The hunt is on for Real Venus autographs. Occasionally I get lucky and win a few autographs around the same time at good prices, and that happened to me last week.
Satsuki Fujimaki is a swim finner. Yes, that's a thing. She has appeared in at least two Real Venus sets.
Also appearing multiple times in Venus sets is Ayaka Asahina, a motocross competitor (motocrossist?). I've never seen anything about fin swimming or motocross around here, but the events must be somewhere.
Finally, another relic card of Yukiko Kinoshita. I'm interested in getting an autograph but they still price around $100 - greed on the part of sellers more than anything, I'm sure, because her last fair auction sale went for about $30. Yukiko, who goes by Michelle now, just released a photo book, too. I don't have that.
There is more to come, but you'll just have to wait! Until then...
BBM issues the same Rookie Edition set every year. I'm not really sure what there is to say about this set, other than it's out. That's not such a bad thing, I guess - it's predictable and serves a purpose. And with everything BBM did right last year, I'll let that slide.
I guess this year is the "triangle" set. Maybe I'm getting older, but the rookies seem to be getting younger. Then again, Masaki Mimori, pictured above, just turned 18 a couple days ago.
The end-of-set subset this year is Early Days. I think Punch Sato's card here is the best one; it's not often you get a baseball card with a picture of the player in casual clothes holding a giant cell phone. Or just a cordless phone.
The base set clocks in at 126 cards; 12 of those are Early Days. There are a few parallels: 86 of the player cards have silver versions (100 copies each), first draft pick players also have gold parallels (30 copies each) and a red signature version limited to 17 copies each.
As usual, the first insert set is two cards with both of the Rookie of the Year award winners. I grabbed Takanashi of the Fighters, whose first card comes from 2014, I think.
The larger insert, Next Generation, is very pink-purplish. It's nice to have some good color, though. Those white parts really stand out, too, on the foily cards.
I don't have any of the hits yet, but retired players (up to 90 copies each) and prospects (up to 60) both have autographs in the set, as well as a First Draft Pick autograph set limited to 30 copies each.
Finally, BBM issued a 12-card promo set with a PR prefix. It's also possible that there are additional promotional sets which don't appear on the BBM checklist, such as bookstore promos. These are usually identified by different coloring, card numbering, and a notation on the card.
Those who are tackling a want list when it comes to baseball souvenirs might want to look elsewhere, but for window shoppers and impulse buyers, Akihabara's Electric Town district can produce some decent finds.
In addition to very occasional baseball cards, I sometimes find other souvenirs, like this box I picked up from Hobby Off, located between Yodobashi Camera and the JR train station.
If you read the title of this post, you already know what's inside. Hiroki Kokubo was one of those local favorites that are quite big here in Japan. That isn't to say he wasn't good. The box cover there gives his career stats: 2000+ hits and 400+ home runs, both of which are considered top milestones for sluggers in the NPB. (Remember, NPB has a shorter season than MLB, so it's a lot harder to reach the 3000 hit/500 home run marks.)
Kokubo got his start with the Hawks back when they were owned by Daiei. He was basically given to the Yomiuri Giants after the 2003 season, where he played for three years before re-signing with the Hawks in 2007. Since 2013 he has been the manager of the Japan National Team.
The pin set reflects the three jerseys he wore - first with the Daiei Hawks, then Yomiuri Giants, and finally the Softbank Hawks. One other pin has the Hiroki Kokubo logo. Yes, he has a logo.
The back of the pin box just has basic retail information, including the original price - 3500 yen (about $35). I paid about ten percent of that, which especially in Japan is a bargain!