 inscription autographs, but we'll see how it goes. I'd also like to build up my collection of base cards so that I don't have just the one base set. There were some base sets on eBay for about $30 shipped recently, but I don't know if the seller is going to relist them. I like opening the boxes, though, because you get so many autographs per box and those generally sell for more than I want to pay on eBay or as singles from websites. I'd say the average price including shipping is probably around $10 with more for bigger stars, so it makes sense to get your $50-60 worth of autographs in a box and get all the base, too.


  1. That looks like a pretty fun thing to tear in to. Those autograph cards of Tomoko Watanabe and Dynamite Kansai are really cool!

    1. It's a pretty fun rip. I like flipping through all the base cards, and the autographs are cool enough that it's pretty exciting to pull one. There are just enough rare cards (Polaroids, Inscription Autos) to make things exciting without drowning the set in endless inserts and parallels. I like the current format of the product, although I wish collation were better.

  2. You already know how much I love these cards... especially the autographs. I would definitely be annoyed with the collation though. 3 boxes = 1 set? That's a little extreme. Oh well... at least you got a bunch of sweet looking signatures.

    1. Yeah, it is frustrating that you get enough cards in a box to get a complete set, but you get enough doubles that you don't quite get there. With different boxes I might have completed three sets, but instead I've just got the one. Still, pulling 5-6 autographs in a box does a lot to dull the pain.