In 1988, Bandai launched their Carddass vending machines in Japan, which would dispense collectable cards. These cards focused on different Bandai anime series like Saint Seiya and of course, Dragon Ball. The technology behind Cardass wasn’t always intended for dispensing cards, with Bandai initially wanting to use it as an information source for children. This intention soon changed as Cardass sales skyrocketed. In fact, in just 10 years, they had sold 2 billion Dragon Ball Hondan cards.
The first Dragon Ball Cardass Hondan cards were released in 1989, two years after the first series of the anime began airing in Japan on Fuji TV. The set began with a 42 card set, 6 of which being ‘Prism’ cards. These special cards were printed on varying colours but shared the same squared holographic foil. These initial higher rarity cards had no background images, focusing only on the characters.
Other cards in this set either had the image of the character placed on a generic background or took a direct screengrab from the anime series. Some cards were designed to be held portrait and others landscape, depending on if the artwork was directly copied over. While some characters from the original series only appeared in one of the 42 cards, the most popular characters like Goku, Krillen, Yamcha and Tien appeared in up to three.
Set 1 (also known as Part 1) was reprinted in 1995 and then again in 2008 with the Carddass Dragon Ball Complete Box vol.1. Although reprints increased the population, the original cards are very difficult to come by. As you may expect, the Prism cards are the most sought after by vintage Dragon Ball collectors, with listing prices for all 6 cards being around the $1000 USD mark.
To celebrate the Dragon Ball Carddass set and the upcoming Dragon Ball Super movie, Bandai are releasing the Carddass Premium Edition DX. Pre-orders are currently open on the Premium website, ahead of its February 2022 release date. The set will cost $ 79.99 USD and will include new cards based on the most recent Broly movie, as well as cards from the previous Cardass Hondan sets.
Initially, Carddass cards were released strictly for collecting and trading, but following the success of playable card games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, Bandai began implementing play mechanics into their Carddass cards. This later became the foundation of the current Dragon Ball Super Card Game, with a lot of artwork borrowed during the early days of the TCG. If you would like to learn more about the connection between Cardass and the DBS CG, click here.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media
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