MANCHESTER UNITED 1996/97

A whopping 26 figures were released for Manchester United in the 1996/97 kit, with the release spanning over 2 seasons. 11 of these figures were previously released in the 95/96 kit, those 11 being Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole, Nicky Butt, Peter Schmeichel, Dennis Irwin, Pallister, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Brian McClair. Released for the first and only time was David May, he was planned to be released in the 95/96 set but was dropped from the range.



David Beckham was sculpted and released for the first time, although unless you read the name on the base you will have had a hard time identifying which player it was, thankfully the Beckham figures after this were a vast improvement. Corinthian released a second Becks and used the England 98 Beckham sculpt for the 97/98 season, again though the figure was in the 96/97 kit.



This set also featured some new sculpts of existing figures, Roy Keane was re sculpted, minus his goatee beard and assigned a new base number as it was a new sculpt. Danish keeper Schmeichel was also re sculpted and this figure was a spot on likeness of the imposing shot stopper, it was also a huge improvement on the previous release.



This Schmeichel was also released in 2 different kits, firstly in the Purple home kit in January 97 which was worn for the 1996/97 season, with the updated sculpt being released later during the same season. The Green kit is actually the home goal keeper shirt was worn for the 1997/98 season, so technically the second sculpt of Schmeichel in Green kit is in 1997/98 home kit. The green kit version of Schemeichel is certainly the rarer of the 2, with a blister pack version proving quite elusive.



The ever controversial Frenchman Eric Cantona was also re sculpted into an iconic pose which had him sculpted with his shirt collar up This is one of the most popular figures Corinthian ever released and was sold in huge numbers despite many people believing it to be rare, the reality is it was far from that. It has long been debated by collector's that there are 2 versions, with the conversation revolving around his beard and the thickness of it.



My personal take on it is that yes some do have a much more prominent beard than others, however i feel when something is mass produced and hand finished you need to allow some degree of natural variation, so i do see this as another version, that said i do have both in my collection.



Phil Neville was sculpted for the first time and Teddy Sheringham was repainted into the Manchester United kit after previously being released for Tottenham Hotspur, but this new figure was given a new base code. 2 Norwegians were released for the first time, those two being Rohnny Johnsen and the 'baby faced assassin' Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, both are great sculpts and the Solskjaer was a much anticipated release.


Ronny Johnsen was released with 2 different shirt numbers, something that was not actually discovered until many years after the figure was released. He was first released as a single blister in October 1997 and was assigned the squad number of 19, however during the same season he switched numbers to 5 after Lee Sharpe was sold to Leeds United, so Corinthian released an updated version of Johnsen wearing his new shirt number of 5.



To the absolute best of my knowledge both versions (19 & 5) were only done as single blisters and there is nothing to tell them apart without trying to look into the blister to see which shirt version it it. In terms of rarity that is an easy one to answer, as he was done for the first time Corinthian will have mass produced him initially, which is the number 19 version, however the updated 5 will have been done in much fewer numbers and it is the number 5 version which is much harder to find.


Two first time sculpts were also released and both were never used again, those two being Karel Poborsky and Jodi Cruyff. The Poborsky was very detailed and the Cruyff was unique at the time, as it was sculpted without a football at his feet, the first time Corinthian had done this but not the last.



Completing this set are the brains behind this hugely successful side, Alex Ferguson was released for the first time as was his right hand man Brian Kidd. The Ferguson used the same body pose as the other manager figures but as Kidd was an assistant manager Corinthian sculpted him with a more casual feel, painted wearing a tracksuit, complete with whistle and clipboard, making this figure very unique at the time. I was not a Manchester United fan or a fan of Brian Kidd but even i snapped up this figure, just because it was so different.


It also has to be mentioned that there are variants of blisters and collector cards in this set, 7 in total. Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Andy Cole, Roy Keane (sculpt 2) Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd were all done as classic blister and with the Headliners logo on, with the collector cards in the Headliner branded blisters also carrying the Headliners logo.



The 7th is something i discovered only very recently and i am unsure as to how it came about. Phil Neville is done as standard collector card and also with the Headliners logo on, however all the blisters seem to bear the Headliners logo, so i am not sure where the standard version card has emerged from, it is possible a few standard blisters existed when it was released in February 1997, but i cannot find any evidence of that, so for now the mystery remains unsolved.


There was also 3 different 4 figure packs released

MU4D - Ryan Giggs, Dennis Irwin, Roy Keane & David May

MU4E - Eric Cantona, Brian McClair, Paul Scholes & David Beckham

MU4F - Andy Cole, Peter Schmeichel, Gary Pallister & Gary Neville


Corinthian also released a 12 figure team pack, the contents of these packs seems to vary but the official Corinthian line up is Eric Cantona, Brian McClair, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Denis Irwin, Andy Cole, Peter Schmeichel, Gary Pallister, Gary Neville, Roy Keane & David May, with the pack being released in October 1996.



All figures were released a single blister packs, coming with collector card and collectors information leaflet.



FIGURE LIST:

PL01 - Ryan Giggs - Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL21 - Eric Cantona - Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL41 - Andy Cole- Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL81 - Peter Schmeichel- Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL101 - Dennis Irwin- Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL161 - Gary Pallister- Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL241 - Roy Keane- Manchester United - Home 1996/97 - Sculpt 1

PL261 - Brian McClair- Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL281 - Nicky Butt- Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL301 - Gary Neville- Manchester United - Home 1996/97

PL321 - Paul Scholes- Manchester United - Home 1996/97


PL341 - David May - Manchester United - Home 1996/97


PL361 - David Beckham - Manchester United - Home 1996/97


PL421 - Eric Cantona - Manchester United - Home 1996/97 - Sculpt 2


PL441 - Roy Keane - Manchester United - Home 1996/97 - Sculpt 2


PL461 - Jordi Cruyff - Manchester United - Home 1996/97


PL481 - Peter Schmeichel - Manchester United - Home 1996/97 - Sculpt 2


PL481 - Peter Schmeichel - Manchester United - Home 1997/98 - Sculpt 2


PL501 - Phil Neville - Manchester United - Home 1996/97


PL521 - Karel Poborksy - Manchester United - Home 1996/97


PL541 - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - Manchester United - Home 1996/97


PL561 - Ronny Johnsen - Manchester United - Home 1996/97 - Shirt Number 19


PL561 - Ronny Johnsen - Manchester United - Home 1996/97 - Shirt Number 5


PL581 - David Beckham - Manchester United - Home 1996/97 - Sculpt 2


PL601 - Teddy Sheringham - Manchester United - Home 1996/97


M01 - Alex Ferguson - Manchester United - Suit


M02 - Brian Kidd - Manchester United - Tracksuit

Ryan Giggs

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL01


Eric Cantona

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL21

Sculpt 1


Andy Cole

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL41


Peter Schmeichel

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL81

Sculpt 1


Dennis Irwin

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL101


Gary Pallister

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL161


Roy Keane

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL241

Sculpt 1


Brian McClair

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL261


Nicky Butt

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL281


Gary Neville

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL301


Paul Scholes

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL321


David May

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL341


David Beckham

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL361

Sculpt 1


Eric Cantona

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL421

Sculpt 2


Roy Keane

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL441

Sculpt 2


Yordi Cruyff

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL461


Peter Schmeichel

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL481


Peter Schmeichel

Manchester United

Home 1997/98

PL481


Phil Neville

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL501


Karel Poborsky

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL521


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL541


Ronny Johnsen

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL561

Shirt Number 19


Ronny Johnsen

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL561

Shirt Number 5


David Beckham

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL581

Sculpt 2


Teddy Sheringham

Manchester United

Home 1996/97

PL601


Alex Ferguson

Manchester United

Suit

M01


Brian Kidd

Manchester United

Tracksuit

M02


Manchester United

4 Pack - MU4D

Ryan Giggs

Dennis Irwin

Roy Keane

David May


Manchester United

4 Pack - MU4E

Eric Cantona

Brian McClair

Paul Scholes

David Beckham


Manchester United

4 Pack - MU4F

Andy Cole

Peter Schmeichel

Gary Pallister

Gary Neville


Manchester United 1996/97

12 Figure Team Pack