FAPL COLLECTION HISTORY
Corinthian followed up the huge success of the England national range of figures by releasing the FAPL Collection, which consisted of figures from the FA Premier League. All 20 teams were represented and each club had at least 4 figures released, with other clubs having many more, largely depending upon a clubs popularity at that time.
The figures were officially endorsed and licensed by the FA Premier League and all the Premier League clubs, so all the figures were painted in the authentic club kits, complete with team badge, club sponsor and of course name and squad number on the back of the shirt.
The first FAPL Collection figures were released in November 1995 and were released continuously right up until February 1998 when the last few were released.
During that time Corinthian released more than 300 different figures! It is hard to determine the exact number released, as it depends on what you consider a 'different' figure to be. Some figures were released in the same kit but with 2 different squad numbers, some collectors; like myself, class them as a different figure as there is a significant difference in the figure but others feel as the figure is the same barring the squad number on the back, they do not class them as different and more a variation on an existing figure, but all that is detailed within this site, so i will let you make your own mind up.
For me this will always be Corinthians best work as the idea was simple, release figures for all the teams, regardless of popularity and keep releasing fresh figures throughout the season. It soon became apparent that the ones selling in the shops were the more popular players like Giggs, Cantona, Shearer, Fowler etc and ones like Gallen and Moreno were being left largely unsold.
As a result of this most stockists simply wanted to stock figures from the more popular clubs, like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle United as they had the biggest following and were easy sellers. Corinthian preferred a stockist to stock figures from all clubs so that each collector had a chance to buy every figure, remember, these were the days long before the internet is the monster it is today, so there was nobody selling them online.
What eventually happened is that Corinthian bought back stock from the stores and then sold these onto collectors who also sold them as some figures were soon very much in demand as collectors tried to obtain every figure, so the likes of Penrice for QPR was soon very much in demand.
There was also geographical distribution, teams like Manchester United and Liverpool were distributed nationwide, however less well supported clubs were distributed more locally, so teams like QPR and Wimbledon were sent predominantly to stores in London, whereas Middlesbrough or Manchester City figures were sent to stockists in the North of the country.
From a personal stand point I do recall seeing very few QPR or West Ham United or Wimbledon figures in my local stores (I reside in the north of England ) but there were always plenty of Newcastle and Middlesbrough figures.
It is certainly worth mentioning that upon their release it was very tricky to actually find out which figures had been released as there were no internet sites detailing each release, while the collectors information files did tell you 4 players for each team, they did not list every figure which was available, so the only way to find out which figures were out was to actually visit your local stockist and raid the shelves.
I fondly remember visiting Woolworths and Toymaster, who both stocked the figures and flicking through the racks for new figures and being surprised when a player I liked had been turned into a Corinthian. All week i would have it in my mind which figures I would get with my pocket money, only to enter the store and see new figures I never knew existed!
Woolworths had the large Orange revolving display stand, which had figures on all sides, with each bar holding i think 4 blister packs giving you plenty of choice, however from memory i recall Woolies stocked the much more popular and commercial figures, Giggs, Shearer, Fowler, Cantona and then an abundance of Liverpool and Manchester United figures.
Toymaster had a much smaller display which was situated within the other toy ranges, however my personal experience was that they held much more varied stock and carried a much fuller range of product. Toymaster had the less popular clubs like Southampton, Wimbledon, Sheffield Wednesday etc and carried the more obscure players like Gallen, Gayle and Woan.
I also found my Toymaster to carry a wider range of product, they stocked the 4 packs and 12 packs, can still very vividly remember walking in one Saturday and coming across the Newcastle United 12 figure team pack, i must have held that and looked at it for an hour, however that was more than my pocket money could afford, so it would have to go onto my Christmas wish list, i must have been a good boy that year as Santa did not let me down, and Christmas morning i once again had my hands on the Newcastle United 12 pack, along with many other Corinthians!
This goes some way to explaining why quite a few of these early figures have become so rare, most are from the lesser clubs so demand for them was much lower and most will have bought a Giggs over a Pembridge. The figures only found in multi packs are also amongst the rarest in the range, reason being the 4 packs and 12 packs were produced in lower volumes, so the likes of Dixon for Arsenal and Stuart for Everton are very scarce, with Stuart vying with Pembridge to be the rarest in the FAPL Collection.
The figures were made available on a number of different packaging formats, those being- Single Blister, 4 figure pack, 12 figure box set, 14 figure box set, single window box, secret sachet and of course as clear sachets direct from Corinthian, as Corinthian bough back a lot of stock and made it available direct to its collector club members.
Each Corinthian figure came issued with a collector card, the front had the figure imaged along with player name, team played for and the all important collector code, with the reverse of the card having 10 different skills, with a space to give your mark out of 10 and a total box at the bottom.
The collector cards themselves are highly collectible, with many collectors preferring to buy their figures 'loose with card' and although the cards are not as valuable as the figures, in some cases they are actually rarer to find, reason being is everyone will have kept the figures but not everyone will have kept the card, even fewer will have kept it in good condition, so finding some cards in a mint condition can be difficult.
This really was Corinthian at it's best, producing many different figures and releasing them on a regular basis and doing all they could to ensure everybody was given the chance to purchase the figures they wanted. After the final release of figures in February 1998, Corinthian took a much deserved rest and re-assessed where the company and indeed the 'big heads' were going. The Headliners name was sold to an American based company who wanted sole use of the name, as a result Corinthian had to think up a new name for their brand, and so ProStars was born, Corinthians were back!