2004 was another fantastic year for Corinthian and they kicked the New Year off in style by releasing Prostars series 23 on the 17th of January.
This series really grabbed collector’s attention, no surprise considering it boasted an impressive 9 first time sculpts. This series made Prostars history, as for the first time, a Prostars series featured a player from Blackburn Rovers. Corinthian had not released a figure in the kit of Blackburn Rovers since the FAPL Collection range back in 1996! The figure chosen to represent Rovers was Lorenzo Amoruso, who had previously featured in series 10, however the facial sculpt has been updated and his hair changed to his new style.
The star and best seller from this series is Cristiano Ronaldo in the Manchester United home kit, this was the first release of the Portuguese winger. Collectors went mad for this new and exciting sculpt. Ronaldo was very fast establishing himself as one of the world’s best players and his figure was rapidly becoming one of the all time greats too. Corinthian anticipated the overwhelming demand for the figure and produced just over 7,000 blisters, despite that fact he is still very hard to find in blister format today.
Ronaldo’s Manchester United team mate Mikael Silvestre was re sculpted and released in the away kit worn for the 2003/04 season. Silvestre first featured in Prostars series 8, however this was a different sculpt and I am not really sure why the re sculpted the Silvestre, there was nothing wrong with the series 8 version, in fact I personally prefer the series 8 sculpt.
This series really helped collectors shake of the Winter Blues, speaking of Blues, Chelsea’s Romanian forward Adrian Mutu was released for the very first time and the sculptors did a fine job on him too. Mutu was amongst the best sellers in the range, as was Liverpool’s Senegalese international Salif Diao, who featured in a regular Prostars series for the first time.
Aston Villa and Everton fans were not forgotten about, they both had a first time sculpt to add to their collections. Villa’s German midfielder Thomas Hitzelsperger and Everton’s Canadian forward Tomas Radzinski were both sculpted and released for the first time, both figures proved to be a hit with the long time collector. Middlesboro forward Malcolm Christie was another first time release but did not far as well commercially as the others in the series, this had nothing to do with the sculpt, as that was superb, it had more to do with him being plagued by injuries. During Christie’s 4 years at the club he made just 43 appearances, scoring just 7 goals that kind of ratio is never going to endear you to the fans.
The old Firm were not neglected in this series either, with both Celtic and Rangers having a first time sculpt released. Celtic had Swedish international Johan Mjallby, while Rangers had Fernando Ricksen. The Mjallby was produced in the lowest blister volume, with just 1,316 blisters being produced, a very low number for a regular Prostars series release.
Serie A was very well represented in series 23, with 5 players featuring from Italy’s top league. Inter Milan’s Turkish midfielder Emre was a first time release and a very fine addition to the collection and his figure proved very popular with collectors the world over. AC Milan had no nonsense midfielder Gennaro Gattuso released in the home kit and it was the first time he had been released in a regular Prostars series. Cafu was also released in the AC Milan home kit, with the sculpt being the same as used in Prostars series 2.
Fans of Roma were treated to the release of Olivier Dacourt, who had first featured in the kit of Leeds United in Prostars series 11. Pavel Nedved was always a popular figure and Corinthian chose to totally re sculpt the figure from the one released in series 20. This new sculpt went down a storm with collectors, no surprise really given the quality of the sculpt and I personally feel it is one of Corinthian’s finest sculpts, I was not alone in this thinking as the figure was the third best seller in the series and proved very popular with collectors in the Far East.
Completing the line up for series 23 was Barcelona’s new signing Ronaldinho, who had transferred from French side Paris Saint Germain for a fee of around £25,000,000. This was the very first time Ronaldinho had featured in a regular Prostars series and collectors simply went mad for the figure. Corinthian under estimated the demand for this figure and only produced little over 3,000 blisters, which did not prove to be enough to meet demand. The blister of Ronaldinho is very scarcely seen for sale on the secondary market and was the second best seller from the series.
There was a notably team absentee from this series, no Arsenal figure was released in series 23, very strange and something which had not happened before, obviously taking into account the series which consisted solely of international figures, the legends series 3 and the Italy serie A exclusive series 20, other than those exceptions there had always been at least 1 arsenal release, I can only assume the Corinthian had planned to release a figure for Arsenal but for one reason or another had to withdraw it from the series.
Corinthian once again ran the free redemption figure offer, with Chelsea’s Adrian Mutu and Everton’s Tomas Radzinski chosen, 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.
In total there was over 51,000 single blister packs produced for this series, which is less than half the amount produced for series 21 and 25% less than the number produced for series 22, a very significant sign of Corinthian doing all they could to maintain the figures long term collect ability.
To read more information on this range, including images of the packaging formats used, please click the link button below.