Corinthian took a well deserved break in the later part of 1998, after having a frantic few years of releasing hundreds of football figures, during that period they also sold the Headliners brand license to their American company.
Corinthian re focused their efforts and developed an all new range of football figures, with the 12th of January 1999 seeing the release of International ProStars Series 1, the name would be shortened to ProStars from series 5 onwards.
International ProStars Series 1 was a dual release, with 16 figures released in blister pack and the same 16, but in an alternate kit, released as a secret sachet. As with the Headliners range, the ProStars figures were also assigned a collector code, which started with PRO.
The 16 figures included were all top class players, all sculpts were previously released but given the complexity in obtaining some which were predominantly release overseas, this series never felt like a quick re paint series, it felt fresh and exciting, with an excellent mix of talent from across the globe, some in club kits and others in their respective national kits.
Dwight Yorke in Manchester United 1998/99 away kit had the honour of being given the PRO collector code of PRO001, the sculpt being the same as we saw in the FAPL Collection for Aston Villa. Karl Heinze Riedle for Liverpool along with the Arsenal duo of Marc Overmars and Dennis Bergkamp are in club away kits, with all sculpts previously appearing in the FAPL Collection.
Paul Scholes is in England 1998 home kit, which is identical to the redemption figure from the Headliners England Squad collection. Leonardo is in AC Milan home kit, while Romario is in the home kit of Flamengo, which would be the only Flamengo figure to appear in the ProStars range, both having been in the kit of Flamengo as part of the Brasileirao Serie A Futbol Club Collection, however those figures were hard to locate so this gave most collectors their first chance at adding them to their collections.
Matthias Sammer is in Borussia Dortmund away kit, Corinthian still held the required license at this point so were able to release players from Dortmund, the sculpt being the same as used in the Star Kickers range. Fabien Barthez is in France home kit, using the sculpt seen in the Super Champions Equipe De France collection.
Newcastle United manager Ruud Gullit is in a Navy Suit, the same sculpt as was released when he was manager of Chelsea as part of the FAPL Collection. Marcel Desailly is in Chelsea away kit, using the same sculpt as seen in the Headliners range for AC Milan and France.
Gabriel Batistuta and Zinedine Zidane are in Fiorentina and Juventus home kits respectively, both having first appeared in the Serie A SuperStars range of Headliners and also the World Stars 98 set.
The star of the set is without doubt Ronaldo, released here in Inter Milan away kit, the sculpt first being released in the World Stars 98 set, it will come as no surprise to read that Ronaldo was the best selling figure from series 1. He is joined by Inter Milan team mate Roberto Baggio, here in home kit, the sculpt being the same as seen in the Serie A SuperStars range. The Baggio figure does differ in body pose to what was depicted on the collector card.
Completing the set is Ed De Goey for Chelsea, originally released for Feyenoord in the Dutch Eredivisie De Spelers Collectie. This figure of De Goey also features in the Series 1 Secret Sachet, there was no alternative kit version of him produced.
The International ProStars Series 1 blister packs were available from collector centres, priced at £3. Included in the blister pack was the figures collector card, one side has the figure image and the other has the player ratings, which you could fill in to create your own version of a top trumps style card game.
Also included in each blister pack was a collectors information file, which detailed the range available and also came with a token, 8 tokens were needed to claim a free Platinum Pack. Along with the regular blister packs, Corinthian produced something special called the Platinum Pack, these were produced in much lower numbers and not available for direct sale, they were given away free for money spent with Corinthian Direct, however you could also buy them from official Corinthian Collector Centres. The figures are identical to those in the standard blister but are placed on a specially designed blister card.
Corinthian did not make public how many of each blister pack or platinum pack were produced, only to saw that the best seller in the series was Ronaldo, with the lowest production volume blisters being Sammer, Riedle and Baggio.
Corinthian also produced an all new ProStars 12 figure display stand, these were available from Corinthian Direct, priced at £5.95 and came boxed.
Corinthian International ProStars Series 1 is an excellent set of 16 figures and a truly superb way to kick off an all new range, ProStars were here and Corinthian was back!
Ed De Goey