The Dragon Ball franchise was taking the world by storm during the 90s, which resulted in a large influx of merchandise. Among the most popular were the collectable cards that were dispensed by Carddass machines all over Japan. This success didn’t go unnoticed by other companies that wanted to cash in on the popularity of the series. This led to one toy company creating their own unofficial card series, known as Dragon Ball Super Hero cards.
Despite being an unofficial product, the Dragon Ball Super Hero cards became highly popular in Taiwan and parts of Europe, just like its Japanese counterpart. These cards were produced by a toy company in Taiwan called Bibi Toys, which began distribution in 1995 through their own type of dispensing machines. These cards were part of their Adali Collection, which also had cards and stickers based on other popular manga series of the time, such as Sailor Moon. Bibi Toys vending machines were also situated in Singapore, which sold Dragon Ball Super Hero Cards for just 20 Cents a pack back in the early 90s.
Often, these cards reused artwork from Bandai’s Carddass cards and also used a similar prism holo foiling. Like the official version, the background of the holos had little to no graphics, which gave the character an almost 3D effect. Although both products look similar, the backs of the cards look very different, with Dragon Ball Super Hero cards having a small image of the character’s face accompanied by a simple ‘energy gauge’.
These cards were not designed to have any playability, much like the official Cardass counterpart, and were strictly made for collecting. These cards do have the English character names but were often translated poorly or very literally, such as Gotenks, who is the fusion of Goten and Trunks, being called ‘2 in 1 man’. Fortune Teller Baba’s card was simply translated as ‘Witch’, as the Japanese phrase for “Old Hag” or “Old Witch” is Baba.
The Dragon Ball Super Hero Cards ran for nine main ‘parts’ and had three ‘Special’ sets and one ‘Colour’ set. The size of each set varied but were mostly around the 50 card mark, with 6 to 8 of them being prism holos. Each pack came with 10 cards, with one of them guaranteed to be a holo. The rarity of the holo cards didn’t vary in rarity, as we see in the modern DBS CG, which made collecting the whole set, including all of the holos, a much easier task. Now, however, these cards have become quite rare because not many of them have survived the last two and a half decades. Keeping in mind that these were mainly designed and marketed toward young children, the quality of any surviving cards are often very worn.
These cards often sell for around $5-$6 for the non-holos, and between $20 and $40 for the prism holos, depending on which set they are from. The condition and the card’s character also plays a big part in its value, with one of the most sought after of the Dragon Ball Super Hero cards being number 258 from part 6, which wrongly identifies Vegito as ‘Son Gokou’.
It is rare that a bootleg copy of something grows in popularity and becomes highly collectable, let alone avoiding a lawsuit. Maybe one way Bibi Toys avoided this was by not using the word “Dragon Ball Z” anywhere on the card and instead only using ‘Super Hero’ in a very familiar-looking font.
If you would like to learn more about the retro Dragon Ball Cards that came before the DBS CG, click on one of the links below.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media
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