Corinthian released ProStars series 31 on the 23rd of January 2006, with the series comprising of 12 figures, all of whom had transferred clubs during the 2005 summer transfer window, hence why this series is entitled ‘Terrific Transfers.’
There was a handful of new sculpts, some existing sculpts with new body poses and also some repaint of previous released figures, however the headlines were grabbed by the inclusion of 3 players from the far east, 2 Japanese internationals and also a South Korean icon.
Park Ji Sung captured the eye of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with impressive performances for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, so much so Ferguson signed the midfielder for £4,000,000. Corinthian did a wonderful job on the sculpt and it went onto become one of the best selling figures released that year. This was the first release of the hard working South Korean international, so Corinthian knew demand from collectors would be high, especially with those collectors in the Far East. Corinthian produced nearly 9,000 blister of Park, a staggering number given the production volume policy at that time.
Shunsuke Nakamura impressed many clubs during his time at Italian side Regina, however he felt it time for a move and Celtic paid around £2,750,000 for his services. The figure was the same as released in the Regina kit as part of ProStars series 26. Nakamura was achieving legendary status in his home land during this period, so Corinthian capitalised and released nearly 12,000 blisters of Nakamura, most of which will have been sold to dealers and collectors in the far east. Nakamura alone accounted for nearly 20% of the total blister production volume for this series!
Completing the trio of far eastern players is Hidetoshi Nakata, who joined Bolton Wanderers on loan from Parma. The Nakata sculpt used is the same as the one released in ProStars series 30, it was very unusual for Corinthian to release the same figure in consecutive series, albeit in a different kit. Corinthian produced nearly 7,000 blisters of Nakata, which would have been higher, had the figure not featured in the previous series.
The figures of Park, Nakamura and Nakata actually account for nearly 50% of the total blisters produced for this series, further indication that demand for figures in Japan was outweighing that in the UK, it also showed the growing influence the Japanese distributors now had over Corinthian.
Peter Crouch who ‘has a great touch for a big man’ moved from Southampton to Merseyside giants Liverpool for a fee of £7,000,000. Corinthian did a superb job on the figure and resisted the obvious temptation to release it in the Kanu pose from series 4, which would have further enhanced the height aspect of the player. The figure was an instant hit and it did not take long for the figure to sell out completely.
Arsenal bought Belarus international Alexander Hleb from German side VFB Stuttgart for around £10,000,000. It was pleasing to see Corinthian release a new figure for Arsenal, instead of repainting an existing figure, with the facial sculpt of Hleb being of excellent quality. Corinthian produced just 2,637 blisters of Hleb, which was the lowest amount for any figure in this series.
The other all new sculpt was that of Mark Van Bommel who had transferred to Barcelona from PSV Eindhoven on a free transfer. Figures of players for Barcelona were always popular and the Van Bommel figure would prove to be no exception, with established and newer collectors scrambling to add him to their collection.
Newcastle United signed Michael Owen from Real Madrid amid a media frenzy for a few of £16,000,000, with the Toon army hoping he could recreate the form he had during his time at Liverpool, this proved to be wishful thinking. Owen made just 71 appearances in 4 seasons for Newcastle United and scored a mere 26 goals, which when you work it out; as I have, it cost the club £225,000 per game he played and £620,000 per goal he scored, not taking into account his excessive wages, I will let you decide whether that can be classed as a terrific transfer.The Owen sculpt was an all new sculpt and Corinthian produced in excess of 4,000 blisters of him.
Chelsea, backed by Roman Abramovich’s millions, bought Shaun Wright-Phillips from Manchester City for around £20,000,000. The figure itself is the same as was released in ProStars series 26. Anther repaint from ProStars series 26 is that of Patrick Vieira, who moved to Juventus from Arsenal for nearly £15,000,000, which would prove to be smart business of the part of Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.
Luis Figo was always a popular figure amongst collectors, so he was an obvious choice for inclusion in this series following his move to Inter Milan from Real Madrid on a free transfer. The Figo was the same as the Memorabilia special edition, however it was the first time this sculpt was released in a standard ProStars series.
Edgar Davids shocked everyone when he moved on a free transfer from Inter Milan to Tottenham Hotspur and like Figo was an obvious choice for the series, given how immensely popular the Davids figures had proved to be in that past. The facial sculpt was the same as used in previous series, however Corinthian placed it onto an all new body pose, so in essence this was a new figure as opposed to a repaint.
Completing the 12 figure line-up is Alberto Gilardino, who had moved to AC Milan from Parma for a fee of around £20,000,000. The Gilardino is the same sculpt as seen in ProStars series 26 and despite its re-release; Corinthian still produced over 4,000 blisters of him.
Corinthian once again produced 2 special edition figures for this series, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Edgar Davids and Bolton Wanderers Hidetoshi Nakata painted in their respective clubs away kits. However, no redemption tokens were produced; instead you were able to purchase the figures direct from Corinthian in sachet format with card, for £5 per figure. In addition, collectors who purchased a case assortment received the 2 redemption figures free; this was perfect for the long time collector who wanted every figure released.
In total, Corinthian produced 61,752 blisters for this series, which was considerably more than that produced for series 30; however 50% of the blisters were made up by the figures of Park, Nakamura and Nakata. The figure produced in the lowest volume was Hleb with just 2,637 blisters produced, with Nakamura produced in the highest volume, a staggering 11,829!
This was a good range of figures set around an interesting theme and when you add the transfer fees up for the players, there is over £80,000,000 worth of talent on display.
Park Ji Sung
Mark Van Bommel
To read more information on this range, including images of the packaging formats used, click the link button below.