So far I’ve looked at 25 boxes of trading cards. You’d think by now I’d have seen everything, or most things eh? One Dragon Ball set can’t be that different from another can it? You’d be very wrong on that point, as the set 1/2 cards are markedly better than the set 3 cards, like night and day. But I digress, today we’re looking at the 26th box, and this is a doozy. Kayou Three Kingdoms is their latest and greatest production.
Table of Contents
What a box! This one suffered bad shipping damage so all the edges and corners are bent and dented in. And still it shines with multiple layers of foil, and embossed logo on the front and intricate design work covering the entire surface. Look at the top of the box where the black fades into the gold color? That isn’t a fade, it’s an army with flags and horses. The whole box is covered with details like that. It’s just unfortunate that it isn’t a higher quality cardboard. The Gundam and Star Wars boxes are much stronger than this at the same price point.
Don’t worry though, I ordered another box from a vendor I trust to ship it safely. That should be a spoiler alert I guess, this set was so good I went and bought another box after opening just 1 pack. You should buy this set, I’m not joking here, Kayou Three Kingdoms is that good. The box opens from the top with a rip tab, this is nice as it would be impossible to break that seal without visible damage. You don’t have to worry so much about vendors searching these before shipping, or at least you will 100% know if they did lol.
The sides of the box continue that gorgeous line art motif of marching armies – a central theme of The Three Kingdoms era. The back is one of the most informative labels I’ve seen yet. It goes through the normal licensing and legal requirements. Then it lays out your odds for each type of card, and that last smaller table is a breakdown of the set. This is a true 2023 product, it was printed this year as you can see from the copyright marking.
Inside the Kayou Three Kingdoms box are 18 packs, each with 5 cards. Notice how weirdly shaped the box is? It’s way too tall and square for the number of packs it contains – the box has fillers in it, on the bottom and the side. So most of the box is just air, the 18 packs are tucked into the top. Also notice the box has no perforations to convert it into a retail display – like most 10-yuan offerings this is more of a hobby product than a retail product.
Fortunately this set has a lot of published information, in Chinese, but still at least it exists! Try and figure out literally anything about those SCP Foundation cards, good luck, that was a primary reason I even made this site to begin with. We can see there are 143 total cards, that’s the first time I’ve EVER seen a set total for one of these btw, and they are split into 9 groupings. Further that full width line of text near the bottom explains the contents of each pack.
From that we know we should expect 3 base cards in the pack, 1 upgraded card and then 1 randomized hit card. This set includes serial numbered cards too! That’s something I’d only seen in Duel Gundam set 2 and of course most western sets. This means that certain cards are printed only a certain number of times. For example the special hero cards in this set have only 99 copies. That’s it, 99. If you see 99 of them on Ebay — don’t bother chasing them, they have all been found and no boxes will contain more.
That kind of chase card just increases the value of the set overall, pulling a serial numbered card is always a big rush. In that category the top serial numbered cards are to 99, next is to 299 and then finally to 999. So that’s a lot of them, and no very low numbers like 10, 5 or 1 – Gundam has 1 of 1, no I didn’t get it lol.
Before we jump into the Kayou Three Kingdoms cards lets talk a little about what this set is. It isn’t base on a movie or and anime, it isn’t even based on a mythos like SCP Foundation is. These are what I would call a “Cultural Art Card”.
The Three Kingdoms era of China’s history is steeped in reverence and mythology. Konami has been making Romance of the Three Kingdoms games since I was child – since 1985! Those games are popular, not so much here, but in Asia. This history and the art around is a “big thing” culturally in China.
And so a set like this might seem weird here in the USA. Would somebody make a “Famous Moments in US History” set, maybe with autographs and relics from history in the cards? Yes, they actually do make that. Ok fine they make that, but it isn’t to celebrate that history – it’s to collect autographs. Here this set is purely about celebrating the art and history of this period in history.
That spirit of celebration is what makes this set feel so special, this is a commercial cash-grab. Kayou Three Kingdoms is a reverent celebration of Chinese history in trading card form.
Kayou Three Kingdoms Cards
Finally we get to the whole reason I rushed this set to the front of my review queue. I just had to write this up after seeing these incredible cards. Each pack has 5 cards, 3 base and 2 hits – well 1 minor hit and one possibly major but likely also minor hit.
This first base features Lui Bian, a famous ruler from that time period. I apologize that I won’t be able to identify everything in this set, I think even a Chinese citizen would have trouble identifying all of these. Part of the joy of a set like this is learning and discovering all these historical figures.
Even as a base card the printing on this is top notch. It is so crisp and clean with perfect color. Those gold coins in the corners are also foiled, even on the base cards. Those help identify the rarity of the card, these gold ones are base rarity. The back of the card is plainer for the base, it tells a small part of Lui Bian’s story.
So yeah… just take a minute and look at those. Kayou Three Kingdoms is breathtaking, even on these flat coated base cards. I love how card KYSG-B005 even says who the artist is, another indicator that this is a completely legitimate product, unlike some things we look at here. I remember when I first pulled that card, the demonic artwork on it reminded so much of the artwork in the wonderful comic series Ramayan 3392ad. The artwork in that comic is similarly breathtaking, I’d love to get a trading card series of that!
This was my minor hit card, from the artwork mini series. This depicts a very important part of that history, when Dong Zhuo was tricked out of his empire by Diaochan. This card has every single printing technology I know about it on display somewhere. The gold around the pagoda is stamped foil, the blue sky is glitter coated with circular texture that makes it look like the wind is blowing when you move the card. Even the delicate lace work on the kimono is inlaid foil – I can’t image the tolerances required to print something like that. Topps is years away from this technology.
This final card was my big hit from that box. It’s not a serial numbered card, but it is a L2 hero card. That blue back is incredible in it’s own right, there is a really subtle foil shell texture on it that I can’t get to show up on camera or the scanner – but if you see it in person it looks so good, almost like the card is coated in felt.
Then the front is again just covered in tech, just watch the video where I wave the card back and forth in the light. The foil treatments are designed to animate into each other as the card moves to make it look like a cosmic explosion of energy behind the main figure.
Look, I know I’m crazy, I know I buy way too many of these, nobody should be like me – that’s why I do it. That doesn’t mean my recommendations are not valid. When I say that if you are at all interested in trading cards, heck – if you like good art period –> go buy Kayou Three Kingdoms, buy two boxes. There is simply nothing like this on the market anywhere in the world. This is what I’m here for, discovering treasures like this. My hat comes off to you Kayou, fantastic showing here.