Corinthian teamed up with Italian toy giant 'GIOCHI PREZIOSI' to release perhaps the most talked about range of figures ever!
The range was released under the banner of Italian Superstars and was part of Corinthians Headliner range. The range consisted of players from 13 different Italian Serie A clubs and a total of 49 figures were released. The range was fully licensed by the AIC which meant all the kits were official and complete with team badges and sponsorship logo's.
Corinthian released the figures in 2 waves, the first wave of figures hit the shops in March 1997 and comprised of 34 figures from 7 different teams. The second wave of figures were released later in July of the same year and was made up of 15 new figures and included 5 new teams.
It is from this second wave of figures that we get the rarities and most desirable figures, most of which are still hard to find today. All the 5 new teams had just 1 figure released and all of which were 1st time sculpts and were never again released, this was a massive factor in the figures rarity.
2 different information collector files were issued,1 for the first release and an alternative version for the second wave of figures. The first collector file depicted 33 of the figures released, the figure which was omitted from the file was none other than Stefan Schwarz for Fiorentina, this meant unless you saw the figure in the shop you were unaware of it's release, which is another factor in explaining his rarity.
The second information collector file also had an anomaly as it pictured German international Oliver Bierhoff as the Udinese figure when in fact it was Giovanni Stroppa who was actually released in the black and white stripes of Udinese, making the Bierhoff an unreleased figure. As the Stroppa was not listed in the file most collectors would have been blissfully unaware of his release and it is no surprise that he is regarded as one of if not the rarest figure ever released.
There are many reasons why the figures from the second wave have been so hard to acquire, one is that they simply were not made in a great volume, another is that there was a problem with the distribution with many of the stockists never actually getting the figures, this was certainly the case with the second wave of figures, they were made in much lower volumes and distribution of them was poor with very few ending up in stores.
One factor which is seldom mentioned is the fact that Corinthians are not as widely collected in Italy as they are here in the UK and as they were initially perceived to be a toy, many will have been bought by children and over time their interest will have dwindled, so many figures have probably been lost or forgotten about over the years, hence why there are so few around in the secondary market.
Something else worthy of mention is the error which occurred in the 1999 collectors yearbook in which it listed Christian Karembeu as being released for Sampdoria, he was pulled from the range due to his move to Real Madrid, so this figure was never released but a Master Model does exist.
In the Italian Serie A range of Superstars Headliners there has always been an established set of 7 which are incredibly hard to get, 3 of which are almost impossible. The top 3 order can often be debated but it is always agreed they are the top 3, with numbers 4-7 also being debated but accepted they do fall out side the top 3, however that does not detract away from the fact they are incredibly rare in their own right.
As i see it the 7 rare figures are:
1. Giovanni Stroppa - Udinese
2. Stefan Schwarz - Fiorentina
3. Kennet Andersson - Bologna
4. Marcelo Otero - Vicenza
5. Nicola Amoruso - Juventus
6. Domenico Morfeo - Atalanta
7. Andre Cruz - Napoli
This was a truly magnificent set of figures and one which gave us so many amazing and rare figures, with plenty of first time sculpt that would never be released again.
Each figure came issued with a collector card and also a collectors information file. No redemption figures were made for this release and no display stands either.
To see the range of figures released, please click the link buttons below.