The 2004 European Championships, to be held in Portugal, were fast approaching, so true to form, Corinthian released a range to coincide with the major international tournament. On the 19th of April 2004, Prostars series 24 was released, prior to the tournament kick off on June 12th.
This series comprised of 16 figures, with 1 player from each nation competing in the tournament represented. I feel I must commend Corinthian for taking this bold step to release players from the ’lesser’ nations, as it would have been very easy for them to put a range together of previously released figures from the top nations like England, France, Italy etc, instead however collectors were instead treated to a staggering 7 first time sculpts.
Given the time scale involved with producing a figure, some of the figures were released in kits that were not worn by that nation for the tournament, this was due to Corinthian not having access to the new kits when the figures went into production, however I do not personally feel It detracts from the quality of the series in any way, I would much rather have a new figure in an old kit, than an old figure in a new kit!
Corinthian were dealt a huge blow when Turkey surprisingly lost in the playoffs to Latvia, which meant they now had to sculpt a figure to represent Latvia, this player was chosen to be Marian Pahars. The Pahars figure was a great likeness and a welcome addition for the long term collector. I feel Corinthians original plan was to release Emre in this series for Turkey, however following Turkeys defeat this was no longer an option, however Emre did later feature in his native Turkey kit as part of the Collector Club Members Special range of figures.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was chosen to represent Sweden and Corinthian did a wonderful job on the sculpt and the figure proved immensely popular with collectors. German midfield enforcer Michael Ballack was released in a Prostars series for the first time, having originally featured as part of the International Tournament greats range, however this time he was in the Germany away kit and proved to be an instant hit with collectors.
Switzerland was represented by Hakan Yakin, while Russia were represented by Alexei Smertin, both were first time sculpts and neither have been released again. Yakin and Smertin were very much figures for the long time collector but Corinthian knew demand for them would be low and so adjusted the production volume accordingly and just fewer than 2,500 blisters of each were produced.
Croatian forward Dado Prso was sculpted for the first time, as was Stelios Giannakopoulos for eventual tournament winners Greece both are very fine figures and were released by Corinthian again further down the line.
The top seller from this series was of course ’Golden Balls’ himself, David Beckham. This was an entirely new sculpt of Becks and featured his pony tail hairstyle which he was sporting at the time. Collectors scrambled to add this new Beckham to their collection and despite Corinthian anticipating demand by producing over 10,000 blisters of Beckham, he was still very hard to get hold of. The Beckham blister accounted for around 13% of the total blisters produced in series 24.
Corinthian also chose to re sculpt Thierry Henry and Ruud Van Nistlerooy, for France and Holland respectively. Both sculpts are fantastic but I do feel they did better Henry’s, however in contrast I personally feel this version of Ruud is the best they did.
The player chosen to represent the host nation of Portugal was an obvious choice; it was the ’winker’ himself, Cristiano Ronaldo. The figure has previously been released in Prostars series 23, however this version was still a sell out, and it appeared collectors could not get enough of Ronaldo. Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved was another repaint who featured in series 23, however, like Ronaldo, his figure sold incredibly well.
Bulgaria were represented by Stilian Petrov, with the sculpt being the same as used in Prostars series 22, not a great seller by any means but a must for the avid collector. Jon Dahl Tomasson was painted in the Denmark home kit, with the figure being the same as released in Prostars series 21.
Italy’s chosen figure was Filipo Inzaghi, a repaint of the Inzaghi used in Prostars series 19. Completing the line up is Spain’s Raul, another repaint, however this time in the away kit, with the figure being the same as used for both Prostars series 9 and 16 respectively.
Corinthian once again ran the free redemption figure offer, with David Beckham and Ruud Van Nistlerooy chosen, both painted in their respective national team’s away kit. 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 were 79,342 blister packs produced for this series, more than for series 23 and around the same amount as series 22. Beckham was produced in the highest volume, naturally, while 6 figures equally shared the lowest production volume, those 6 being Giannakopoulos, Yakin, Petrov, Prso, Smertin and Pahars, all had just 2,431 blisters produced.
A fantastic series of figures and the perfect way of remembering a fabulous tournament.
Jon Dahl Tomasson
Ruud Van Nistelrooy
To read more information on this range, including images of the packaging formats used, please click the link button below.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy