26 March 2018

Another Thank You Post

I made a post just a couple of days ago, thanking Jon from A Penny Sleeve for Your Thoughts for a mailing, but in digging through my stacks of cards and paper I found another card from him that requires a post. This one wasn't in an envelope, but it had a note wrapped around it, mentioning the serial number.

This card comes from the 2015 Panini Cooperstown Induction Images insert set. It's a Gold parallel of Goose Gossage, the HOF reliever whose cards I collect. The serial number on this one is # 12 / 25, which makes it a coveted 'Christmas Card,' because if you write the date for Christmas out numerically you get 12/25. I like Christmas Cards, and I collect them, but I can't take credit for the idea. Blogger defgav over at Baseball Card Breakdown has an extensive Christmas Card collection, and has done at least a couple series' of posts showcasing his Christmas Card collection. I gladly stole his idea, though, and I will take a Christmas Card when I can get it.

Hopefully as I dig through these piles I will be able to match up some more cards with their senders, so that I can properly thank the people who have been so generous to my collection. Thanks for the card, Jon!

25 March 2018

Blog Bat-Around: What I Collect

I don't think I've ever participated in a Blog Bat-Around before. I tend to do things on my own schedule, and by the time I am ready to participate in something like this, everyone else has moved on. I think most people have already moved on from this one, too, but I'm posting about it anyway. I think credit goes to Night Owl for starting/inspiring this one, entitled 'What I Collect.' It's basically an excuse to list your various projects and collecting interests. Some people listed theirs in order of preference, but my collecting habits are too random for me to do that.

I'll start off with baseball. I mainly focus on player collections, although there are some other things I chase. I would say the primary player I collect is R.A. Dickey, but Jon Singleton is up there and I also have tried to put together a decent Josh Reddick collection. Evan Gattis is a guy I've tried to start an accumulation for, but I get distracted from that one too easily. He's probably one of my favorite players to watch, though, outside of Jose Altuve. Singleton's available cardboard seems to be drying up, as it doesn't look like he's going to pan out anytime soon. Maybe I'll change my focus to Gattis or someone else once I feel like I'm done getting Singleton cards. I also pick up Munenori Kawasaki cards when I can, but I think he announced his retirement in the last few days, and he doesn't really have a lot of cardboard out there anyhow.

Because I can't reasonably expect to get all of the cards of any given player, I just try to get the ones I like best, and the ones that are available at a reasonable price. I will grab random hits and cards featuring other players I like, such as Max Scherzer, but when it comes to single cards I am usually pretty focused on a handful of guys. I did pick up a whole lot of Topps Now cards from last season, mostly the ones featuring Astros. I also like to get some of the oddball cards that Topps prints for the Now program, like the card that talked about the Royals' Rally Mantis. I will generally grab any that include a donation to charity. A couple that come to mind are one Topps did for Hurricane Harvey relief and another donating to veteran's charities for Memorial Day.

I usually buy a factory set of Topps and a set of Update from eBay. In most years I collect the blue foil parallel set out of Opening Day. Sometimes I buy a set of Heritage after busting enough of it to realize that I can't possibly build a set without spending a whole lot of money on packs full of doubles. I typically buy a box of Allen & Ginter for Gint-a-Cuffs. Usually I find one other product that I buy a bunch of. Last year it was Bowman Platinum. There are other collections that I sometimes add to, like Wally Moon, Rollie Fingers, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, vintage sets, Fan Favorites autographs from Topps Archives, and oddball releases.

One big focus of mine has been sketch cards and full-size artwork. I have a few main character collections. The primary ones are DC Comics' Power Girl and Leia from Star Wars. I also have small collections of Marvel characters She-Hulk, Squirrel Girl, and Scarlet Witch. I've accumulated quite a few Captain America sketches, as well as a small number of M.O.D.O.K. sketch cards. I will pick up sketches of other subjects, too, if they catch my eye.

I also collect Star Wars cards, but not all that obsessively. I just get what interests me. Topps puts out a lot of Star Wars products, and keeping up with them all would be a full-time collection. I don't have that kind of focus. I gather cards featuring Leia, interesting relics, and autographs from other characters that I like.

I like wrestling cards. They are a lot of fun. Again, I collect just about anything that catches my eye. I don't try to get all of the Topps Now WWE cards, but I get one or two every few months if a wrestler I like is featured. I like autographs of classic guys like Sergeant Slaughter. I also have collections for Nia Jax and Bayley. I started a Charlotte Flair collection after I met her last year at a book signing, but I don't have an autographed card from her yet. John Cena is too popular for me to collect, but I should really track down an autograph of his.

I've gathered a couple of Iron Sheik hits over time, and I went out and got that Trish Stratus autograph recently. Most of my collections are grab bags of single cards that I pick up on eBay, with the occasional box break or group break thrown in.

I also collect trading cards of Japanese women wrestlers. BBM puts out an annual set that covers a wide range of promotions, and the Stardom promotion puts out their own card set every so often. The Stardom packs are really hard to get, so usually I am limited to whatever singles pop up on eBay. I have a pretty good source for unopened BBM True Heart cards, though, and between eBay and Yahoo! Auctions in Japan I am able to get most of the cards I want. I have a full run of Command Bolshoi (the masked wrestler up top) autographs dating back to 2003. That's my best Japanese wrestler collection, but there are several other wrestlers that I collect. I am currently waiting on a large shipment out of Japan, which includes the complete 2004 set, which almost never comes up for sale. A couple of high-level Japanese wrestlers have transferred to the WWE recently, and that has driven up interest a little bit in these cards. 

I collect UFC cards, too. I have a couple of fighter collections. Neil Magny is one of the primary ones, and Randa Markos is one of the others. I really just like to collect a little of everything, though. I will usually grab just about any relic or autograph if it is cheap enough, and especially if I don't already have something featuring that fighter. I gather up low-numbered parallels if I can, from just about any product. It seems like every year I go pretty hard on at least one product. Last year it was Museum Collection and Chrome. This year I might go after those same products.

I chase NASCAR cards, mostly focusing on a handful of drivers. Most of my favorite drivers have retired, so I am looking for new people to collect. I haven't settled on anyone yet. In reality most of my racing card money goes to Danica Patrick cards and the occasional box break. I am thinking about starting a Darrell 'Bubba' Wallace collection, or maybe collecting one of the Busch brothers. Other racers I collect are Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Josh Wise. I also have a small collection of drag racing stuff, with the main focus of that collection being the Force family (John, Courtney, and Brittany). 

I guess this scan represents pop culture celebrities and other sports. I gather autographs, relics, and other cards featuring people that I've heard of from outside of mainstream sports. Goodwin Champions is a good source for those, as are Panini's various celebrity offerings. I've got a fair number of cards featuring Olympic gymnasts, a decent Felicia Day collection, some singers, some authors, and some people who are mostly famous for being famous or being related to someone famous.

Basketball cards were the main thing I collected during my teen years in the 90's. It is mostly a fringe collection now, but I still gather cards for my main player collections (Hakeem Olajuwon, Gheorghe Muresan, Manute Bol). I will also pick up any Houston Rockets cards I can find, but I don't often go out of my way to track them down. 

Football cards are pretty far down my list, but I still have a couple of NFL collections. Most of the cards I add picture former Broncos' tight end Shannon Sharpe. I like getting Terrell Davis and John Elway cards. I will collect just about anything with Tim Tebow on it. I also recently started a Jake Butt collection, because how often does someone named Butt play for your favorite team? I've picked up one or two Von Miller cards over the last couple of years, too, but I have a hard time focusing on football. The careers are so short, and the sport just hasn't been as exciting for me as it was previously.

That's a quick rundown of my collecting world. I am not a very focused guy, so I bounce around from thing to thing as new products release and my interests change.

24 March 2018

Contested Shots 32: World Series Door Prize from Collector's Crack

Cynical Buddha of the blog Collector's Crack held his 7th Annual Almost the Easiest World Series Contest on the Web last year. I guessed the right participants and the winner, but I was off on the number of games it would take, so I didn't win the contest. I did, however, win the random door prize drawing, so I got a prize package anyway. It was mailed out promptly, and I have unfortunately delayed posting about it until now, as the new baseball season is about to get under way.

First up is this winter-themed parallel from Topps' 2017 Holiday offering. I went hard after this set last year, trying to get the accidentally short-printed Cole Hamels card by busting blaster boxes. I think I opened at least 10 blasters before I gave up and bought the Hamels card on eBay.

That Jon Singleton relic card out of Gypsy Queen is a welcome addition to that player collection. He also included some shiny Astros and a retro Yulieski Gurriel insert from Gypsy Queen. The Joe Musgrove card is numbered # 032 / 250. That Randy Johnson Upper Deck Artifacts card is especially nice, and numbered # 01 / 50. There is also a Nolan Ryan phone card, a collectible that went on a pretty big run in the 90's.

The Nolan Ryan phone card is unused, but the one minute of air time expired a little over 17 years ago. Even if the minute hadn't yet expired, it might be a chore to find a pay phone to make the call from. I'd have to search for nearby pay phones on my smartphone.

Closing things out are a Harmon Killebrew / Mike Schmidt Classic Combos card numbered # 160 / 400 and a Future Phenoms relic card of Edwin Jackson, who has played for 12 different teams in his 15 season career so far.

Thank you so much for the prize package, Cynical Buddha! There was a lot of really cool stuff here, and I really enjoyed these cards! I'm sorry I took so long to post about them.

20 March 2018

Many Thanks are Due!

I have fallen way behind on posts, to the point where I am still blogging about things from early 2017. In the meantime, cards have piled up ever-higher on my desk, and I have lost track of a great many things in the rubble. Unfortunately, some of those lost things are maildays from other bloggers, which should really be acknowledged and blogged as soon as they come in. I'll try to catch up as I dig my way through the stacks, but I know that the identities of some senders may be lost to me. The cards I am posting about today were stuffed in an envelope with someone else's return address on it, but the note accompanying them was from Jon over at A Penny Sleeve for Your Thoughts. Why did I put them in that other envelope? I don't know.

This first card of Astros hurler Doug Drabek comes from 1995 Studio, a set that was designed to resemble credit cards. Between this and Fleer's acid trip, 1995 was a weird year for cardboard. The back of the card even features a printed magnetic strip and a facsimile signature. 

Speaking of 1995 and weird things, how weird is it to see Goose Gossage in a Mariners uniform on this 1995 Score card. He played the last year of his career for Seattle in 1994, making this a sunset card for him. Jon also included some other sports in this mailing, with this serially-numbered Hakeem Olajuwon Scoring Kings Stat Line card from Donruss.

I really like the way Denver Broncos look on cardboard, but I haven't put much effort into that collection, outside of the occasional group break spot or Shannon Sharpe card. It was pretty neat to get a trio of Broncos here, including a couple of nice John Elway cards. I liked the look of Topps Magic, but never bought much of it. There is always too much other stuff to chase. The coating on that Willie Green card is just asking me to peel it off, but I am often reluctant to 'alter' a card in that way. Also, I've heard horror stories of people trying it after a number of years and having the face of the actual card peel off with the coating.

Thank you for the cards, Jon! I always appreciate maildays, and I'm sorry it's taken me a while to get this written. Again, I apologize to anyone who has sent me cards without an acknowledgment on my part. I will try to identify the sources of as many mailings as I can, and give proper thanks here on my page.

19 March 2018

Topps On-Demand Brock Lesnar Red Parallel

Last October I wrote about the 2017 Topps On-Demand WWE SummerSlam set. Not a lot of sets were ordered, so each set included several low-numbered parallels. Around the same time, I looked around a bit on eBay to see if I could pick up any of the parallels on the cheap.

I put in a few bids here and there, but the only one that stuck was for this Brock Lesnar Red parallel from the set. This one is numbered # 03 / 10. I am not a huge Lesnar fan, but I work with a guy who wrestled on the same high school team as he did, so I'll pick up a card of his here and there.

18 March 2018

2018 BBM True Heart Japanese Women's Pro Wrestling

I ordered three boxes of the new 2018 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling cards from my usual source in Japan, and they arrived just a couple of days after the February release date. I busted the boxes open pretty quickly, but it took me a while to sort the cards and process the photos and scans I took.

Here are the top and bottom of the box. The box lid features the usual group shot of some of the bigger stars in the game at the moment. There are lipstick print kiss cards in this year's product, and I believe the three wrestlers with kiss cards are pictured in the little heart at the bottom right. Along the bottom is some information about the box contents. Each box has 20 packs, with a suggested price of 8000 JPY. Each pack has six cards, with a suggested price of 400 JPY.

The bottom of the box has a checklist on it. There are 153 cards in the base set, which seems to me like a pretty big number. There are 134 different autographs in the product, so a good number of wrestlers signed cards for the set. There are also autographed Polaroid-style cheki photos, and 87 wrestlers signed those.

The pack design is pretty understated this year, with a black and white color scheme and just one wrestler, Hikaru Shida, pictured. On the right, you can see a couple of perforated cards with holes for store pegs.

Here's a closer look at the pack design. The back features a truncated breakdown of the checklist along with legalese and bar codes.

For some reason it took me a long time to figure out who this wrestler was. I included her card here because I pulled her autograph, and I tried to scan the base cards for every autograph I got. The wrestler is Aoki Itsuki - 青木いつ希. She wrestles for Japan 2000 Pro Wrestling, but also makes appearances for REINA.

Here's her autograph card. Most wrestlers in the set have between 80 and 100 autographs. There aren't short-printed special ink variations this year, just base autographs and photos. I pulled 6 or 7 autographs in each box.

Aja Kong - アジャコング is one of the old-school stars of Japanese wrestling. She has also appeared in the WWE, Chikara, and Shimmer promotions here in the United States of America. She's been wrestling since 1986.

Collation in my boxes wasn't great. I got between 99 and 101 unique base cards in each box, along with 12-14 duplicates. After busting three boxes, I am still several cards short of a base set, with 0 cards of some wrestlers and 5 cards of others.

There are a lot of wrestlers who I don't know very well. I'm kind of a bad fan in that way. This particular wrestler is Saori Anou - 安納サオリ. She's been wrestling for a couple of years, and is affiliated with the Actwres girl'Z promotion.

Here's Saori Anou's autograph card. She's also one of the three wrestlers who has kiss mark cards in the product. I didn't pull one of those. I would imagine the odds are pretty steep on them.

Next up is Sayaka Obihiro - 帯広さやか, a freelance wrestler who was most active immediately after her debut in 2010, but has made appearances every month or two since then.

This is the part of the post where I realize that I have a lot more space to fill than I have words to write. Mostly I am just here to share pictures and names, so that people who are curious about this stuff have a starting point to work from.

Cassandra Miyagi - カサンドラ宮城 is a bit too weird for me, but you can't deny that her look draws attention. She seems to be pretty popular, so her gimmick is working for her. I do kind of wish I'd pulled her autograph, as she usually draws all over the card.

I like Manami Katsu - 勝 愛実. She wrestles for Pure-J, which was formerly JWP. I've got a couple of her autographs from previous sets.

The autograph cards use one of the photos from the wrestler's base card front. I've only noticed one exception to that rule so far, although there could be others.

I took a several-day break from writing this post, but I'm back at it again. I've been searching for some of the cards and autographs from this set on eBay, Joshi City, and Yahoo! Auctions in Japan. It would be cool to get an autograph of Haruka Kato - 加藤 悠, but she doesn't have them in this set.

Yuki Kamifuku - 上福ゆき does have an autograph in the set, but it's a bit more pricey than I want to spend at the moment. I just though her cowgirl look was interesting, with the hat, the denim shorts, and a red and white striped top.

Aoi Kizuki - 希月あおい has been wrestling for longer than I thought (12 years), but I am also not the best at keeping up with all of the wrestlers. She seems to have cornered the market on that particular set of ring gear, wearing it in several different colors.

So far this is the first autograph I've seen in the set that features a photograph not used on the wrestler's base card. The base card for Aoi Kizuki has her wearing green, purple, and pink versions of her ring gear, but her autograph card features her in a yellow copy of the same outfit.

I thought this was a pretty interesting card. Sakura Hirota's - 旧姓・広田さくら card isn't the first time someone's kids have appeared on a True Heart card, but it might be the first time a wrestler was photographed pretending to drink milk from comically over-sized baby bottles.

Command Bolshoi - コマンド・ボリショイ is one of the main wrestlers whose cards I collect. I was hoping to pull one of her autographs from my boxes, but it didn't happen. Luckily, the guy who runs Joshi City knows I collect her cards, and he set one aside for me. It was nice to get that one knocked out right away, and especially that another collector thought of my collection during his box breaks.

I don't know anything about Mitsuru Konno - 紺乃美鶴, but her ring gear is pretty cool and I pulled her autograph.

Her debut wasn't too long ago, so I can forgive myself for not being caught up. She did have a card in the 2017 True Heart set, but I'm not sure off the top of my head if she had an autograph that year.

I wish I'd pulled the autograph of Reika Saiki - 才木玲佳. In addition to wrestling, she is a bodybuilder and one half of the musical group Deadlift Lolita. The only copy of her autograph on the auction sites currently is over $40, which is pretty high, especially since that doesn't include Buyee fees, shipping in Japan, package consolidation fees, or international shipping. Hopefully another copy pops up with a lower price tag on it. There are 89 copies of the card out there, so it's not super short-printed or anything.

Emi Sakura - さくらえみ has been in the wrestling game for a long time, and has founded some of the major promotions, Ice Ribbon and Gatoh Move. She's also trained a lot of current wrestlers, so her hand is present in most of the Japanese wrestling promotions in one form or another.

Her autograph is pretty neat, too. There don't seem to be as many colorful autographs in this year's set as there have been in years past, but I am dealing with a small sample size and maybe I'm just remembering the past through colorful filters. The signatures are still larger and more elaborate than you'll see on most sports cards.

Here's another legend in the wrestling game, Meiko Satomura - 里村明衣子. She co-founded Sendai Girls' Pro Wrestling and won the Chikara Pro King of Trios tournament in 2016 along with Cassandra Miyagi and Dash Chisako, in a final round that included another Japanese women's team made up of Command Bolshoi, Hanako Nakamori, and Manami Katsu.

Sareee is only 21 years old, but has already been wrestling for 6 years. She's a pretty active wrestler, putting in time for a variety of promotions.

I don't have any proof to back this up, but it seems like I pull a Sareee autograph every year. I haven't tried this for her, but I think it's fun to try to build a run of autographs for different wrestlers, to see how their ring gear and signatures change over time. The longest run I have in my collection is for Command Bolshoi, and that one goes back to 2003.

Hikaru Shida is the cover girl for this year's packaging. She is also pictured on the checklist card. I am not exactly sure why, but she is relatively popular. She also turns 30 this year, and celebrates 10 years since her debut. Maybe that has something to do with it.

A lot of wrestlers have alter egos, but most of the notable alter egos get their own cards. In this case, they share a card. Azusa Takigawa / Azusa Christie - 滝川あずさ / アズサ・クリスティ are the same person, and I am not sure exactly what the difference is. She wrestles for two different promotions, Dramatic Dream Team and Tokyo Joshi Pro, so maybe she adopts one of her identities for each promotion? I didn't intend to get into this kind of research mess, but I grabbed some of the cards with interesting photos to scan for this post, and I thought her nun-themed wrestling costume fit the bill. On the back of the card you can see her about to hit Nonoko with the book she carries around while in her nun persona.

Dash Chisako - DASH・チサコ is a favorite of mine. She's always got cool clothes, and I like her use of the chair prop. I've got a copy of her signature card on order already.

I still don't know much about Rika Tatsumi - 辰巳リカ, although I picked up her autograph card from 2016 because it was inexpensive.

It looks like she's on the roster of Tokyo Joshi Pro, and her autograph is pretty cool. The cat design she uses has stayed pretty consistent over the last couple of years.

Another legend of wrestling is Dump Matsumoto - ダンプ松本, who started wrestling the year before I was born. I think she is semi-retired now, but still comes out for Legends events and things like that. I'd love to get her signature, too. They are available, but a little more expensive than the average autograph in the set. I guess that's fitting, given her stature in the community.

Totoro Satsuki - トトロさつき is another wrestler I'm not familiar with. She debuted last year, so this might be her first time in a True Heart set.

She's got a pretty neat autograph. I'm trying to decide what sort of critter her signature is supposed to include. The little ears up top make me think it's a cat, but the rest of it makes me think of a snake. I guess it could also be the character Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro.

Hanako Nakamori - 中森華子 has been around for a fairly long time, debuting in 2006. She wrestles mostly for Pure-J, which was formerly JWP.

Her signature is a bit messier than some of the other autographs in the set. I can't make heads or tails out of it. At least she puts plenty of ink down on the card.

Heidi Katrina - ハイジ・カトリーナ is a British wrestler who works with Sendai Girls' Pro Wrestling. She currently holds the Tag Team belt for the promotion with Cassandra Miyagi as her partner.

I don't know much about Inko Haku - 白 いん子. She's a fairly new wrestler, debuting just last year. This is probably her first True Heart card. I just thought her props were interesting.

Ina Hazuki - 葉月イナ is another newer wrestler from a newer promotion, AWG. She's another one that I don't know much about.

I pulled one of her cheki photos in my box break, though. It looks like she's got a bird on her hand there, and she even drew her version of the bird on the photo.

Here's another new wrestler. Apparently there is a tag team called Team DATE, and the members go by a singular name followed by the word DATE. This is Hana DATE - 華 DATE. I think they might do comedy and wrestling, based on their Facebook page.

I also pulled her autograph. This is one of the more colorful signatures I pulled. She also wrote a whole paragraph up there. Pretty neat!

Ayako Hamada - 浜田文子 doesn't have an autograph in this set, but while I was searching for it I found another pretty cool collectible with her signature on it. I probably won't get that card for another month or more, so this is kind of a cruddy teaser. She's pretty famous, as she comes from a wrestling family and has worked around the world.

Vancouver Cat - バンクーバーキャット is getting a lot of mileage out of that Harley Quinn cosplay. She also has a Canada-themed costume. Both appeared on her 2017 card as well.

I am not sure how they got this card out in time, as Hinano - ヒナノ made her debut in January of 2018, according to the back of her card. I guess BBM either has a quick turnaround, or they included cards for wrestlers with anticipated debuts.

Hinano is a member of a team called the Up Up Girls. They seem to be fairly popular, at least judging by the price on their quad autograph card. Based on about 45 seconds of Googling and skimming articles, the Up Up Girls are an idol group. There are at least three branches of the group: Up Up Girls (Kakko Kari), Up Up Girls (2), and Up Up Girls (Pro-Wrestling).

I've talked about Fairy Nihonbashi - フェアリー日本橋 before. She uses a lot of magic, and seems to be used more as comic relief or filler than as a serious wrestler.

Natsumi Maki - 万喜なつみ is another wrestler I don't know a lot about, but she's been pretty active since her debut in 2015. She mostly works with Actwres girl'Z and Stardom, as far as I can tell.

I pulled her autograph. She includes a nice big heart at the end of her signature.

Makoto - 真琴 is another favorite here on The Raz Card blog. I wasn't lucky enough to pull her signature from my boxes, so I'll have to chase it down through auctions or more box breaks. I did order an unnumbered special event autograph from Joshi City, but I want the base signature too.

I included Matsuya Uno - 松屋うの in this post because of her bowl of noodles on the front of the card. Cards with props on them are much more likely to get into my posts than regular posed photos. Her Japanese Wikipedia page mentions her love for beef noodle bowls. She wrestles primarily for Ice Ribbon.

This sword-wielding wrestler is Mari Sakamoto - 茉莉. She wrestles with Reina, but outside of that I am not extremely familiar with her work. She's been wrestling for a couple of years.

Her signature is pretty elaborate. I wish I could read it. I guess it is my curse to be drawn to collecting things I don't fully understand.

I try to show some of the same wrestlers' cards each year, and so I am including Ryo Mizunami - 水波 綾 here. She's been wrestling for quite a while, and her main promotion for the last several years has been Pro Wrestling WAVE.

Mochi Miyagi - 宮城もち has been wrestling for several years, mostly for Ice Ribbon. I think the black ring gear and the whip are new, but I can't say for sure. My recollection is that her gear tends to be more on the garish side, like that pink-and-black leopard print on the back of her card.

Her autograph card has got plenty of pink and black on it, thanks to the background, the marker, and her clothes and accessories.

Returning to the Old American West, we've got Yuki Miyazaki - 宮崎有妃 in the traditional garb of a ranch hand. She retired once, at the end of 2010, but she came back in 2015 and has been pretty active since then.

Meiri Goto - めぃりぃ has a bit of prop overload on the front of her card. She's got a scooter, a stethoscope, and military rank on the collar of her dress.

Misaki Ohata's alter ego Yapper Man 3 - ヤッペーマン3号 is always good for some weirdness on cardboard. I guess that outfit is supposed to be a rabbit, but the extra eyes creep me out and the color makes me think of a Magikarp.

I feel like I should be able to find more English-language information on Yu Yamagata - 山縣 優, but so far I am coming up empty. She's been wrestling since 2000, so she's definitely got plenty of experience in the ring.

Her autograph is pretty basic, probably about as close to an initial-graph or squiggle-graph as you're going to get in this product.

Maya Yukihi - 雪妃真矢 carries a fair amount of popularity. Because of that, her autograph is pretty expensive. She is one of Ice Ribbon's main draws.

It's always nice to pull an autograph of an in-demand wrestler, even though I don't usually part with any of these cards.

Rydeen Hagane - ライディーン鋼 is kind of another throwback wrestler. You can kind of see a difference between some of the older, more traditional promotions and the newer ones. The older stables have a lot more focus on outrageous costumes, masks, and gimmicks, while some of the newer promotions are more like models who also wrestle. A lot of the older wrestlers, like Aja Kong and Dump Matsumoto, would have fit in to the 80's WWF, but now the newer promotions like Stardom are funneling a different sort of wrestler (Kana, Kairi Hojo) into the WWE.

Leon is another Pure-J wrestler. She wears a mask and used to partner a lot with Ray, who is a favorite of mine. Ray is missing from the 2018 set, after retiring a while back due to an inoperable brain tumor. I don't know her current status, but I hope that she is doing okay.

Again, I have no proof to back up this claim, but I feel like I pull Leon autographs fairly often. I can't complain too much about it.

I talked a little bit about Team DATE above. Here they are in a group photo. I am not sure how BBM decides which teams get cards each year, but usually there are only one or two.

The last few cards in each base set are usually Hall of Fame cards, reserved for wrestlers who retire during the previous year. I would include Manami Toyota's card here, but I didn't pull it. I will show the other two retirees, though. This card features Mariko Yoshida - 吉田万里子, who retired in November 2017. Her debut was in 1988, so she had a good long career.

Next up is Nonoko - のの子, whose career only started in 2013. And to continue my references to a song that is so last year, here's her PPOP video:

I am not sure why she is retiring. Most younger wrestlers who retire do so because they are getting married, going back to school, or have another career opportunity.

Closing things out is a checklist card featuring Hikaru Shida on the front.

As always, this is a fun set to sort through. I wish I would have completed the base set from three boxes, but with such a big checklist it wasn't likely. Collation hasn't ever been great with this product. I will probably be getting plenty more of this throughout the year.