INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT GREATS
The Corinthian ProStars International Tournament Greats (ITG) series of figures brought together legends past and present who had shone on the biggest stage and made a real impression at international tournaments. The collector cards did not feature a figure image, in it's place was the players record at the tournament from which the figure is released from.
The ITG series was first introduced to collector's at the 2003 Convention and would run until it's final release at the 2007 Convention, with 26 figures being released in total and would prove to be one of Corinthians best selling and most popular series.
The 2003 Corinthian Convention took place at Villa Park on the 31st May and was the debut appearance of the ITG series, with 4 figures released. El-Hadji Diouf is in Senegal home kit, the figure was released for Liverpool as part of ProStars Series 21 just 2 month prior, with Corinthian making 4,807 Diouf but made just 1,200 available to the UK. Michael Ballack was released for the very first time, with 7,927 blisters made, however the UK got just 2,520 of those.
Fellow German Oliver Kahn got his only release as a ProStars figure, the other 2 releases were in the Star Kickers Headliners range and in the Club Gold range, with a total of 8,387 blisters made, with 2,980 available to collectors in the UK. Completing the first set is South Korean Ahn Jung-Hwan, who really impressed at the 2002 World Cup and was one of the stars of the tournament, leading South Korea all the way to the semi finals. Corinthian made 4,507 blisters of Junh-Hwan with only 1,800 of those available in the UK. The only other release of Junh-Hwan would be for Perugia as part of the Resellers Specials Series.
Collectors did not have to wait long for the next instalment of ITG figures, with Corinthian releasing 5 more on the 21st July 2003. Corinthians Club Gold World Greats sets had proved incredibly popular and they were always asked to make the figures from sets A, B & C available again, however Corinthian wanted to maintain the collectability of those sets, so took the decision to release repaints of 5 of them in different kits as part of the ITG Series.
The 5 released are Marco Van Basten in Holland away kit, Franz Beckenbauer in West Germany away kit, Ference Puskas in Hungary away kit, Michel Platini in France away kit and Alfredo Di Stefano in Spain home kit. As you can imagine these proved incredibly popular, especially with older collectors. Production volume was relatively low on a couple of these, i can only imagine the reason for this is that Corinthian used up all the blank figures they had available at the time.
Blister volume was as follows, Van Basten 1200, Beckenbauer 2510, Puskas 1320, Di Stefano 3120 and Platini 2100, so as you can see, very low numbers on Van Basten and Puskas, making them quite rare in todays market, especially in blister.
The 2004 Corinthian Convention took place at Villa Park on the 30th of May and saw 5 more ITG figures released. All 5 were first time releases, 3 of which would never be released by Corinthian again, the other 2 would also feature in the Collector Club Special Editions Series, those 2 being Roberto Rivelino and Gerd Muller. Rivelino is in Brazil home kit, with 4231 blisters made, and Muller in West Germany home kit, with 4,591 blisters produced.
The other 3 were all first time sculpts and were never again released by Corinthian, which are Mario Kempes in Argentina home kit, Teofilo Cubillas in Peru home kit and Roger Milla in Cameroon home kit. Milla is best known for dancing around the corner flag to celebrate scoring a goal, that image is one of the everlasting and indeed iconic images of any World Cup, Corinthian made 4,411 blisters and as you can imagine, it was a huge seller. Kempes had 5485 made and Cubillas just 3319.
September 2004 saw the latest release in the ITG Series, with 4 more added to the range. There was a change made at this series, with each one now coming with an individually numbered collector card, prior to this the card just stated it was '1 of a certain amount released' as opposed to having an individual issue number.
All 4 were first time sculpts, starting of with legendary Brazilian midfield general Dunga, here in Brazil home kit. This would prove to be the only ProStars blister release of Dunga, he would feature as part of the Club Gold range though, with Corinthian making 3431 blisters. Giuseppe Bergomi was only ever released as a ProStars figure once and it is here in the ITG Series, wearing Italy home kit and having 1,817 blister made, which for a first time sculpt was incredibly low, I can only assume they planned to release him again in club kit but it never happened. Bergomi was released as part of the Headliners SuperStars range for Inter Milan was back in 1996, with that sclupt of course being vastly different.
Osvaldo Ardiles was a very popular time and will be known to most collectors for his time at Tottenham Hotspurs, with this ITG figure being painted in Argentina home kit and having 1,991 blisters made. We would also get a Spurs figure of Ardiles, as part of the World Club Legends Series. Completing the set is none other than Alexi Lalas, who was the poster man for the USA 1994 World Cup, his fiery red hair and trademark facial hair really made the sculpt stand out and proved incredibly popular, with Corinthian making 3,251 blisters. The only other release of Lalas would be for Padova in the World Club Legends Series.
The 2005 Corinthian Convention took place at Villa Park on the 11th of June and was the release date of the next instalment in the ITG Series, with 4 new figures being released. All 4 were new sculpts, Rooney and Baros had of course featured already in the ProStars range, but Corinthian produced fresh sculpts, with both being in the kits worn at the Euro 2004 tournament. Production wise Corinthian made 3077 Rooney and 2591 Baros.
The other 2 figures were not only first time sculpts but both would never be released by Corinthian again. Greece shocked the footballing world by winning the Euro 2004 tournament, aided by the performances of their captain Theo Zagorakis, with collectors delighted to get his figure released, however there were only 1811 blisters made which for a one time sculpt was quite low but would aid in the blister appreciating in value in the years to come. Last but not least is Bebeto, a world known name and Corinthian released in him the Brazil home kit as worn at the 1994 World Cup in USA, with just 3071 blisters made.
Collectors would have to wait 2 years for the next and ultimately final release in the ITG Series, with 4 more being released at the 2007 Corinthian Convention, which took place at Villa Park on the 2nd of June. All 4 were new sculpts, 3 of which would not be used again and were all of players from the 2006 World Cup.
This was an all new sculpt of Zinedine Zidane and is my personal favourite sculpt of the Frenchman, it would be the sculpt used for all future releases of Zidane, with Corinthian making 5881 blisters of him in France home kit. Fernando Torres got his first ProStars release, in Spain home kit with 4441 blisters being produced, Corinthian would release 3 more figures of Torres but they would all be a different sculpt to the ITG one.
The final 2 were both first time sculpts and neither would be released by Corinthian again, those 2 being record World Cup goal scorer Miroslav Klose and Argentine play maker Juan Roman Riquelme. These were 2 very popular sculpts with the Riquelme pretty much stealing the show at the convention, such was the demand for his figure. Volume wise Corinthian made 3541 Klose and 4981 for Riquelme. All 4 can be very hard to find with the Riquelme the one who will set you back the most money.
Corinthian also produced Platinum Packs for these 4, producing 360 of each and all coming with an individually numbered collector card, with the Platinum Packs given away for free with every £20 spent with Corinthian at the 2007 convention.
The figures were released as single blister packs and came with collector card.
El Hadji Diouf
Marco Van Basten
Alfredo Di Stefano
Juan Roman Riquelme