Corinthian released Prostars series 22 on the 15th of September 2003, making it their first series release for the 2003/04 season. Series 22 was a long time collectors dream, as it was filled with first time sculpts, 10 of them to be exact, along with 4 new sculpts of existing figures and just 2 repaints of previously released figures.
The ‘Tinker man’ Claudio Ranieri was a much anticipated release. Players released for Chelsea had always sold well, both here in the UK and also overseas in the Japanese market. The Ranieri figure sold very well, as all managers sculpts tended to do.
Collectors in Japan and the Far East were appeased by the release of Tottenham Hotspurs Kazuyuki Toda. Corinthian produced nearly 9,000 Toda blisters, with a good majority of those being sold to dealers in Japan. The Toda is a very fine sculpt and just goes to prove that a figure did not have to be of the most popular player to sell well, sometimes it was the more unusual sculpts which faired better commercially.
Spurs’ North London rivals Arsenal had two figures released, Francis Jeffers and Nwankwo Kanu. This was the first time Jeffers had been released in a standard Prostars series, and given the injury problems Jeffers had during his career, it would prove to be the last as well. Corinthian re sculpted Kanu, with this new version being a major improvement on the original version, just a finer detailed sculpt than the one released in series 4.
Aston Villa fans were generously treated to two first time releases in this series, with Olaf Melberg and Gareth Barry being sculpted and released for the first time in a standard Prostars series. The Melberg is my personal favourite from this series, purely because of the beard he is sculpted with, makes the figure that more unusual. Both Villa figures sold well but were not made in that high a volume, with around 4,000 of each figure being made in blister pack format.
The long suffering Toon faithful finally had something to celebrate, it was not a long awaited trophy but something just as good, 2 first time sculpts! Young England hopeful Jermaine Jenas was immortalised as a Corinthian, as was his team mate, the Portuguese midfielder Hugo Viana. Viana had been dubbed the ’new Figo’ but Viana never lived up to the hype and his figure certainly did not sell as well as Figo’s did either.
Liverpool had a new striker to cheer, this was Czech international Milan Baros, a fine sculpt but I feel the one which Corinthian would release further down the line is the better version. Boro fans had always loved a moody and temperamental striker, Ravanelli, Ricard, Boksic and now they had Italian Massimo Maccarone! A very fine sculpt but not one the vast amount of collectors raced out too buy however. Maccarone was not yet popular enough and his on field performances did nothing to endear him to the Boro fans, very much a figure for the long time collector.
The final first time sculpt in this series was that of Francesco Coco, released in his Italian national kit. Sadly Coco was plagued with injury problems through out his career, so never again featured as a Corinthian, shame as it is a very nice sculpt.
Manchester United fans had no first time sculpt to buy; instead they had a new sculpt of Welsh man Ryan Giggs. A great sculpt of Giggs and the one which Corinthian would actually use for all future releases of the wing wizard. Although this was a re sculpt, Corinthian knew it would sell well so produced nearly 9,000 blisters of Giggs.
Stilian Petrov was re sculpted and released in the Celtic home kit. A great sculpt but I much prefer the original Petrov from Prostars series 12. The Petrov was produced in very small numbers, infact he had the fewest blister packs produced of all the figures in series 22, with little over 3,000 being manufactured.
The remaining 3 figures from series 22 are all painted in the England home kit. Paul Scholes was re sculpted, however I do not consider this to be Corinthians best work, in fact I feel this is the worst sculpt of Scholes Corinthian ever produced. Veteran defender Sol Campbell was once again released in the 3 Lions shirt, after featuring in series 15.
Completing the line up for series 22 is wonder kid Wayne Rooney. Rooney has recently appeared in the 2003 Stars of the Season range but that did not stop collectors from snapping up this version of the boy wonder. The Rooney was the best seller in the series and also the figure produced in the highest blister volume, with nearly 10,000 blisters being produced, Corinthian collectors had gone Rooney mad!
The redemption figures for this range were taken from Merseyside, with Liverpool represented by Baros and Everton by Rooney, both painted in their respective clubs away kit for the 2003/04 season. Collectors could claim a free redemption figure by collecting just 6 tokens, or they could be purchased from Corinthian directly at a price of £5 each.
The blister packs with individually numbered collector cards could only be bought from an official stockist or reseller, at a price at £2.99 each. The figures were sold by Corinthian direct but only in sachet with card format, and priced at £2.49 each. It is worth mentioning that the cards with came inside the sachets were not individually numbered; instead they just had the figure image on both sides.
A terrific series and certainly one for the long term collector, given how it was full to the brim with new and first time sculpts and was also refreshing to see a series where the figures included were not of the big stars from the team.
To read more information on this range, including images of the packaging formats used, please click the link button below.