|This is a page for just Phone Cards of Japan.
Phone cards were something that appeared before modern cell phone plans. They are plastic cards that you buy which have 'phone time' on them, or 'minutes'. So they're like pre-paid credit cards, only they can just be used for phone minutes only, local or long distance. You used it by pressing in the special number on the back after activation. Some fit into pay phone booths. However, once all the minutes were used up, the card usually became useless. (some could be re-charged though, by calling a special number & giving your credit card)
Just because the card couldn't be used to call any more...didn't mean it wasn't cool any more, especially if it featured Sonic on it! The used up cards became sort of a collectible on their own. Loads of different themes & designs were released over the years, and you could put them in collector sleeves meant for sports-cards / superhero cards etc. then add them to a card binder. Cards with Sonic have been made right from the beginning, so you'll see everything from 'Segasonic' to Sonic Adventure styles here.
|Sonic Gear Main * Phone Cards 2 *|
|Before the popularity of mobile phones, phone cards were a big deal. These plastic cards had phone minutes on them...and when you used up all the time, you could collect the card much like a sports-card. (only they are made of plastic) Quite a few Sonic theme cards were produced, and these yellow & red cards are rather old. There are numbers across the top, and an arrow showing how to slide it into a phone. The yellow one says 'Mega Drive' below the Sega logo, while the other is the title screen art from Sonic 1. Photo by Scavenger4food|
|This is a phone card.
Pre-paid cards are common in likely most countries, but Japan (more than any other) likes to issue special themed cards. Of course, there's a Sonic one. In fact, this is one of several that exist. These cards are useful, because even after you use up all the minutes of calling time, you can then add the card to your collection, much like a trading card!
|This one is obviously for Sonic Adventure 1, as it has that iconic art of Sonic and the new logo. There is a phrase on it which reads: "I'll never look back, I've got no regrets 'cause time doesn't wait for me. I choose to go my own way". The card is shown here on it's retail/packing card and is from 1998.
Photo discovered by: Skippy
|This is a classic phone card. The card itself is likely an actual classic item (not just something classicly styled) It's quite simple, with a red fade background, and standard stock Sonic. The bottom has the activation number, and likely a small explanation of what to do to use the card for calling. This may have been part of a set of phone cards with a Sonic theme. Discovered by: Ghostie Shadow|
|Here's a card from around the SA1 time.
It has the less-common 'headphone wearing Sonic' art, with yellow rings to represent soundwaves, and a gray grid background. Sonic's posture was always sort of odd in this art, and where they cut the card off at doesn't really help it out much.
|This card is quite old, as you can see with the "Segasonic" branding at the top. It has a seldom used (Japan pretty much only) classic art with his hand out in a "presenting..." whatever's unseen off the edge of the card.||This card has a nice sketched look, with charcoal textured 'shadows' running over the art. This 'looking back' pose may be exclusive to this particular phone card. The yellow background is not super bright, adding to a sort of artsy type look for it. A nice & unique looking card! Photo by SonicTeam|
|This is some type of card, but is it a phone card? Notice that the proportions are different, and it also lacks the 2 notches at one end, that all of the other cards have. But if this isn't a phone card, what is it?
The art features Sonic at the sea-shore, with a cute Tails flying in the background. What does the text in the middle say? Is this soda-sippin sunglasses Sonic what spawned the very similar USA classic stock art?
|This black phone card may have 1 of the first 3D CG Sonic images they ever made. It's just Sonic sort of...floating there with a nice dose of that early photoshop style lense flare going on. Since the CG art is so early, it must have been a great sight to see when the card was new.||This white card has a Saturn theme...sort of. It says "Saturn" in the top, & uses Sonic R era art, but the screen shots that make up the background are all from earlier games. You can spot Sonic 1 Green Hill for sure. The screens make an interesting backdrop for the nicely shaded art. Photo by SonicTeam.|
|Here's another card without the 'notches' in the edge. Like the beach card above, it's also quite rectangular, without rounded corners like the rest. Is this a phone card? If it's not, what sort of a card is it? It has running Sonic...but look how his feet/legs are done...like 2 wierd stripey wheels or something. Tails is shown running, while Knuckles is flying in. Yes, that seems to be Eggman in the distance. Balloons are flying in the sky & a Segaworld appears on the horizon. The card is copyright 1994.|
|Here's a phone card for Sonic Adventure 1, which is pretty stylish. It uses the 'new' SA Style art for each of the character portraits, and crops them to a small square. The middle has the title, & the final square has the Sonic Team logo. It's good to see everybody on here, including E102 and Eggman. Photo & owned by Vercetti2021||This is a rather simple card for Sonic Adventure 1. It's almost an exact copy of the box art for the game, right down to the ST logo in the corner and the Dreamcast logo at the bottom. A nice way to honor the release of the game. Photo & owned by Vercetti2021|
|Now here's something unusual!
This is a "mint on card" phone card! All the cards here were likely sold in a similar packaging style. (similar to a gift card you see in stores) The card is either glued or shrink-wrapped onto a larger thick cardstock paper, to increse size/reduce theft. It is then able to be hung on a shelf/rack and then activated by a cashier in the store to give the initial minutes. Sometimes the card part would have extra info, like numbers to call for help/instructions/etc written out bigger.
This card is clearly an SA1 offering, with just the white parts of Sonic's face on an all black background. Photo & owned by Vercetti2021
|Here are various phone cards, spanning most of the age of phone cards. At the bottom, you have older cards, which were simple things, just colored plastic with the same image of Sonic printed on it at various sizes. The holes & numbers there are likely indicators of how much time was bought on it. Notice how most of them have 1 or 2 tiny round notches on the end opposite the 'in' end. The 2nd white card says "High-Tech Entertainment" the first is labeled as "Game Card", the yellow one says "Mega Drive Mega High Quality Computer Video Game" the one where Sonic has a microphone is all in Japanese...but it is rare/possibly the least common of all the cards seen here.
The upper card for Sonic R is by "Project Sonic" and says High Speed Action Packed Racing Extravaganza Taking off Into the Real 3D World" which is a bit complex for a slogan. The greenish center card uses old Japan only art (larger finger, taller eye) The yellow ring says "His Name is Sonic" The bottom card uses the early SA1 style art where he's riding the skateboard, and is by "TZone", "QUO" and "CSK-Net". It's slogan is "Come Ride the Highway" (Speed Highway?) & uses what looks like a screenshot from SA1 as its background.
Phone cards fell out of usefulness not long after SA1, as cellphones & their plans became more common, no one cared about kiosk or pay phones where you'd have to slip in a card like this to pay for the time. This makes the QUO card likely to be one of the last few they did. Phone card photos discovered by QwertySonic
|Here's another card from around the release of Sonic Adventure 1. It's the 'bendy' art of him riding the skateboard, but up close this time so he goes off each edge of the card. This one also features a phrase "I'll never look back, I've got no regrets 'cause time doesn't wait for me I can choose to go my own way." . Below that, aer company logos, likely the systems it works with. Photo discovered by @JapanAnimePosters on Instagram|