SECRET SACHET EDITION
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 secret sachet was sold predominantly in newsagents, distributed in a CDU (counter display unit) which contained 16 sachets, with each full box of 16 containing 1 of each player, so if you bought the entire CDU you would acquire the entire set. The secret sachet format was ideal for smaller retailers as it took much less space to stock and display them.
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 home kit, 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 home kits, with all sculpts previously appearing in the FAPL Collection.
Paul Scholes is in Manchester United 1998/99 away kit, with the sculpt being the same as seen in the Headliners range. Leonardo and Romario are in Brazil 1998 home kit, 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 home 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 Monaco home kit, using the sculpt seen in the Super Champions Equipe De France collection, which would prove to be the only Monaco figure released in the ProStars range.
Newcastle United manager Ruud Gullit is in a Black Suit, the same sculpt as was released when he was manager of Chelsea as part of the FAPL Collection. Marcel Desailly is in Chelsea home kit, using the same sculpt as seen in the Headliners range for AC Milan and France.
Gabriel Batistuta and Zinedine Zidane are in their national home kits of Argentina and France 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 home 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 Italy 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 Blister Edition, there was no alternative kit version of him produced.
The International ProStars Series 1 secret sachets were available from collector centres and newsagents, priced at £2.49 Included in the sachet 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. You could also order the figures from Corinthian Direct, supplied in clear sachet with card and priced at £2.50 each or the full set of 16 for £30, which meant you actually got 4 figures free!
Included in each secret sachet was a collectors information file, which detailed the range available and also came with a token, 8 tokens were needed to claim a free redemption figure. The redemption figure was Ronaldo in Brazil 1998 home kit, a truly exceptionally figure and a must for any collection. Corinthian did not produce a platinum pack for the Ronaldo redemption figure.
Corinthian did not make public how many of each figure or platinum pack were produced, only to say that the best seller in the series was Ronaldo, with the lowest production volume being Batistuta.
Corinthian also produced an all new ProStars 12 figure display stand, these were available from Corinthian Direct, priced at £5.95m and came boxed.
The final thing to mention is the secret sachet itself, with the front cover having an image of Laudrup in a Chelsea shirt, more perplexing is the fact it is the wrong Laudrup brother! Brian Laudrup signed for Chelsea in the Summer of 1998, a move he would soon regret when he became aware of Chelsea'a squad rotation system, which would mean his time at Stamford Bridge would be short lived and made just 7 appearances for the club.
He was intended to be in Series 1 but when it became apparent he would not be around when the series was released he was pulled from the range and replaced swiftly by Ed De Goey, however it was too late to change the sachet image. Corinthian mixed up the Laudrup sculpts, the figure shown on the sachet is Michael Laudrup, within my personal collection are the unreleased Master Models of Michael Laudrup in Chelsea 1998/99 home and away kit, under the base it has the sculptors writing of simply 'Laudrup Chelsea'
Ed De Goey